A short History of the Historical Society

Geschiedenis van de kring Cercle folkorique de 'l histoire Ostendaise Ostendener verein heimatkunde und geschichte De Plate

On the 21st of November 1954 the Folklore Society De Plate was established and presented to the cultural circles of Ostend.

Seventeen Ostend adepts of folklore and heritage founded the society at the instigation of Mr. Karel Seys, better known by his pseudonym, Ary Sleeks. He had noticed that he had received a big response on the occasion of a reading he had given at the time of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the termination of the Siege of Ostend (1601-1604).

The founding meeting was held in the now extinct café "De Bierkelder" (Beercellar) in the Christinastraat 116.

The aims of the new society was to study the general and local folklore and to provoke interest in the subject. The means hereto were lectures, readings, study groups, contact with other related societies and groups, study outings and the establishment of a folklore museum.

The seat of the society was in the house of Mr. Karel Seys in the Parijstraat 16. Karel became the first archivist and treasurer. The initial board consisted of Major Ernest De Taeye, chairman, Willy Laforce, secretary,Florimond Corsellis, musical advisor, Frank Edebau and John Hermans, board members.

The society thrived and on the 18th of April 1959 the society was transformed into a corporate society and the name was forthwith changed to: "Ostend Local History Society De Plate".

The aims remained the same. Individuals of both sexes, from the age of 18 onwards could become a member, (since then this restriction has been erased from the rules and regulations).

The yearly membership fee was 30 Belgian francs for ordinary members, 50 francs for patronage members and 100 francs for honorary members. The decision to become a corporate society had as first result that an important legacy by painter Emiel Bulcke could be legally accepted.

Societies and clubs have more than often difficulty in finding suitable meeting rooms, the De Plate was no exception. From "De Bierkelder" the society moved to "The Picadilly", subsequently to "Le Chatelet", "Café de la Poste", the town hall, the "Normandie" and finally they were fortunate to be able to accept the offer from the local Genealogical Society (the Flemish Genealogical Society, Ostend Branch) to use their premises.

Lectures and readings were held in "The Picadilly", in the "Prinsenhof" and later in the Conference Room of the town hall, to end up in the conference room of the genealogical society.

The need to have a monthly newsletter was most strongly felt and the late Jef Klausing became the first editor. He was succeeded by Omer Vilain and since 1984 by Jean Pierre Falise, who is also the present chairman.

Chairman co-founder Ernest De Taeye died in 1974 and he was succeeded by August Van Iseghem, a descendant of a distinguished Ostend family. Members of which became burgomasters or held other high ranking appointments and commissions.

On the 24th of April 1999 his task was taken over by Omer Vilain, a co-founder and member of the board.

He was in turn succeeded by Jean Pierre Falise on the 30th of March 2005.