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GEB local electricity substation

The GEB local electricity substation was needed to supply electricity to the shops and businesses in the centre.

Nationaalarchief Onderstation Overzicht

Located at the corner of Delftsevaart and Grotekerkplein is a brick complex that doesn’t fit very well in the modern, reconstructed city. That is indeed true, because the oldest section was a substation built for the local electricity board in 1925. In 1948 a second building for Stadsverwarming (District Heating) was erected, and both structures were designed by (anonymous) architects at the Public Works Department.

The substation was needed to supply electricity to the shops and businesses in the centre. From 1920 on the municipality started to compulsorily purchase land, and in 1922 some existing dwellings on the site were demolished.

stadsverwarming

Construction of the Stadsverwarming building on Delftsevaart started in June 1948.

AD: Archive of Het Vrije Volk

The director of the electricity board had declared that in connection with the increase in power consumption, a rapid expansion in the available means for the production of direct current on the right bank of the Maas was considered highly essential, and further, that this goal would only be achieved in an adequate and also most economical manner by quickly commencing with the construction of a new substation on Delfvaart.

Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant 28-11-1923

onbekend onderstation tekening

Newspaper cutting.

Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 11-08-1924

stadsarchief onderstation zijkant

Repair work on Delftsevaart in 1943, with the district heating substation on the left.

Rotterdam City Archives, VIII 36.00.19.06

Sober architecture

The main space inside the building is a tall engine hall, about thirty metres long and ten metres wide, with a height of sixteen metres. A cable space was located in the basement, and on the floor above were the supervisor’s office, a workshop, a storage space, and a room for clothing and washing. Built by the Hollandsche Concrete Maatschappij, the structure had a 1.35-metre thick concrete floor plate as a basis, and the rest of the structure was also made of concrete. Steel girders support the concrete roof. However, decorative brickwork is mostly visible on the exterior.

Built by the Hollandsche Concrete Maatschappij, the structure had a 1.35-metre thick concrete floor plate as a basis, and the rest of the structure was also made of concrete.

The extremely sober architecture makes a big and sturdy impression, similar to all recent municipal buildings devoted to modern technology.

Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad 11-8-1924

The big entrance to the engine hall is closed by a roll-down shutter that enables heavy machines to be brought in and out easily. A travelling crane is fitted in the hall for that purpose.

There were plans for a five-floor L-shaped office building for the local electricity board next to the substation.

There were plans for a five-floor L-shaped office building for the local electricity board next to the substation. Although that plan did not go ahead, it did set the tone for the construction of the building for the electricity board on Rochussenstraat.

stadsarchief onderstation waterkant

The extension to the district heating nearing completion in 1949.

Rotterdam City Archives, XV 31.06

District heating

The substation survived the bombardment. During the war years the idea emerged to establish a collective heating facility in the centre, so that every major energy consumer did not need to build its own expensive facility. A network of cables was laid down, and it was initially thought that the power plant at Schiehaven could play an important role in the District Heating. Owing in part to the unfavourable location of this complex far from the centre, this plan was abandoned in favour of the possible solution on Delftsevaart. In 1961 a second substation on Blekerstraat was put into operation.

After all, that was the site of the old substation for direct current belonging to the local electricity board, which had survived the events of the war intact. A year later the construction of a network of cables commenced, and the now renovated substation was fitted with a boiler to serve the first four clients (the telephone office and the firm Rouppe & Van der Voort on Botersloot, the Pax residential complex on Groenendaal, and the Amsterdam Bank and Collection Agency).

Het Vrije Volk 27-1-1961

You cannot really say that: “On Monday 10 October 1949 in the afternoon, at precisely three minutes and ten seconds past 12, Mr Hoenkamp, director of the GEB, put the district heating network into operation”. Since the district heating facility had already been operational, it had already run on a trial basis, and those trials had been satisfactory. And we have accepted this new addition to the reconstruction of the city without donning our party hats.

Het Vrije Volk 10-10-1949

Today

The building complex still exists and is used by Eon energy company.

Today

The building complex still exists and is used by Eon energy company.

Location
Meent, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Neighborhoods
Laurenskwartier