Appingedam, Netherlands


Appingedam (Gronings: Dam or Daam) is a city and former municipality in the municipality of Eemsdelta in the province of Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. The population as of August 1, 2020 was 11,523.



A resident of Appingedam is called a Damster or Appingedammer. In the Middle Ages people spoke of Damsaters, Latin Dammenses, that is 'dam dwellers'.

The town of Appingedam, located on the Damsterdiep, used to be the capital of Fivelingo. Together with the city of Groningen, it is one of the two places with historical city rights in the province. The center of the town is a protected cityscape with extension.



The name Appengadomme (1225) or Damme (1235) is, according to some theories, derived from a dam in the river Appe or Apt. A derivation from the river name Appe is unlikely for ononological grounds. In the Middle Ages, such shapes only occur with landscape names such as Fivelingo. More likely is a derivation of the personal name Appe / Abbe, or the family name Appinga / Abbinga. Appingedam then means 'dam at the residence of the men of Abbo' or 'dam at the residence of the Abbinga family'. According to some 15th-century sources, the monasterywierde was also called Appingen. Comparable to this is the monasterywierde Appingen in the Krummh├Ârn, 1401 Appungen.



There is no certainty about the exact age. The archaeological finds go back to about 1140, although some older finds (including a Badorf jug from the 10th century) have been made.

Appingedam probably originated around 1100 on one of the dikes along the Delf (later Damsterdiep) or one of its predecessors. At the intersection of the Delf, the Groeve, the Groote Heekt and some trade routes, a settlement of skippers, merchants and craftsmen arose. A document from 1224 refers for the first time to a market or meeting place (Forum), probably referring to Appingedam.

There are various theories about the initial period, which focus on the presumed course of the river Appe (see there). A number of authors (Hoft 1990; Ten Broek 1935-37) assume that Appingedam originated on a dam in the Heekt, the Appe or the Groeve. The settlement would have existed before the Delf (Damsterdiep) was dug around 1200. As a consequence of this view it is sometimes stated that Geleviswert, mentioned in 1057, where coins were minted, does not mean Garrelsweer but Garreweer. Other authors believed that Appingedam was only founded after the digging of the Delf. The town may have originated at a lock or dam in the Delf (Kooke & Vermeulen 1978). Recent historical-geographic research has shown that the Damsterdiep must have been dug before the year 1000 in order to improve the drainage of the hinterland (Ligtendag 1995). However, no indications of the existence of a dam in the Delf have been found.


Growth and bloom

Due to its favorable location on the Delf, which formed an open connection with the sea, the settlement quickly developed into an important trade and market center. Appingedam became the capital of the Frisian region of Fivelingo. Seagoing ships were moored at the quays of the Delf and skippers unloaded and loaded their cargo. Then the goods were stored and traded. Trade was conducted with Northern Germany and the Baltic Sea area, Scandinavia and Westphalia. At the Wezertol of Bremen, favorable exceptional rates applied for Damster ships. Appingedam was an important regional market center. The growth of the city was also reflected in the size of the Romano-Gothic St. Mary's Church, which became the Nicolai Church in the mid-14th century and grew along with the city during this period, as it were.

In the Middle Ages, Appingedam had a central function not only economically, but also legally and administratively. The lifeguards of the Frisian region of Fivelingo already gathered here in the 13th century. The independence of the judiciary and administration was confirmed in 1327. In that year the representatives of the Seven Frisian Sea countries, united in the alliance of the Upstalsboom, recognized the rights and customs traditionally existing in Appingedam and established these in the city privilege of Appingedam. , the neighbor letter. The language of communication in Appingedam was Frisian in the Middle Ages. This is also evident from surviving Old Frisian legal texts. As a result of the Hanze trade and the influence of the city of Groningen, Frisian was supplanted by Low German at the end of the Middle Ages.


Decline and new flowering

In 1514 Appingedam was taken by Georg of Saxony. The population, which had partly sought refuge in the Nicolai Church, was massacred. According to Wilhelmus Coenders van Helpen, more than 1000 people were killed in this massacre, including elderly people, women and children.


In 1536 the city was taken by Meindert van Ham, a commander in the army of Charles of Gelre, but in September of the same year he was expelled by Georg Schenck van Toutenburg, stadholder of Charles V. After that the fortifications were demolished.

Actually, Schenck van Toutenburg had ordered the whole of Appingedam to be demolished. He had a garrison there under the command of Commander Hans Hesse, who was to supervise this. However, the Damsters managed to talk to Hesse in order not to hurry with the demolition of the houses. As a result, only the ramparts were demolished. The Augustinian Monastery also had to be demolished, but that was forbidden by Schenck himself, whose brother was buried there. As late as 1565, the city of Groningen tried to convince Governor Maria of Hungary (who had initially ordered the demolition of Appingedam) to carry out the demolition after all. She rejected this request because the Stadjers had done too little work on this in 1536 and, moreover, had already agreed to a court ruling on a trade dispute between the two cities.

Although Appingedam gradually declined in economic terms since the 16th century, there was a temporary revival around 1630, when the Renaissance town hall was built and around 1760 when many facades, especially in Solwerderstraat, were renovated. At the end of the 18th century, some 50 seagoing vessels a year were still being chartered and regular service services were maintained at Sneek, Amsterdam and Leer.

Brick and tile factories, lime kilns and shipyards stood along the Damsterdiep. Wind and horse mills used to grind grain and buckwheat, press oil, and saw wood. In addition, the city had six breweries, two gin distilleries, some tanneries, weaving mills, yarn wineries, a soap factory, a glue factory, a vinegar factory and a salt shack.

When the French were preparing for the Siege of Delfzijl (1813-1814), Appingedam was robbed of the stocks. Later Marcus Busch, as Dutch colonel of the militia and besieging the fortified city of Delfzijl, would choose his headquarters in Appingedam. The Damsters would still get wet feet during the siege, because Pierre Maufroy, defender of the city, closed the locks of Delfzijl, so that the Fivelboezem was flooded.

After the completion of the Eemskanaal, shipping on the Damsterdiep decreased and the neighboring town of Delfzijl managed to attract it. Delfzijl managed to stipulate that the Damsters were not allowed to use the Eemskanaal. In 1884 the city was connected to the Groningen - Delfzijl railway line. As a result, water transport decreased even further in importance.

At the end of the 19th century the Damster economy flourished again. Appingedam mainly made a name for itself with the cattle markets, of which the horse market was the most important. In 1870 C. Roggenkamp introduced the first steam engine in Appingedam and founded one of the first steam carpentry factories in the Netherlands, Molly.


First half of the 20th century

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city developed more and more into the industrial center of Fivelingo. Appingedam got, among other things, a dairy factory, a flax factory, a straw board factory De Eendracht, a gas factory, a trailer factory (part of the DAM) and two bodywork factories Medema and Bos (later Smit). The Ter Borg & Mensinga (Borga) machine factory gained world fame and Jan Brons' Appingedammer Bronsmotorfabriek produced the Bronsmotor, a marine engine of its own invention that was sold all over the world. Nowadays, on the corner of Kniestraat and Dijkstraat, stands the gigantic crankshaft of such a Bronze engine as an industrial monument. The industry mainly settled along the Damsterdiep and De Groeve (Damstermaar), the connection with the Eemskanaal. With the growth of the industry, the middle class, banking and education and social facilities also increased, partly through initiatives by the lawyer and local politician A.T. Vos.


With the growth of activity, the demand for housing for the workers also increased. New neighborhoods were built for this purpose. To the north of the old city center, Werkliedenvereniging De Harmonie built a working-class neighborhood between the old wierde, the Damsterdiep and the railway line along the Harmoniestraat. In the years up to the war, this area was further filled in with houses and a sports field. Among other things, the mansions near the station and the Rijks-HBS on the Wilhelminastraat (1917, later converted into a town hall) date from this period. During the Second World War, a number of houses along Harmoniestraat were destroyed. They were later replaced by new construction. At the beginning of the 20th century, houses were also built on the south side of the center to the south of the Nieuwe Diep (a "bypass" of the Damsterdiep). On the Westerkade these workers' houses form a tight ribbon along the water. The Bronsmotorenfabriek had symmetrical workers' houses built on Scharreweersterweg in 1924. The straw board factory, the municipal housing company and the Patrimonium housing association also built homes here. Across the road to Scharreweer and Farmsum, a large number of semi-detached and semi-detached houses were built within an orthogonal street pattern for both private and public housing. After the war, this district was further built up with mainly residential housing up to Opwierde, partly as part of the 1000-housing plan of the province of Groningen.


After the second World War

After the Second World War, Appingedam was initially increasingly overshadowed by the neighboring municipality of Delfzijl. This place developed rapidly into the third port city of the Netherlands and one of the most important industrial centers in the north of the country. Development in Appingedam was much more gradual. In some areas, such as the shopping facilities, there was even talk of a standstill. As is often the case, an incentive was needed to usher in the turnaround.

In 1972 Appingedam acquired the designation of a protected cityscape. This gave the municipal council the legal and financial possibilities to revive the dilapidated city center. Ambitious plans were developed at a rapid pace to restore the historic city center while retaining its own identity. Not only was the appearance of the city embellished, but the middle class also revived and the activity increased. Under the motto Appingedam, back in service, Appingedam made a successful attempt to attract tourists and entrepreneurs to the city. Boating recreation developed, partly thanks to the opening of the Damsterdiep boating circuit. The city was expanded with new housing estates.

Two barracks have also stood in Appingedam. Between 1949 and 1964, soldiers were stationed in the Pieter Bierema Barracks on the Stationsweg. Soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, as well as units and training centers of the Royal Netherlands Army, had their camp in Camp Fivelingo, later the Willem Lodewijk van Nassau Barracks, on Westersingel until 1990. The Pieter Bieremakazerne (the former Craft School) has been demolished; in 2002 the old main building of the W.L. van Nassau barracks was converted into an apartment complex.


21st century

Due to the range of shops, the recreational opportunities, the construction of the 'Stadshaven Appingedam', the road connections and public transport, Appingedam plays a role as a tourist center for the northeastern corner of the province of Groningen. It has also developed into a regional care center, both in administrative terms and in terms of education and shopping facilities. The latter have partly moved outside the historic center, which has been confronted with increasing vacancy since 2010.

Appingedam is part of the area where natural gas extraction in the nearby natural gas field of Slochteren has led to land subsidence and earthquakes. In November 2013, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands announced that an investigation had shown that the Appingedam Town Hall was one of the 69 national monuments that had been damaged as a result. In 2017-2018, in the southeastern district of Opwierde-Zuid, there was commotion among residents due to uncertainty as a result of conflicting reports about the need for a proposed reinforcement operation for homes.



Appingedam unmistakably looks like a town. Originally medieval buildings can be admired in the center. The most famous sights are the medieval Nicolaïkerk (included in the Top 100 of the National Agency for the Preservation of Monuments), the Renaissance Town Hall built against it and above the Damsterdiep three hanging kitchens and two narrow bridges.