Dutch Barge Clipper

A one-mast clipper

  • A bow that exhibits a forward-flaring hollow line.
  • The bow waves flare outwards towards the bow.
  • A flat surface for inland clippers. Mild flatness may occur in ocean-going clippers.
  • The entire "stern" protrudes behind the rudder at the aft.

Two-mast Friesian clipper

  • Overhanging "Schooner stern"

Two-mast Zeeland clipper

  • Vertical stern

Clipper barge

  • Full aft

The Clipper, as we know it in inland navigation and to a limited extent in coastal navigation, is a ship type that was built after 1875. They were mainly built for freight transport and in some cases possibly as inspection vessels for government agencies. The majority were built as sailing ships, a small number as sailing ships with auxiliary engines, while also tugboats were built with characteristics of the inland clipper.

The external resemblance of the hull shape to that of the large ocean-going frigates and barques from the same period is clearly visible. In the past, it has been suggested that the inland clipper originated from the model of the ocean-going "clippers". This would have introduced a revolutionary hull shape for inland navigation, with its sharp lines not matching the traditional round-built types.

However, it is worth investigating how shipbuilding developed in the nineteenth century and how the various elements that can be recognized in the Clipper came into existence.

Around 1840, the first iron ships were built in the Netherlands. Around 1860, various examples of inland ships built in iron are already known, and in addition to traditional types, new forms appear. Shortly before 1880, the Clipper made its appearance.

In the 1870s and 1880s, much attention was paid to creating beautifully curved bow sections. However, underwater, these ships were often not cut as sharply and therefore did not make particularly fast trips.

A large part of the Clippers were built in Friesland, Groningen, South Holland or Brabant. The only clear distinction between the different clippers seems to be the position of the bulwark behind (the stern). As far as is known, all clippers built in Friesland have an overhanging stern.

The hull shape has undergone little change during the period when clippers were built. This type of ship has always been built in iron and later in steel. The ship was designed for iron construction; this gives it, among other things, the staff frames in contrast to the box frames that we see with many ships with a wooden history.

A number of typical characteristics of the hull shape briefly summarized are:

  • A bow that shows a forward-outwardly flaring hollow line.
  • The bow lines flare outwards towards the bow stem.
  • A flat surface for inland clippers. On seagoing clippers, a slight flat tilt may occur.
  • At the aft ship, the whole ‘stern’ sticks out behind the rudder. The bulwark can stand vertically behind, which occurred earlier in the towed boats.

The bulwark can also fall diagonally outward, which occurred in the seagoing wooden clipper around 1850. Under the loaded last line, the aft ship is peaked, it shows hollow lines. In the de-cabling we encounter all possible shapes that we know from the further inland fleet.

The lengths of Clippers vary from about 8 meters to more than 45 meters, with a load capacity of around 500 tons. The most common dimensions are between 20 to 35 meters. As rigging, we find on ships up to 31 - 32 meters a one-mast rig with straight gaff, jib and yankee. On longer ships from about 30 meters, we encounter, especially in the river area, the well-known two-mast rig: an aft mast with gaff and a large foremast.

With the gaff shot (pulled vertically down) and the big mast struck to the height of the mizzen mast, these ships could sail under the bridges over the rivers. If necessary with a jib and a small sail. With the rise of the railways and the accompanying construction of many railway bridges, so much had to be struck that the gaff-top sail taken over from the Rhine navigation quickly fell out of use. The length of the mast tops also became shorter.

Although originated in the area around the River “Noord” and intended for the large river area and the South Holland and Zeeland streams, the clipper developed into a universal cargo ship for inland navigation. On the rivers, it mainly transported iron ore, coal, gravel, and grain. But it also transported things like manure from Friesland to the Bollenstreek and sugar beets during the beet campaign. The dimensions of waterways and works of art or government regulations of course limited the possibilities of navigation and introduced a number of 'measurement ships'.

The following dimensions are frequently encountered:

31.50 x 6.00 meters, the Friesian clipper;
26 x 5.60 x 1.90 meters, the Roosendaal clipper due to the length of the lock at Roosendaal.

From a number of names, it is clear that clippers were sometimes also used for a very specific cargo. We know of potato clippers, cheese clippers, carnival clippers, and stone clippers. Potato clippers and cheese clippers were short and full, due to the often small ports where they always took on or offloaded a part of their cargo.

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