In the beginning of the 20th century, The Netherlands was a trading nation with overseas territories, including the Dutch Indies and Antilles. Communication depended on electric telegrams that were send via the cable connections of England and Germany. During the First World War this independence on foreign cable connections was a great disadvantage. Therefore, the government decided to build a long wave transmission station enabling permanent contact with the Dutch East Indies using radio telegraphs.
At the Veluwe they found an uninhabited terrain where there would be a minimum inference to the transmission traffic from the environment. Architect Luthmann was commisioned to build the transmitter building, the water tower and housing for the workers. With 150 laboureres from Amsterdam they started building Radio Kootwijk in 1918, which initially operated under the name Radio Assel. The radio transmission centre was put into operation in May 1923, initially for Morse telegraph traffic, but radio telephony was in sight and the first telephone connection between the Dutch East Indies and The Netherlands was established in April 1928.
The transmitter building is also known as ‘The Cathedral’ for local people at the Veluwe, but the design itself is of a sphinx, with its legs in the buildings in front of the pont, where we had an introduction talk with coffee and tea.
We also visited the water tower and the building where the water came out of the ground (at a very deep level) and was pumped into the water tower next door.
Then it was time to enter the building. Doors that stayed closed before for so many of us, now finally opened!
(You can only visit the Radio Station with a guided tour or appointment).
Nowadays all the radio equipment is gone due to an estonishing recent lack of awareness of the cultural value of this building and its contents. However, the space itself where all the radio equipment was, is still very impressive and a grand location for a 1920s themed party for some 500 people.Logistically this area is difficult to manage, but who knows in the future…
At the entrance you see a stylised head with rays of radio waves going in all directions like waves of the sun. Two small figures represent an Indonesian and a Dutch person, relating to the purpose of the building to make radio telephony contact with the Dutch East Indies.
The back of the building is also beautiful with an eagle above the great window. During the second world war the Germans said about this: ‘They knew we were coming”.
I had planned a surprise champagne lunch for our guests, and luckily I could keep this hidden untill the last moment!
An even greater surprise came when after the champagne was offered the guests heard they were invited to go to the roof!
I was very pleased that the plan worked and the surprise was very much appreciated.
On the roof, lunch was waiting for us with an astonishing view. Especially the ‘roggebrood met haring’, filled eggs, and fruit bowl were greatly appreciated.
Some of our guests said that they would never leave anymore!
We profited from this unique moment to have our picture taken by one of the waiters.