Batavia Yard is a shipyard with extraordinary ambitions, reconstructing ships from the Golden Age that were important to the Netherlands' maritime history. This heritage was demolished at the time because of its limited lifespan, or has sunk to the bottom of the sea. In April 1995, the Batavia, which is the most authentic reconstruction of a 17th-century VOC ship ever made, was launched after ten years in the making. The initiator was master shipbuilder Willem Vos. After this reconstruction was complete, a second project was started in the yard to reconstruct ‘De 7 Provinciën', a 17th-century battleship with which Michiel de Ruyter fought many sea battles.
The construction of the replica of ‘De 7 Provinciën' is one of the largest and most challenging historical shipbuilding projects in the world. Using vocational reintegration and work experience projects to construct these ships, the shipyard plays an important part in the lives of long-term unemployed people for whom, over time and for various reasons, the distance to the job market has become too great.
Having official ‘Charity Organisation' status, Batavia Yard is a non-profit foundation that is dependent on donations and sponsors to construct and maintain the ships.
The conservation of cultural heritage, traditional crafts and working methods
The ‘Batavia' and ‘De 7 Provinciën' bring to life the stories of the people and their work and lives in 17th-century VOC times. Traditional crafts are revived in the various workshops, such as the woodcarving workshop, the forge and the rigging workshop. Batavia Yard offers visitors the opportunity to learn hands-on from the past. The Batavia Yard method is different from others because no concessions are being made during the building process. The shipyard performs extensive historical research into the construction, work methods and use of materials in the 17th century. Batavia Yard's accumulated expertise is unique in the world and makes it possible to build reconstructions that are very true to life. The construction of the ships provides new knowledge about shipbuilding from that era, something we call ‘experimental archaeology'.
Batavia Yard will certainly not lay idle in the coming years. There are several projects in the pipeline that will make significant cultural and social contributions. Furnishing and regular and intensive maintenance of the Batavia are scheduled, as is the completion of ‘De 7 Provinciën', of course. These projects will provide work at the shipyard for several long-term unemployed people and volunteers.