Dutch Water Line


Location: 5211'47.62"N    5 0'15.04"E


Rijksstraatweg 9

Fort Nieuwersluis started as a big earth work fortress in 1673, with 2 full bastions and 2 half bastions on the west side of the river. There was also a part on the east side of the river, a "Hoornwerk" (two half bastions closed with straight walls). There was also a small bastion.

However, at that time the provinces were very autonomous and there was rivalry. Holland made the "Hoornwerk" on Utrecht's soil and it was therefore demolished in 1688.
In 1745 Holland made a convention with Utrecht and made the Hoornwerk again. The whole was improved with double moats pre-defenses.

You see the fort as it is now in the left upper part, surrounded by a moat.
However the old fortress was four times as big, you can see the old contours on both sides of the river.

Between 1849 and 1851 a gun tower was built on the south-west part of the fortress, the other parts of the fortress were partly demolished, or simplified.
Probably to get shooting clearance for the gun tower.

On this picture, you see the troop barracks and cadet school, built also on the south-west part in 1877.

Between 1880 and 1882 the fortress was made, with the walls and moat, as it looks now. Ground covered gun storage rooms were added.
The north-west side was demolished completely.

Also the part on the east side of the river was demolished completely, only a small earthwork battery remained.

These are the troop rooms in the thick brick ground covered barracks and cadet school building.

On the right wall, you see small wooden boards and two metal eyes under each board.

Under each board was a straw sack bed. In the eyes fitted iron brackets, that held two boards along the wall.
The soldiers could put their clothes and other small items on that boards.

So it was quite primitive and did not change between 1877 and 1940.

There are lots of rooms in these barracks, most still in quite good shape.
Fort Nieuwersluis was decommissioned as fortress in 1960, but was owned by the Ministery of Defense till the end of the Cold War.

The ground floor rooms were in use during the cold war as a command center for the Civil Defense organization.

After reorganization later, it was used by the army's Mobile Disaster Relief units up till 1993, when this army branch was abolished.

On the picture, you see the emergency generator, that powered the command center, if the National Grid failed.

The rooms were made airtight for protection against radiation and fallout in case of a nuclear blast.

On this picture you see the fresh air filter installation.

This installation could also be powered direct, by manual labor.
The second item from the right is a stand with three bicycle frames for this purpose.

There are some rooms equipped with beds for the command center personnel.

The whole was arranged to be self-contained for a longer period.

This is the coordination room. It was left unattended for some years and all paper items are damaged by moisture.
This is an office of the old Civil Defense organization, with a telephone and telex connection.
This is a part of the telephone room.

The command center was also connected to a separate national emergency telephone grid.

A special steel re-enforced concrete backbone structure was made, to protect the communication lines.
Also on the fortress area is the gun tower, still remaining in quite good shape.

Here you see the round going corridor, with gun rooms on the right and the tower core on the left.

This is a window to the gunpowder room.

These windows were closed with very thick glass, at the gunpowder room side.

Then a lantern could safely be placed in this niche, to light the gunpowder room.

The doors were closed and the lantern got air from an air intake and exhaust channel made in the brickwork, as you can see below en above the window.

The water from the ground covered roof is collected into a water cellar.

The ground covering consists mainly of sand, that acts as a good water filter, so the water in the cellar is good drinking water.

Here you see a ground covered gun storage room.

Later its function has been altered and the small door and windows were made.

You can see, that before that it had big sliding doors, for rolling the gun carriages in and out.

Here you see an other one, with the old sliding doors still intact.
On the earth wall of the fortress are gun positions on several places, with small earth walls in-between the guns.

After the invention of the high explosive shell, the gun tower was obsolete.
Then it got a ground screen on the enemy side, to protect it from direct hits and was used for storage of ammunition and other materials.

The guns were kept in the gun storage rooms and in time of war, rolled out to the gun positions on the fortress walls.

The fortress is now managed by nature conservation organization "Natuurmonumenten" for excursions you can call  +31 35 - 655 99.

Back to Index Map

Last revised on 24-12-2012