Last modified: 2011-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: beerse | star: 8 points | stars: 3 (yellow) | vlimmeren | fire brigade |
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Municipal flag of Beerse - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 September 2005
The municipality of Beerse (17,003 inhabitants in 2009; 3,749 ha) is located 5 km south-west of Turnhout. Beerse, Turnhout, Oud-Turnhout and Vosselaar form together the Stadsregio Turnhout (Turnhout Urban Region). The municipality of Beerse is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Beerse and Vlimmeren.
Beerse was mentioned for the first time in 1187, when Roger, Bishop of Cambrai, transferred the (rights on the) village church to the nuns' abbey of Groot-Bijgaarden. This means that Beerse had been founded earlier, most probably in the Frankish times, as evidenced by its triangular village square.
Beerse subsequently belonged to the Land of Turnhout, part of the Duchy of Brabant; in 1559, King Philip II of Spain transferred Beerse and Vosselaar to Jan Van Renesse, lord of Ostmalle.
Beerse is the place of the research department of the Janssen Pharmaceutica company, founded in 1953 by the chemist Dr. Paul Janssen (1926-2003) and purchased in 1961 by Johnson & Johnson. Janssen and his team are credited the discovery of more than 80 drugs.
Beerse is the birth town of two famous Belgian footballers, René Verheyen (b. 1952; winner of the Belgian Cup in 1986 with FC Bruges; 24 matches played with the national team in 1976-1984, 3 goals) and Patrick Vervoort (b. 1965; winner of the Belgian Cup with RSC Anderlecht in 1988 and 1989; 32 matches played with the national team in 1986-1991, 3 goals).
Vlimmeren has been locally known as Stad Worst (Sausage Towns) for centuries; this odd nickname seems to date back to the 18th century, when Vlimmeren, with hardly 175 inhabitants, was the smallest settlement in the area. In 1751, for financial resaons, Vlimmeren was incorporated to the neighbouring municipality of Wechelderzande (itself incorporated to Lille in 1976). According to the local legend, the upset villagers from Vlimmeren locked the road between the two villages with a bolted turnstile. When they lost the bolt, they replaced it by a piece of strong sausage, for the great pleasure of their neighbours, who nicknamed "Sausage Town" the tiny village whose gate was fiercely locked with a sausage. Anyway, with the support of Count de Pestre, lord of Turnhout, Vlimmeren seceded in 1768 from Wechelderzande and remained an independent municipality until 1976.
Sources: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 17 July 2010
The municipal flag of Beerse is blue with a crenelled yellow
horizontal stripe and three yellow eight-pointed stars, two above the
stripe and one below it.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 30 April 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 12 May 1992 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 4 January 1995.
The flag of Beerse is a banner of the municipal arms, supporters
excluded, officially described as "Blue with a
yellow counter-battled horizontal stripe surrounded by three yellow
The arms are officially described as "Azure a fess counter-embattled or surrounded by three eight-pointed stars of the same. The shield supported by two bears or armed and langued gules and placed over a sword [argent] hilted or".
The municipality of Beerse was required to adopt arms after the First
World War. Adopted in 1926, the first arms of Beerse are "Sable a
sword of the same hilted or flanked by two bears of the same armed and
langued gules". While the sword recalls that Beerse significantly
contributed ot the defense of the Yser front during the First World
War, the bear spreads a popular, erroneous etymology of the town's
name, based on beer, in Dutch, "a bear". Unfortunately, Beerse
(written Berse in the 12th century, Barse in the 13th century, and, in
the modern times, Beersse until 1933) has nothing to do with bears.
Among the proposed meanings of the town's name in Middle Dutch are
"stubble fields", "open space", "bare moors"or "brook".
The municipality of Vlimmeren used a coat of arms, though never officially adopted, "Gules a key or per pale surrounded by two mullets argent". These arms belonged to Julien de Pestre, lord of Turnhout from 1768 to 1774 and supporter of the municipal independence in the sausage affair (see above), therefore remembered as the village's benefactor.
A new municipal coat of arms was required following the incorporation of Vlimmeren to Beerse in 1976, but it took 15 years to find a solution accepted by all. The today's arms of Beerse are based on the arms of Johan de Proost, lord of Beerse and Vlimmeren from 1626 to 1648 and the only historical link between the two places.
The stars recall the former arms of Vlimmeren while Beerse is recalled by the two bears surrounding the sword used as the shield's supporters.
A more detailed history of the municipal arms can be found in: Dignef, L. 1994. Beerse en Vlimmeren voeren het wapenschild van Johan de Proost, De Vlierbes 16: 143-170.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 17 July 2010
As reported on 26 June 2010 by Ronny van den Ackerveken in Het Nieuwsblad (article with color photos), the Beerse Fire Brigade was presented its new flag on 25 June 2010.
Embroidered by the nuns of Westmalle, the flag is square, red with a fringe of the Belgian colours (black-yellow-red). In the middle, the municipal arms of Beerse, surmonting a fireman's helmet placed over two fireman's axes crossed per saltire over a fire; on the left of the emblem, the (official) flag of Flanders, on its right, the Belgian flag. The flag is charged with the black writing "BRANDWEER" (Fire Brigade, on top) "BEERSE" (on bottom).
The former flag of the Beerse Fire Brigade, also embroidered by the nuns of Westmalle and used at least for the last 30 years, is a square Belgian national flag; in canton, the former arms of Beerse (see above), with argent replacing here sable from the original coat of arms, probably because of the black stripe on which the arms are placed; in the middle, a fireman holding a water hose. The flag is charged with the writing "VRIJWILLIGE BRANDWEER" (Volunteer Fire Brigade, on top, in black letters) and "BEERSE" (on bottom, in blue letters outlined in black).
Ivan Sache, 17 July 2010