The Royal Yeast and Spirits Factory: 150 years of history in pictures

During the successful exhibition '150 years of Gist' in 2019, beautiful photos and videos from the glorious past of the Delft Yeast Factory were on display. However, there is much more special visual material that has been managed by the 'Stadsarchief Delft' for years. Until now, that has hardly been inventoried. We are happy to announce that with the support of the ‘Ondernemersfonds Delft’, DSM has made 36,000 euros available to fund this project over the next three years to make this unique image collection accessible.

This huge job started at the beginning of November. Alex Poldervaart, coordinator on behalf of the Delft City Archives, enthusiastically explains how she and ten volunteers from Museum Van Marken made an inventory of the first boxes: "Three days a week the team works on the collection in the City Archives. We go through the contents of the boxes, duplicate material is removed and the pictures are numbered. Later the material will also be scanned, placed on the volunteer platform 'VeleHanden' and eventually it will become available on the website of 'Stadsarchief Delft'.” 

Personal portraits

Poldervaart and her team have already come across many gems in the first fifteen boxes. For example, she picked up a box with unknown personal portraits of the Van Marken couple. It turns out that the couple themselves pasted photographs on gray cardboard endpapers and added a description with a crown pen. Touching are the sheets on which Agneta pasted photos of her engagement in 1865 or two photos of a sick Jacques, under which she wrote, 'Last portraits taken in Oct. 1905.' These photographs were pasted in by widow Agneta after his death. 

Beautiful photo albums have also surfaced, giving an extensive account of the spectacular centenary of Gist-Brocades in 1970. Poldervaart: "The volunteers sometimes discover photos of something they experienced themselves or suddenly see themselves again at a reception or event. It's a trip down memory lane." Then Poldervaart picks up a photo album from 1933 displayed on the table, a special find: "The album contains a report of a fire at the Brocades office, close to the Willemsbrug in Rotterdam. Forty people were injured and one man died. The whole building burned down. Rotterdam was in disarray." 

Also found were photos taken by famous photographers of the time, such as Cas Oorthuys (1908-1975), known for his impressive black and white images of Rotterdam's shipping traffic. We see photographs with laboratory employees in lab coats focused on their work with a mortar and laboratory glassware. Who these people are is still unknown, but it is possible that later on, through the crowdsourcing procedure of 'VeleHanden', an adequate description of the pictured persons can be given. Poldervaart: "It is a learning process for us. Never before have we worked with a large group of volunteers on such an extensive project. The amount of visual material is truly enormous. There are about two hundred boxes, which usually contain between a hundred and nine hundred photos. There is also a wide range of information carriers such as DVDs, videotapes or glass negatives. I hope that by the end of 2023 we will have as much as possible on the archive website."

Photo front page: the young married couple Van Marken in 1869