The harbour town of Lemmer became an international water sport centre

The freshwater Zuiderzee became the saltwater IJsselmeer: fishing made way for water sport

The history of many Frisian towns and villages - and certainly that of Lemmer - was dominated by the water. Lemmer is famous for the Lemster barge and the offshore fishing industry, the Lemster sea lock which dates from 1888 and the largest and oldest running steam-driven pumping station in Europe, the Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal (1920 UNESCO world heritage list).

Lemmer came into being at the place at which the Zijlroede and Rien streams met, in the south of Friesland. For centuries, its residents worked in fishing, shipbuilding and transhipment. Lemmer was where barge masters from the North transferred their commodities, which were destined for Holland, onto larger vessels for the trip across the Zuiderzee. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Lemmer was a harbour of international importance, particularly during the time when there were intense shipping links with the Baltic. At that time, the residents of Lemster earned their living in businesses related to the shipping industry, such as shipyards, block and sail makers and rope yards. The trading activities with Amsterdam and the resulting day and night boat services were also important.

Lemsteraak Visserman (Fisherman), Lemmer

The world’s largest steam-driven pumping station still operating (UNESCO World Heritage).
The Fisherman, Lemmer

The world’s largest steam-driven pumping station
still operating (UNESCO World Heritage).

The Fisherman, Lemmer

Lemmer’s Zuiderzee fishing activities started approximately halfway through the 19th century and this also led to a number of related activities. Although there are still some fish processing businesses in Lemmer, it no longer has any net makers and traders. Once, more than one hundred fishing boats (LE) fished the Zuiderzee. The heyday of Lemmer’s Zuiderzee fishing industry, albeit tinged with poverty, was at the start of the 20th century. In 1932, the completion of the IJsselmeer dam had a massive impact. The saltwater sea was turned into a freshwater lake: The IJsselmeer. The new polders, Wieringermeer, the North East polder and the Flevoland polders, reduced the size of the inland sea even more. Fishing made way for industry and water sport.