The ‘benevolence colonies’ in Frederiksoord, Wilhelminaoord, Veenhuizen; and ‘het Vlaamse Wortel’ will all be added to the list
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Drenthe has gained another series of UNESCO World Heritage sites, with the UNESCO committee yesterday deciding to award the status to the ‘veenkoloniën’ in the Province. The colonies were founded at the start of the 19th Century as a charitable foundations; giving poor people from the cities a home and a small plot of land, as well as training to become self-sustaining farmers.
As reported by RTV Drenthe, the committee meeting in the Chinese city of Fuzhou was influenced by advice given by Icomos (International Council on Monuments and Sites). Four of the seven ‘benevolence colonies’ have been awarded the status of World Heritage sites.
The Colonies were started by the ‘Society for Benevolence (Maatschappij van Weldadigheid), which itself was founded in 1818 by Johannes van den Bosch. The first was opened in Frederiksoord, and several more followed, all working under the same model. Later on, the model was adapted to rehabilitate criminals, too.
Now that the sites have all been given the UNESCO status, they can expect a boot in visitor numbers- likely to be a boon for the local economy. The Province of Drenthe and Dutch government now also have the responsibility to keep the sites in good order and preserve their heritage. Indeed, as the city of Liverpool recently found out, doing too little to preserve the history of a UNESCO site can get it struck off from the list.
Image: the Huis Westerbeek in Frederiksoord. Photo by Marketing Drenthe