Public slaughterhouse at Amsterdamsestraatweg

The Historical Society Oud-Utrecht makes tours across town for DUIC, in search of a special heritage. This time we walk through the three buildings of the public slaughterhouse on Amsterdamsestraatweg.

Three stately buildings are all that remain of the public slaughterhouse that paved the way for the De Plantage Shops and Homes in 1988. From left to right are the driver and weight manager’s double house, the administration building and the manager’s house, which were built between 1899 and 1901. The three buildings formed The representative interface of the slaughterhouse website. They radiate order and cleanliness, which are very important when processing a product like meat.

Meat Houses

For centuries, the purchase of meat in Utrecht was only allowed in the so-called meat houses: the Kleine Vleeshal on the Lange Nieuwstraat and the Grote Vleeshal on the Voorstraat. The slaughter of animals, which was carried out by butchers at home, was subject to strict rules.

Steakhouses have been deserted since the first half of the 19th century. Butchers sold meat in their own butcher shop. However, they did not take it seriously. For example, there were regular complaints about the unpleasant smell of droppings, the moisture of which ends up in groundwater.

Changing visions

After 1850, interest in meat hygiene increased following a number of discoveries that convincingly demonstrated the harmfulness of spoiled meat to public health. In general, sufficient reason to establish a central slaughterhouse where slaughter can be supervised and meat inspected on the spot.

Inside the Public Slaughterhouse (Utrecht Archive)

In 1866 a council committee was appointed to advise the council on the necessity and desirability of a public slaughterhouse. The commission did not publish its report until 1877 due to pending legislation. This was introduced in 1875. The law created an option for municipalities to ban slaughter anywhere other than a public slaughterhouse.

Therefore, the report of the Council Committee included a proposal to establish a public slaughterhouse in Utrecht. This recommendation was adopted by the city council in 1878. However, mainly for financial reasons, the decision has not yet been implemented.

It was only in 1897 that the city council made the decision to build a local slaughterhouse at Amsterdamsestraatweg. In 1898 the construction of the slaughterhouse was put up for tender. Municipal architect FJ Nieuwenhuis traveled to Germany for information and inspiration, where the slaughterhouse consisted of one large hall. However, Nieuwenhuis also got to know French slaughterhouses where butchers had their own cabins in different buildings for different types of livestock.

The Utrecht slaughterhouse eventually became a public slaughterhouse of the so-called mixed type: one for pigs and one for cattle. The two large halls are located on either side of the cold room, with cast iron supporting structures and tiled floors and walls. There the butchers hung the bodies in separate cells they rented. There were also stables, moreover there was a house for machines, a gut-laundry, a manhole, a slaughterhouse for sick cattle and one for horses.

The Amsterdamsestraatweg was conveniently located outside the built-up area. In addition, the more common direction of the wind would push the stench out of the city.

The slaughterhouse made use of the equipment, and in connection with the slaughter process itself, he only cared about “stunning and shooting” the animals. All other activities were performed by the users themselves. These were butchers who slaughtered themselves, wholesalers and butchers working for wholesalers.

Drinking a horse by T. Claassen (Wikimedia)

Between 1923 and 1939, the company focused on training young butchers. The newly established butcher’s vocational school was located on the site of the slaughterhouse. In the fifties and sixties of the last century, the buildings of the slaughterhouses were significantly expanded and modernized. But at that time, the site was completely surrounded by houses.

the end

In the eighties, the slaughterhouse had to contend with negative operating results. On May 6, 1986, B&W made a decision in principle to liquidate and ordered that a plan be drawn up for the liquidation. The buildings, except for the three Amsterdamsestraatweg, were demolished to build De Plantage’s shops and homes. However, the distinctive bell tower of the cattle cold store has been preserved. Still waiting for a suitable new place in town. It is possible that the redevelopment of the Amsterdamsestraatweg will present a new opportunity to move the clock tower.

In 1996 the artwork Drinking Horse by Tom Claassen was put on the site. It is a reference to the previous slaughterhouse.

mario gibles text

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