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by Jarig Bakker, 2 Dec 2003
The Haarlemmer Meer was a lake between the cities of Haarlem, Amsterdam and Leiden. During stormfloods it became bigger and bigger, and swallowed the villages of Rijk, Vijfhuizen and Nieuwerkerk in 1610. In the 17th century Jan Leeghwater made a famous plan to make it dry by the use of 250 (?) mills. Nicolaas Kruik, aka Cruquius, made a plan in 1742 to make the Haarlemmer Meer dry by more advanced means. As usual the Dutch government acted promptly: in 1836 the city of Leiden was nearly swallowed. The steam-engines of the Leeghwater-gemaal started pumping immediately - in 1848 from the south, and the Cruquius-gemaal in 1849 from the north. In 1852 the work was finished, resulting in 18.500 hectares of areable land.
Flag: orange, in the centre a red working steam pumping station with white smoke, and charged with the inscription W I in yellow.
The Haarlemmermeerpolder is the largest lake ever reclaimed in Holland. This work was performed in the middle of the 19th century and was the first where steam-engines were used. The polder contains also the national airport Schiphol, which is thus situated on the Lake bottom at 4,5 meters below sea-level. The flag was used shortly after the reclamation and was probably designed by the first burgomaster, mr. Amersfoordt. It was used in combination with the blue-white municipal flag, which explains its strange colours. The flag got out of use, but was recently discovered by the medicine/heraldist Dr. J.A. de Boc, and
rehabilitation is not impossible. The pumping - station, which also charges the arms, refers to the reclaiming. One of these stations in neo-gothic style, the "Cruquius" near Haarlem, is still existent and serves as a museum.
Source: Vexilla Nostra V:30 VIII (1975), reprint of an article by A.J. Beenhakker from 1970
Jarig Bakker, 2 Dec 2003