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Postby aukepalmhof » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:12 pm

One of the last zompe in 1920.jpg
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In 1318 old chronicles mentioned already shipping on the Berkel River (peat skippers)in the Netherlands. In 1630 Zutphen received the patent for shipping on the Berkel. It was then possible to sail from Zutphen to Borculo. In 1640 the river was made navigable to Vreden, Germany. Locks were built and an ‘overtoom’ by Lochem. (An overtoom is an installation in which a ship is pulled overland from one water to another, with the aim of overcoming a water level difference. The overtoom can be seen as a precursor to the lock). In the towns and the places where the Berkel River was passing, water mills were installed, mostly oil and grain mills. The watermill in Borculo was built at that time (1647) it became a brick built watermill, before that there was already a wooden mill built around 1000. In 1750 the Berkel Company ended, but in 1766 the second Berkel Company was founded. Locks were built or renewed. Navigability was extended to Coesfeld. Due to the height difference of approximately 5.70m, sandbanks, bridges that were too low and all kinds of obstacles, made the company go under and they had to return its patent to the city of Zutphen in 1787. The town transferred the patent to the Zutphen Quarter.(The States of the Zutphen quarter were the administrative areas within the County of Zutphen , one of the four quarters in the Duchy of Gelre from before 1798). The quarter spent large sums of money. The locks were renovated and made of masonry, the bridges were also adapted and a wooden weir was built between Zuthpen and Lochem. The Berkel was made navigable up to Vreden. Grateful use was made of this into the 19th century.

The Berkel skippers sailed with zomp’s or somp’s, the zomp was about 11 meters long, 2.30 meters wide and could load about 8 tons. Flat bottom, which rose slightly near the bow and stern, making the zomp suitable for shallow water. The hull planks were about 4 cm thick. A large one carried a half meter long rudder hung from the stern. One pole mast which carried a boomed spritsail and forestaysail. The Berkel zomp was built relatively lightly. In calm water 1 man could manage the boat well, in a strong current and wild water two men were needed. The size of the zomp was designed, what one man could pull against the current with a line.
Zomp’s were pulled ashore on Ascension Day. Caulked and tarred. The skipper invited neighbours, family and acquaintances to help. From June to September it was almost impossible to navigate the Berkel due to the low water level. Most skippers managed a farm next to their shipping interest, where they worked during the summer months. The boats transported all kinds of goods. In Zuthpen, masonry stones were loaded, a lot of Frisian and long peat, roof tiles, coal and also household items. And downstream raw lime from the area around Ahaus and from Vreden silversand, pottery and iron pots.
The heyday of Berkel shipping was between 1826 - 1866. After that time shipping decreased.
In 1865 the Arnhem-Zutphen-Deventer and Zuthpen-Lochem-Enschede railway lines were opened. In 1894 the line Winterswijk-Eibergen and Hengelo followed and in 1885 the steam tram from Deventer to Borculo was put into use. Then it was finished with the Berkel shipping. The zomp’s were scrapped. In 1886 the last zomp in Borculo was taken out of service. It is very clear from this that transport by ship has only existed for lack of better means of transport. As soon as goods could be transported by rail and tram, the Berkelshipping was finished.

The Berkel River has its source in the Baumbergen near Billerbeck, not far from Munster, flows then past Goesfeld, Stadsloh, Vreden and crosses the German-Dutch border at Rekken, municipality of Eibergen. Then it flows further along Borculo and Lochem and flows into the IJsel at Zutphen.

After many years, replicas have been built of the zomp, which are used during the summer months for tourist voyages on the Berkel River.

Source: My Hobbyhorse. Mrs N.Y.Roos-t’Hart.
Netherland 1986 postmark envelop.
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