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Genk (Municipality, Province of Limburg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-11-24 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Genk

The municipality of Genk (64,095 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 8,785 ha) is located in the heart of Limburg and Kempen.

Genk was probably an ancient Celtic settlement, as proved by arms and funerary urns found in the town. The region was evangelized around the Xth century by the disciples of St. Lambert in the monastery of Munsterbilzen, who probably built a primitive sanctuary. The name of Genk appears as Geneche on a deed signed on 13 December 1108 by Count Adolph of Saphenberg, who transferred the village to the abbey of Rolduc. Located in the County of Loon, Genk and other parishes were a matter of dispute between the Count and the Abbot in the beginning of the XIVth century. Genk and Riemst were eventually transferred to the Count. The borders of the municipality were fixed for the first time in 1312 by Count Ludovicus; they were submitted to several changes in the next centuries. The County of Loon, including Genk, was incorporated into the Principality of Liège in 1365 but the common Law of Loon was maintained.

At the end of the XIXth century, Genk had hardly more than 2,000 inhabitants and its unstained nature attracted several artists. A dramatic change was caused by the finding of coal in Kempen, following the first drilling made by Professor André Dumont, from the University of Leuven, in As on 20 May 1901 and the set up of the first colliery on 1 August of the same year. In 1902, drillings were performed in Genk on the two sites of Gelieren and Winterslag, followed by drillings in Waterschei and Zwartberg. The first coal sample, later thoroughly preserved and nicknamed Zwarte steen (The Black Stone), was brought up on 3 June 1914 at 13:30 in Winterslag. The First World War nearly stopped the mining activity. The boom of Genk really started in 1920, after the resuming of coal mining. Population climbed from 3,402 in 1910 to 6,276 in 1920 and 24,574 in 1930, with a massive input of foreign workers. Boroughs developed quite independently around each colliery, which explains the today's structure of Genk, made of a center and scattered boroughs.

After the closure of the Zwartberg mine in 1966, a phase of reindustrialization started, with the set up of two business parks, Genk-Noord (north of the former mines of Winterslag and Zwartberg, partially located on the municipal territory of Opglabbeek) and Genk-Zuid (south of Genk, shared with the municipalities of Bilzen, Diepenbeek and Zutendaal). Reindustrialization was favoured by the nearby Albert Canal and port and the building of new highways.

Source: Municipal website

The football team Koninklijke Racing Club Genk (KRC Genk) was formed in 1988 by the merging of the former miners' clubs of Thor Waterschei (founded in 1923, Thor being the acronym of Tot Heil Onzer Ribbekas, "To the Glory of Our Thorax", in local Dutch) and KFC Winterslag (founded in 1923). Waterschei won the Belgian Cup in 1980 and 1982. Winterslag defeated Arsenal in the UEFA Cup in 1981 and was awarded the nickname of "Arsenal Killers". The new club KRC Genk played its first season in the Winterslag stadium but moved the next year to the Waterschei stadium, the location of the next Fenix stadium, inaugurated in 1999. The beginning of the new club was difficult, with thirteen managers in twelve years and relegation to the second league. The situation eventually improved under the direction of the coach Aimé Anthuenis; RKC Genk won the Belgian Cup in 1998, 4-0 against Club Bruges. The next year, they won the national championship and again the Belgian Cup in 2000, 4-1 against Standard de Liège. The new coach, Sef Vergoossen, led the team to a new national champion's title in 2002.

Source: KRC Genk website

Ivan Sache, 7 July 2007

Municipal flag of Genk

The municipal flag of Genk is vertically divided blue-yellow with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 19 May 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 6 October 1992 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994.

The colours of the flag are taken from the sinister part of the arms, which are "Per pale, barruly or and gules ten pieces, azure a St. Martin or riding and cutting his cloak".
The dexter part of the coat of arms recalls that Genk was once part of the County of Loon, whereas its sinister part states that St. Martin is the patron saint of the town.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 7 July 2007