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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Coopery Tiemstra: barrel making, Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam

When I bought tickets to Zaans museum at Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam, I was told that I will be entitled to a free entry into Coopery Tiemstra unit in the campus. I didn't know what it is or where it is. But before leaving the town, I managed to locate this and visit it.

This post shares what I learnt after visiting the Coopery inside Zaanse Schans, Netherland's windmill town.

Coopery refers to the profession of making barrel. Barrel was a primary mean of storing liquids in earlier times. If you remember, crude oil prices are still quoted per barrel even today. Though we don't see much of hand made wooden barrels today, making them was a big cottage industry as late as half a century ago. Companies that make liquid consumables- such as beer would often purchase these barrels and use them to fill and sell their liquid goods.

S.R. Tiemstra was a popular Cooper in the Amsterdam region and his barrels were very popular. After his death, the barrel making workshop he was running was re-constructed in Zaanse Schans town and now it gives visitors a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of how barrels were being made those days.

Above: Outside view of Coopery workshop inside Zaanse Schans

The Coopery Tiemstra building was very unassuming from the outside- there were no people around it and it was difficult to predict that this building is one of the attractions in the campus. As I went closer, there were no visitors around. I tried scanning my ticket at the gate and go inside, but it didn't budge. Then a staff came over, saw my ticket, switched off the rotating steel bar gate and let me in.

Once inside, I could see various tools used for barrel making. Barrels come in different sizes and fitments (with a tap to pour liquid directly from it, or with handles to carry it or with airtight seals etc.They are made by placing nicely shaped wooden bars in circular fashion and reinforcing them with glue, steer rings and other substances to ensure that they are leak proof and can sustain the impact of transportation, accidental drop etc.

It wasn't the spacious stylish place to be. It was dusty and resembled true ambiance in which labor class used to work. Mr Tiemstra himself was a secret poacher, had passion for boxing among other things. He is believed to have a collection of finest alcohols in his attic (shown in above pic). After a day of exhausting work, he would pour himself a drink and resume working till late evening, mostly creating custom/decorative barrels for his premium customers.


Today wooden barrels are replaced by plastic, steel drums and such modern replacements. Because of language problems with the staff in charge, I couldn't have a detailed conversation. But whatever I could see, read and understand I have tried to explain in this post.

There is a 2 Euro entry fee if you visit direct. Free if you have bought ticket to Zaans Museum. Coopery Tiemstra is open only during April to October, 1 PM to 5 PM.

Nearby: Wooden shoe museum at Zaanse Schans * Wood cutting windmill at Zaanse Schans

8 comments :

Nisha said...

I like these kind of places which tells us about the trivial things. We take them for granted or don't pay any heed to them anymore.

I am taking notes from your this trip.

My only disappointment now is that you don't provide full RSS feed anymore.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Nisha. Happy to help any time.

There were lots of sites copying my entire post content and re-using inside their site, so I had to stop full RSS feed. I don't know if I can selectively enable full feed to some users. Will check on that.

Appreciate your visit to the site.

Arun Prasadh said...

A different experience.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Arun, thanks

Ranjana's craft blog said...

Barrels in different look interesting and the tools too.

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Swati & Sam said...

Looks little gloomy .. but it would be nice and a different experience for sure :)

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Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Swati and Ranjana