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Gouvy (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Gouvy

The municipality of Gouvy (4,780 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 16,511 sq. km) is located on the border with the northern part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The municipality of Gouvy was made in 1976 by the merging of the former municipalities of Beho, Bovigny, Cherain, Limerlé, and Montleban, including a total of 23 villages. The seat of the new municipality is located in Gouvy, which was formerly a village of the municipality of Limerlé but has grown up to be the biggest village of the whole municipality, thanks to its railway station.

Gouvy is one of the four border stations linking the Belgian and Luxembourgian railways. The place has been for long an important passage: it was crossed by the main Roman way linking Reims to Trier and by the grand chemin de Stavelot. In 1834, the young Belgian state decided to set up a rail network, but granted the exploitation of several lines to private companies, that eventually built a network often parallel and concurrent with the state network. In 1846, the "Luxembourg" railway was granted to English investors, whose Grande Compagnie du Luxembourg planned to link the industrial basins of the valley of the Meuse to the mining regions of Luxembourg and eastern France. The terms and conditions of the grant outlined the future Brussels-Namur and Namur-Arlon lines, with extensions to the French (Longwy) and Luxembourgian borders. Junctions to the valley of the Ourthe and to Bastogne were mandatory, via the Libramont-Bastogne-Gouvy line in the latter case.
On the other side of the border, the Guillaume Luxembourg company was set up to develop a national rail network to be linked with the Belgian network. The company took over the grant of the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer de Pepinster à Spa, which operated since 1855 a local line linking Spa to the main line linking Brussels to Prussia. Extended to the border with Luxembourg, the local line would be used to link the industrial basins of Liège, Lorraine and Luxembourg. An international convention was signed in 1862 to build the chemin de fer de la jonction belge-grand ducale between Luxembourg and Liège, which was shorter than the Ourthe line. The Belgian part of the new line, linking Spa to Gouvy, was inaugurated on 20 February 1867, less than one year later than the opening of the rival Ourthe line. A big railway station was built in the border village of Gouvy to welcome the trains of the two rival companies. With the aim of setting up an European network, the French Compagnie de l'Est rented in 1868 the whole Guillaume-Luxembourg network and operated French trains on the Liège-Spa-Gouvy from the 1 January 1870 onwards.
The Belgian government did not accept to have the national rail network controlled by foreign companies and progressively purchased back most lines; the Grande Compagnie du Luxembourg was purchased and the Liège-Spa-Gouvy line was nationalized in 1872. The latter line was linked to the Ourthe line via the valley of the Amblève, providing a direct link between Liège and Luxembourg. In 1918, another line linking Sankt-Vith and Gouvy was added. The village of Gouvy dramatically increased because of the increasing popularity of the "coke line", by which coke produced in Alsdorf, near Aachen (Germany), was transported to the steelworks of the south of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg via the Amblève line and its extension (the Northern line) in Luxembourg. This ended in 1992 when the last steelworkds were closed. Gouvy was a strategic place where the locomotives were changed before climbing the crest of Bellain, which is the watershed between the basins of the Rhine and the Meuse. The Sankt-Vith line, severely damaged during the Second World War, did not survive the war, whereas the Bastogne line was eventually suppressed in 1984.
Gouvy is today only a passenger station, but with a good hope to play an important role in the future high-speed lines Paris-Brussels-Liège-Francfort; it houses also the smallest passenger train in Belgium: known as the "school train", a locomotive drafts a single car every morning between Gouvy and Trois-Ponts.

Source: Gouvy, nœud ferroviaire ardennais, by Roland Marganne, Le Rail, October 2006 - Full text available on the Gouvy tourism website

On 8 September 1944, 11:00, the first operational German V-2 rocket was launched from the Wood of Beleu, on the road of Gouvy to Sterpigny. The operation had been scheduled elsewhere to 6 September but was cancelled because of technical problems and the launching site was moved closer to the border with Germany. Five minutes (4'43") and 325 km after the launching, the rocket hit its target in Maisons-Alfort, a town located in the south of Paris, killing 6 and injuring 30.
Much more details on the event are available on L. Bailleul's website.

Ivan Sache, 8 July 2007

Municipal flag of Gouvy

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, there is no municipal flag used in Gouvy.

Pascal Vagnat, 8 July 2007