Alkmaar Packet History
History of the steamshipcompany 'Alkmaar Packet NV' (1864 - 1950)
Ferry Service between Alkmaar and Amsterdam for Cargo and Passengers
In 1863, businessman C. Bosman and some other businessmen founded a limited company, to build a screw steamer which had to maintain a regular service between Alkmaar and Amsterdam. This service departed from the 'Voormeer' in Alkmaar.
For a long time there had been ferries between Zaandam and Alkmaar on one hand, and between Zaandam and Amsterdam on the other. Passengers and goods had to be transferred in Zaandam from the Alkmaar ferry to the seagoing ferry to Amsterdam.
The steamship 'Alkmaar Packet 1' - July 1864
The newly built vessel was named Alkmaar Packet 1 and entered service in July 1864. Its dimensions were chosen so that the steamer could pass through the Big Lock in Zaandam.
The Alkmaar Packet soon proved to be too big a competitor of the ferry service between Zaandam and Alkmaar, which service was taken over with mooring jetty and all. One of the acquired boats was named Alkmaar Packet 2. Afterwards, the Alkmaar Packet 3 and the Alkmaar Packet 4 were built; the sizes of the ships were still adjusted to the size of the lock at Zaandam.
By 1879, the year of opening of the North Sea Canal, the Alkmaar Packet took over the paddle steer Prins of Oranje from the Zaandamsche Stoomboot Maatschappij, which had been liquidated in that year. The Prince of Orange maintained a ferry service between Amsterdam and Zaandam, which was expanded with the Alkmaar Packet 5. In 1883 the Count William was built, and around 1890 the Prince of Orange was replaced by the screw boat Alkmaar Packet 6. The fleet was the following years quickly expanded to the Alkmaar Packet 9.
In 1907 the company was converted into a limited company. The construction of the Wilhelminasluis in Zaandam made it possible for NV Alkmaar Packet to sail larger ships. The newly built ships Czaar Peter and Prins van Oranje had considerably larger sizes and could accommodate 1,500 passengers. Proud of the fleet was the motorboat Alkmaar that came into service in 1913 and was the first three-decker in the Netherlands. Initially the Alkmaar Packet focused primarily on passenger transport, but freight transport gradually became increasingly important. That led in 1890 to the establishment of a separate freight service, which was further expanded afterwards.
The service initially maintained with the Trio between Alkmaar and Amsterdam three times a week was converted into a daily service in 1914. The fleet was expanded with the Company, the Zaanstroom, the Alcmaria and the freight service of S.A. Duinker. In passenger transport, there was a gradual change from business to tourist traffic.
The growth of the company continued, which manifested itself in the new services Amsterdam-IJmuiden and Amsterdam-Den Helder. In 1920 a car service was established between Amsterdam and Alkmaar, followed by Amsterdam-IJmuiden and Alkmaar-Den Helder. The packet boats Stierop and Queen Wilhelmina continued to sail in the Second World War for some years. The name of the last ship was not pleasing to the Germans and had to be changed. They solved this by covering the name Wilhelmina with a wooden sign.
The ship was generally called De Koningin Plankie. In the course of the war, the Alkmaar Packet had to stop the services because of the fuel shortage.
The Germans advanced several ships. After the war, the interest in the Alkmaar Packet appeared to be taunting, and the company was liquidated in October 1950.
Older Zaankanters keep a more or less living memory at the Alkmaar Packet. In his youth, for example, he went to the Alkmaar cheese market; the trip across the Zaan, through Tochtsloot, Markervaart and Stierop, and then over the Alkmaarder Meer and through the Noordhollands Kanaal was particularly attractive in the summer. For the local traffic within the Zaanstreek hardly any use was made of the Alkmaar Packet.
De Stierop of Alkmaar Packet NV for the Wilhelmina lock at Zaandam. In the background the former port office
The large, predominantly white painted passenger ships stood out between the smaller cargo vessels on the Zaan. Especially the Stierop up to 1950 was impressive.
The boat scaffolding of the A.P. in Koog, Zaandijk and Wormerveer can still be found in part. Mooring and leaving these scaffolding built over the water was time-consuming; a mud bank on the Zaanbodem in front of the jetty at Zaandijk was literally a threshold.
In the spirit of time, the steam whistle was handled with fervor and abandonment. At the end of the 1970s, the Het Saen Foundation tried to find exploitation opportunities for the motor vessel De Prins van Oranje, which was re-enacted by its board and put into service after being repaired. These attempts were a disappointment; the ship has been sold elsewhere after five years in which it was usually moored at the Zaanbrug in Wormerveer.