Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater
In 1575, the man after whom we named our brewery, Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater, was born close to where our brewery is currently situated in a little town called De Rijp. Though his last name Leeghwater, wasn’t his name back then.
At that time, Leeghwater’s native soil, the polder landscape between the cities of Alkmaar, Purmerend, Haarlem and Amsterdam, consisted of peat meadows; vulnerable islands surrounded by water. Leeghwater’s vision was to connect these islands by creating more land. In fact, protecting ‘his’ island De Rijp against the threat of water became one of his goals in life.
In the first half of the 17th century, Leeghwater was closely involved as an engineer in draining the Beemster (1612), Purmer (1622), Heerhugowaard (1625), Wormer (1626), Schermer (1635) and Starnmeer (1643) lakes. For the first time in history, windmills were used to pump water out of lakes to create land. This is why the Beemsterpolder earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Jan Adriaenszoon Leeghwater turned high water into low water and the peat meadows into an agricultural landscape. Gradually, Leeghwater finished his Magnum Opus: the Land of Leeghwater.
Leeghwater already changed his name in 1605, even before the draining of the Beemster had begun. Before that he was called Jan Adriaenszoon. The surname ‘Leeghwater’ can be translated in English as ‘empty water’ or ‘low water’. As stubborn as he was, he probably thought he would succeed in creating the ‘Land of Leeghwater’. Turns out he was right.