De Stenen Baak is an annex of Brielle Historical Museum.

Address
Brielse Maas 1
3233 LW Brielle

Stenen Baak opening times
April and October
Saturday and Sunday 11.00-16.00
May to September
Tuesday to Sunday 10.00-16.00

The tower is not open in heavy rain and/or wind.

More information:
Brielle Historical Museum
0181-475475

History
De Stenen Baak can be found just outside the town of Brielle and was the Netherlands’ first stone lighthouse. It was constructed in 1630 and replaced earlier wooden lighthouses that had burnt down. In the 18th and 19th century the tower gained a military role within Brielle’s fortifications. The former lighthouse was restored at the beginning of this century, and has been open to the public since 2004.  In good weather you can access the roof, from where you can enjoy a marvellous view.

Construction
De Stenen Baak was constructed on the instructions of Brielle Town Council by Brielle's town carpenter Maerten Cornelis Paeyse. This carpenter also built the town jail and the weigh-house in Brielle, which now house Brielle Historical Museum. Paeyse was buried in St Catharine’s Church (Sint Catharijnekerk) in Brielle.

A stone lighthouse needed to be built because previous wooden lighthouses had burnt down. Construction of the lighthouse was funded by Brielle and the States of Holland and West-Friesland. It was not just Brielle that benefited from the new, less vulnerable stone lighthouse. Merchant vessels and fishermen in general would also benefit from the new  lighthouse.

Master builder Payese built the tower with four master bricklayers in under four months. In addition to bluestone, the lighthouse also incorporated 180,000 bricks: an incredible achievement.

Operation
De Stenen Baak operated in conjunction with a mobile beacon in Oostvoorne dunes. If both lights were aligned from a ship, you were in the right position to sail into the channel. Because the channels moved due to the shifting sandbanks, the lower beacon had to be movable. This allowed the sightline to be adapted to the changed situation.

Contemporary drawings and paintings show that the Stenen Baak had a superstructure on top of the third level - the lantern. A large coal fire was kept burning there. The many leaded glass windows under a projecting canvas roof ensured that the fire was visible from far away. The fire was kept going with bellows. Smoke was vented via a central chimney. Two lighthouse keepers had to constantly bellow and feed the fire at night. The coal was raised using a hoist.

Military role
It was discovered in the 18th century that the lighthouse’s position was also interesting from a military perspective. Enemy ships that could pass the mouth of the Maas unhindered posed a threat, particularly to the southern part of the province of Holland. The fortress town of Brielle would thereby be the first to come under fire.

The location very suitable for creating a military fortification. A small fort was therefore built beside the tower at the start of the 18th century, which later in that century expanded into a coastal battery: a small fortification with cannons that could target enemy ships in the mouth of the Maas. The battery also had a cannonball oven in which the cannonballs were heated.

Demolition?
The coastal battery was rebuilt and enlarged several times, and the military thereby repeatedly expressed the desire to demolish the tower. They claimed that the tower attracted too much attention and made a good target. But the pilots and fishermen prevented the tower from being demolished several times. Although it could not serve as a lighthouse after 1800 due to the absence of the lantern, the tower was still an important navigational aid for shipping. Midway through the 19th century De Stenen Baak was officially decommissioned as a lighthouse; ownership of the tower passed to the State.

Restoration
The tower was restored in 1939 and 1965 under the supervision of the Rijksgebouwendienst (Government Buildings Agency). In 1999 four government bodies got together: the Rijksgebouwendienst, Recreatieschap Voorne, Putten en Rozenburg, Westvoorne municipal council and Brielle municipal council. They jointly developed a new use for this piece of cultural heritage. The tower was restored, opened to the public in 2004 and furnished with a small museum display and a son et lumiere show.