Port of Terneuzen
The history of the port of Terneuzen is closely connected with the developments in the port area of Ghent. The origins of Ter Nose, the present Terneuzen, can be traced back to around the year 1300.
Developments in the port area of Ghent.
In the 16th century, Antwerp was at the heart of international trade. As Ghent did not want to miss out on the economic benefits of this trade, a new connection was sought with the Westerschelde. The new canal, Sassevaart, connected Ghent with Braakman. The construction of this new waterway led to the creation of the new settlement of Sas van Gent.
Because of the intensive draining of the Braakman area, Sassevaart became increasingly difficult to navigate. Eventually the canal fell into disrepair and became a neglected, silted-up ditch. In order to limit the economic decline of Ghent, the city decided to dig a new connection with the sea. This became the Brugse Vaart, a canal between Bruges and Ghent. During the second half of the eighteenth century, Ghent prospered as never before. As industrial activity increased, Ghent needed a new connection with the sea, which was once again sought in a northern direction.
The canal between Terneuzen and Sas van Gent
King Willem I recognised the importance of Ghent and agreed to the construction of a new link between Ghent and Terneuzen. The old Sassevaart was deepened and widened, while a new, 13-kilometre long canal was dug between Sas van Gent and Terneuzen. Because of the large number of ships and the many scheduled services calling at Ghent, it became necessary to widen and deepen the canal to a depth of 6.5 metres. A number of awkward bends were also realigned. At Sas van Gent a new canal arm and a new lock were built.
Because of the ever increasing size of the seagoing ships and sailing ships being superseded by steamships, modifications could no longer be put off. Belgium and the Netherlands decided to build a new lock at Terneuzen and a new swing bridge at Sluiskil. This lock is still in use as a middle lock. At Sas van Gent a third canal arm was constructed and a new lock built. The canal was also deepened along its entire length, allowing ships with a draught of 8 metres to navigate along it.