The Niederfinow ship’s hoist is an impressive structure in Brandenburg. It is located at the end of the Oder-Havel Canal and overcomes a height difference of 36 metres. The industrial monument was put into operation in 1934, making it the oldest ship’s hoist still in operation in Germany.
A lock can be exciting, but a ship lift is really impressive. The Niederfinow ship’s hoist is impressive not only because of its size. Many visitors from all over the world come here every day to discover a technological wonder.
However, it was to take some time from the first start of planning in 1905 until the completion of this structure.
For several years, tenders and competitions were held, and planning drafts were developed and rejected again until agreement was reached on the technology to be used for the ship’s hoist.
It was not until after the First World War, after the plans had been revised again, that a final result could be agreed upon.
After extensive geological investigations, construction could finally begin in 1927 and was completed at the end of 1933. After an extensive test phase, the ship’s hoist was put into operation in March 1934.
The information centre of the ship lift directly at the large car park presents the construction phase very well in many documents and pictures. The technology of the ship’s hoist is also explained very clearly. It is definitely worth going inside before visiting the ship’s hoist.
An information board directly at the ship’s hoist shows which companies were involved in the construction, which cost 27.5 million Reichsmarks.
Just a few years after it was commissioned in January 1939, the 100,000th ship was already being handled in Niederfinow.
The Niederfinow ship’s hoist is open to visitors almost every day. At the information centre you can get tickets to walk up to the structure and visit it.
It is thus possible to witness how the ships go through the lifting and lowering process, which is made possible by a complex technical system.
We spent some time here and first witnessed several ships entering the basin at the top. Huge lock gates closed the trough, which then slowly began to sink. The process takes about 5 minutes until the trough has finished its journey.
During this time, you can walk leisurely to the front of the facility and watch the ship sinking deeper and deeper.
When the trough has reached the lower level of the canal, the gates open and the ship can sail out.
So high up – there is a difference in altitude of 36 metres after all – you really have a good vantage point from which you can not only watch the ships, but also discover the extensive plain around the ship lift.
I found the visit to the hoist really impressive. It is quite exciting to watch the trough being lowered and the counterweights moving upwards so slowly. As a layman, I was thrilled by the masses of steel, the thick steel cables and the idea that in addition to this weight, the weight of the water and the ship also floats through the air almost playfully.
It is also possible to experience the 20-minute lock passage on an excursion boat. You can enquire about the providers of these trips at the information centre, for example.
If you don’t want to make the trip up, you can watch part of the process directly (and free of charge) standing on the street. It is quite strange when a ship suddenly starts to “fly” and slowly lifts itself up into the air.
In the meantime, the capacity of the ship’s hoist is no longer sufficient. Today, the push boats have become too long for the existing trough. In addition, the load limit of the facility is too low. Therefore, the construction of a new ship lift was started in 2006, which should offer larger ships a problem-free passage through the lock.
You can already see a lot on the neighbouring construction site that is reminiscent of the construction principle of the old lock (just a little more modern). The old Niederfinow ship’s hoist will remain in operation until 2025, when it is to be replaced by the new lift.
28.3.22 – 30.10.22
working days 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
7.3. – 27.3.22
daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
28.3.22 – 30.10.22
daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Normal price: 5,-€