Towage on and around the North Sea channel

by Hans | September 11th, 2015

‘From IJ to IJmond’ is the theme of the new exhibition of the Dutch National Towage Museum in Maassluis, the Netherlands. The exhibition will be opened September 19th by Mr Cor Oudendijk, former harbour master of the Port of Amsterdam and former salvage master of Wijsmuller. For the opening celebration many prominent officers from the towage and the Amsterdam port community. Afterwards it is possible to visit the exhibition. The new exhibition gives a vivid overview of the history and the present-day towage industry in Amsterdam and about. The geographical position of the port of Amsterdam necessitates tug assistance for seagoing ships for centuries. In that period there has been a huge development in technique and organisation of tug assistance. Tugs provide towing services in the harbour basins, on the North Sea channel and roads whereas in the old days, tugs ventured out as far as the English Channel. With the advent of steam propulsion, tugs were not only working locally but expanded their work area not only to the Zaan and made towage trips from Amsterdam to all parts of the Netherlands. The fishing industry in IJmuiden led to a towage activity with an own nature. The narrow canals in Amsterdam with their many low bridges created a unique type of tug: “Amsterdammertje”. Of this type many are still sailing commercially or as pleasure craft.

Competition has always been present. Tug companies emerged, ended, merged or were taken over. The most recent development in this respect is the cooperation of Svitzer and Iskes in “Amsterdam Port Towage”.

Family businesses have been predominant for a long time. Familiar names from the past are Goedkoop, Wijsmuller and zur Mühlen. Nowadays, these are Blom, Amstel en IJ en Heida who are mainly operating on the city canals. In addition, the large Amsterdam shipping companies and shipyards owned their own tugs.

Economy of scale and high investments make towage assistance to seagoing ships nowadays the realm of of big shipping companies such as Svitzer and Iskes who operate tugs of over 7200 HP. By comparison, in 1841, the first tug on the North Hollands Canal an output of just 60HP.

The history of the many companies, tugs and events from the larger Amsterdam port area are illustrated with beautiful ship models, unique photos, documents and attributes. The Museum has also a large permanent exposition. Furthermore, the museum has a new interactive multimedia system which can be used by the visitors for searches themselves. The museum archive contains thousands of photos, documents and objects that can be researched upon appointment.

Illustrative of this dynamic exhibition are the accompanying photographs of the first tug and one of the newest in the IJmond area.

The exhibition ‘From IJ to IJmond’ can be visited from September 19th 2015 – May 8 th 2016, Tuesday – Sunday from 13.30 until 16.30 hrs.

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