The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy situated at the north west corner of Continental Europe. Politically it is divided into 12 provinces the principal cities being Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht with Belgium to the south, Germany to the east and bounded by the North Sea to the west and north.
It covers a total area of 41,525 sq. km. (16,033 sq. mls. compared to the UK with 50,300 sq. mls.). At the time when the first license was taken in 1955 the population was estimated to be 10.7 million (this had grown to 15.5 million by 1995) one of the most populous countries in the world.
The land is generally flat and low-lying, an estimated 2,500 sq. mls having been reclaimed from the sea. A network of water courses in the form of canals and rivers criss-crosses the country, the principal rivers being the Rhine, Maas, Waal, Lek and Ijssel ultimately leading to the Scheld which empties into the North Sea on the west coast. It is , consequently, a very fertile country which generates large quantities of agricultural produce.
There are a large range of quite diverse manufacturing industries practised. Being a maritime nation it has always had a thriving ship building facility particularly in the fields of dredging and maritime recovery vessels and, of course, pumping and drainage equipment where the expertise is second to none. One of the most prestigious and universally known electrical manufacturing companies, Philips, is located in Eindhoven. At the early stages of the license there was a thriving shoe industry in Holland in which Bloch and Stibbe was an important participant.
Originally known as the Spanish Netherlands a revolt against its foreign rulers was successful in the northern province and in 1648 the Dutch Republic was formed. By the mid 17th. century Holland was the foremost commercial and maritime power in Europe with Amsterdam the financial centre of the Continent. This success brought conflict with England leading to the Anglo-Dutch wars of 1652 - 54 and 1664 - 67.
However French Republican aggression brought Holland under its rule in 1795 and it was annexed by France in 1810 a situation which was brought to an end by the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was then established.
During the First World War the Dutch remained neutral although they suffered considerably from loss of trade due to the Allied blockade. In May 1940 Germany invaded Holland which, for various reasons and by various means, led to a large loss of life and property during the occupation and the liberation by British forces in 1944 and 1945. The northern part of the country was one of the last areas to be freed in May 1945.
In 1952 Holland was an original member of the European Coal and Steel Community and in 1960 was a founder member of the Benelux Economic Union which also included Belgium and Luxembourg. The country was an early member of NATO, a founder member of the European Economic Community (now the European Union), the United Nations, the Western European Union, the Council of Europe, the OECD and it has elected to be part of the Euro-zone adopting the common currency.
An analogy can be drawn between Evode`s association with Lotus and Simson`s with Bloch and Stibbe with regard to involvement in the shoe manufacturing industry. If anything that of Simson`s was closer because, during the lifetime of the license this company occupied sites in towns where Bloch and Stibbe already had manufacturing facilities.
As the activities of Simson expanded and they became involved in a more diverse range of products they did, unlike some other licensees, have the technical and marketing expertise to substantiate the expansion of their range of products. It is quite probable that the very regular contact with Evode due to visits to Stafford site and Evode personnel visiting them that they kept abreast of developments and used this acquired knowledge to develop products which suited their domestic construction market which was somewhat different to that in UK.
It was Werner & Mertz`s reluctance to become involved in the production of mastics and sealants which led to the setting up of BATU, based on an existing company set up by Bloch and Stibbe. Initially it was intended that this should be a selling organisation into the whole of Germany for mastics and sealants products made by either Evomastics Ltd. or Simson and eventually BATU would become a manufacturing company in its own right. Th. Steenvoorden was appointed managing director an appointment which was brought into question at a later date by his handling of the company and finally its demise.
Th. Steenvoorden was not the easiest person to get along with. He had previously spent some years in Indonesia and tended to treat people with whom he came into contact, including his own staff, as he would have done native workers in a colonial situation. His attitude was always belligerent and aggressive, even to HS, forever ready to belittle and demean. He was, however, a very generous man and inevitably one left his company with a gift.