Contributed by:

Andries Dijkstra

During the period 1880 - 1905 farmers in Friesland had to cope with a severe crisis and it was only as from 1900 that the situation gradually improved. Apart from England, also Germany became an important market for the Frysian dairy industry. On May 5, 1891 a gathering was arranged at the inn of mr. Stroosma at Marrum in order to establish the first co-operative dairy factory of Ferwerderadeel. That same year the order to built the factory was granted to Jan Dijkstra for the sum of 14,860 guilders. The “molkfabryk” -as it eventually became known- was built on a suitable location, close to the canal and near the road to Westernijkerk. A few years later two other co-operations were established which built factories in Birdaard and Barthlehiem.

The annual report of the “Coöp. Steamdiaryfactory Marrum. Financial year May 12, 1908 - May 12, 1909” gives a nice impression of the dairy industry in those years:
After a brief introduction, the list of members was mentioned as well as the number of cows that they owned and the number of related votes. That year the Co-operation had 99 members with a total of 1274 cows while almost 100 hundred non-members supplied milk of abt. 350 cows.  The members came from the towns of Blija, Genum, Ferwerd, Hallum. Hogebeintum, Marrum and Westernijkerk. The largest farmer milked 28 cows which was good for 3 votes in the Co-opereation. This was A. van Dijk from Hogebeintum. The least member, E. Broersma from Ferwerd, had 3 cows which gave him the right to 1 vote.
The board of directors of the company was represented by D.Y. van der Werff, D.J. van der Mey, K. de Groot and C. Meekma while the overall supervison was the responsibility of T.W. Jensma, F.J. Stienstra, S. Roeda and G. Dijkstra.

On May 12, 1909 the “molkfabryk” had the following personnel on it’s pay-roll:

- Manager-bookkeeper
- Assistent manager
- Cheese maker
- Engine operator
- Centrifuge operator
- Milk quality controller
- Laborers (2)
- Butter maker
- Barrel maker
- Laborers (4)
- Laborer (1)
- Laborer (1)
1440. --  per year incl. a house
    14.00  per week
    12.50  per week incl. a house
    11.50  per week incl. a house
      9.50  per week incl. a house
      8.50  per week incl. a house
      8.50  per week incl. a house
    11.50  per week
    10.50  per week
      9.50  per week
      9.00  per week
      7.50  per week


The personnel had a day off every 10 days while on Sundays two of them didn't have to work. That year the company paid fl. 9786.50 on wages, handled 5,677,703 kilogrammes of milk and had a turnover of 298,195.11 guilders. However, no matter how pleased the members were with the good results, also in 1909 there was already a familiar problem: polution. Something had to happen: “With the Department of Health it was deliberated how to cope with the polution of the ditches by effluencent. In order to improve this situation attempts will be made to pump the poluted water into the canal by means of the Ferwerd polder-windmill”.

In 1909 director U. Kooistra left Marrum. In the annual report he had written a word of farewell.
A few quotes:
“ Since more than 12 ½ years I have worked at the factory and those years were very important to agriculture in general and the dairy industry in particular. After many years of depression, we have better times now”. Mr. Kooistra continued by giving an overview of the big changes that had occurred in the production of butter and cheese, the purchase of new equipment such as machines and the necessity to expand by means of new buildings. But above all he emphasized the “most appreciated co-operation of both the Board and Supervisory Board as the members of the company”.
In little over 10 years the production of milk had increased with ca. 3 million kilogramme whereas the price  of milk went up no less than 1 cent per kg the past year. Let there be no mistake about it: this is all encouraging to both farmers as the Co-operation.  Also mr. Kooistra stipulated the personal importance of membership of the company using words like “co-ownership, communal sense, solidarity and solid income”. Yet, the meetings of the members could be attended much, much better! Mr. Kooistra rubbed it in: “It is every member’s duty to attend the meetings even if not much of importance is on the agenda. A member’s meeting is important in itself: one learns the way things go, thus getting to know the Co-operation. It is not good if one stays away when pleased with the company’s profit or having so-called confidence in the Board. He who is not informed, is not qualified to judge”.

In 1916 Marrum had a big feast on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the factory whereas on March 27, 1941 at 3 p.m. the “Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the dairy factory Marrum to Westernijkerk” took place.
However, due to competition of larger dairy companies the factory had to close in 1979 which caused quite a lot of commotion in Marrum. The loss of jobs along with the consequence of young families leaving town was hard to accept. These feelings were a.o. uttered by placing an obituary in the Leeuwarder Courant:

This morning passed away my ol' factory


at the age of 88 years
born at Nijkerk
last known as "The Future"

 Ps 22: 16-19
 May those who survived him have peace of mind.

 Bertus Milkcan

 Marrum, December 10, 1979

Annual report of the “Coöp. Stoomzuivelfabriek Marrum 1908-1909”.