Being the oldest city of West-Flanders, Wervik has a rich history behind it. The city name is derived from 'Viroviacum' as it was headed by the Celtic tribe of Virovos. The Celtic village was presumably located at a small altitude along the banks of the Leie (the present island De Balokken). After the conquest of Gallia, the Roman stopping place 'Viroviacum' was installed next to or at this Celtic village. In the Middle Ages a habitation core also grew on the right bank. During the Middle Ages a flourishing woolen cloth craft developed, exporting ‘panni de vervi’ to the major Italian merchants and traders and the Hanseatic townq. The reputation of the Wervik textile craft was even known in Novgorod (Russia). The woollen cloth industry had its peak in the period 1350-1430, and was mainly a home-industry. There was no cloth hall, but warehouses, which would have been located at the Brugstraat / Vrijdagmarkt. The St. Jansbeek (St. John’s Brook) is also called the Fulders- Brook. This implies that on the banks of it all kinds of infrastructure associated with the cloth industry was present. Weaving, dying and carding are never were active in the town. In the middle of the 17th century, the town’s death-blow was caused by the religious wars and their aftermath. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Wervik knew successive occupiers and troops, alternating Spaniards, French and Austrians. In 1713 (Utrecht Convention), Wervik, which was till then one town, was divided between Wervicq-Sud (FR) and Wervik (B), situated each on one side of the Leie. The river then became here the natural state border between France and the Austrian Netherlands. Meanwhile, tobacco growing began to flourish since the second half of the 17th century, and Wervik became an important tobacco centre in the first half of the 18th century. The border position and the tobacco smuggling will have played a part - tobacco in France was a monopoly of the crown, which smugglers tried to bypass... In the 19th century, other industries beside grew tobacco processing, including flax, oil mills and pottery. During the French occupation (1794-1814), the city was plundered and heavy damage was inflicted to the town, its churches and monasteries. During World War I, Wervik was situated in the occupied territory near the front. There were headquarters, field hospitals and military warehouses in the city. During the battle for Ypres (June 1917), the city was severely damaged. In the border area, smuggling and transfrontier work always were an important economic asset. Most large factories were located on the other side of the border in France (Werviq-Sud and other municipalities) and attracted large crowds of Flemish people every day to work. Wervik was always the most important Belgian tobacco growing area and is today the only region where tobacco is still intensively and widely grown.
Wervik now has a railway station built ca 1924 after the first one was destroyed during the First War.