Towage on the North Sea Channel Amsterdam - IJmuiden (64)

On the occasion of the opening of a new exhibition in the National Towage Museum at Maassluis a large number of guests had gathered last Saturday in one of the halls of Shipyard De Haas in this town.

The chairman of the museum, Mr. Karel Kaffa, expressed his gratitude to Mr. Govert de Haas for setting spontaneously one of the shipbuilding halls of his yard at the disposal of the museum for the opening ceremony. The title of the exhibition is "Towage from IJ to the IJ-mouth". Mr. Kaffa memorized that the subject once again was a serious challenge to the compilers of the exhibition and the volunteers of the museum. Throughout the years more than 45 towage companies have owned tugs that were active around the North Sea Canal from IJmuiden to Amsterdam. The exhibition shows the visitors to the museum that towage has been of great importance for the development of the Dutch industry in general and of course also for the Amsterdam region.

The next speaker was Mr. Govert de Haas, managing director of the shipyard. He told the audience that his yard not only built and repaired tugs, but also patrol vessels for Rijkswaterstaat, pilot- and customsships as well as police patrolvessels. For him it was an honour to receive the guests of the museum being the first visitors to the new exhibition.

Mr. Cor Oudendijk, former harbourmaster of the port of Amsterdam and nowadays chairman of the Sea- and Harbourmuseum of IJmuiden, was invited to perform the actual openingceremony. First of all he went into the history of the North Sea Canal and its development. The various tugs that sailed on the canal illustrate perfectly the development of towage from the early paddle tugboats to the present compact and advanced bruisers operating in the canal and its locks. A few towage companies survived during the course of the years and new ones settled along the canal, illustrating the progress of the branch.

Mr. David van der Houwen, culture alderman of Maassluis and replacing at the same time the burgomaster of Maassluis (who was this morning very busy with preparations for the reception of some 300 Middle East refugees in the local sports hall) turned out to be very proud of the towage museum. It seemed to him that each exhibition was more impressive than its predecessor. He very properly observed that Maassluis is the towage town of the Netherlands.

The last speaker in the hall was Mr. Hans de Klerk. He agreed that indeed compiling this exhibition was quite a challenge. Everybody knows that there were, and still are, some towage companies along the North Sea Canal, however he was surprised by the large number. ( 47!) Not all companies could be remembered in this exhibition. That's why a choice was made to show the history of quite a number of contributing companies. An accompanying illustrated booklet of no less than 36 pages, written by Mr. J. van Haarlem, tells lots of particulars of a great number of towage companies in the Amsterdan and IJmuiden region. Mr. De Klerk also expressed his gratitude not only for the cooperation of the companies involved, but also for the important support of the Baggermuseum (Dredging Museum). The material that was used for dredging the canal in the early days is showed in pictures and shipmodels, placed at the disposal of the Maassluis museum by the Baggermuseum at Sliedrecht.

Of course Mr. Karel Kaffa handed over flowers to some of the ladies in the audience after which the guests took a five minutes' walk to the museum. In the entrance of the museum Mr. Cor Oudendijk was invited to ring the bell, after which the exhibition "From IJ to IJmond" officially was declared open. While having a festive drink quite a crowd took the time to watch the photos, curiosities and shipmodels. Some of the visitors congratulated the volunteers of the museum with their fine work to keep up the excellent reputation of the museum. Until 8th May next year visitors interested in the special subject of the North Sea Canal are more than welcome in Maassluis. No doubt they will also enjoy the towage atmosphere and the explanation of the history of Dutch towage in general in the other rooms of the museum.

(Translated by Nico Ouwehand; Photo's: National Dutch Towage Museum NSM)