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Waregem (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-01-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: waregem | zulte-waregem |
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Flag of Waregem - Image by Jarig Bakker, 11 November 2001

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Presentation of Waregem and its villages

The municipality of Waregem (35,831 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,434 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km north-east of Kortrijk. The municipality of Waregem was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Waregem (21,854 inh.; 2,664 ha), Beveren (5,311 inh.; 636 ha), Desselgem (5,165 inh.; 724 ha) and Sint-Eloois-Vijve (3,498 inh.; 410 ha). Waregem was granted the honorific title of town (stad) on 23 June 1999.

Waregem, mentioned for the first time in 826, was "Waro's lineage's estate". The banks of the Leie were already settled in the Gallo-Roman times, while the rest of today's Waregem was covered with woods. Around 950, the St. Peter abbey of Ghent was granted a big territory, including most of Beveren-Leie, Desselgem, and parts of Deerlijk and Waregem. Until the 13th century, the St. Bavo abbey of Ghent owned Sint-Eloois-Vijve and most of Waregem. The center of Waregem was surrounded by lands owned by the lords of Dendermonde, who eventually took the control of the town in the 12th century, except its center, which was transferred to the Notre-Dame Chapter of Tournai.
Until the 18th century, Waregem was a rural municipality, the center of the village and the church forming an "enclave" surrounded with woods, that covered 26% of the municipal territory. In 1635, an official market was required to get rid of the black market of butter, grain and other foodstuff, but was refused under the pressure of the neighbouring market towns of Kortijk, Wakken and Oudenaarde. A new application, tabled in 1784 with the support of Nokere, Zulte, Wortegem, Sint-Baafs-Vijve, Sint-Eloois-Vijva and Anzegem, was more successful; on 29 November 1784, Emperor Joseph II allowed a weekly market on Sunday for linen, flax, wool, butter, eggs and flax seeds, which boosted textile industry. In 1784, there were 900 families - some 4,500 inhabitants - and some 800 looms. Until the first half of the 20th century, clothing industry dominated the economic life in Waregem, the "Golden Banks of the Leie" (Gouden Leieboorden) providing full employment. After the crisis of the 1940s, the clothing industry was mechanized and has survived until now.

Waregem is a proud horse's town. The first horse race was organized in the village, whose cobbles had been dug out, by Felix de Ruyck and Jules Storm on 30 August 1847. In 1855, de Ruyck was allowed to organize a steeple-chase on the meadows surrounding the village. Supported by the indutrialist Marc Lejeune, from the north of France, the "Grand Steeplechase of Flanders" of Waregem became a main event in equitation. British lords and kings, as well as Emperor Napoléon III, sent their best horses to the race. The Waregem Koerse (Waregem Race) is still a world-famous event taking place in August, with the famous steeple-chase and its difficult jump over the Gaverbeek brook (7.5 m in width, the widest in the world). The Gaverbeek track, built in 1858 and revamped several times since then, is the place of trotting races from May to September, and the center of a multi-purpose sports complex (17 ha).

Waregem is the arrival town of the cyclist race Dwars door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders), ran for the first time in 1945 as Dwars door België (Across Belgium). Ran a week and an half before the famous Tour of Flanders, Dwars door Vlaanderen is mostly a Belgian affair ,with famous winners like Rik Van Steenbergen (1945), Raymond Impanis (1949, 1951), Briek Schotte "The Last Flandrian" (1953, 1955), Walter Godefroot (1966,1968), Eric Vanderaerden (1986, 1991), Johan Museeuw (1993, 1999) and Tom Boonen (2007). The race is less difficult than the Tour of Flanders but climbs some of its famous mounts, for instance the Oud Kwaremont and the Paterberg.
The Road World Championships, organized in Waregem in 1957, were won by Rik Van Steenbergen, defeating Louison Bobet and André Darrigade.

Beveren (known as Beveren-Leie to distinguish it for other villages named Beveren), mentioned for the first time in 964 in a deed by the Frankish king Lothaire, is named after the Celtic word bebrona, "a river with bevers". In 1937, a Gallo-Roman treasure with 800 bronze coins dated c. 260 AD was found in the village. Beveren belonged to the St. Peter abbey in Ghent and developed as a linen village.

Desselgem was mentioned for the first time in 964, when Count of Flanders Arnulf the Great transferred "Desselgem and its neighborhood" to the St. Peter abbey in Ghent. The name of the village comes from Frankish Thasseldhinghehem, Thraswald's lineage's estate. Like Beveren, Desselgem lived in the past from linen.

Sint-Eloois-Vijve was at the end of the 10th century a strategic place for Count of Flanders Baudouin IV during the revolt of the town of Kortrijk against his rule. According to a document dated 1289, Sint-Eloois-Vijve, then known as Vijve-Dendermonds, shared a common lord with Ingelmunster, both villages belonging to the lords of Dendermonde until the French Revolution. Sint-Eloois-Vijve was located at the crossroads of the Cassel-Tongeren and Bavay-Oudenburg Roman ways and, in the Middle Ages, halfway between Lille (France) and Ghent. This was the place where the horses were changed and the travellers could rest in one of tne numerous inns built along the road. After the building of the Imperial road Ghent-Kortrjik in 1716-1718, Sint-Eloois-Vijve was the place of an important coaching inn, still recalled by the De Posterij pub. There was also a bridge over the Leie in the village and a lock was built on the river in 1863, which even increased the wealth of Sint-Eloois-Vijve. In the 19th, there was also linen industry in the village.

Ivan Sache, 20 December 2007

Flag of Waregem

The flag of Waregem is horizontally divided red-white with the municipal arms in the center.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag, adopted on 10 June 1980 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 1 December 1980 and published on 29 January 1981 in the Belgian official gazette.
The colors of the flag are taken from the municipal coat of arms.

The modern arms of Waregem are "Per fess, 1a. Argent a fleur-de-lis gules, 1b. Gules a Moor standing clad vert belted or and crowned of the same, 2. Gules three keys or, overall an escutcheon azure a deer's head proper." The upper part of the arms and the escutcheon comes from the arms of the Barons of Plotho, lords of Waregem, Sint-Eloois-Vijve since 1584 and bearing "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Argent a fleur-de-lis or, 2. and 3. A Moor proper, overall an escutcheon azure a deer's head proper". These arms were used by the Bailiff representing the Baron of Plotho in Waregem and Sint-Eloois-Vijve. The arms of Plotho were granted to the municipality of Waregem by Royal Decree on 7 November 1892, corrected by a Royal Decree on 19 August 1893, prescribing the addition of a blue label in chief to distinguish the arms of the municipality from those of the Plotho family.
The Flag and arms of Ingelmunster show also a deer's head, which is probably not coincidental since the Barons of Plotho were also lords of Ingelmunster.
The lower part of the modern arms of Waregem comes from the arms of Desselgem, "Gules three keys or. The shield supported by St. Martin and the poor on a base vert". Desselgem belonged to the St. Peter abbey in Ghent, which owned several parts of Waregem and Beveren, too. "Gules three keys or" were the arms of the abbey, symbolizing the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. These arms, supported by St. Martin, were granted to the municipality of Desselgem by Royal Decree on 10 April 1954.


Rejected flag proposal for Waregem - Image by Ivan Sache, 20 December 2007

A former version of the municipal website claimed that the original flag proposed by the Municipal Council of Waregem did not include the coat of arms, which was added by the Flemish Heraldic Council to make the flag more distinguishable.

Pascal Vagnat, Jarig Bakker & Ivan Sache, 20 December 2007

SV Zulte-Waregem football club

"KSV (Koninklijk Sportvereniging) Waregem" was officially incorporated in 1951 as the successor of "Waereghem Sportif", originally incorporated in 1925, and of several subsequent clubs merged together. KSV Waregem won the Belgium Cup in 1974, 4-1 against KSK Tongeren. The club was suppressed in 2001 because of abyssal debts.
"Sportvereneging Zulte-Waregem" (SVZW; website) emerged the same year, as the former "Zultse Voetbalvereniging", the club originally formed in 1976 in the neighbouring town of Zulte as the successor of "Voetbalclub Zulte Sportief", originally founded in 1935, and of several subsequent clubs merged together. There was no formal merging with Waregem since "KSV Waregem" had disappeared, but the Zulte club moved to the "abandoned" Gaverbeek stadium of Waregem and changed its name accordingly.
SVZW won the Belgian Cup in 2006, 2-1 against Royal Excelsior Mouscron.

The main colours of the club are red and green; red and white were the colour of "KSV Warege"m (and of the town), and I guess that green and yellow were the colours of" Zultse VV" (and ot the town). The emblem of SVZW uses these four colours.
The "official" flag of SVZW, which can be purchased from the club for 9.95 € (size, 1 m x 1.5 m) is vertically divided red-green with a thin vertical yellow stripe in the middle and the emblem of the club.
The emblem of the club, bordered in yellow. is made of two interlaced, red and green, ovals and a red football ball, surmounted by a green- yellow-red rainbow, recalling the name of the stadium (Regenboogstadium, lit., "Rainbow Stadium"). There are red letterings:
- SV between the rainbow and the ovals;
- ZULTE WAREGEM / BEKERWINNAAR 2006 (Cup's Winner 2006) below the ovals.
This flag is shown several photographies on the club website, as hanging over the entrance of the stadium and waved by a row of young club's members when the players enter the field.
Another flag to be purchased from the club is the "KOMAAN ESSEVEE" supporter's flag, chequered green-red (5 x 8) with the motto in yellow letters, KOMAAN bordered red, ESSEVEE bordered green.

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Supporterts' flags of SVZW - Images by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2008
Click on the flags to see larger images

Several supporters' flags are seen on the hundreds of photographies available on the club website, the most prevalent of them being:
- green with a red border, square;
- green with two thin red stripes on top and on bottom, retangular;
- quartered green-red, square;
- green with a thin red border, rectangular;
- horizontally divided red-green, rectangular;
- green with a red diamond, square;
- divided red-green by a descending diagonal, rectangular;
- horizontally divided white-green-white (thin stripe)-red-white;
- quartered red-green, rectangular;
- green with a thin red saltire, square.


Ivan Sache, 21 April 2008