Brick-making industry

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“Hattem owes its Hanseatic wealth to the brick-making industry.’’ We are talking to town guide Gerard Libert about this statement of his.

"Hattem’s floodplains, along the river IJssel, an area which we call the Hoenwaard or Homert, were given to us by duke William of Gelre in the early 1400s. It was not only suitable as pasture land but it was also discovered that excellent clay could be extracted from the IJssel river banks. Quite soon excellent bricks could be made from that clay. You should know that this process was not invented by Hattem people because the old Romans already made bricks that way. The monasteries Klaarwater and Hulsbergen near Hattem were the first to start doing this. Those bricks were called ‘’kloostermoppen’’, i.e. monastic bricks. Hattem people started making bricks in so-called tichelovens or brick kilns. Before that time the sun had to dry the bricks because there were no kilns in earlier times. Later, clay roof tiles were also made. In towns like Elburg and Harderwijk the output was fish and here in Hattem it was bricks."

In the year 1404 castle St Lucia, soon popularly known as Dikke Tinne (lit. Fat Battlement), was, by order of the Duke, extended by two main towers with seven-metre-thick walls. Such wall thickness had not been seen anywhere before. The reason was the abundance of bricks that were available. It was purely a form of imposing behaviour by the duke in those days. Those bricks were also used to reinforce walls and gateways, for example. In times of war the castle played its part in defending Hattem, with even pieces of artillery on the castle’s turret crowns. “Hattem was a real city in those days. Not very large but with all the defence possibilities that went with it."

About the so-called tichelovens or brick kilns: "We are trying to open up the one remaining kiln to the public next year, the Hanseatic year.” Photograph: an old educational picture of the old brickworks in Hattem
(Photo: Heemkunde Hattem, Hattem’s local history association)