Postal address
Postbus 132, 4530 AC Terneuzen

Visitors address
Schelpenpad 2, 4531 PD Terneuzen, Nederland.

Tel: +31 (0) 115 647400, Fax: +31 (0) 115 647500


Port of Terneuzen


The history of the port of Terneuzen is closely connected with the developments in the port area of Ghent. The origins of Ter Nose, the present Terneuzen, can be traced back to around the year 1300.


Early developments in the port area of Ghent


Antwerp was the heart of international trade in the 16th century. A new connection with the Western Scheldt was sought as Ghent did not want to miss out on the economic benefits of this trade. The new canal, Sassevaart, connected Ghent with Braakman. The construction of this new waterway led to the creation of the new settlement of Sas van Gent.


As a result of extensive land reclamation in the Braakman area, the Sassevaart became less and less usable. The canal eventually became a neglected, sludgy ditch. In order to limit the economic decline of Ghent, the city decided to dig a new connection with the sea. This became the Brugse Vaart, a canal between Bruges and Ghent. During the second half of the 18th century, Ghent prospered as never before. Ghent felt the need for a new connection with the sea due to increasing industry. Once again, a connection was sought in the north.


The canal between Terneuzen and Sas van Gent


King Willem I recognised the importance of Ghent and agreed to the construction of a new connection between Ghent and Terneuzen. The old Sassevaart was deepened and widened. A new, 13-kilometre long canal was dug between Sas van Gent and Terneuzen. Heavy maritime traffic resulting from vessels and liners travelling to Ghent meant it was necessary to widen and deepen the canal. After these improvements the canal had a depth a 6.5 metres. A number of awkward bends were also realigned. At Sas van Gent, a new canal arm and a new lock were built.


Because of the ever increasing size of the sea-going ships and sailing ships being superseded by steamships, modifications could no longer be put off. Belgium and the Netherlands decided to build a new lock at Terneuzen and a new swing bridge at Sluiskil. This lock is still in use as a middle lock. At Sas van Gent, a third canal arm was constructed and a new lock built. The canal was also deepened along its entire length, allowing ships with a draught of 8 metres to navigate it.


Increase in activity in Terneuzen


The port of Terneuzen didn't really start to develop until the construction of two railways: Ghent-Terneuzen (1896) and Malines-Terneuzen (1871). Terneuzen became an interesting destination for all kinds of transshipment and storage companies as it was the end of the line for both lines. Shipping and customs agency De Meijer, NV De Hoop and the Terneuzense Scheepsbouw Maatschappij are just a few examples of companies that were set up here during that time.


Activity also increased in the ports of Sluiskil and Sas van Gent. The first industrialisation in Zeeland actually took place in Sas van Gent. The first sugar factory in the Netherlands was built in Sas van Gent in 1872. A starch and glucose factory (now known as Cerestar) also set up an establishment here in 1912. The first Dutch coke factory was located in Sluiskil.


Economic boom on the banks of the canal


The development of the ports on the banks of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal really took off after the end of the Second World War. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Terneuzen was designated a targeted growth municipality. This meant the municipal executive was able to make subsidies available to attract new industry.


Companies including Philips, Ovet, Elopak, Air Products and Broomchemie settled in the area. The arrival of Dow in 1963 was also a huge boost to prosperity in the region. The second reason for the explosive development was the widening and deepening of the canal. Two new locks were also built: one for inland shipping and one for sea-going vessels.


Both canal ports were extended and widened over the course of the years afterwards. This includes the Zuiderkanaalhaven, the Zevenaarhaven and the Axelse Vlaktehaven. A Mass Goods port was constructed in 1975. The Braakman Port was constructed in 1978. This port offers an open connection to the Western Scheldt. Dow Benelux BV was the first company to establish here.