In 1944 the dikes of Walcheren get bombed on different locations by the Allied forces to expel the German occupiers off of the island. A big part of the population of Walcheren has to flee and find shelter on the other islands in Zeeland or outside of Zeeland. The daily life is greatly disturbed and all activities are determined by the tide. Only one and a half years later will the last holes in the dikes be closed.
After the flood of 1944 Walcheren is drained again and the foundation “Nieuw Walcheren” (New Walcheren) is created. The foundation aims to “make Walcheren green again”: thousands of trees are planted. This is finished around 1950. But how can you show someone what Walcheren looks like at one glance? The idea is suggested to build a miniature version of Walcheren. To implement this plan, the population of Zeeland is asked for help.
- All costs of materials are compensated
- 600 volunteers work for more than 90 thousand hours
- A contest is connected to the project: the first prize went to the miniature of Slot ter Hoge from Middelburg, the second prize was for the church of Veere and the third prize was for the water tower in Vlissingen.
- All models are built on a scale of 1:20
- 35,000 trees are planted
- Everything is supervised by director A.G. Wagensfeld
- Because of the Watersnoodramp (a flood in 1953) the opening happened only in 1954. The models are stored in the (former) town hall of Middelburg on the market.
Opening of Miniatuur Walcheren
At the 25th of July 1954 Queen Juliana visits Middelburg. On the market of the capital, she takes out a big procession and opens Miniature Walcheren. The mayors of all the municipalities with their chain of office join the Queen.
The initial intention was to only have Miniatuur Walcheren open for public for 3 months. But the Miniature park became a success; the short exhibition became a permanent attraction.
From wood to polyester
In the 1980’s Miniatuur Walcheren changes to using plastic for the construction of the miniatures. The wooden objects require a lot of work, the new plastic polyester is much more resistant to the changing weather. Gradually all miniatures are replaced.