Hengelo is a Dutch town and municipality in the eastern part of the country. Unlike many towns and cities in the Netherlands it does not have a very long history. This is due to the fact that it only started to expand at the beginning of the 19th century from what was a very small village. it is a quiet town with a resident population of around 80,000 and some light engineering that provides a good amount of the local employment. It also has very good transport links for a town of it’s size.
History Of Hengelo
Although the history of Hengelo is relatively brief in terms of modern occupation, the area itself has been settled for many thousands of years according to archaeologists. Fairly recently there was a discovery of a stone axe near to the town, that is thought to be around 75,000 years old. It is thought to have belonged not to a Homosapien, but to a Neanderthal, probably from a group living in the area at that time.
In more recent times there are few records of the area, due to the fact that it mainly consisted of separate farms and dwellings that were not formed into any kind of structure such as a large village or town.
The modern history of Hengelo began at the start of the 19th century when this amalgamation of scattered dwellings was formed into a municipality. Its formation into a town was really brought about by the industrial revolution, when people that would have been employed from generation to generation as farm workers or craftspeople, began to lose traditional crafts such as spinning and weaving to the factories that were being built in the towns by the newly rich middle classes. Moving into factory work could also bring a large increase in the relative prosperity of a family of formally rural workers.
Being as it only grew from the 1800’s Hengelo was never given a charter to become a city with all of the advantages that this would have brought. But it did get great advantage from the railway that was built there towards the end of the 19th century. Hengelo was at a junction in the system which made for good transport links that encouraged the building of industrial units and factories in the area, so that the manufactured good could be easily distributed around the country.
In the Second World War during the occupation of the Netherlands by Germany, the town was bombed relentlessly by the allied forces aiming to destroy the industrial areas and also the strategically important railway junction. This brought about a catastrophe in October 1944 when the town itself was mistakenly targeted by the bombers. This resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and the destruction of the centre of Hengelo.
Transport To And From Hengelo
Probably the easiest way to get to Hengelo is by train. Being on a large junction you can get there, relatively easily from most parts of Holland and also from Germany. There are direct trains from many parts of the country including Apeldoorn, Hilversum, Amersfoort, Schiphol Airport, Utrecht, Gouda, Rotterdam, Zwolle, Den Haag, Almelo and Deventor. There are also direct trains going to Germany, to Hanover and also to Berlin.
If you are flying into Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, there is not a direct train. You should take the train directly from the station at Schiphol Airport to Amersfoort and change there for the train to Hengelo. If you are driving from Amsterdam then you need to take the A1 out of the city and then change onto the E30 to Hengelo. The A35 that runs between Wierden to Enschede also goes by the outskirts of Hengelo.
The main form of transport in the town are the buses. They provide a quick and efficient service to most parts of the town. If you want to take a taxi then you can find them at taxi ranks at stations, or you can book one by telephone, Taxi Hengelo +31 74 250 9291, or, A1 Taxi +31 6 38381615. You can also hire bicycles in the town.
The Museum of Technology in Hengelo has been open for 30 years, and is a fascinating place for all those who are interested in technology. They have some great machinery, both in its historical context and also as interactive exhibits. Every May the BernArt en Music festival is held in Hengelo. There are many live music acts as well as other entertainments. It is held in the Prins Bernhard park. The Piet Blom museum pays tribute to Piet Blom, who was a great Dutch architect. The museum is in a small house at The Kasbah, which was one of his developments.
Shopping And Eating
The De Brink Centre is a shopping centre that was built in the centre of Hengelo in part of the area that was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. There is a really good selection of shops here as well as some good cafes and a few banks. if you wander around some of the smaller streets in this area, there are some really interesting little shops that sell a range of second hand and craft goods as well as boutiques.
Emma’s Etcafe is a simple unassuming cafe with a good atmosphere, great inexpensive food and friendly, helpful staff. Despite being a cafe rather than a full restaurant they seem to make an effort to make the food look and taste good. Kami Suchi is a good little all you can eat mainly sushi restaurant. With quick efficient staff and great sushi, this is one of the better restaurants in Hengelo. If there is anyone in your group that doesn’t like sushi they have some other good options on the menu. De Bourgondier is a friendly French restaurant that serves fine food for a reasonable budget. The restaurant itself has a cosy feeling and the staff are very helpful.
Although Hengelo lacks the history and architecture of most Dutch towns and cities it is an interesting place with good shopping and museums and some excellent food too.