Explosives assembly workshop
Built in 1952, municipal monument
Like the identical building beside it, explosive materials were handled in this building. Impact and ignition fuzes were filled here. An impact fuze causes a grenade to explode when it hits something. Very occasionally, there was an explosion but, as far as we know, there were never any casualties. In the event of an explosion, the semi-curved roof directed the impact of a blast wave towards the north of the site. Here, woods had been planted as a buffer between the site and the city of Zaandam. The wave could not be directed south, as the administrative buildings were located on the waterfront. The other safety measures were the escape doors on the north and south of the building, and the lightning rods around it.
A former employee recalls: ‘They did take measures [against the explosion risk]. The press was at the rear of the building. And between the press and the wall was a hatch, a thick steel door. You’d be working here on a grenade, filling it, then putting it on a conveyor belt that went through the hatch to a press. The hatch automatically shuts, then it’s pressed. Every ten thousand grenades or so, there’d be an explosion. It sounds incredible, but those explosions could be heard in Zaandam, right across the city. And we were standing right there in the department so of course, it frightened the life out of you. But because I’d experienced it two or three times, I was used to it to some extent, but yeah, it was scary. Unbelievably scary. Plus, the huge bang left you deaf for three days after.’
Vrij Glas is the current occupant. Glass artists can use the facilities in this studio to create their works of art.
More information: www.vrijglas.nl/
Spark-proof hammer used at the Artillerie Inrichtingen (national ammunition and weapons factory)
The Artillerie Inrichtingen (national ammunition and weapons factory) made their own tools from aluminium bronze, an alloy that does not cause sparks. These tools could therefore be used safely in an explosion hazard environment.