The shipyard in Wartena has been in the Bijlsma family for many years. It all started when two brothers bought a terrain in Wartena. They started here by performing their jobs as shipping carpenters. Later on, one of the two brothers passed the terrain on to his son, Gerben Bijlsma. At the age of 28, he started the family business called Bijlsma Wartena in 1903. He bought equipment for the construction of ships and iron vessels and his first iron product would be a rowing boat. After this, the company grew and in 1906 the first ‘skutsje’ was built. As the years passed by, he would acquire a bigger area where he would also perform repair works.
The company grew, however during the years of ware there were barely orders for new ships. Only after the capitulation of the Germans in 1918 there would come a revival of the shipping industry. During the coming years the company would grow significantly and in 1937 Bijlsma Wartena would sign a contract for the building of a freighter of 370 tonnes.
In 1952, some shipbuilding companies in Groningen and Friesland established the association Combination Northern Shipbuilders, Conoship. Shipyard Bijlsma was a member of this association and the goal was to enter the export market and to acquire international orders. Because of this, big orders came from abroad, such as three inland vessels of 1400 tonnes for Germany and two coasters of 900 tonnes for English shipping companies.
In the following years, Gerben Bijlsma and his sons made their entry in the company, which meant a continuation of the family tradition. They were convinced that after the recession of 1987 better times would come. The recovery of the company happened sooner than expected and diverse orders were booked for three coasters, each had a weight of 4000 tonnes. Before the reorganization, around 50 people worked at the company. in 1990 this number increased to 80 people. In the coming years diverse ships would be build such as coasters and passenger ships.
In 2003, Tjeerd Wiebe Bijlsma established his own company at the shipyard in Wartena. Nowadays, Bijlsma Wartena is a modern utilized shipyard where we perform new building, hull construction and refits of vessels.
Bijlsma, W., & A.G.Bijlsma. (1993). Van roeiboot tot coaster. Wartena.