Port of Vlissingen
The maritime history of Vlissingen goes back many centuries. Even in the 13th century the port of Vlissingen had a bustling trade in skins, salt, herring, tar and wool. In the same century Vlissingen was also infamous for its privateering and piracy.
One of the oldest harbours is the 'Voorhaven'. This harbour, dug in the Middle Ages, is still intact and is currently used by the pilot boats. The Nije, Engelse or Vissershaven dates from 1455. Privateering, trade and crafts made Vlissingen a flourishing town in the sixteenth century, while the slave trade too played an important role. The ships of Vlissingen sailed around the world and contributed to the global power of the Seven United Provinces.
The Golden Age was followed by a deep point in Vlissingen's history. During the Napoleonic occupation Vlissingen became a poor and destitute town. At the end of the nineteenth century the situation improved when the Dutch Government decided to dig the canal through Walcheren, build two inner harbours and the outer harbour and construct the railway line between Vlissingen and Bergen op Zoom.
Industrial activity in the port
One of the companies that played and still does play a major role in the history of Vlissingen is De Schelde shipyard, which opened its doors in 1875. The growing amount of industrial activity meant that the Buitenhaven (Outer Harbour) was once again too small following the First World War. In 1931 the enlarged and improved Buitenhaven was put into use. The year 1934 saw the formation of the stevedoring firm NV Haven van Vlissingen, which is still an important firm in the port. (NV Haven van Vlissingen was acquired in 2002 by Verbrugge Terminals.)
After the Second World War, Vlissingen had once again fallen into disrepair and poverty, but its reconstruction was swift. In 1964 the first harbour in Vlissingen-Oost, Sloehaven, was put into use. Since then numerous harbours have been built and several major companies have moved to the port since 1964, such as Hoechst Holland NV, Pechiney Nederland NV, Total Raffinaderij Nederland NV, Elf Atochem Vlissingen BV and Eurogas Terminals CV.