Meppel

 

Meppel (Drents: Möppelt) is a municipality and city in the extreme southwest of the Dutch province of Drenthe. On August 1, 2020, the municipality had 34,125 inhabitants (source: CBS), of which more than 28,000 live in the city of Meppel itself. The municipal area is 58 km². This makes Meppel the smallest municipality in Drenthe.

 

History

Meppel was already mentioned in a charter in 1141, but at that time it was no more than a group of farms. In 1422 Meppel was separated from Kolderveen as an independent cherry game and then they were allowed to build a church. This Grote or Mariakerk is still there, although much has changed over the centuries. At the time, the place was nothing more than a village. Meppel flourished in the 16th century because of the peat excavations in the Northern Netherlands; the city was an important transit port because of the connection with the Drentsche Hoofdvaart and the Hoogeveense Vaart on the one side and the Meppelerdiep on the other. The Zuiderzee could be reached at Zwartsluis via the Meppelerdiep. Peat was exported along this road from all over Drenthe to the west of the country.

In the 17th and 18th centuries many inland skippers settled in the town, which had been granted city rights by the Drenthe drost in 1644 and now has more than a thousand inhabitants. In 1809, Meppel received city rights again from Louis Napoleon. On November 5, 1815, Meppel received its own city regulations from King William I.

The waters that run through the center of Meppel are called canals. Partly because of the names Heerengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, the city is also sometimes called the Mokum of the North. Meppel is also compared to Amsterdam for other reasons. For example, there have been links between the two cities for centuries and the Jewish community was richly represented in Meppel before World War II. Street names like Synagogue Street are a reminder of that time. The above canals are all along the old route of the Hoogeveense Vaart and the Beilerstroom through the center of Meppel. In the twentieth century, some canals that ran straight through the center of the city were filled in. Some drawbridges have also been replaced by fixed bridges. Since then it has become impossible to enter Drenthe through Meppel, partly due to the narrowing of the Hoogeveense Vaart in 2005 near the Oosterboer. In 2008, part of the Gasgracht, up to Prinsenplein in the center, was dug open again. A folding bridge over the Gasgracht has been built near the old "Tipbrug". This bridge is built after the example of the Tipbrug and is called "Prinsenbrug". There are plans to re-open more canals.

During the Second World War, almost all Jewish residents of Meppel were transported by the German occupier to the concentration camps and died there. Of the 250 Meppel Jews, 232 perished and only 18 returned.

In 2007 Meppel became a Millennium Municipality.

Meppel has an active historical association, the Oud Meppel Foundation.

Meppeler mosquito
The inhabitants of Meppel are also called "Meppeler mosquitoes" or mosquito sprayers, after a folk tale that is known about several places in the world. The story goes that one night some residents thought the church tower was on fire, because a cloud of smoke hung around the Meppeler tower, but it turned out to be a swarm of fireflies or mosquitoes. A statue of this folk tale, by Aart van den IJssel, was placed in Meppel in 1971.

The coat of arms of Meppel
The history of the city can be read in the coat of arms of Meppel: the three clover leaves symbolize the pasture land around Meppel; the three black rectangles represent peat and represent the peat quarries and the peat trade; the ten silver tokens in the red border represent the ten sacks of grain that the village of Meppel paid from 1422 to the church of Kolderveen (next to Nijeveen, a village that borders Meppel).