Once I’ve explained the details of my search at the Department of the Historic Monuments of Belgium, they redirect me to the Archives and Photograph Service of the Belgian railway, where I was received by mister Jan Verhaeven, Public affairs & External relations.
Mister Verhaeven, a very quiet and competent person, helped me by searching in their documents database for pics related to the Central Station of Antwerp, especially in the period going from 1905 to 1980. Most of the available documents are old postcards, and it is very difficult to find some views from the inside of the Station, due to the commercial aim of the original sources.
After an hour of research we had to give up: no one document shows any bathroom or showers.
Mister Verhaeven gave me the name of another person, working at the Archives service in Antwerp, where are kept most of the maps of the station. A phone call later, I knew that there is no mark of any bathroom or showers on the original map.
But I had one more source to explore. Mister Constant Wagemans was working for many years at the Belgian railway, and possesses the most important collection of documents related to the Belgian railway’s history. Mister Wagemans is regarded as a real expert about the Belgian trains, even by the official authorities. There is no railway’s museum in Belgium (like the NRM of York in England, for example), and all the ‘memory’ is supported by the national Archives services, and private collections.
I had a very thrilling conversation with mister Wagemans, who learned me a lot of almost incredible details about the Central Station of Antwerp. This station was the first official building ever gas-lighted in Europe! That was in 1906. It was for many years a huge chimney near the station, and inside of it, at the bottom, a wheel-less steam locomotive was producing steam enough to heat the station by a net of underground tunnels…
But even mister Wagemans never heard about any bathroom at the Central Station of Antwerp.
Head of Research of the Global Connected Researcher Union
All documents with the courtesy of the archives of the SNCB-holding