Hembrug is an abandoned production site of ammunition and weaponry, located in between Zaandam and Amsterdam. Hembrug used to be a military production site that functioned as the logistic heart of the Stelling van Amsterdam (Dutch defence strategy) since 1895, but lost its original function in 2003 when the Eurometaal factory stopped the ammunition production.
In 1887 the ‘Artillerie Inrichtingen’ company chose a new base of operations near Zaandam. In 1907, a gangway bridge was opened over the canal called Hembrug. Eventually the name of the bridge would pass on the company. The factory was bought by the Dutch Government in 1912 and employed 1.200 people at that time.
Hembrug is closely linked to the history of the Defense Line of Amsterdam. On site there were the General Defense Park of the Defense Line and the Artillery Institutions. The General Defense Park stored supplies and the Artillery Institutions delivered weapons and ammunition for the Defense Line. One can rightfully say that Hembrug was the heart of the Defense Line of Amsterdam.
During the First World War the factory had almost 8.500 people working. After the war the future was uncertain, as a result the employees were brought back to two thousand. In 1928, the organization of the company was changed to that of a public limited company which allowed for greater freedom of business management. During the Second World War the factory was almost bombed to prevent the take-over of the German occupation. But the place was not bombed and as a result the German army took over. The Nazis kept the plants working during the war, but the workforce fell sharply.
Once a hub for the production of ammunition and weaponry, Zaandam’s Hembrugterrein has now transformed into a hangout for hipsters and a cultural centre where art and creativity abounds.
Now, after a period of deterioration, the site is being prepared to be given back to the public space. The opening of its first part in 2014 has made this development gain momentum. Bordering Amsterdam and Zaandam, the rejuvenated complex now offers visitors a wealth of fascinating places to discover: cultural centre housing several restaurants, museums and creative venues. These photos of abandoned factory were made in 2013, before the restoration was made.