Reuzenarbeid (Giant Labor)

The new book by Willem van der Ham (and the accompanying video) Giant Labor presents the history of the construction of the modern Netherlands in the period 1861 – 1918 in a unique way. Major investments in hydraulic engineering and infrastructure led to a period of economic prosperity. The Netherlands was being prepared for a new era.


Construction activity was buzzing all over the country. New canals, railways, locks and bridges were built. The construction of the North Sea Canal connected Amsterdam directly to the sea. Rotterdam also got a New Waterway. The Netherlands was home to the world's largest lock and Europe's largest railway bridge. “Giant Work” was done. The Dutch contracting industry became a mature industry.


At a time when photography was still in its infancy, the minister took the decision to record the construction of national public works. The best photographers of the time were called in. Willem van der Ham has rediscovered this special collection of first Dutch landscape photos and tells the story of the nascent country.

The accompanying video uses music form the yet unreleased piece Digging

see also


Direction and editing: Jan Gitsels, Walk in the park, Studio 21K

Scenario and presentation: Hans Goedkoop

Production, screenplay, directing assistance: Willem van der Ham

Camera: Boudewijn Huisman

Sound: Louis Mulder

Music: Digging by Douwe Eisenga



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