|04 - The Otterspoor Dam & Sluice||
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03 - The polder Otterspoor - Broek
In 1846 Otterspoor-Broek is discribed as a polder in the ‘lowerquarter’of the Province Utrecht. This polder, according to the land registry, has an area of more than 352 hectare, of which 512 hectare fertile land, has 42 houses?, of which 16 farms, and is cleared of excess water by a watermill onto the churchmoat and the River Vecht.
The land of this polder lies about 77 cm below the Amsterdam watermark. (1.13 ell)
The polder board exists out of one Poldersheriff, three dike-reeves and a secretary. (03.01)
King Otto I in the year 953 granted big parts of royal properties to the Utrecht church.
Farms, woods,waters, waterways, fishingrights, pools and lakes on both sides of the river Vecht, and connecting to the River Vecht. (03.02)
In the tenth century the area Otterspoor was a high bank shaped by the River Vecht between Breukelen and Maarssen. Otterspoor bordered on a peatswamp with an open connexion with the Vecht. It is possible that areas like Otterspoor were already lived on before our age.
Generally it is assumed that the reclaiming of the Otterspoorbroek polder followed the reclaiming of the Maarssenbroekpolder in the second half of the 11th century.
Between about 1000 and 1300 large parts of the Utrecht lowland were reclaimed using the ‘Cope system’. In this system parcels land from 16 morgen (about 14 hectare) were given in ownership to free farmers, as a service in return for the reclaiming and cultivating of the peatswamps. This was done by digging drainage ditches cross from the lived on banks, so that parcels of land from 50 to 60 metres wide were created that could be developed for agriculture. (at the same time dykes must have been built)
This reclaiming of land probably happened about the same time, partly also because of the population growth, as the strengthening of the banks against flooding. The inhabitants of Breukelen already had a dyke constructed around the ‘round village’ before 1100.
The strenghtening of the banks to proper dykes alongside the rivers became necessary because of a conjunction of circumstances.
-The downward movement of the soil/peat of the reclaimed polders because of the draining of the ground water onto the rivers.
-The probable rise of the sealevel that caused several stormfloods in that time.
-The Allsaintsflood of 1170 was so disastereus, that the Northsea broke through the dunes near Texel which started the developement of the Southsea (now the Ijssellake).
This storm was also said to have such a driving power that the seawater reached the city of Utrecht. The river Vecht became a tidal river that needed the dykes also to protect the hinterland. (03.03)
(03.04) The borders of Otterspoor-broek; Otterspoorbroekse dijk/Broekdijk, Haarrijn, Kortrijkse dijk, Broekkade
According to Arie Manten the Otterspoorbroek dyke (the broek watercourse) and the Broekdyke already had been constructed, probably bit by bit, to some extend to protect the farmers on the old land against the water. Also an enclosing quay was needed to keep the peatwater out, to be able to reclaim the whole area. That quay later was named the Kortrijkse dyke. On the southside a sidequay was constructed to protect against the drainage water from the Maarssenbroek polder. Through the northern borderwatercourse where the Broekquay was constructed, the water from the Otterspoorbroek polder could be drained on the Aa.
In the first instance 22 reclaimingfarm were granted.
Further down in time, it was stated that there was room in the late middleages for 28 farms in the Otterspoorbroek. (03.05)
In the 17th, 18th century the name was not always Otterspoorbroek.
In the baptism, marriage and burial records the name Otterschenbroek was used from time to time.