Wisboom Visitors Centre
Stunning building that decorate Kinderdijk’s UNESCO World Heritage ground
The Wisboom pumping station is just one of the many stunning buildings that decorate Kinderdijk’s UNESCO World Heritage grounds. Here, you will delve deeper into the history behind Kinderdijk as you discover the workings of this pumping station, built in 1868. Step right in for a close-up inspection of the impressive flywheels on display int he engine room.
Standing silently beside the glistening waters of the Kinderdijk basins, a monumental structure serves as the pivotal link between the historical windmills of ages past, and the twin modern pumping stations facing them along the river dike. This is the stately Wisboom pumping station, where once, the unique Kinderdijk approach to water management started to pick up steam to face the future. Its beating heart was originally made up of a wheezing, thumping steam engine. Later on, as technological insights advanced, this steam-powered heart was replaced by a whirring electrical engine.
This glorious feat of industrial history is now our visitors centre
Here, the latest in modern technology was employed to deliver the brute mechanical force necessary to pump the water out into the river beyond at ever-increasing capacity. That’s quite a long way to come for a system originally intended to run on wind power alone. Still, modernisation continued, and the latest insights eventually made even the sturdy machines of the Wisboom pumping station obsolete and outdated. Once the new duo of modern pumping stations had taken over, the Wisboom site got a new destination. This grand display of industrial history is now the official visitors centre of Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage. To mark its new purpose, it was named after the then chairman of the Overwaard polder governance board, Mr. C.B. Wisboom.
Experiences all around
Inside the Wisboom walls, you’ll find a treasure trove of details that illustrate the Kinderdijk windmill story. Set your own preferred pace as you wander through the ages by spinning the time wheels and listening to stories of long-forgotten days. Peer into the viewing boxes and just imagine what these polder lands would have looked like centuries ago. And if you’re up for a bit of an adventure, you should definitely check out our windmill game! Right in the middle of the Wisboom building, you’ll find a tabletop polder replica representing a bird’s eye view of the local Alblasserwaard area. It has miniature windmills that you can operate all by yourself, putting you in control as you brace to handle the powers of the wind and the water. Can you manage to keep the soil moist enough, without letting the water flood the lands? If you do, then maybe you should consider a career as a miller someday…
The pungent scent of fresh engine grease draws you into the confines of the engine room, the former beating heart of this Overwaard pumping station. Our host can tell you all about the way this place used to look and feel when the machines were pounding away in full swing. At a 200-horsepower capacity, the old steam engine single-handedly managed to pump as much water out to the river as all eight Overwaard windmills combined: a staggering 425,000 litres per minute at full power. In 1924, Kinderdijk switched to electrically-powered pumps instead, doubling overall capacity to a whopping 870,000 litres per minute. The Wisboom pumps kept these lands dry until as recently as 1995, when the G.N. Kok pumping station – the angular building near the dike – took over the job.
Inside the Wisboom building, there’s always time to relax and grab a cup of coffee on the go. There’s also a souvenir shop, where you can find anything even remotely connected to the Dutch and their windmills. The pumping station’s interior walls have been decorated with authentic hand-painted artworks made by artists from the region, adding an extra splash of vivid inspiration to the great atmosphere of the Wisboom facility.
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