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UNESCO World Heritage Ir. D.F. Wouda Pumping Station in Lemmer

The world’s largest functioning steam-operated pumping station

Its 60-meter tall chimney dominates the skyline in Lemmer: the Ir. D.F. Wouda pumping station. One of the most beautiful technical monuments in the Netherlands. And 100% functional. Since 1920, the pumping station is turned on at high water levels to ‘balansearjen’ or balance the water. To pump excess water from the Frisian basin waters into the IJsselmeer. The related and adjacent Teroelster pool is used to allow water from the IJsselmeer to flow in again in case of drought. In 1998, the Wouda pumping station was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Magical machinery

The world’s largest still functioning steam-operated pumping station is hugely impressive. In the huge engine room there are four steam engines with four powerful flywheels. These drive eight impeller pumps that pump four million litres of water per minute. To give you an idea of what that means in practice, the pumps are so powerful that they could drain the entire Sneekermeer lake in two days. A team of at least eleven people is needed to fill the boilers with water, preheat the heavy fuel oil and start up the eight pumps one by one. After eight hours of starting up and warming up, the more than 100 year old machine is running at full speed. And that’s a magical sight.

The most fun day trip in Friesland

The Wouda pumping station has a special visitor centre where young and old can learn about the operation of the steam-operated pumping station. In addition to an interactive exhibition area, a 3D film is shown, so you can experience the Wouda pumping station under steam. Children can take part in a treasure hunt in the exhibition area and be trained as an assistant operator. The Wouda pumping station has been nominated several times as the best day out in Friesland.

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