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7 February 2019

Exceptional mail from Limburg

In all likelihood, the Kinderdijk windmills probably feature on hundreds of millions of pictures these days. Whereas digital photography is the norm today, we do come across a few gems of analogue imagery every now and then. On this particular occasion, we received a pleasant surprise form our southern province of Limburg.

‘Nineteen windmills near Kinderdijk, Holland’, as the caption in the bottom left corner states. It took a visit to Kinderdijk miller Cock van den Berg to actually spot the nineteenth mill featured in the wide-angle picture. “Look, it’s over here, you see?.” Van den Berg points at a distant speck in the background, barely visible on the 1.45 metre-wide, 23 centimetre-high black and white image spread out on the table in front of him. That tiny speck is the windmill that used to flank the Lek dike in the village of Nieuw-Lekkerland, right next to its Dutch Reformed Church.

Gift

Last week, the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK) received a very special mail delivery from Limburg. As he was clearing out the Brunssum home of his recently deceased mother, Marcel-Lucien Arpots stumbled upon a wide-angle photograph of the Kinderdijk windmill complex. He decided to send it to SWEK as a gift. “I’m sure that my parents would love the idea of not throwing such things away, but instead giving it to someone who might actually do something useful with them.”

We intend to give the picture a well-deserved spot somewhere in one of the new facilities presently under construction at Kinderdijk World Heritage.

We intend to give the picture a well-deserved spot somewhere in one of the new facilities presently under construction at Kinderdijk World Heritage.

The picture is still in its original cardboard sleeve, made by G.F. Callenbach Publishers from Nijkerk. They gained national fame in the nineteen thirties by releasing the acclaimed Nobel Series. “My father probably got this as a gift somewhere around 1940”, as the finder suspects. “Just as a nice souvenir.”

Van den Berg thinks the panoramic picture was probably taken at some point in the thirties. He even manages to come up with a name for the photographer: Foto Rouw, an agency that used to be based in Kinderdijk. The astute spectator will notice a group of figures hard at work: these are probably members of the well-known Hoek family, who have been operating Kinderdijk windmills for generations. At this moment, a framed version of the same picture already decorates the interior of the Nederwaard museum mill. The number of remaining copies is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, as Van den Berg assures, “The picture is special by all accounts.”

My father probably got this as a gift somewhere around 1940

Although nineteen windmills decorate the scene captured by the image, they are not the nineteen mills presently enclosed by the World Heritage grounds. The photographer actually shot the picture with his back to Nederwaard windmills 6, 7, and 8. What the picture does show, however, are a now-demolished Nieuw-Lekkerland mill, the Old Mill of Nieuw-Lekkerland (deconstructed in the 1950s), and the De Regt flourmill.

We intend to give the picture a well-deserved spot somewhere in one of the new facilities presently under construction at Kinderdijk World Heritage. Arpots: “If we happen to be in this beautiful part of the country, we will be sure to pay this wonderful place a visit.”

The author

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