Community trash supervisors

In the late 1600's, Leeuwenhoek was one of the several hundred men who were appointed crebbemeester (also spelled krebbe and grebbe). This unpaid position gave the crebbemester responsibility for the local crebbe or trash collection point. Thus, I am calling them trash collection supervisors.

Bleijswijck's Beschrivinge mentions them on page 9 (my translation):

men vindt oock allerwegen op de hoecken van de straeten seeckere vuylnisbacken ofte askrebbens aen de kandt van 't water, daer een yegelijck de vuyligheden uyt syn huys moet inbrengen, sulcks dat de straeten altijdts schoon en reyn werden onderhouden.

One also finds everywhere on the corners of the streets secure trash boxes or ashbins on the side of the water. There, everyone must bring the trash out of his house, so that the streets are always kept beautiful and clean.

According to Roon's Macht en Gewoonte, the people of Delft produced three types of city waste.

  • Flammable materials such as straw, wood shavings, and sawdust were carted outside the city walls and burned.
  • Less flammable matter such as dirt and shells were dumped in specified places (bepaalde plekken) on the street.
  • The organic material went into the neighborhood collection areas (crebben). Roon notes that in 1682, the Chamber of Charity began paying the city 120 guilders per year on a seven-year lease to collect the organic waste. I assume it was used for composting to make fertilizer.

The oldest reference to a crebbe that I can find is an item in the Keurboek, book of decisions, made by the mayors in 1564. On page 127v, it notes the repair of a crebbe on the Oude Delft. A few pages later, 130, it notes a crebbe that was moved.

Each crebbe is listed in the 1667 register for the kadegeld (wharf tax) for 6 stuivers per year. It is not clear whether that tax was collected by the district supervisors (wijkmeesteren) or by the trash supervisor.

The book listing the trash collection supervisors, the Kleine Ambten, dates from 1650. The system existed until October 1692, when the mayors looked at what other cities were doing. They decided to follow the example of Rotterdam and have daily trash pick-ups in front of individual houses. Sources such as Achter de Gevels van Delft noting that someone was a crebbemeester also have the years of appointment. Those dates are not indicated in Kleine Ambten.

In the Kleine Ambten register, the collection areas were listed beginning in the western, older and richer part of town, where Leeuwenhoek lived. Each of these areas had several trash collection points, each with two masters.

  • Oude Delft
  • Nieuwe Delft - Leeuwenhoek's
  • St. Annestraat
  • Geerweg
  • aen de west? eijnde de ?overstraat
  • Raemsteeg
  • Verwersdijck
  • Rietvelt
  • Vrouwjuttenlant
  • Voldersgracht
  • Vlamingstraet
  • behind the Nieuwe Kerk
  • Nieuw Langendijck
  • Marktvelt
  • Oude Langendijck
  • Oosteijnde
  • Burchwal
  • Molslaen
  • Gasthuijslaan
  • Brabantse Turfmarkt
  • Nieuwe Kerk hof
  • Oude Raemsteeg
  • Outside the Ketelpoort

Along Leeuwenhoek's gracht, Nieuwe Delft, were nine trash collection points. The first section was along the Koornmarkt from the Hoogbrug northwards. (The section to the Sint Jacobsbrug is now called the Lange Geer.) The first collection point was on the Hoogbrug, at the south end of the Nieuwe Delft where it joined the Achterom and the Oude Delft at the Schiedamse Poort.

The next was in front of the Oude Gasthuis (hospital). The one north of that was at the Molsteeg. Cornelis 's Gravesande was one of the supervisors. The next four are shown on pages 154v and 155 above right (click to enlarge).

  • in front of the Waag (voort Metershuijsgen, literally: measuring house) - Testert van Hasselt was one of the supervisors until he died (obijt).

from the Vismarkt to the Kolk on both sides of the Voorstraat (van de Vischmarct tot de Culckae wedersijde van de Voorstraet)

  • on the Visbank (aen de Visbancke) - Leeuwenhoek's is the last name at the bottom of the page
  • behind the Oude Kerk (achter de Oude Kerck)
  • in front of the Baljuwsteeg (voor de Bailjusteech) - note the two Vermeers, Carel and Michiel

Note: The sections of the Nieuwe Delft gracht between the Koornmarkt and Voorstraat that were often called Wijnhaven and Hippolytusbuurt were in this listing all part of either the Koornmarkt or the Voorstraat.