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Reederij op de Lek (The Netherlands)

Last modified: 2011-06-03 by andrew weeks
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[Reederij op de Lek] image by Jarig Bakker, 31 Oct 2006 See also:

Reederij op de Lek

What was to become ‘Reederij op de Lek’ aka ‘Stoomboot-Rederij op de Lek’ (i.e. Steam Shipping Co. on the River Lek) was founded in 1857, the Lek being one of the many rivers leading up to Rotterdam. A number of local shipowners, among them J.H. von Santen, joined forces to provide a waterbound transport service (persons and goods) between Rotterdam and Schoonhoven, located upriver. Animals were shipped, too - cows were milked on board!

At first the Schoonhoven-Rotterdam run and back was offered, later Dordrecht (on the Oude Maas) and Culemborg (on the Lek) became additional destinations.  Six boats were operated in 1879 (‘Stoombootdienst - i.e. Steamboat Service - op de Lek'); the name ‘NV Stoomboot-Reederij op de Lek’ was adopted in 1896. Gradually, paddle steamers were replaced by screw-driven ones.

A competitor, 'NV Stoombootdienst op de Lek', founded in 1903 and based at Schoonhoven, was taken over in 1912 adding, for instance, a vessel to the fleet exclusively dedicated to transport of passengers.  In 1935 the company took over ‘Stoomboot-Reederij Fop Smit & Co.’, adding the Rotterdam - Dordrecht - Gorinchem route but leaving the last lap (Gorinchem is on the Waal)  to road transport. Only one paddle steamer and one screw-driven vessel were left in 1947.  The last boat trip was on 29 February 1948, the company discontinuing the service one day later (excursions being an exception, ending in 1950) and operating lorries and passenger coaches (buses) from then on till the end in 1973.

An important source located by Jarig (text by Arie Alblas, see end of message) gives detailed information on the many flags used (apart from the Dutch flag at the stern, that is). On the first mast was flown a red pennant with the words ‘REEDERIJ o/d LEK’ whereas the starboard crane had a white rectangular flag with the abbreviation ‘S.R. o/d L’ in black letters.

Ships with the name ‘Reederij op de Lek [number]’ used specific flags. No. 1 had no crane but in the corresponding position flew the flag of Rotterdam (horizontally divided green-white-green) or Culemborg (now horizontally divided yellow above red; author mentions rather more stripes “red-yellow’). No. 2 flew the flag of Schoonhoven (not the lions of today but “red-black” in several “thin stripes”) and the flag of Rotterdam after taking No. 3’s place and flag.  No. 4 flew Culemborg (as above), Nos. 5 and 6, Schoonhoven (same).

An orange flag flown on the quarterdeck is mentioned but was probably only hoisted on national holidays or royal birthdays.  When a club, town or the like hired a vessel its own flag was often used (author mentions pictures of Frisian and Amsterdam flags, even the S.D.A.P. i.e. social democratic workers’ party).  See also photos on last site mentioned (end of message): they are unclear, but give an idea.
Sources: http://www.scheepsbouw-alblasserdam.nl/reederij_op_de_lek.htm (text © 2006 Cees van Homoet), http://www.xs4all.nl/~nieko/srodl.htm (text © Arie Alblas March 2005), historical society "A.W.K. Voet van Oudheusden", “Culemborg zoals het was”.
Jan Mertens, 18 Oct 2006

All texts mentioned above have been derived from my booklet "Van Stoomboot Schoonhoven tot Raderboot Kaptein Kok", De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1986.
Mr. Homoet c.s. extracted data from that book. but did not any research of their own about the history of this shipping company (or the one on Fop Smit & Co.).
Willem JJ Boot, 2 Sep 2009


Reederij op de Lek - white flag

[Reederij op de Lek white flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 31 Oct 2006

J.H. von Santen

[J.H. von Santen flag] image by J.H. von Santen, 20 Nov 2006

Mr. J.H. von Santen asked me about the houseflag of Reederij J.H. von Santen in Krimpen aan de Lek (Zuid-Holland), a shipping company related to the Reederij op de Lek. He had spotted a houseflag on a houseflag chart in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam. He just spotted a small version of the chart on the web, The von Santen flag is in the final column, second from bottom: quartered red and blue, a white diamond over all charged with a diamond quartered countercharged.

The company founder was the greatgreatgrandfather of our correspondent, originally from Ostfriesland, Germany; the family name is written alternatively as von Santen or van Santen. In: Spiegel der Zeevaart, vol. 11 (1987), afl. 2, pp 12-13 / 1987, is an article about The Shipowner J.H. von Santen, 1819-1877, accountant at J&K Smit's Scheepswerven in Krimpen aan de Lek, captain and director of the Rederij o/d Lek.
Jarig Bakker, 20 Nov 2006