Jacob van Lennep

If you know Amsterdam a little then I’m sure you’ve heard of the Jacob van Lennepkade, street, canal or even hotel! But who was that man… or again…? 😉

Jacob van Lennep had a diverse career: poet, linguist and politician.
But his greatest fame probably came from his wife… Mrs van Lennep…

We dive back in time where big skirts and fancy men’s clothes alternate with the view of an open harbour and sailors returning to the city after years of travelling on unknown seas. The city is teeming with people, merchants, scientists, painters, sailors, ladies of all shapes and sizes. The streets are narrow and the salty sea air of the Zuiderzee rises through the city by a breeze. But even more we can smell the air of exotic spices, cinnamon, citrus fruits, ginger, pepper, but everywhere there is a nasty smell…

It smelled like hell…

The city of Amsterdam had one big problem, it smelled like hell! The canals functioned as an open sewer where everything floated and was too polluted to make drinking water from it. From ‘De Vecht’ area fresh water was brought in or you drank beer, but if you had ‘not a penny to make it’ you had to deal with the canal water or the rain barrel. Cholera was lurking everywhere in Amsterdam …

…soft and tasty drinking water

One day the well-to-do Jacob was poured a glass of clear dune water in his country house in Heemstede by Mrs. van Lennep. It was soft, it was tasty and immediately tasted like more! And if it was up to Mrs van Lennep this water would also be available for Amsterdam.

Through his connections in London, where a (drinking) water pipe already existed, he brought this idea to the Netherlands. Thanks to English moneylenders and permission of King William III the Duinwater-Maatchappij was founded. The drinking water in Heemsteede was filtered through the dunes and entered Amsterdam via a pipeline from Heemstede. On 12 December 1853 every Amsterdammer could for the first time at the Willemspoort (now Haarlemmerpoort) buy the pure dune water for 1 cent the bucket.

So when you tap another glass of water, think again of Jacob! 

 

 

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