The Technologisch Gezelschap was founded a long time ago. Next December exactly 130 years ago. In the meantime, the association and the world around it have changed a lot and no less than 25 lustra have passed. A treasure trove of stories and events, mainly from old almanacs, which are too beautiful not to tell. Therefore a small selection from the rich history of our association and its anniversaries.

To start at the beginning we have to go back to the year 1895. The first anniversary was on the agenda and it was supposed to be a festive year. Unfortunately an unexpected event changed the plans:

Portrait of A.C. Oudemans jr., professor chemistry of de Polytechnische School Delft (source)

“Den 15den December van het vorig jaar was het juist 5 jaar geleden, dat het Technologisch Gezelschap werd opgericht. Vandaar dan ook, dat in Mei reeds plannen gemaakt werden voor eene feestviering; die hoofdzakelijk zou bestaan in een réunie van leden van ‘t T.G.; doch onze feestplannen werden helaas verijdeld door het overlijden van ons hooggeacht eerelid, Prof. Dr. A.C. Oudemans Jr., Hoogleeraar-Directeur der Polytechnische School. Toen meenden wij het eerste lustrum onopgemerkt te moeten laten voorbijgaan en allen, die Prof. Oudemans gekend hebben en hebben leeren waardeeren, zullen het met ons eens zijn.”

Translated to English:
“The 15th of December last year was the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Technologisch Gezelschap. That’s why in May plans were made for a celebration, which would mainly consist of a reunion of members of T.G.; but our plans were unfortunately postponed by the death of our honorary member, Prof. Dr. A.C. Oudemans Jr., Professor-Director of the Polytechnic School. Then we thought we had to let the first lustrum pass unnoticed and all those who knew and appreciated Prof. Oudemans will agree with us”.

That is why the second lustrum in 1900 was the first to be celebrated. After the turn of the century, TG was in the 20th century, a time when the founders of the association had all become successful industrialists. Mr Westerbaan Muurling was director of the ‘Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank’ in Soerabaya, Mr Beukers owned a yeast factory in Schiedam and Mr Heerma van Voss was a large sugar manufacturer. Although the reports of the second lustrum are not as extensive as those of later lustra, an important story was shared: during the second lustrum the aforementioned founders are appointed honorary members as gratitude for their establishment. It is the beginning of a long tradition to appoint important persons for TG as honorary members and medal of honour recipients.

Slowly but surely, Dutch industry continues to develop and grow. After the turbulent years of 1914 – 1918 it is time for an extensive celebration: the 6th lustrum. The first big lustrum celebration. This year, 1920 is already a century ago, but still there are a number of classical activities that are being organized. For example, special lustrum excursions, called jubilee excursions, were organized to no less than 4 companies in 2 days. On the first day, under the guidance of professors Smit and Dr. van Iterson, they visit Gips’ Wood Preparation and Albers Margarine factory in Dordrecht. The next day, they visited the cloth factory of Elias in Tilburg and the Kwatta factory in Breda (an old chocolate brand).

A day later, the dies itself was also given a great deal of thought. After the opening speech there is a film lecture about the “Indian Cultures” in the cinema Delfia by Prof. G. van Iterson. Then it was time for the reception and after congratulations to the board of a.o. the Rector Magnificus, a special gift was presented to the board by the then department chairman Prof. Kley: an engraved chairman’s gavel, which is still in the display case. Later that evening a festive (dies)dinner was held in hotel “De Twee Steden” (The Two Cities) in The Hague, which is described as:
“een waardig slot van den herdenkingsdag van het 30-jarig bestaan van het T.G.”
“a dignified conclusion to the 30th anniversary of the T.G.”

As before, the 8th anniversary in 1930 consisted of two parts: an excursion followed by a reception and dinner. The lustrum dinner took place at a chic location as always. In that year it was Hôtel Paulez in The Hague. Unfortunately, the turnout of students was very low:
“Zoo groot daar de belangstelling was van de zijde der Hoogleeraren en Buitenleden, zo klein was die der Leden.”

In English:
“So great as the interest was on the part of the professors and outsiders, so small was the interest of the members.”

The new building “Gele Scheikunde” – to some also known as “ChemE”

Although the faculty has been closed to students for several months now because of the corona virus, it is not the only time in the history of the university that it has been closed. For example, at the time of the 10th anniversary, the Second World War broke out. In 1940 the TU, then called ‘Technische Hoogeschool’ (TH), closed its doors for the first time. This meant, among other things, that the traditional football match on a lustrum between students and staff could not take place. In 1941, it could still be played after the TH was reopened for a short time.

Despite the hard times, the board was able to organize several lectures and even three multi-day excursions in which Twente, Brabant, Groningen and Friesland were visited. On the other hand, little to no festivities took place during the war as described in the almanac:

“Hoewel in deze tijdspanne het vijftigjarige bestaan van het Technologisch Gezelschap te herdenken viel, gaven de tijdsomstandigheden weinig reden tot veel vreugdebetoon. Werd in het begin de Technische Hoogeschool reeds 5 maanden achtereen gesloten gehouden, in het begin van 1943 zou zij (de TH) tot het einde van de oorlog ontoegankelijk blijven. Met vreugde werd dan ook het moment van de heropening beleefd … Het Gezelschap moest echter vele leden missen door maatregelen van den vijand en door hun actief deelnemen aan het verzet. Wij herdenken hen met diepe eerbied.”

Translated to English:
“Although the 50th anniversary of the Technologisch Gezelschap could be commemorated in this period of time, the circumstances of the time gave little cause for much joy. While the Technische Hoogeschool had been closed for five consecutive months in the beginning of 1943, it (the TH) would remain inaccessible until the end of the war. It was with joy that the moment of reopening was experienced … However, the Technologisch Gezelschap had to miss many members because of measures taken by the enemy and because of their active participation in the resistance. We remember them with deep respect.”

After the Second World War, much had to be rebuilt in the country and in Delft. Moreover, the Netherlands was going to industrialize and that was a challenge for Delft. TG moved from the Westvest to “Gele Scheikunde” and companies were on TG’s doorstep to hold lectures etc. to show how enjoyable engineers could work in their industry. In short: the future looked pretty bright.

Many major milestones were achieved. The 75th anniversary in 1965, still attended by Honorary Chairman Prof. van Iterson, was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. For example, in December ’65 the ‘Chemisch Weekblad’ number 50 was completely dedicated to TG. In addition, there were the necessary (foreign) excursions, the dies reception and the dinner. But the final highlight was the gala ball that was held in the balloon hall of the brand new auditorium. A big party in which people from all kinds of groups participated, from students to professors and from sister associations to contacts in the industry.

Especially after the “révolte of 1968” a lot changes for TG and the association starts to become more similar to the association as we know it today. Events are organized such as a symposium during the lustrum and also the lustra get themes. From the end of the 70’s there is also a freshmen weekend and more students get involved in TG. It seems as if the favourable changes for the association all lead to a big climax: the century celebration in 1990.

The 100th dies reception on December 15, 1990 in de Nieuwe Kerk

The events around the 20th lustrum of TG could almost all become an article in itself. For example, a gigantic symposium was held, a three-day congress to be precise. No less than 1200 participants, a real sleeping village with 500 bunk beds on location as sleeping facilities and a sponsored interview with Linus Pauling in America to name but a few examples. Furthermore, a Centenary Festival was held as a dies party in which the entire society of Virgiel was used. The decorating committee conjured up all kinds of spaces to become places to party. There was a China hall, western bar and a large stage with gigantic loudspeakers in the mail hall. In addition, the reception was held in the Nieuwe Kerk and there were many other activities, each with its own story. Enough material to fill many more magazines.

Before 1990 lustra occasionally had a name, but after that each lustrum had its own name associated with the theme. ‘Ideaal’ (Ideal) was the theme during the 21st lustrum in 1995. The theme of the 22nd lustrum ‘Eigentijds’ (Contemporary). In 2005 at the time of the 23rd lustrum ‘Energiek’ (‘Energetic’). During the 24th lustrum in 2010 the theme was ‘Krachtig’ (Powerful). The last lustrum marked the 125th anniversary and carried the theme ‘Stralend’ (Radiant). And now our 26th lustrum has the theme ‘Ijzersterk’ (Strong as steel).

The mentioned recent lustra all have their own unique activities and have continued the upward trend of becoming more and more professional. Some older students have experienced the previous lustrum or know people who were there. Next year it will be time to reflect again on a unique anniversary celebration. This 130th anniversary of TG promises many great opportunities. In spite of the current corona crisis, the Technologisch Gezelschap will continue to work hard to get the best out of it next year. If there is one thing that has emerged in the past 130 years, it is that TG will not let itself get small in any situation.