The millwrights' workshop
Millwrighting and the craftsmanship of millwrights.
The smell of sawdust, stacks of strange wooden components, and the sound of hammers and chisels rise up to meet you from our millwrights’ workshop. We need to keep the sails in motion, so we replace worn down parts and try to repair everything ourselves. Here, we work hard to make sure the Kinderdijk windmills keep milling!
Keeping the old giants fighting fit
The nineteen windmills of Kinderdijk must be kept in prime condition. If the pumping stations should ever stop working, due to power outage or fuel shortage for instance, then these old workhorses of Alblasserwaard will be the last line of defence against the water. That is why these old mills need constant maintenance inside and out. Wear and damage need to be repaired, and sometimes, whole parts have to be replaced. That’s when the millwright gets to work. He grabs his hammers, chisels, and saws as he starts looking for the best types of wood to build new teeth, staves, and wind shafts. Curious about the looks of these mysterious components? Then you should come and take a peek at our millwrights’ workshop, because anyone who likes technology and a bit of tinkering is sure to have a good time here!
The tricks of the trade
In the workshop, you’ll find our volunteers who are keen to tell you all about the millwrights’ trade. If you are a bit of a techie, you will love this place, because our windmills are incredible machines that were invented and built hundreds of years ago. Here, you can see for yourself how the enormous wooden mechanism interlocks, and you’ll learn how technology can harness the natural force of the wind to keep our Dutch feet nice and dry!
A demanding job
Keeping a windmill up and running is hard work indeed. On top of that, millers have to be pretty fearless characters, because sometimes they will need to climb all the way up the sails to reach the mill’s roof for repairs. With a total of nineteen windmills, there is always plenty to do for the Kinderdijk millwrights. The sail crosses have been fitted with measuring instruments to check whether the mills meet their minimum number of turns each year. That is how we keep them in shape, just like you go to football practice or the gym every week. This much maintenance, nearly all done by hand, costs quite a bit of money, of course. That is why the revenues of our ticket and souvenir sales are used to fund the maintenance of these workhorses of our World Heritage!