Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
I16
Wageningen
1923

Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder

Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder

The history of the brickworks in the Bovenste Polder, the washlands along the Lower Rhine south of Wageningen, is a good example of what happened to the region’s brickmaking industry as a whole. Around 1900, there were as many as 880 brickworks in the Netherlands, many of which lined the Rhine and Maas rivers across the full breadth of the country. Then after the Second World War, many of these closed down. Some of the old factories were given a new designation, like the one in Bovenste Polder.

Brick kilns
A brickworks consisting of three kilns was built on the site of the current factory in 1846. In 1875, a steam engine was installed in the factory a very modern development in those days. The next modernisation meant the removal of the old-fashioned kilns, and a completely new factory that was built in 1923. The factory was fitted with a so-called ring oven, or Hoffmann kiln, which was much more efficient.

Social uprising
Working in the brick-making industry was not a fun occupation. Workers were often very poor and a normal working day was 11 hours long. When the brick manufacturer at the brickworks in Bovenste Polder announced a wage reduction in 1906, the employees went on strike. At the time, there were not any laws protecting the workers´ rights, but after 25 days, they managed to win their battle. This led to the establishment of the Dutch Union for Brick and tile makers (Nederlandsche Bond van Steen- en Pannenbakkers). Two years later, the union was absorbed into the recently established Dutch Trade Union Confederation (Nederlandsche Verbond van Vakverenigingen (NVV)), which is the precursor of the FNV (Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging – The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation).

Saved from demolition
Just like so many others, the brickworks in Bovenste Polder closed down after WWII, in 1965. The municipality of Wageningen wanted to demolish the brickworks in order to expand the city along the river, but the Council of State decided that no new building projects were to be allowed on the attractive washlands. In 1988, the canoe club, WKV De Bovenste Polder, adopted the building and in the 1990´s, it was given a complete overhaul. Today, the factory building provides a home to artists and musicians.

Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
Wageningen – The Brickworks in Bovenste Polder
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