TESO – Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming – was established in 1907 on the initiative of Texel's General Practitioner Dr. Adriaan Wagemaker. The capital required for the undertaking was raised by the islanders themselves. In Wagemaker’s vision, every inhabitant of Texel, rich or poor, should have the opportunity to take a financial part in the company. Shares worth 5 and 25 guilders were traded. With a share capital of 75,000 guilders, TESO competed with the Alkmaar shipping company Bosman, which ran the ferry service at the time. Many residents were dissatisfied with its wooden vessels, the limited number of sailings and the high prices. Eventually, in 1909, TESO won the struggle for the ferry service: Bosman sold his operations to the Texel company.
Tourism on Texel experienced significant growth after WW II. The availability of accommodation on the island increased, as did the number of cars. Hence TESO had to respond to an increased transport demand. In the early 1950s, the flagship "Dokter Wagemaker" (the original one) was extended by 5 metres, so that it could transport more cars and more passengers. Soon, however, this proved insufficient and the new vessel "Dageraad" was commissioned. This vessel was capable of carrying 30 cars. Ever since, the TESO vessels have become bigger and more modern.
In the early 1960s, Texel saw a controversy about the potential relocation of the harbour. Oudeschild was TESO’s original "home port"; now, speculations were making the rounds about a harbour on ’t Horntje, the island’s southernmost tip. The main advantage would be that it would shorten the crossing by 30 minutes. Opinions differed greatly, also within the board. The main opponents were the people of Oudeschild, who feared an economic backlash for the village. Ultimately, a decision was made in favour of ’t Horntje. Consequences for Texel were enormous. Rows of dunes had to be levelled and the Texel road network upgraded. The new harbour was ready for use by the TESO ships in 1962.
The growth of tourism was unstoppable, confronting TESO with significant capacity problems. During the high season, delays could mount to eight hours – not really a recommendation for Texel as a holiday island! Something had to happen. Because sailing with three ships was a logistic impossibility, TESO director Theo Hoogerheide presented the daring proposal of building a double-decker vessel that could transport almost three times the number of cars. This even led to a real protest demonstration. Opponents feared that Texel would be inundated by tourists. Hoogerheide persevered, and the "Molengat" was commissioned in 1980. It was not until 1986 that TESO could start using the upper deck, as the construction of an appropriate loading ramp had been delayed for years due to the many objections.
On Course for the Future
Currently TESO operates the "Dokter Wagemaker (2)", a modern vessel with large capacity. Research has shown that cars are becoming longer, wider and larger, and construction of the ferry has taken this into account. Comfort also plays a key role these days. The vessel has a larger buffet, a special Texel shop, an information computer and an atrium with a 360° sea view. With all these extra’s, the "Dokter Wagemaker’"is on course for the future. In 2015, the "Schulpengat" will be replaced by a more modern ship enabling TESO to manage developments in transport. One thing is clear: It will most certainly not be the last vessel to be commissioned by TESO!