Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal (D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station)

The Wouda Pumping Station represents the apogee of Dutch hydraulic engineering, which has provided the models and set the standards worldwide for centuries. It bears exceptional witness to the power of steam in controlling the forces of nature, especially as applied to water handling by Dutch engineers.

The complex is located along the IJsselmeer, west of Lemmer in the Municipality of Lemsterland. The pumping station is at the end of a supply canal, dug in 1915, the Stroomkanaal and the Afwateringskanaal, through which the waters of the Frisian Reservoir flow into the IJsselmeer through the Groote Brekken Lake. The inlet sluice, built in 1936-38, is located a little to the east at the Teroelsterkolk. To the west of the pumping station is the Princess Margriet Lock and canal, in use since 1951 to handle the heavy traffic from the IJsselmeer. Centuries of battling against water has created the Dutch landscape. Much of the territory of the Netherlands would be flooded if it had not been protected by building dykes over the centuries and kept dry by means of a sophisticated water-control system (waterstraat ). Continuous efforts to drain lakes and open waters in the west of the country began in the 17th century and continue to the present day.

Excess water was initially discharged by means of windmills, which pumped it successively into intermediate reservoirs and then into open water. The first use of steam for pumping was in 1825 at the Arkelse Dam, near Gorinchem. Radial or centrifugal pumps replaced the water-wheels driven by windmills. Initially manufactured in England, these pumps were being made in the Netherlands by the beginning of the 20th century. The construction of steam-driven pumping stations reached its peak between 1870 and 1885; very few new ones were built after 1900. It is estimated that there were about 700 in operation between 1900 and 1910. The first diesel-powered pumping station was built in 1904, and shortly afterwards electricity began to be used as the energy source. At the present time there are about 1,600 active pumping stations in the Netherlands, most of them electrically powered. In Friesland the construction of dykes began around AD 1000. The water was first drained off naturally but, as the area reclaimed grew, it became necessary to discharge into the network of interconnecting lakes and waterways known as the Frisian reservoir. This has been managed since 1648 by the Provincial Government of Friesland. Flooding was a regular occurrence, and the first communal ordinance to keep the sea dykes in good order was enacted in 1533. The catastrophic All Saints' Flood of 1570 resulted in all the low-lying land in the province being inundated. In 1825 over 100,000 ha of low-lying land was flooded when dykes burst, among them that at Lemmer, on the Zuyder Zee side of the province. As a result a sluice was built there and the dykes were reinforced.

The second half of the 19th century saw considerable developments in the water-management system in the province: this is demonstrated by the fact that in 1876 around 60,000 ha of land were flooded when water levels in the reservoirs were high, whereas this had fallen to around 3,000 ha by 1993. Water was drained into the Lauwerszee, which served as a storage reservoir from which water was then discharged into the Zuyder Zee. Flooding in 1894 led the Ministry of Transport to form a committee to devise a new system for dealing with the situation. As a result of its recommendations, and those of a committee set up by the Province of Friesland, it was decided to reclaim the Lauwerszee and drain the south-western part of the province. After some delay, the decision was taken to build two new pumping stations along the southern coast of Friesland, with a combined capacity of 1,575 h.p. The Provincial Government approved the construction of the first of these, along with a sea lock connected to the pumping station by a drainage canal, in 1913. The architect was the Chief Engineer of the Provincial Water Authority, Dirk Frederik Wouda (1880-1961), after whom the station was renamed in 1947. Professor J. C. Dijxhoorn of the Technische Hogeschool Delft was responsible for the mechanical installations. Construction began in 1916 and the pumping station was opened in 1920. A new inlet sluice was built in 1936-38, to the east of the pumping station. Damming of the Zuyder Zee in 1932 led to the level of water in what was now known as the IJsselmeer falling to such a low level that it was no longer possible to discharge by means of the sluices on the southern and western coasts of the province: it is now drained into the Wadden Sea.

Historical context

Centuries of battling against water has created the Dutch landscape. Much of the territory of The Netherlands would be flooded if it had not been protected by building dikes over the centuries and kept dry by means of a sophisticated water-control system (waterstraat). Continuous efforts to drain lakes and open waters in the west of the country began in the 17th century and continue to the present day.

Excess water was initially discharged by means of windmills, which pumped it successively into intermediate reservoirs and then into open water. This system is admirably represented by the Kinderdijk- Elshout mill network, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997. The first use of steam for pumping was in 1825 at the Arkelse Dam, near Gorinchem. Radial or centrifugal pumps replaced the water-wheels driven by windmills. Initially manufactured in England, these pumps were being made in The Netherlands by the beginning of the 20th century.

The construction of steam-driven pumping stations reached its peak between 1870 and 1885; very few new ones were built after 1900. It is estimated that there were about 700 in operation between 1900 and 1910. The first diesel-powered pumping station was built in 1904, and shortly afterwards electricity began to be used as the energy source. At the present time there are about 1600 active pumping stations in The Netherlands, the majority of them electrically powered.

In Friesland, where the nominated property is located, the construction of dikes began around AD 1000. The water was first drained off naturally but, as the area of reclaimed grew, it became necessary to discharge it into the network of interconnecting lakes and waterways known as the Frisian reservoir. This has been managed since 1648 by the Provincial Government of Friesland.

Flooding was a regular occurrence, and the first communal ordinance to keep the sea dikes in good order was enacted in 1533. The catastrophic All Saints' Flood of 1570 resulted in all the low-lying land in the Province being inundated. In 1825 over 100,000ha of low-lying land was flooded when dikes burst, among them that at Lemmer, on the Zuyder Zee side of the Province. As a result a sluice was built there and the dikes were reinforced.

The second half of the 19th century saw considerable developments in the water-management system in the Province: this is demonstrated by the fact that in 1876 around 60,000ha of land were flooded when water levels in the reservoirs were high, whereas this had fallen to c 3000ha by 1993. Water was drained into the Lauwerszee, which served as a storage reservoir from which water was then discharged into the Zuyder Zee.

Flooding in 1894 led the Ministry of Transport to form a committee to devise a new system for dealing with the situation. As a result of its recommendations, and those of a committee set up by the Province of Friesland, it was decided to reclaim the Lauwerszee and drain the south-western part of the Province. After some delay the decision was taken to build two new pumping stations along the southern coast of Friesland, with a combined capacity of 1575hp. The Provincial Government approved the construction of the first of these, along with a sea lock connected to the pumping station by a drainage canal, in 1913. The architect was the Chief Engineer of the Provincial Water Authority, Dirk Frederik Wouda (1880-1961), after whom it was renamed in 1947. Professor J C Dijxhoorn of the Technische Hogeschool Delft was responsible for the mechanical installations.

Construction began in 1916 and the new pumping station was opened in 1920. A new inlet sluice was built in 1936-38, to the east of the pumping station. Damming of the Zuyder Zee in 1932 led to the level of water in what was now known as the IJsselmeer falling to such a low level that it was no longer possible to discharge by means of the sluices on the southern and western coasts of the Province: it is now drained into the Wadden Sea.

Justification for being a World Heritage Site

Criterion (i): The advent of steam as a source of energy provided the Dutch engineers with a powerful tool in their millennial task of water management, and the Wouda installation is the largest of its type ever built.

Criterion (ii): The Wouda Pumping Station represents the apogee of Dutch hydraulic engineering, which has provided the models and set the standards for the whole world for centuries.

Criterion (iv): The Wouda pumping installations bear exceptional witness to the power of steam in controlling the forces of nature, especially as applied to water handling by Dutch engineers.

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