December 28, 2010

Willem Ham, Kasteel 't Hammetje/Hammetje Castle


picture by unknown photographer 
(from dutch touristic website fietsen.123)

It looks like a peaceful landscape, and it is, but this paradise is just near one of the busiest traffic junctions in the Netherlands:  Hoevelaken Junction.

Life and work

Willem Ham (1921-2006) was a man of very different professions, a market trader, a furniture dealer, but he certainly had no training in building castles, constructing islands or creating big gardens. However, this is what he did when retired.

He lived in a small community in the peaceful rural area near the once small city of Amersfoort, in  the centre of the Netherlands.

From the 1960's on urbanization and growing traffic entailed a lot of changes. To construct the Hoevelaken junction, sand was excavated on a nearby location, which resulted in the emergence of a lake. In the early 1970's Willem Ham could buy this lake and the surrounding area.

He constructed some islands in the lake, depicting the dutch north-sea isles and he transformed the terrain into a wooded area.

Once retired (around 1988) Willem Ham began creating caste-like constructions on his property


He made these buildings without any plan or sketches (and probably without any building permit too), using various types of demolition materials such as bricks and windows from demolished houses and churches. Sewers would serve as kind of cannons aimed at the advancing urban development of Amersfoort.

In vain. The urban expansion has approached the property very closely, up to some fifty meters The residential blocks are separated from the site by just a road and a canal.


The property has been sold to the municipality

In 2005, a year before he died, Willem Ham sold the property to the city of Amersfoort. It is unclear what the municipality wants to do with the area and the buildings (Maybe there ever was an idea to use the area for a connection with the A28 main road, but this is not on the agenda nowadays).

The complex is fenced and it is not possible to visit the buidings or the site.

Some documentation 
* Paul Post, "Fort Ham: verzet tegen oprukkend Amersfoort" on website Dwaze Bouwsels (with a lot of illustrations)
* Video shot in 1992, produced for a dutch tv program, with scenes of the constructions and of Willem Ham's garden and animals (directed by Arnold-Jan Scheer, Youtube, 8'15", uploaded dec 2012)


In the first 1.5 minutes Willem Ham talks (in dutch) about his construction.

Transcribed into english: "This is Fort Willem 1 and Fort Willem 2. I have constructed these with materials....." (click here to read the rest of the transcript)

first published dec 2010, revised dec 2012, march 2017

Willem Ham
Kasteel 't Hammetje
Domstraat 82
Amersfoort,  Netherlands
no public visits

3 comments:

  1. Hi Henk, have you been to look through the fence at least ? Sounds great...

    And fences were meant for being climbed over, right ?

    Wishing you the happiest of holidays, and an excellent 2011...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sure, looking through the fence is the way to get into contact with this creation Some people however, climbing over the fence, came into too close contact (i.e. went vandalising).
    Wish you a very well 2011...

    ReplyDelete