However, in the late 19th century, some barges were having engines installed to help skipper's maintain speed and reliability. Sailing barges would use both engine and sail power, but the Vereeniging, commissioned by Roelof Mur, was one of the first examples of a barge built solely for motor power. It was built in Alphen aan den Rijn under the name Loenen Amsterdam II at one of the two boat yards there, but sadly it is not known which one. I don't have the original meetbrief and things can get confused over time and with changes to documents, so it was either Boot or Pannevis, but I'll never really be sure.
|A copy of the original photo taken of a newly-built |
Vereeniging in 1898
The first engine installed in my barge was a Van Renesse paraffin-fueled motor. This served the Mur family until 1921 when a semi-diesel single cylinder hot bulb engine from the Industrie works was installed in its place.
|Single Cylinder hot bulb engine (1921) from the|
The Vereeniging plied the canals and waterways between Amsterdam and Alphen a/d Rijn, but it was built to its specific dimensions (19,5 x 3,2 metres) so that it could pass through one particular lock on the Oude Rijn, which would only take barges of that width. The cargo it carried was varied and consisted of any goods that needed transporting between the smaller towns on these waterways, sometimes even cattle (or maybe sheep). You'll have seen it has a very large foredeck (four metres long) which is also pretty flat. This would have been space where non-perishable goods could be loaded and perhaps the odd cow or small flock of sheep (I'm guessing here).
It also has a small back cabin (the roef) which still has the original bench seats and cupboards. This was where the Murs accommodated a few passengers on their travels, combining the two uses of a trekschuit.
The only archive information I've been able to find is of some small newspaper reports about transactions with lock-keepers and one small piece where Mr Mur helped to break the ice on a canal with the Vereeniging's sharp bows. Other than that, I think its history is very mundane. It was not designed to sail, so never crossed the wider waters; it was not requisitioned during the war, so no excitement there. As I've said before, I expect the only drama in its life was the odd argument with other tradespeople and bargees. My barge has a very strong and substantial berghout or rubbing rail, so in any argument with other barges, it would probably come off best. Maybe a cause for contention! Since pakschuiten with these big rubbing rails were very common at one time, they probably gave more than a bit of credence to the whole idea of people just 'barging in'!
|A substantial berghout or rubbing rail|
When it stopped being in service in the 1960s, it was used for a time as a holiday boat and some changes were made to the superstructure. The family Mur kept it until 1997, when it was bought in a very sorry and neglected state by an engine enthusiast. He restored much of the superstructure to its former configuration, as well as repairing the very holey roef. However, he spent most of his time and energy on the engine room, rebuilding and restoring the old Industrie.
Some people have not forgiven me yet for replacing that with another, later classic engine, but that's another story for another blog. Maybe the next one…
So that's about it - the story of my barge. It's not a very exciting history, but the fact that it's still floating in a very authentic state is, I think, pretty special. I still need to have a proper loading mast and derrick made, but that's an expensive undertaking, so it's had to wait. However, it is as original as I can practically keep it and has the honour of being a class A monument with the FONV, the Dutch Federation of old working barges. And finally, I have the honour of being its carer and custodian!
For information in Dutch, here is a link to the Museumschepen Rotterdam website.