Wilmkebreekepolder (polder)

Around the fifteenth century, the banks of the Oostzanerdijk (dyke) were breached a number of times by storm surges. A deep pond, named the Wilmkebreek or Westerbreek, was created by the water behind the Landsmeerdijk (dyke), directly to the east of the Oostzanerdijk. This pond was drained in 1632 and is now one of the oldest and smallest polders in the Netherlands. In spring, black-tailed godwits and redshanks nest in this small piece of nature.

 

Former lock Zijkanaal (side canal) 1, 1895

Wintery milk

The Oostzaan farmers had a speciality: they milked in winter as well as in summer. This was because there was enough cheap fodder in this area to last the whole year. It was made from rubbish from the oil and hull mills and from the starch manufacturers from Zaan. Until 1966, the spot where the Oostzanerdijk, the Kometensingel and the Appelweg meet was the Oostzaan overtoomsluis.

 

Dyke houses, 1957

Trade and shipping (train oil workshops)

Once in a long while whole whales lay next to trading vessels on the Oostzanerdijk. Whaling was a source of income for many Oostzaan skippers and ship owners. They brought whales from Spitsbergen and the North Cape to process the blubber into train oil. The stinking train oil workshops were mostly on the Oostzanerdijk, as far away from the village centre as possible. Apart from train oil, the flexible, plasticky ‘whalebone’ (baleen) was also traded. In 1669, the train oil manufacturer Willem van den Broek on the Oostzaan overtoomsluis (lock) had at least 5,000 in stock.

 

New dyke houses, 2006