History of “De Koperen Ploeg”

Around the globe, whenever a ship arrives in port, it will always need a connection with the shore. It isn’t feasible for the crew to carry out mooring or unmooring operations at quays or buoys. They’re familiar with their ship but not with the local conditions. That’s why boatmen have been needed and available around the world for centuries.

Boatmen first appeared in the IJmond region with the arrival of the North Sea Canal in 1876. Eventually, four boatmen associations were operating in this region. They were called: “De visploeg” (fish gang), “De gouden ploeg” (golden gang, since they worked mainly for “The Dutch Steamship company” and were richly rewarded, hence the name), “Vriesploeg” (working mainly for “The Royal Dutch Steamship company”, known as the KNSM) and “De Koperen Ploeg” (the copper gang, which traditionally performed the smaller jobs). Since the economic crisis in 1926 led to cut-throat competition all four groups decided to consolidate and reorganise under one name, and they chose the “De Koperen Ploeg”. Socially, the establishment of “De Koperen Ploeg” in 1926, with its by-laws and domestic regulations, was an important event. The cooperative of boatmen, which was already recognized under the “De Koperen Ploeg”, converted into a cooperative-based association, hence becoming more accessible to the port and municipal authorities.

A few years later, in 1931, other individual boatmen joined “De Koperen Ploeg”. At that time activities already included than just mooring and unmooring. Boatmen also supplied quartermasters, who steered the vessels safely and efficiently through the North Sea Canal and the locks in IJmuiden. The Hem Bridge was a famous obstacle, where just a few centimetres separated the sides of vessels from the structure as they passed through.

In 1965, in an agreement between the municipality and the shipping association, the boatmen/quartermaster combination came to an end.
Up to 1965 the boatmen still used rowing boats, which were sold that year to seamen on the Dutch isle of Texel.

Another important event in 1965 was the decision to move “De Koperen Ploeg”’s to jetty no. 8, behind the central station. 10 years later the company moved again to the Westerhoofd, in the Coenhaven. Since 19 June 1998 it is located on the Capriweg (Westhaven).