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8 September 2017

This September, our museum mill is crowned anew

As you wander at ease among the Kinderdijk World Heritage landmarks, you’ll notice the finest feats of traditional craftsmanship popping up all around you. Whether you see the windmills turning at full speed to keep the soil dry or witness skilled professionals employ time tested techniques to keep them in prime shape; everything is just dripping with history. As you may have read in our

Buckling down and thatching up

This year, while the sails were turning, we have been grinding our gears ourselves as well. Not only did we treat the museum mill to a brand new coat of paint, we also treated the heart of the construction to a fair bit of love. In fact, we’ve decided tackle the job thoroughly, as we took great care to replace the old shaft with a brand new one. Presently, with the summer creeping to its finale, we are ready for a special chore that will be the crown jewel of this maintenance schedule. Starting September 4, a team from Visscher, a specialised thatching company in business since 1875 will set about replacing the old thatched roof that has been the top hat of the museum mill for ages. This is yet another specialist operation, and of course we have been busy finding fitting activities for our visitors to enjoy. If you are planning a visit over the course of September, you will find a choice of fun and educational treats waiting for you.

Old-fashioned modernity

A thatched roof is a genuine piece of classical craftsmanship that has been keeping windmills, traditional farmhouses and more besides dry, warm, and sheltered from the wind for centuries. Mind you: all of this is achieved using fully organic materials, so in fact, this is a pretty modern piece of technology. Our thatchers will be tackling their job in traditional fashion. The top section of the windmill features a special wooden framework to support the fresh reed stems. The new layer of thatch will protect our museum mill from the wind, the rain, and the sun for years to come.

Come witness from up close how the old thatcher’s craft is still a current affair.”

Roof to the floor

Of course, watching the work on top of the windmill is a bit tricky. We came up with a smart solution to this problem, however: we are reconstructing the roof on ground level to allow everyone a good look from up close. We are placing some old-fashioned reed bundles to give you a sense of the classical material, flanked by a traditional reed cutter as it was used in the good old days. Of course, our millers and volunteers will be on the scene to tell you all there is to know about this beautiful technique, which is still in use all over the world today. We even give you an opportunity to give it a try with your own hands – you might get some thatcherian aspirations yourself this summer! To give you a full sense  of the job at hand, we’ve been digging through our archives to show you a series of photos displaying previous generations of professional thatchers at work.

Stagnation means progress

Replacing the thatch of Nederwaard museum mill will obviously require our thatchers to work on top of the mill’s roof. As you will understand, there is no way to get the job done safely without stopping the sails while they go about their business. That is why we are putting the brakes on the windmill’s machinery for now. Throughout September, the special beam serving as the mill’s brake will keep the shaft from turning. This is a pretty brilliant feat of technology, by the way: it allows the miller to stop the entire mechanism by pulling a rope fitted to the back of the construction in one quick movement. Once the sails stop turning, we’re all set to get going. Just to be safe, we will fence off a section of the mill yard, but don’t worry: you’ll still be able to admire the historic interior. We will build a special tunnel to allow everybody in and out.

Come watch the roof come off

If you come by for a visit this month, you will learn all there is to know about the wonderful trade of thatching. Afterwards, whenever you enjoy the soft whispering of the reeds growing along our basins, you will enjoy the gently waving tufts of these trusted, romantic, and extremely useful plants in a completely new light. Come and join our millers to enjoy the last sunrays and join our millers to see the roof come off at Kinderdijk this September!

The author

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