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The Woudagemaal

The Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal is the largest, still operational steam pumping station in the world. The architecturally and technically valuable Woudagemaal has been a protected monument since 1977, and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998. The Royal Dutch Mint celebrates the 100th anniversary of this impressive example of Dutch water engineering with a commemorative coin.

A magisterial experience

An enormous amount of steam and quite some sounds: when you visit the Woudagemaal when it is put under steam, you are in for a treat! It takes about six hours to fill the boilers with water and start the pumps. The result is breathtaking: the entire building disappears in the steam the station creates. The Woudagemaal is put under steam at least twice a year. During these predetermined “training days”, staff and volunteers keep their knowledge about the working of the station up to date. When the water rises to dangerously high levels, the steam pumping station is (still) commissioned.
Even when the Woudagemaal is not operational, it never fails to impress. The smokestack, with a height of sixty metres, is a recognisable point (beacon) for skippers on the IJsselmeer. The special architecture provides a unique appearance of the turbine hall, which houses the four impressive head steam engines. About 120 volunteers work at the Woudagemaal’s visitor centre. Two of the main attractions are the interactive exposition hall and the 3D cinema. The visitor centre is open from February until December.
Discover the history
The Woudagemaal in Lemmer has a rich history. The steam pumping station was designed by the Chief Engineer of the Provincial Public Works, Dirk Frederik Wouda, in 1917-1918. The majestic building shows beautiful, traditional architecture in the style of the Rationalism (an architectural current from the early twentieth century). On 7 October 1920, the steam pumping station was officially opened by Queen Wilhelmina.
Before the steam pumping station was operational, excess water in the province of Friesland was pumped into the Zuiderzee and the Wadden Sea with windmills and sluices. This became problematic in the course of the nineteenth century because the peat bogs were sinking. The development of the steam pumping station in Lemmer was a big step forward in the field of water management in Friesland. With great success! From 1966 onwards, water authority in Friesland had greatly improved and the electric Hoogland pumping station near Stavoren partly took over from the Woudagemaal. The reliable steam pumping station is however still in use and is owned by the Wetterskip Fryslân (the Dutch water board in the province of Friesland). In addition, the building and the steam engines are attractions for architectural or steam enthusiasts.
The Woudagemaal in Lemmer, Friesland

Celebrate the 100th anniversary

In 2020, the Woudagemaal celebrates its 100th anniversary with a special programme. In the anniversary year a new entrance is created out of one of the former service residences. The exposition in the visitor centre is renewed, emphasising the story of Frisian water authority and the consequences of climate change. The two new nature trails surrounding the Woudagemaal are also sure to draw new visitors and hiking enthusiasts to the UNESCO monument.
The Royal Dutch Mint also celebrates the Woudagemaal’s special anniversary. The commemorative coin in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Woudagemaal is struck in commission by the Ministry of Finance and is the ninth issue in the series Dutch World Heritage. Visual artist Berend Strik designed the coin.
Woudagemaal, The Netherlands

Woudagemaal 5 Euro Coin