Restoring the Iconic Church Tower of Wilmarsdonk

Posted by Kris Sobry


Nestled within the grounds of TCL stands the old church tower of the demolished St. Laurentius Church from the vanished village of Wilmarsdonk. This village, along with others, was cleared in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for the expansion of the port. By 1966, the last remnants of Wilmarsdonk were torn down, leaving only the church tower.

The tower once served as a beacon for surveyors, aiding them in making precise measurements for the planned port expansion. Nearly sixty years later, the Wilmarsdonk church tower remains a landmark amidst the bustling port activities. Recognizing its historical and cultural significance, the Port Authority decided several years ago to undertake its restoration.


The restoration process was extensive and meticulous. Cracks and holes in the walls were filled, accumulated dirt was removed, and damaged parts of the facade were repaired. The contractor replaced the wooden roof structure and the dormer window. The sphere beneath the cross was gilded with a new layer of gold leaf. Additionally, provisions were made for birds and bats, with nesting boxes and a bat slide installed to ensure they could continue to find a home in and around the tower.


Accompanying the restoration was an art project by artist Bas Princen. His project, Wilmarsdonk Transfers, sought to breathe new life into the tower. It is a blend of illustrations and images that symbolize the history of the polder villages and the development of the port.

take a look

Since the tower is located within an operational port area, it is only accessible at specific times. The site is not open to the public. For more information, please visit the Port of Antwerp-Bruges website. We documented the year-long restoration process in a captivating timelapse video. You can watch it here. This video not only showcases the intricate work involved in restoring the tower but also highlights its enduring presence as a historical landmark.

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