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Clocks are everywhere – they regulate our daily routine for work and for pleasure. This month we will visit a most unusual museum in Brussels – The Clockarium, 163 Boulevard Reyers, 1030 Brussels.
A handsome Art Deco house (1935) in Schaarbeek provides the setting for a unique collection of ceramic mantlepiece clocks dating from the 1930’s. The collection is not about clockwork mechanism as such, but about the clock as a decorative piece of art in 1930’s Europe. With the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, affordable timepieces became more readily available and were very popular from the beginning of the 20th century, taking pride of place in the home. There are almost 4,000 decorative clocks in the entire collection, with masterpieces from various European countries, including an excellent collection of clocks of Belgian manufacture. Altogether, an eclectic facet of the history of clock making combined with the decorative arts. Our guides will explain the origin of the collection and the relevance of the clock in popular culture.
From the Clockarium we will return to the Metro DIAMANT and take Tram 7 in the direction of HEYSEL, alighting at the PRINCESSE ELISABETH stop – 8 stops. Tickets for this short tram journey will be provided. From the tram stop,a short walk (7 minutes) along Avenue Princesse Elisabeth will take us to Train World at the Schaarbeek Station, where we will have lunch at 13.00h in the tastefully restored station café.
The Schaarbeek Station is still a working railway station, and some of you may remember that it was at this station where you could drive your car on to the train and have it taken down to the southof France for your summer vacation, while you retired for the night to sleep in your couchette! This service is no longer available, but there are visual reminders of this experience amongst the railway memorabilia. Schaarbeek Station is still of architectural interest and historic significance. Belgium was the first country in Europe to build a railway (1835) and George Stephenson of Stephenson’s Rocket fame, came to Brussels for the official opening. There is a “Rue Stephenson” in Schaarbeek.
Our guided tour of Trainworld will begin at 14.30 and will last about 2 hours. Even for those who are not seriously interested in steam engines, there is much to enjoy.
Of course the old trains have been beautifully restored and open to explore, but the museum also presents a social history of train travel; the development of the rail network on the continent beginning in Brussels, and the eventual availability of affordable travel which enabled social mobility.
From two royal carriages (one built for King Albert I and the other for Leopold III) to mail vans, from the station master’s house to early railway advertisements enticing customers to the seaside and exotic places, this museum is an outstanding example of ingenuity and an important part of Belgian history.
Lunch: At Trainworld restaurant: main course with drink and coffee. For vegetarian meals please indicate at registration.
By car: it is preferable to park on the outskirts of the city and take public transport. By train: train to Brussels Central Station, then Metro Line 1 (direction Stockel) change at Montgomery and take pre-Metro line 7 (direction Heysel) or 25 (direction Rogier) 2 stops to DIAMANT. For Brussels residents: buses 28 or 29 and trams 7 and 25 stop at DIAMANT.