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Notes on the Geography of The Netherlands: From Delft to Delfshaven

The Delfhaven Schie opened in 1389 from Delft to the river Maas, roughly five miles away. Originally, the canal was used to ship beer and sheets, but those industries declined and new ones arose, chiefly the manufacture of Delftware and the importation of goods from East Asia. (Delfshaven, originally an exclave of Delft, is now part of Rotterdam.)

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The canals inside the old city of Delft are hardly used commercially any longer, but the Schie canal downstream from the Kolk is very much an active waterway. Here, still within modern Delft.

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An obvious candidate for water transport. The sand is being unloaded from the barge and banked for pickup by trucks.

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Perhaps it's twenty miles to Delfshaven. There's a nearby motorway but also canal-bank roads.

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Alongside the west bank road, this is the Tempel, at Delftweg 186. It was once the home of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, who in 1602 persuaded the States General to combine the several independent East India companies of the day into the VOC.

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Mostly, though, this is farm country. Here, an ingenious hay shelter, with a roof that can be raised or lowered to match the stack beneath.

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Farmers seem to be doing well. Here's a barn.

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Here, the immaculate house--as tidy as lace.

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Another farmstead, with a row of connected buildings.

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Another example. Why they should all have wrought-iron fences tipped in white is a mystery.

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A cottage.

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Down in Delfshaven now--and there's that same monogram we saw in Delft.

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It's on the railing of those steps on the left, which lead into the VOC's sea warehouse, originally built in 1671 but rebuilt in 1741, after a fire. What was in it? Shipping needs--sails, timbers, anchors, lead, copper, a thousand things. The building once had a belltower. There's talk of a hotel conversion.

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Delfshaven has become a considerable tourist district. Here, the Dubbelde Palmboom ("double palm tree") museum, dedicated to the history of the port. The church in the distance was used by the pilgrims under William Bradford in 1620, as they prepared to leave the Netherlands on the Speedwell, which took them to Southhampton, where they continued to North America on the Mayflower.

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The backside of the museum: old, bent, but sturdy. It was built in 1825 and takes its name from a distillery that operated here after 1860.

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Across the way, a famous distillery, one of many that made gin and brandy here.

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To grind the grain used by such distilleries, the five biggest windmills in the world were built nearby in Schiedam. One, the Nieuwe Palmboom (New Palm Tree) operates as a museum. Want to go up top?

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The date marks its restoration as a working museum.

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Practicing sailing? Well, yes, in a way. He's getting ready to furl the sails at day's end.

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He just brought the whistling, 35-foot arms to a halt with a mechanical brake, and he's bunching the sail on this one.

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Inside: the point of the exercise: grain funneled between two stones.


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