Dutch Water Line

FORTRESS BLAUWKAPEL

Location: 52 6'56.85"N    5 8'19.03"E

Address: (of the Reduit)

Bastionweg 2
Utrecht

Fort Blauwkapel was made by the patriots in 1787 as a "redoute" earthwork.

In 1818 it was enlarged with Bastions. It was a closed earthwork fortress, made so big that it even enclosed a small village with a chapel. The name of the chapel was "Blauwkapel".
The fortress had 4 Bastions, with 2 defense islands (Ravelijnen) in the moat at the north-east side and an earthwork "Reduit" on the south-west side (the small separate island).
A Reduit is a small fortress within a large fortress. If the fortress was overrun, the remaining men could pull back into the Reduit and make a last stand.

In 1850 a "bomb free" guardhouse was made on the Reduit and the fortress earth walls were strengthened.

Between 1874 and 1890, two "bomb free" ground covered barracks were made and several gun garages.

Between 1925 and 1929 a railway interconnection stretch was made that chopped a piece of the south-east Bastion (the right under corner of the picture above).

On this picture, you see the south-east access road to the fortress. On both sides of the road you see steel beams sticking out of the grass.
This is part of an armored car/tank barrier, made in 1939. At that time, locked but removable beams were also in the road itself.
The barrier had a concrete foundation.

 

Here you see the former military gate house, but also normal houses of the village within the fortress.


The village was almost gone, but as part of the fortress restoration project, the city of Utrecht is building some new houses within the fortress.

On the west side of the fortress, everything was demolished and flattened, including one of the bomb free barracks buildings.

However, the city of Utrecht is restoring some of the walls, making a park and making sporting fields.

On this picture, you see the remaining bomb free barracks on the north-east Bastion.

This is the brick face of the ground covered barracks, it is all in good shape.

During the Firs World War, the strength of fortress Blauwkapel was more than 300 men.

 

In 1881, the tasks of the fortress were described as follows:
  • Defense of the east-west running railroad and roads.
  • Keeping the enemy at sufficient distance from the town Utrecht, in conjunction with the neighboring fortresses.
  • Defense of the dike "Voordorpsedijk", incase of severe frost, that enabled the enemy to cross the ice.
  • Serve as the main support point of that sector of the Dutch Water Line

This is one of the entrances, the barracks are now used for all kinds of community purposes and festivities.

This is the northeast corner of the Bastion.
In the earth wall, in the sun and under the trees, you see gun garages.

A bit further, after the first gun
garage-hill are gun positions and the concrete shelters.

All the tasks of the fortress, were carried out, with guns in open gun positions at the fortress walls.

However, new attack weapons such as the high explosive shells and invention of the airplane, enabling air bombardments, called for more protection of the gun crews, than just a trench.

Therefore in 1918, three concrete group shelters were made and in 1939 a lot of steel reinforced concrete shelters of type Piramide were made in the east wall of the fortress.

This is a photo, of a part of the earth walls of the north-east Bastion, with a Piramide concrete shelter.
This is a close-up of the type Piramide shelter.
The iron hooks, sticking out of the concrete, were for holding up camouflage nets.

On top of all Piramide type shelters is a tube, with a mount for a Periscope.
However, when the Germans attacked in May 1940, these Periscopes were nowhere fitted.

These shelters provided good cover and could withstand several direct hits of guns, up to 150mm and a single direct hit of a mortar of 210mm.

This is the standard door inside the shelters portal. Nowadays they are missing in most of these Piramide shelters.

As you can see, it exists out of three parts, each part is lockable and is made up out of three cross wise layers of wood.

It could withstand great blasts of air pressure and in-flying fragments of shells.

The purpose of the three separate parts of the door is at the moment not known to me.

It would enable some means of sight and shooting possibility to the back area of the shelter.
In the wall, now behind the open door, is also a small shooting hole.

The lower part of the door might be used as flood barrier, with sandbags.
Most of these shelters were also built for machinegun crews and supporting sections of infantry at the very edge of the flooded area of the Dutch Water Line.
Some Dutch soldiers did have long wading booths and could wade through the water and step over the lower part of the door.

One of the other Piramides, with a gun garage in the sun on the background.
This is one of the so called gun garages.
Compared to other fortresses, these are quite narrow.

It appears, that these might be used for ammunition storage only.

I have to do some more investigation on this subject.

Here are some more of these gun garages in the south-east corner of the Bastion.
This is the east moat of the fortress, it looks more like a wide Canal.

At the other side is the railroad.

In the short east main wall (in fortress terms called a "Courtine"), between the north-east and the south-east Bastion, are also several Piramide shelters.
As well as in the walls of the sout-east Bastion.
As you can see on the aerial picture, the Reduit is a small separate island at the south-east side of the fortress.

Walking back along the main road of the fortress, just passed the tank barrier, you see this entrance bridge.

This is the brick face, with the entrance of the guardhouse that served as the Reduit.

After the invention of rifled guns, around 1860, the building was ground covered against the walls and on the roof.

All windows are shooting holes for guns.

The Reduit is beautifully restored and now in use as a formidable clubhouse for a group of Scouts.

The Reduit did accommodate 70 men and 4450 kilogram of gunpowder.

It was a very strong building, originally full of shooting holes to all sides, packed with men, gunpowder and guns. The men were even sleeping in the gun rooms.

Heating came from open wood or coal fires and light from oil lanterns.
Even in peacetime this combination creates a quite dangerous situation.

A storage room, all in perfect condition.
A gunroom, with all shooting hole window frames colorfully painted.

This room is used by the Cup Scouts.

A smaller corridor is connecting the gun rooms.
A former gunroom.

This side is now covered with earth.

On top of the photograph, you see an air extract ventilator.

It is installed on the smoke extraction channel, that is present in each gun room, to extract the gunpowder smoke.

The black gunpowder guns gave a lot of smoke.

The main corridor.

The masonry on these thick brick bomb free buildings is always very skillfully made and very beautiful. 

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Last revised on 24-12-2012