Ypres: The Early Pilgrims 1922
When the early pilgrims to the Ypres battlefields in Flanders began to arrive from 1919, with a war shattered town and landscape finding accommodation for them was something of a problem; many stayed in nearby Bruges, Ghent or Ostend and motored down.
A testimony to the huge influx of visitors is shown in this image which is of the Hotel Excelsior in Ypres from around 1922. The ruined city was in its early stages of being rebuilt and this became one of the first substantial temporary buildings constructed, close to the railway station.
Battlefield pilgrims could stay here in basic rooms and as can be seen from the front of the hotel, it became a hive of activity for taxis and other touring vehicles who from 1920 onwards began to offer guided tours of the battlefields. Another reminder that the modern battlefield tour industry is far from new.
Reading Will Bird’s Thirteen Years After at the moment. Admittedly written a few years later, the title gives a massive clue, but he stayed at the Hotel Splendid in Ypres, so the notion of grandiose names is not new in Flanders. It is quite incredible how quickly the people got the majority of land and the residential areas back to some form of normality after all that destruction and something for someone to do a PhD Thesis on, as it always draws comment. Keep posting Paul, and thank you.
31/01/2012 at 20:36
We have a photo of the ‘Splendid Hotel’ in Ypres, taken circa 1920. The ruins of the Cloth Hall are just by the hotel.
30/07/2012 at 02:40