A new yard building ‘zompen’ sailing barges at Enter, in Holland

Boatyard at Enter, Netherlands

Boatyard at Enter, Netherlands the first zomp Boatyard at Enter Boatyard at Enter

Boatyard at Enter Boatyard at Enter, Holland

Hans-Christian Rieck took a trip to a modern boatyard at Enter in Holland, which he rightly argues shows the value of maintaining historic boatyards. Take note Swale planners and Faversham councillors!

Here’s what Hans has to say.

‘From the 17th century river traffic in the east of the Netherlands and the north west of Germany was carried out mostly using a working craft known as a zomp. The little ships worked the rivers Berkel, Regge, Schipbeek, Dinkel and Vechte. They were about 12m long and could carry a load of about 10 tones.

‘From the 1850s onwards bigger canals were built and the rivers were made more easily navigable, and so larger hips with bigger payloads came into use. The zompen as a type came under pressure, and within one generation the disappeared almost completly. The last original zomp was kept in a museum in Arnheim in 1940, when it was hit by a grenade during Operation Market Garden and badly damaged.

‘But the Dutch are proud of their maritime heritage and the remains of the last zomp were preserved. In the 1980s Dr G-J Schutten made a reconstructed drawing of the lines of the old zomp and published them, which awakened a great deal of interest in the little village of Enter, which has a long history of involvement with the zomp trade.

‘During the 19th century, of 150 families in the village 120 were involved in shipping goods using zompen. By tradition, at Christmas every zomp skipper had to be at home to attend church, and it must have been an impressive picture, seeing 120 ships packed into such a small port!

‘To keep the history alive, the inhabitants of Enter decided to reconstruct the old zomp and with the help of Dr Schutten in 1984 a wooden boatyard in Giethoorn built the first new zomp for over 100 years – it is now used for carrying tourists along the River Regge.

‘But the brave folks of Enter wanted more a shipyard of their own, where they could build their own zompen – and they were successful. In 2009 the Zomp Wharf in Enter opened its doors.

‘It is a paradise of wooden boatbuilding, with steamed planks an inch thick and frames of grown oak, and a team of old-time shipwrights keep up the tradition of woodworking. If ever you are around the Regio Twente in the Netherlands go to Enter and visit the wharf. It will be worth it, I promise you.’

Thanks Hans! See the project website: http://www.entersezomp.nl.

 

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A stroll by the Regent’s Canal

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banksy, regent, canal, oxford street, lighter, rubble, barge

banksy, regent, canal, oxford street, lighter, rubble, barge banksy, regent, canal, oxford street, lighter, rubble, barge

Steve Taylor has kindly sent over these photos from the Regent’s Canal – like many of us I suspect, he adds variety to the working day by strolling to the nearest body of water at lunchtime to watch whatever’s going on.  (I’ll take a peek at the Thames myself when it comes to my turn.)

One day recently he hit gold – a working scene that could have been shot at almost any time in the past 150 years (if you ignore the welded seams of the lighter), followed one that belongs very much in the modern day.

‘As I’ve been working in Oxford Street I made my way to the Regents Canal and enjoyed a short walk during which I was cheered to see the waterway being used for a genuine practical – and commercial purpose. A building is being partially demolished and rubble is removed using a small steel lighter. This of course is eminently practical, since there is no street access to the rear of the property and no doubt the presence of a skip in the street would be inconvenient.

‘An added bonus was spotting a Banksy piece which can only have been executed from a boat – presumably at the dead of night? A walk along the canal is the perfect antidote to the drudgery of life in an office. The noise and fumes of London traffic are all left behind after a few paces along the towpath and it is hard to believe you are really in the middle of the big city!’

Thanks Steve!

Narrowboat and canal videos from fender maker Trafalgar

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Narrowboat owner Barry McGuigan talks about his boats Narrowboat trip from Whaley to Buggsworth Basin

The British canal system is an astonishing web of narrow man-made waterways carrying long low-powered narrowboats that chug along at walking speed. The contrast with the pace of modern life could not be more complete, and so hiring a narrowboat makes for a great, peaceful day out or holiday.

So I thought I should link to these videos put up by Trafalgar Marine Services showing something of the canal around their base in Derbyshire. In the first, Brian McGuigan talks about his 70-year old motor narrow boat and butty, and the second provides a slightly scary time-lapse video of a run from Whaley Bridge to Buggsworth Basin. These boats don’t go this fast, let me tell you!

By the way, we last came across Trafalgar when the company’s Michael Dawson sent us an illustrated explanation of how to make a moustache or u-bow fender.

By the way, I’ve discovered this site selling old-style narrowboat and barge plans. There’s even a set for a Humber Keel! Now that might be a present idea for next Christmas!

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