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March 4, 2011 / jmeuropeana

where I grew up – Pernis

For perhaps the first time since they started sending them, I can now actually use one of the suggestions from The Daily Post, the blog that helps the members of the Postaday2011 challenge to produce at least one post per day. The reason I couldn’t use their suggestions before is that I want to focus my blog on ‘stuff in Europeana‘, which is mostly related to the cultural heritage of Europe. Most post suggestions to date have been of a more personal nature.

Todays suggested post topic combines personal with cultural and historical: ‘Describe the town you grew up in’, which for me is a part of Rotterdam called Pernis.
Pernis used to be a small village. It is quite old: the first archival references data back to the 13th century, and parts of the village church date back to the second half of the 15th century.

The name Pernis stems form ‘Perre Nisse’, which in very old Dutch means something like ‘the piece of land outside the dyke, owned by Per or Perre’. In primary school history lessons we tried finding out the origin of this name by searching in library resources and we ended up writing to the Nationaal Archief and the Meertens Instituut to get answers. Actually that was a very modern teaching method to involve the kids in their own history…
Note: a lot of resources for the history of Pernis can be found at the Oudheidkamer.

Pernis used to be a farming and fishing (salmon fishing on the Nieuwe Waterweg, and salt water fishing on the North Sea) community, up to the early 20th century. The village coat of arms reflects that, with a plough and a fish.
Familie Molendijk uit Pernis
(Note – even though these people are called Molendijk, same as me, and are from Pernis, they are not related to me. My mother does know some of them, of course…)

Then the growth of the harbour of Rotterdam, and the establishment of a large petrochemical complex, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, changed the character of the village. In 1934 the then-independent municipality of Pernis was annexed by Rotterdam, to ease the allocation of land to the rapidly growing industry.
Olie-industrie, Pernis (1957-1962)
De annexatie van de gemeenten Pernis en Hoogvliet bij Rotterdam in een officiële bijeenkomst, waarbij o.a. tegenwoordig waren burgemeester Van Es en raadsleden van Pernis en Hoogvliet en de burgemeester van Rotterdam, Drooglever Fortuyn. De vier oudste Pernisser raadsleden, samen 300 jaar oud, luisteren aandachtig naar de afscheidsrede van burgemeester Van Es om morgen Rotterdammer te zijn
My grandmothers father was the local miller.
My maternal grandfather was a ‘tuinder’, a farmer growing fruits and vegetables. His lands were in the polder of Smalland right on the location of what is now the 3e Petroleumhaven (3rd Petroleum Harbour), and his house stood where the buildings of the Beneluxtunnel are located now. He had to sell his lands to the municipality, and was able to retire off the proceeds 🙂
Blad 1 - Blad 2
Olietanks van Shell, aanleg Europoort (1958-1962)
Staking bij Shell raffinaderij in Pernis voor 35 urige werkweek en 5-ploegendienst ; stakers en posters voor de poort

During the war Pernis was frequently bommed – first by the Germans, and after the occupation by the British who wanted to disrupt the oil refinery of Shell.
Bombardement Rotterdam. Brandende olietanks te Pernis

I lived in the village from when I was 3 years old (my parents had moved away for a few years because of the housing shortage after WWII; they even lived in with my grandparents for the first 4 years of their marriage). I went to school at the Dr. de Visser primary school. This has since burnt down and houses have been built in its location.
Opening in het Olymopisch Stadion: dr. De Visser achter de microfoon bij zijn 'wijdingsrede'.

I remember Pernis to be a place to wander around, to play and to explore. Friendly and safe. Also to a large degree segregated along religious lines: Hervormd (Dutch Reformed) associated with Hervormd, Gereformeerd with Gereformeerd, and then there would be a few odd-balls: catholics or baptists or Jehova witnesses. Each religious groups would have its own clubs, its own churches. The Dutch term for such segregation is ‘verzuiling’ (columnification). Very few openly non-religious people, but back in the sixties that was to be expected.
Parochie Emmanuel, Pernis
The town did have a police station, but I don’t recall ever having seen it open – once per day a patrol car would drive always the same round. The police station was right next to the catholic church, and built in the same modernist style.

If you look at the map, you will see that it is quite isolated, with only two roads going in or out and water and railroads around it. There was a bus service (69) to Rotterdam Zuidplein and (48?) to Hoogvliet. They would typically go twice an hour, so that was not too bad. Of course to attend secondary school in Rotterdam Zuid, we would bike there, which took about half an hour – 8 KM)

Since moving out at age 19 to go to university, I sort of have lost contact with the town. Of course for the first few years my parents still lived there, but after my father retired, they moved away to a more rural location. Now I have to really go out of my way to visit Pernis, although the accessibility has greatly improved, not only by the Beneluxtunnel, but also by a new Metro station. I have heard that especially the Metro has greatly changed life in Pernis to make it less isolated, but also less safe…


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