Vering Co. (Hamburg), Erbauer des Großen Hafens

The C. Vering Company (Hamburg), which built the Great Harbour in Qingdao

After the Jiaozhou Bay had been occupied in Nov.1897 by the Germans, one of their main aim was, to build a modern harbour for ocean going ships, be they ships of the navy or passenger ships and freighters. Whereas the Chinese government in 1892 had decided to build a pier into the open ocean, for the Germans it was clear from the beginning, that the modern harbour should be built inside the Jiaozhou Bay. There the ankering ships were protected in the summer from the southeast monsoon and eventual taiphoons. On the other hand the ships in winter time had to be protected from the strong northern winds. Therefore the first step was, to build a long dam, curving in a large half circle, to protect the inner harbour basin from the north winds. The building of this dam was started on Oct. 29 th 1898, directed by the engineer Magens, representative of the Industrial Syndicate for Jiaozhou. In 1899 the building of the dam was continued by the firm F.H. Schmidt, their chief engineer then was Raffelt.

The first chief of the government harbour building department was Georg Gromsch, he arrived on May 16 th 1898 and stayed in Qingdao until Nov. 1902. He was the man, who made the plan for the Great Harbour, as it was later built, that is the large curving dam and the pier I and II. (Georg Franzius and Alfred Gaedertz had also drawn plans for a great harbour. Those 2 plans were completely different and were rejected by Gromsch.) He and the governor decided, that the Great Harbour should be built by a private company. As already mentioned, Gromsch contracted the Industrial Syndicate and then the F.H.Schmidt company, to build the long dam. But the piers of the great harbour were built by the C.Vering company. The engineer Vering, from Bremen, started in 1875 as a railway engineer, but then changed to harbour works. In 1879 he did some work in the navy harbour Wilhelmshaven, und from 1883-89 he built ( for 10 million Mark) three harbour basins for ocean ships in Hamburg. After that he participated (for 32 million Mark) in the building of the large canal for ocean ships from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. On Nov. 23 rd 1898 was the first meeting between Mr. Vering in Hamburg and the navy department of Berlin. Vering said after that meeting, that he is willing to build the harbour in Qingdao. He will send his engineer John Stickforth to Qingdao. Stickforth had visited Mexiko and Guatemala in 1896. He arrived in Qingdao in 1899 to take a look at the local scene. Apparently he had some disagreement with Gromsch or Jaeschke, so that the Qingdao administration canceled the planned contract with the Vering company. But the navy department in Berlin could not find another company, which was willing to build the harbour in Qingdao. Mr. Vering asked Stickforth, how high the building costs would be. Stickforth’s estimate was: 8 501 000 Mark. But Vering said: that is not enough and he raised his offer to the German government to: 9 519 250 Mark. After long consultations the final contract with the Vering company was signed in Hamburg March 25 th 1901, the government agreed to pay 9 336 840 Mark. As is known, the piers were built by John Stickforth and the second engineer: Friedrich Schnock. Pier I was taken into use on March 6 th 1904, pier II in 1906 (as far as I know). Stickforth left around 1909/10, Schnock around 1907. – In 1924/25 Schnock returned to Qingdao, and since February 1927 he was consultant engineer to the Harbour Office of Qingdao, where he died in 1937. The pier III of the Great Harbour was built by the German engineer Walter Boettcher between 1934 to 1937.

Stickforth had 3 sons, who attended the German school in Qingdao. The nick names of the 3 boys were: Mole I, Mole II, Mole III (Mole is the German word for pier.)