Dutch golden-age ships escape blaze
A fire which broke out on Monday evening has caused extensive damage to the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad.
A fire which broke out on Monday evening
has caused extensive damage to the Batavia shipyard, a well known tourist attraction in Lelystad to the east of Amsterdam.
A reconstruction of the Batavia, a 17th-century Dutch East India Company trading ship, was built there, and a replica of a war ship of the period, the Seven Provinces, is under construction.
Both the wooden sailing ships are moored at the shipyard, but neither was damaged in the blaze.
Several traditional workshops, such as the rigging and woodcarving shops, are housed at the shipyard. It is thought the fire started at about 22:15 in the building where traditional sails are made.
Fire fighting efforts were made more difficult after at least three gas canisters in the
building exploded. The explosions could be heard for miles around.
The building housing the sails workshop has been completely destroyed, as have all the Batavia's sails, which were being stored there. Various offices and the shipyard's main workplace were also burned out. A restaurant in the nearby Batavia Town shopping centre was partially destroyed, but fire fighters were able to stop the flames spreading to the rest of the development. No one was injured in the fire which, it is estimated, has caused tens of thousands of euros' worth of damage. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
The Dutch East India Company (VOC), founded in 1602 expanded to become what some describe as the first multinational. During its heyday from 1680 to 1750, it made the Netherlands arguably the most powerful trading nation in the world. It was one of the first merchant companies to issue shares, with people from all walks of Dutch life investing in the enterprise.
Wherever the Dutch merchants came ashore, they tried to gain exclusive rights to local trade. It is also said that they brought war, violence and repression. Many people, for example in modern day Indonesia, regard the VOC as a symbol of repression and the forerunner of Dutch colonisation.
The Batavia was launched in 1628. The historically authentic reconstruction was started in 1985 and took ten years to build. Batavia was the Dutch colonial name for Jakarta in present-day Indonesia. The Seven Provinces war ship was launched in 1665. The reconstruction was begun in 1995.