In the program The Lost City we go to a different place in Haarlem every time to see how it has changed over time. This time we dive into the past of De Sierkan, the dairy that was known for its ice cream.

    Corner Zijlweg-Zijlsingel where De Sierkan was once located – NH

    At the beginning of the last century, a villa with surrounding land was purchased on Zijlweg. There would be the milk factory that went into production from 1903. It was a very modern factory for that time, which quickly became a household name in Haarlem and the surrounding area. There was also a shop and a milk parlor, where ice cream could also be consumed later.

    Above that were the offices. Anneke Sonnemans worked there for more than twenty years on payroll. It was 1950 and she had just finished school. She heard about a vacancy at De Sierkan through friends in the neighbourhood. “You were neighbors and knew where each other’s jobs were. Bread had to be put on the table,” she says.

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    Anneke Sonnemans at the office at De Sierkan – private photo

    Fresh milk

    From the factory, milk and dairy products were distributed throughout the city. As a milkman you could choose to collect the fresh milk yourself or have it delivered by milk drivers from the factory. But The Sierra later also started bringing the milk directly to the people. In the beginning, the milk did not come in bottles or cartons, but in large milk cans.

    When the milkman was in the street, people came out to have their pans filled with fresh milk. “I can still remember that,” says curator Alexander de Bruin of the North Holland Archives. “That such a milk cart came along with such a large milk can on the back. Then you walked outside with a jug and the milk was tapped. That was before the milk packaging.”

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    Alexander de Bruin can still remember that the milk was delivered “loose” – NH


    Wim Noom was such a milkman who had the milk delivered. His shop was in the Pieter Kiesstraat, around the corner from De Sierkan. At night, when the whole family was still asleep, one of the riders prepared the milk.

    Noom; “He had the key to the washing room. I had a few cans ready there that were filled with the loose milk. The bottles and cartons came later.”

    Noom then went around the neighborhood with his milk truck. His wife was in the store. “We convert 2400 liters per week,” he remembers. There was a lot of drinking in the neighborhood. “But I also had large customers who came with a large pan and I had to put five or six liters in it.”

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    Wim Noom in front of his former dairy shop. The open door gave access to the washing room – NH


    The dairy factory used the most modern machines and the dairy products were also constantly adapted or new variants of existing products were introduced. This is how the ice cream of De Sierkan became a household name in Haarlem. The dairy company aimed for an ever-increasing sales market, for which all kinds of mergers and partnerships were sought. In the Noord-Hollands Archief, Alexander de Bruin shows us all kinds of drawings, with the application for the umpteenth renovation.

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    De Sierkan advertises with its modern ice machines

    In the early 1970s they were expanded on the Zijlsingel. It had become a complex complex, in which the many spaces were tied together. The Sierkan had grown out of its jacket. “I think it must have been a big crawl-by-sneak-through”, says Alexander de Bruin, “with corridors from one building to the other. At a certain point it was no longer possible to expand further.”

    Factory closed

    It came as no surprise to Anneke Sonnemans and her colleagues that the factory moved elsewhere in the early 1970s. For example, the ice factory continued in Hoorn, where there was still room. “It actually went step by step,” she says. “There was a board that apparently had other ideas. We had to go along with the expansion. But of course the decisions were never shared with the lower level staff.”

    Nothing remains of the Sierkan building. Now there is an office complex and a hotel. The hotel still refers to the former factory. In the hotel rooms hangs a golden cow’s head and the lamps are milk bottles.

    Look here for more episodes De Verdwenen Stad about Haarlem

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