A walk along the crusade

The historical association Oud-Utrecht makes walks through the city for DUIC, in search of special heritage. This time the starting point for the walk is the start of the crusade.

Kruisvaart ends at Utrecht Vaartsche Rijn Station in one of the oldest canals in the Netherlands, the Vaartsche Rijn. The cast-iron Jeremie bridge that spanned the Kruisvaart since 1912 had to disappear because the entire route was widened and adapted for the construction of this train station. The drawbridge was replaced in 2011 by a fixed bridge of the same name and the original Jeremie farm was moved to Maximaparken, where it lies above Alendorperwetering. The ship De Oude Buis, built for the transport of bulk goods such as sand and gravel, but for decades used as a club for the Utrecht sailing club Histos, also had to come along and is now a little further in Kruisvaart, at the height of Bleekstraat.

Moesgrachten

Kruisvaart – formerly also known as Bloemgracht – is the only remaining canal of a system of canals, the moesgracht, which was built in the 17th century.e century was built west of the city’s outer canal in an area called City Freedom. These canals served for good drainage of this fertile horticultural area and for the transport of fruit and vegetables produced to the center of Utrecht. The crusade ran for 17e century all the way to Leidsevaart, part of the current Leidse Rijn. However, the northern part was gradually filled in, so that in 2022 the crusade is only a dead end.

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Crusade / Mariagracht with Buurkerk, Mariakerk and Dom in the background. Drawing around 1730 (Utrecht Archives)

Raadwijk and Drakenburgh

At the bend in Vondellaan, where one of the Mosgrachten used to run, we find a semicircular part of the buildings, and the street is called Raadwijk. In the 17the century there was a pan factory here, but in the 18the century, the then owner built a villa here called Raadwijk. The block-shaped house with a continuous roof all the way around was connected to the business premises behind with an intermediate wing. In 1899, the villa with commercial premises was bought by the van Rennes family, who brought the Drakenburgh machine factory there, which until then had stood next to the medieval Drakenburgh house. In 1937, the house and any factory buildings were demolished to make way for the extension of the railway line and the construction of houses in Vondellaan’s bend. Only the name of the street still reminds of the villa.

lift bridge

The name Crusade is somewhat confusing because this name was also used for one of the transverse canals that came out at the height of the present Mariaplaats on Stadsbuitengracht, Keulse Vaart, now Catharijnesingel. This canal is also referred to as the Mariagracht in other descriptions for obvious reasons. At Kruisvaart we find Hefbrug in the park at Hubert Pootstraat. This bridge was built around the late 1920s over the Crusade to allow a branch from the nearby railway lines to the new vegetable auction. It was built here in 1928 according to drawings by JI Planjer.

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Drawbridge in Kruisvaart in Utrecht during a load test with steam locomotive no. 3775 (series 3700/3800) from NS. (Utrecht Archives)

Of this auction, which moved to another location in 1970, only the monumental vestibule remains and is now the De Halter sports hall. The railway was already demolished at that time, because no more fruit and vegetables were to be transported to and from the vegetable auction, and only the lift bridge itself still reminds of this period and is a municipal monument. With new construction on the way in the area between Kruisvaart and the railway lines, plans have also been made for a park, Ringpark Dichterswijk, connecting Kruisvaart and the Merwede canal via Jekerstraat and Veilinghaven. Perhaps a new future can be found in this plan for the drawbridge that has been rusting away in the park at Hubert Pootstraat in its upright position for years.

Text Piet van Dyck

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