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Polders and reservoirs
Polders are areas - often lakes - that have been artificially
drained. The oldest polders in North-Holland are the Zijperpolder (1597)
and the Beemster (1612). Because the ground level in polders is lower
than the surrounding land, rain and seeping water have to be removed by
mechanical means. Initially windmills were used, later steam powered
pumping stations, still later electric or diesel powered pumping stations.
Water pumped out of the polders first enters a water deposit or reservoir.
This consists of a system of interconnected lakes, canals and rivers;
in Dutch it is called "boezem". The larger the area of the system, the
larger its storage capacity. From the reservoir the water is subsequently
pumped to sea by other pumping stations.
Polder pumping stations keep polders drained, reservoir pumping stations
keep the reservoir at level. Some pumping stations were built with the
sole purpose of draining a lake, serve as a polder pumping station for
some time, and subsequently be demolished. An example of these is the
Cruquius, one of the three pumping stations that drained the Haarlemmermeer.
Fortunately the Cruquius has been saved from demolition, and its original
steam engine from 1849 can still be seen, but it can't run on steam anymore.
Steam pumping station Halfweg (1852) was a reservoir pumping station
("boezemgemaal" in Dutch). To cover the large reservoir area, comprising
around 200 polders and lakes, pumping stations were built in Spaarndam,
Halfweg, Gouda and Katwijk. Steam pumping station Halfweg too has been
saved from demolition. And although it no longer serves to regulate the
water level, some 12 days per year the boiler is fired again, the
hissing of steam can be heard again, and the pumping station with its huge
paddle-wheels runs on steam again. But even when it's not running on steam,
visitors can enjoy the museum and the sight of the beautiful and impressive
machinery. Steam pumping station Halfweg is a Routepoint of
part of the "European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH)" network.
For visitors of this website
Via the navigation at left you reach pages with the following information:
Address, opening hours, entrance fees, etc., and a short introductory movie.
History of the surroundings and of the pumping station itself.
Various types of steam engines. Technique of machine and boiler of Halfweg.
Pictures and panoramas.