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Heusden-Zolder (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2010-12-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: heusden-zolder | leaf: oak (green) | acorns: 2 (green) | oak |
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[Flag of Heusden-Zolder]

Municipal flag of Heusden-Zolder - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 15 January 2007


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Presentation of Heusden-Zolder

The municipality of Heusden-Zolder (31,017 inhabitants on 1 January 2007, therefore the fourth biggest municipality in Limburg after Hasselt, Genk and Leopoldsburg; 5,323 ha) is located in western Limburg, on the border of the regions of Kempen and Haspengouw. The municipality of Heusden-Zolder is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Heusden and Zolder.

In the 8th century, Heusden, then a nearly desert and uninhabited area, was evangelized by St. Willibrordus. Along with Beringen and Paal, Heusden belonged to St. Adelardus (753-827), Abbot of Corbie. In 929-963, the name Husdinio was coined, meaning "hospice"; the name was later changed to Hoesden (1098-1138), Heusden (1371), Huysden (1386) and eventually Heusden. In the XIVth century, the parish of Heusden was erected but the village was administratively divided into two parts. The northern part was ran from Beringen, under the authority of the County of Loon, whereas the southern part, known as Hauweyken, belonged to the domain of Vogelsanck. The village was reunited in 1559 when it was totally purchased by Godfried van Bocholt.

The early settlement in Zolder took place in the neighborhood of the Bolderberg dunes. The village was originally known as Sueire ("acid sandy soil") or Suylre. The French rulers imposed the written form Soire, eventually changed to Zolder. Until 1241, Zolder belonged to the abbey of Herckenrode; it was then transferred to the Norbertine abbey of Averbode. Count Hugo van Loon built the castle of Vogelsanck and offerred it to his daughter Mathilde van Loon as her dowry. Zolder was incorporated to the domain of Vogelsanck in 1335.
The destiny of Heusden and Zolder dramatically changed in the beginning of the 20th century. Coal was found in 1901 and a coal-mining company was founded in 1907; the first shaft was opened in 1923 and actual production started in 1930. The once poor rural villages morphed into attractive industry and trade centers and several foreign miners settled there. The coal mines were eventually closed in 1992; they were the last active coal mines in Benelux.

The Zolder Circuit was set up in 1961 as the "Terlaemen Circuit" by the Bolderberg Automobile Club. It was officially inaugurated on 19 June 1963 by the Minister of Transportation Fred Bertrand; for the ceremony, the ribbon and the scissors were replaced by a steel cable and a blowtorch, respectively. The circuit was used for the F2 and F3 Grand Prix of Limburg, then ran by the most famous pilots (Jacky Ickx, Dennis Hulme, Clay Regazzoni, Piers Courage, Jack Brabham, Jochen Rindt - three wins -, Graham Hill). In 1971, the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium of Spa-Francorchamps was cancelled; Nivelles and Zolder competed for the organization, which was allocated to Nivelles in 1972 and 1974 and to Zolder in 1973 and the following years. The first GP of Belgium ran in Zolder started in confusion, since the track had to be revamped short before the start of the race; Jacky Stewart won, followed by François Cevert and Emerson Fittipaldi. Nicki Lauda won in 1975 and 1976, succeeded by Gunnar Nilsson (1977), Mario Andretti (1978), Jody Scheckter (1979), Didier Pironi (1980) and Carlos Reuteman (1981). On 6 May 1982, the Canadian F1 pilot Gilles Villeneuve was killed in Zolder during the qualifs, the GP being won by John Watson. The last GP of Belgium ran in Zolder was won in 1984 by Michele Alboreto; the Zolder Circuit was considered as not very exciting and was superseded by the revamped Spa-Francorchamps Circuit. In 1988, a newcomer called Michael Schumacher won his first title (Formel König) in Zolder.
The 24 Hours of Zolder were ran for the first time in 1977, with Dirk Vermeersch, Rudy Frahm and Baudoin Corbiau (Autobianchi A112 Abarth) as the winners.
The only motorbike GP ever organized in Zolder was won by Randy Mamola in 1980.
In 1969, Erik De Vlaeminck won the fourth of his seven titles of World Champion in Cyclo-Cross on the Zolder Circuit. In 1970, the Dutch Harm Ottenbros became World Champion in Cyclism on the Circuit. In 2002, the World Championships in Cyclo-Cross (winner, Mario Declercq) and in Cyclism (winner, Mario Cipollini) were organized on the Zolder Circuit.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 January 2007


Municipal flag of Heusden-Zolder

The municipal flag (photo) of Heusden-Zolder is yellow with a green oak leaf and two green acorns.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 25 November 1982, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 3 December 1984 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 July 1986.

According to the municipal website, the yellow color of the field was selected as a color found in the former arms of both Heusden and Zolder. Servais [svm55] shows a two-shielded coat of arms for Heusden: "1. Bendy sable and or, 2. Barully of ten or and gules a canton argent a bear proper with a ring in the nose". The fesses are the arms of the County of Loon, while the bear in canton recalls the arms of Beringen. Zolder must have use "Argent a bend sable fimbriated of the first three scallops or", since Heusden-Zolder uses arms that must be "Per pale Heusden and Zolder". The putative Zolder arms were taken from the seal of the feudal municipality of Zolder and Houeljken, showing the arms of Baron of Villenfagne, lord of Vogelsanck in 1741.
The oak leaf and acorns recall the former domain of Houeljken, originally known as Houdt Eijken, the Oakwood.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 January 2007


 
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