Vegetables cargo Ewer

Vegetables cargo Ewer. The „Vierländer Gemüseewer“ represents a local shipping tradition for Hamburg and its surroundings. 

The „Vierländer Gemüseewer“ represents a local shipping tradition for Hamburg and its surroundings. 

The name „Ewer“ refers to several types of boats that originated in the Frisian-Dutch area. Dutch settlers in the Elbe marshes brought the ewer type to the Lower Elbe area, where it quickly spread. This was because the shape of the ewer was perfectly suited to the geographical conditions of this region. The first documented mention of the Ewer in the Hamburg area dates back to the 14th century, but its use is probably older. 

With its flat bottom, the ship had a shallow draft and could easily stand on land at low tide. This made it the ideal ship for the Wadden Sea and the Lower Elbe with its shallow tributaries. Until the first half of the 20th century, people in the Vier- und Marschlande region southeast of the city, an important fruit and vegetable growing area, essentially retained the original shape of the ewer: flat bottom, pointed stern, pole mast and a short half-deck at the bow and stern. This design is the basis of what we now call the „Vierländer Ewer“ or „Gemüseewer“. The „Gemüseewer“ was traditionally used to transport the agricultural products of the Vierlande and the neighbouring marshes to the large markets in Hamburg. Larger ewers of this type had a length of up to 16 metres and reached a carrying capacity of about 50 tonnes. The last of these ewers was withdrawn from service around 1940, as railways and lorries made the continued operation of such vessels unprofitable. 

The long-forgotten Gemüsewer is now back. In 2009, the Förderverein Vierländer Ewer e.V. from the Hamburg district of Bergedorf started a project to rebuild such a boat. After intensive research and financial support from the EU – with a little help from our museum – construction work began using only traditional shipbuilding techniques. Since June 2013, tourist trips on the Elbe have been taking place on this beautiful ship, which bears the name „Uns Ewer“.