SHV headquarters at the Rijnkade 1, Utrecht, c. 1910

SHV is founded

At the turn of the century, eight coal trading firms join forces to establish Steenkolenhandelsvereeniging (Coal Trading Association) – or SHV for short. Yet this initiative was not taken by choice. Rather, it was pushed for by the RWKS - their shared German coal supplier. Little did they realise that losing part of their entrepreneurial independence would mark the start of a 125 year long history (and counting).

Fuelling a new era

Sparked in England, the industrial revolution drastically transforms life in western Europe. Horizons are lined with the chimneys of factories, which produce consumer goods at a previously unknown pace, and with the buildings of fast-growing cities, to where people flock in the search for work.

New infrastructure and transportation make the world smaller, while simultaneously creating opportunities for business ventures. As economies become increasingly complex, companies work more professionally and efficiently.

Coal is the fuel of modern life. Coal combustion steam engines enable ships to cross oceans ever more quickly, while gaslight illuminates the emerging city nightlife. Coal is also the main source of energy for heavy industry. Although the Netherlands is relatively late to join the industrial revolution, by the second half of the 19th century windmills are being slowly but surely replaced by steam engines.

Amsterdam with its open harbour front and Central Station (right) in 1897. This was the view of the office of Van Vlissingen & Stuart, one of the SHV founding companies.
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