© Pont-écluse - Thionville | STEPHANE THEVENIN

The lock bridges of Thionville

Stone giants

Magnificently framing Robert Schuman Bridge, they often go unnoticed. Users in a hurry to get home after a hard day do not pay attention to these stone giants lost among the vegetation. They used to house grain, straw and even ammunition. The lock bridges of Thionville have withstood time and water for centuries. The structure has been a listed monument since 21 December 1984.

A HERITAGE

FOR THE MOST INQUISITIVE

To the north, you can make out a building almost completely in ruins. Nature is gently claiming back this partially destroyed collection of stones. At the heart of the battlefield between the Americans and the Germans, it was not spared by the agony of the Second World War. However, to the south, after skilful restoration work, the structure was brought back to life in the 1990s. So what was the purpose of these twin towers?

FROM VAUBAN

TO LOUIS DE CORMONTAIGNE

During his time in Thionville, Vauban noticed that the city frequently had to endure floods. In his urban and military project, he included two lock bridges. Built by Louis de Cormontaigne, on a side canal of the Moselle, these two approximately 2,000m² bridges were built in 1746.

Their main purpose was to limit flooding from the Moselle and control river traffic. Their second role was to provide a crossing over this new small river. The smallest but not least important of its advantages was that it offered additional space for storing military equipment and food supplies.

MASTERPIECES

OF FRENCH ENGINEERING

Desptie their entirely peaceful appearance, the two lock bridges were able to free the elements in the event of an attack and became genuine defensive assets for Thionville. The ingenious system of sluice gates could cause floods upstream of the southern bridge and constitute a water reserve which could be released upstream of the northern bridge.

Thionville’s lock bridges emerged victorious from the three sieges of 1702, 1814 and 1815. They were still intact at the time of the Annexation thanks to a military presence and the upkeep of the land. However, they did not survive bombing in 1944. Today, they are a reminder of these ingenious and innovative structures resulting from the know-how of the 18th century.