Jacob Cornelis van Marken (1845 – 1906)

Jacob van Marken was a pioneer in the move towards the factory production of food that took place throughout Europe in the late 19th century, who built the outstanding the Garden City style company village in the Netherlands.

The son of a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam, he became a Remondstrant in adult life. After study at the Polytechnische Hogeschool (later the Technical University) at Delft, he saw an opportunity to develop a more reliable supply of yeast in the Netherlands than was available from the spirit distillers of Schiedam. He studied manufacturing techniques in Austria, and in 1869 formed the Nederlandse Gist en Spiritusfabriek (Dutch Yeast and Spirits Makers) in Delft. His factories subsequently diversified into the manufacture of alcohol, glue and gelatine, and he established a printing concern, the Van Marken press.

In 1885 he appointed as director of his new laboratory Martinus Willem Beijerinck (1851-1931), lecturer at the Agricultural University at Wageningen, who had been elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Amsterdam the previous year. Beijerinck is ranked with Louis Pasteur amongst bacteriologists, although he was less celebrated because he did not investigate human diseases. He was responsible for outstanding research into the properties of yeast, nitrogen fixation, alcohol production and the role of lactic acid bacteria. In 1895 Marken helped to fund for him the Chair of Microbiology at the university, where he remained until his retirement in 1921. The school retains its international reputation.

In 1895 Marken helped to fund for him the Chair of Microbiology at the polytechnic university, where he remained until his retirement in 1921.School that he established retains its international reputation.Van Marken was an enlightened paternalistic employer, who provided life and health insurance, paid holidays, and a library for his workers, and in 1875 set up ‘de Kern’ (the kernel), a council at which they could express their views. In 1882 de Marken commissioned the landscape architect Louis P Zocher (1820-1915), to design a company village alongside the factory. The houses were built in short terraces, the first of which were occupied in 1884, when he established the Gemeenschappelijk Eigendorm, a limited liability company for development of the community. The village was named Agneta Park, after his wife, Agneta Wilhemina Johanna Mathes, whom he had married in 1869. The couple lived there in the Villa Ruse Roest, which still remains. The village was extended, by the construction in 1914 of a community centre, originally called de Tent, but now the Lindenhof conference centre. Further houses in garden settings, called Nieuwe Agnetapark, were built in the 1920s.

The factory, now part of the Hellmann group, now manufactures the Calve brand of dressings and sauces. A statue of van Marken overlooks the village.