Railroad History

Its all about the rails


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Départ de la Flèche le 5 mai 1835

"Départ de la Flèche le 5 mai 1835", painted by Jan Antoon Neuhuys, shows the first Continental passenger service pulled by la Flèche.

Belgium’s (and the continent’s) first railway line for passengers was inaugurated on May 5, 1835. Three trains, hauled by steam locomotives ‘The Elephant’, ‘The Arrow’ and ‘Stephenson’ left the Brussels-Allée Verte station towards Mechelen. King Leopold I attended the celebrations but did not board the train for safety reasons.

This painting depicts the departure from the Brussels-Allée Verte. At the front, we see an enthusiastic crowd. In the background, the King is introduced to the new means of transportation. This work was painted by Jan Antoon Neuhuys, probably for the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of railways in Belgium. This painting has a prominent place in the ‘Network’ scenography. With this monumental painting, both literally (391cm x 297 cm) and figuratively, the early railway in Belgium appeared on canvas, with attention given to the key role that Belgium has taken in Europe.

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