End Of An Era: Molenhoek Is Demolished
Oftentimes, the transition to something new also means leaving familiar things behind. As the new Visitors Centre opens its doors for the first time today, the Molenhoek has met its fate at the hands of the wrecking ball.
If there is one person for whom relocating to the new Visitors Centre is an emotional experience, it must be Hans Slob. The 58-year-old resident of Nieuw-Lekkerland has spent most of his working life staffing the Molenhoek, which has served as the Kinderdijk’s trusted souvenir shop until now. “My father, Jo, used to be Secretary to the Nieuw-Lekkerland Municipal Council, and they asked him: ‘why, Jo, couldn’t you come up with some sort of plan for that place?’ So he started out here back in the sixties, spending Wednesday and Saturday afternoons selling ice cream, coffee, and some postcards. It just evolved from there. I must have been about twelve years old when I started selling ice cream on this very spot. It just grows on you; I kept on taking over more and more of the jobs my parents did here. We used to close shop in the winter season back then, so I’d have side jobs. You know, working for a contractor or as a postman, that sort of thing.”
Today, the new Visitors Centre opens its doors for the first time. At first light this morning, work started on the demolition of Molenhoek, the nostalgic and cosy former ice-skating club home. “To us, as a family, this does feel like a special moment,” says Slob, catering manager at the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK). “It probably feels that way to a lot of people from Kinderdijk who have seen this building here all their lives.”
So starting today, Slob and his crew go to work in their new, modern, and much more spacious accommodation. Slob: “Yes, it is quite a change. It’s pretty exciting, to be honest. Catering and the souvenir shop are separate affairs now. The big plus is all the extra space we have here, although that may take away some of the intimate charm we used to have. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll find a way to create a great atmosphere there, too.”