From farmer to fisherman and back again

Schellingwoude was originally a settlement of pioneering farmers. In the fifteenth century, the villagers moved to the dyke. By 1550 they were mostly fishermen and sailors. Later, thanks to the arrival of the windmill, the inhabitants of Schellingwoude could drain the land behind the polder for cattle breeding and the production of dairy products.


Schellingwouderdijk looking to the North, ca. 1950

Breaks in the dyke

Schellingwoude lay in the bend between the Zuiderzee (sea) and the IJ River, a site where the dyke was extra difficult to maintain. The farmers were responsible for the maintenance of the dyke for a long time, but could not always raise the funds to do so and sometimes refused to comply. The threat of a break in the dyke was ever present. The All Souls Flood of 1570 has left clear traces: the Schellingwouderbreek or the break of Schellingwoude. Where the Schellingwoude dyke still meets the water – beyond the Oranjesluizen (Orange locks) – no trees grow. They are not permitted by the water authorities as tree roots undermine the strength of the dyke.


Schellingwouderdijk seen in South-East direction toward bridge over IJ

View of progress

In 1872, the Oranjesluizen, broke the direct link between the IJ River and the Zuiderzee. Café Land en Zeezicht (Land and Sea View Café) at number 251 – replete with playground and dancefloor – and the Oranjesluizen were favourite Sunday outings for people from Amsterdam. In 1958, the Schellingwoude bridge was the first fixed river crossing with the other side of the IJ River. Even the latest transport link, the A10, that goes through the Zeeburger tunnel, is visible from Schellingwoude. A covered lookout point across the IJ River has been built on the Oranjesluizen. At the doctor’s office at Schellingwouderdijk number 240, a tile tableau depicts the building of the Oranjesluizen.


Lock-keeper's post and memorial plaque