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.