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Thursday 7 August 2008

The Great Weeze Wheeze

Yesterday 06/08/08 Nat Bocking and his family flew to Germany because when Ryanair had a reverse price sale in June they found could fly to Niederrhein Airport (the former RAF Laarbruch) located at Weeze in Northern Germany for one penny each way. Yes, that is including the taxes.

There's a 7.15 AM flight out in the morning from Stansted and a 8.00 PM (7.00 PM GMT) flight back in the evening. The 50 minute flight time and a low volume of passengers at Weeze allows enough time for a day out in any of the surrounding towns and villages along the Dutch/German border. The landscape along the Rhine here is very flat and is dotted with wind turbines and water towers.

Ryanair advertise the route as Düsseldorf (Weeze) but Düsseldorf is over 70 km away but that's another issue.

In the town of Kevelaer, 10 km from the airport and accessible by a frequent and reliable shuttle bus service, they found this water tower in a residential area, just a few minutes walk from the centre of town and the train station. Built 1905, it is now converted into offices for the local water, sewerage and bus company. There is a delightful fountain (not shown) outside the front door.

It's not normally open to visitors but the staff were very pleased to hear of BWTAS and after some conversation they understood we had a genuine interest. They allowed us in to see some of the offices and a conference room, all recently refurbished, inside the tower but the tank room for now is off limits.

The plaque on the door says the tower is 54m high, has a capacity of 450 cubic metres and the tank was constructed on the 'Intze' system.

From the top of the 15m gantry of the 'Tyrannosaurus Rex' slide at the Irrland amusement park 7 km away, (also served by the same airport shuttle) the town's vista is dominated by the wasserturm and the church steeple.

More than 800,000 pilgrims, mostly from Germany and the Netherlands, visit a shrine to the Virgin Mary in Kevelaer every year. It has many other fine buildings and plenty of restaurants and good museums and good rail connections with half-hourly service between Krefeld and Düsseldorf. It is also twinned with Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, UK.

Thanks to the German Watertower Society for the information that Kevelaer had a water tower.

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