28 April 2020

‘We make sure that our mills and yards are in prime shape’

Yes, our mills are on standstill for now due to the pandemic for now. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to do the same. Here at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage, our ongoing ‘intelligent lockdown’ give us plenty of opportunity to perform all the minor and regular maintenance that our windmills and millyards need.

‘I’m just happy there’s something useful I can do,” says Marc Polderman. “Sitting at home was getting on my nerves.” On yet another sunny April day, we find the Gorinchem-based miller employed by the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK) sanding a banister at the Nederwaard Museum Mill. On any regular spring day, you would see hundreds of guests making their way through this imposing structure dating from 1738. In those circumstance, Polderman and his miller colleagues would have their hands full managing the visitor flow. Today, the sole spectators present to judge Polderman’s work are the magnificent black-and-white portraits of former miller families lining the walls.

Marc Polderman at Nederwaard Museum Mill.

Marc Polderman at Nederwaard Museum Mill.

1,5 meter

In a warehouse adjoining the J.U. Smit pumping station, millers Aart van Krimpen and Robert Hoffman are working together on pieces of fencing. They are bound for the yard of Overwaard Museum Mill. “At least we have time for this now,” Hoffman drily remarks. They observe the 1.5-metre distance whenever possible, but that’s proving tricky: try keeping your distance when you need more than two hands to get the job done.

Prime shape

The current maintenance is unrelated to the major reconstruction projects that are currently underway. It’s all about minot, regular maintenance chores, as SWEK’s Jan-Willem de Winter explains.

“We’re making sure that all our windmills and millyards are in prime shape when the moment of reopening comes.” At present, measures to contain the coronavirus will keep Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage closed until Tuesday May 19 at least.

The author