"The village Pekela was founded around 1600 on the initiative of the "Pekelder Company" (a number of Friezen and Groningers) as a typical peat colony along the Pekel A, (Pekela derives from pekel (which means salted) and A or Aa, originated from an Indo-European word meaning water)
Pekela arose as a long ribbon of construction along the canal. The canal first served as a drainage channel for the peat district and later for the transport of the peat that had been cut. All kinds of small businesses soon grew up along the canal. The many barges and ships that navigated along the canal, brought great economic activity, especially at the locks.
In 1810, when this part of the Netherlands was annexed by France, the village Pekela split into two separate municipalities: Oude(Old) and Nieuwe(New) Pekela.
Peat transport via canals and other waterways developed into seagoing shipping. From 1770 onward, an increasing number of skippers had Bremen and Hamburg as their destination and seagoing navigation began to flourish. This shipping gave rise to trade with the Baltic countries.
Via the Kattegat, an increasing number of ships berthed in harbours such as Riga, Saint Petersburg, and Koningsbergen. Some skippers set up regular transport services to cities in France and England. Coal and coke, potash, hops, wine, grain, and genever were important cargo. Decorative tiles from Friesland as well as bricks were taken to the Baltic as ballast. In around 1860, seagoing shipping from the peat district enjoyed a second major period of prosperity. More than 60% of the Dutch fleet came from the Groningen peat district. (In 1863 163 ships had Pekela as their home port). At the end of the 19th Century the ships became taller and Pekela lost his position in shipping
Agricultural industry: Starch Production and cardboard (made of straw) became the main source of income. In 1990 Oude- en Nieuwe Pekela, became 1 municipality again
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