In 1819, on instigation of our then King William the 1st, the North Holland canal (finished 1824) was designed but it wasn't the best solution for the problems of the time. It was way too long and too tortuous for the big, seagoing vessels and in winter it froze over very easily. In 1861 a new plan was devised; a canal through the "small of Holland". A year later the plan was accepted and, after having had some difficulties with financing the whole thing, the first spade went in the ground in 1865.
The project attracted a huge amount of labourers from near and far, but their living conditions were quite primitive. Housing was inadequate (turf huts) or non-existent and, the sanitary system left to your own imagination, a year after the start of the construction, work was seriously delayed after the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in which 32 people died. Between 1867 and '68 work was halted altogether due to an argument between Amsterdam and the Dutch government about the construction and finance, causing a lot of workers to leave because they didn't get any wages (december '67 only 182 men were at work with regard to 5000 labourers when work was at it's height).
floating crane that loads stuff straight into smaller vessels.
|Northern Lock||400 meters
|Middle Lock||225 meters
|Southern Lock||105 meters
|Small Lock||111 meters
In 1987 the governement started with thoroughly
renovating the whole complex. One part of the Northern Lock is being covered
with a roof to provide a workshop for the maintenance of the lock doors.
These huge doors (52.50 meters long, 20 meters high and 7.30 meters thick
and weighing in at 1.4 million kilos each) have to be available at all times,
just in case of calamity, hence the on-site maintenance. The Northern Lock
itself gets a whole new door system as well as new doors able to withstand
water at 5.85 meters above sea level, a new rail track and carts on the
bottom, stronger boulders for the ships to moore, renovation of the lock
walls and top, a fresh coat of paint and a bunch of flowers for the lockmaster's
The Small lock has been extended by 47 meters to provide more space
for recreational ships, and it's walls fortified somewhat as they were
aging a bit. New hydrolic steel doors have replaced the old, cast iron ones
and again a bunch of flowers was offered. This is Holland, after all.
unload ships quicker than you can blink an eye.
The southern lock was given a whole new electrical installation and a new operator's building. The old harbour office, from 1903, was carefully demolished and rebuilt on the same spot after protests from the people of IJmuiden and has now been awarded monumental status. Time for flowers of course...
The beginning of 2003 was a good moment to start with the extension of the pumping station. This station keeps 4000 square kilometres of our land dry by pumping 3 billion cubic metres of water into the sea yearly. No wonder the sea never dries up.
Food for thought:
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