Concrete Making

When battalions of the 47th London Division overran the German forward zone on 7th June 1917, they noted that behind the shattered woods known to the Germans as Kastanienwaldchen was “a quarry”.

This information linked nicely with a brief excavation in 2019 of a concrete mixing station close to the German front line at Schmidthauser (Concrete Mixing Place 3 on above map). The archeologists pointed out that the sand in the mixing box was a greenish colour, unlike the surrounding brown sand soil. The narrow gauge tramway ran from Pioniere Park to the quarry, and then on to three concrete mixing stations behind the German second lines. The Germans were excavating a better quality sand from their deep pit behind the ‘Chestnut Woods’ and bringing this to the front using the trench tramway.

The ‘quarry’ of today has been turned into a large pond by the addition of an earth embankment. However it is still possible to find the heavily shellfire damaged accommodation shelter for the quarry workers, a three chambered bunker (foundations and walls only) on the south east side of the pond.

From the quarry, the rail line heads east to a three-way junction just short of Palingbeekstraat. All three lead to concrete mixing stations.

Pioniere concrete workers busy in one of the three mixing stations of the Palingbeek. On the right, a pionier pushes one of the trucks at the end of the narrow gauge railway we have followed from Drei Hauser to this terminus.

The concrete mixing stations are the last stop on the delivery route which began here.

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