The project: 'Rotterdam-Antwerp: a century and a half of port competition 1880 - 2000'

In 2001 and 2002 the Center for Economic Studies (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium) and the Center of Business History (Erasmus University Rotterdam) jointly worked on a project called 'Rotterdam-Antwerp: a century and a half of port competition 1880-2000'. The aim of this project was to investigate different variables that influence competition between these ports and their overall effect on cargo flows. Among the variables were cargo-handling costs and ship-handling cost. In order to be able to determine the importance of these variables a large database was constructed containing the flow of cargo in both ports. This database is available for other researchers on maritime and port history, but can also be used for statistical analysis by economists and policy makers. To make both databases compatible we have used the NSTR nomenclature of the European Union.

Project members
The project was supervised by prof. dr. Erik Buyst (Leuven) and Dr. Ferry de Goey (Rotterdam). The research carried out by Dr. Hugo van Driel, Drs. Stéphane Hoste, Prof. dr. Paul van der Laar (Rotterdam) and Dr. Reginald Loyen (Leuven). The Rotterdam database was compiled by Jetze van der Ham and Hugo van Driel, while Reginald Loyen compiled the Antwerp database.

Project publications
The results of the project are published in two edited volumes:
1) R. Loyen, E. Buyst and G. Devos (eds.), Struggling for leadership: Antwerp-Rotterdam port competition between 1870 and 2000 (Physica Verlag/Springer-Verlag Company; Heidelberg/New York, 2002) ISBN 3-7908-1524-1. ISSN 1431-1933.
2) Ferry de Goey (ed.) Comparative port history of Rotterdam and Antwerp 1880-2000. Competition, Cargo and Costs (Aksant Publishers; Amsterdam, 2004) ISBN 90 5260 1399.

Recently the database on the Port of Rotterdam was used to analyse the dependency of the port on its Hinterland during the 20th century (in German language only). Ferry de Goey und Hugo van Driel, 'Rotterdam und das Hinterland (1920 bis 1995)', in Hein A.M. Klemann und Friso Wielenga (Hrsg.), Deutschland und die Niederlande. Wirtschaftsbeziehungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Waxman; Münster, 2009) pp. 127-153. ISSN 1436-3836. ISBN 978-3-8309-2200-1.

Project funding
The Flemish Dutch Scientific Committee (VNC) provided research funds for the project. The VNC is a joint committee of the Flemish and Dutch national scientific councils (FWO and NWO) to promote research and co-operation between scholars from Belgium and The Netherlands.

Presentation and preservation
This website is hosted by the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The database on cargo flows in the Port of Rotterdam is presented on MS Excel speadsheets. Please note that the sheets presented here contain only the Rotterdam figures!
In Belgium at the Economic History research group of Prof. dr. Erik Buyst of the Catholic University of Leuven, both databases (Rotterdam and Antwerp) are available for researchers (choose: 'Datasets' on the left menu and press 'start' at the bottom of the page).

The Rotterdam and Antwerp databases are registered, deposited and archived by the NIWI in The Netherlands in 2002. As of 2005, NIWI is taken over by the Nederlandse Onderzoek Databank (NOD) (Dutch Research Database), which is incorporated in Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS).

Thank you
We would like to thank the employees of the library of the Erasmus University Rotterdam for their cooperativeness and flexibility in repeatedly retrieving the sources of this database. M.E.P. Odekerken-Smeets and R.P. Rutten, both of the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS, the Dutch central statistical office) helped us with the clarification and the (re)classification of commodity categories. Of course, CBS is not responsible for the contents of this database.

dr Ferry de Goey (
dr Hugo van Driel (