Destinations Magazine

Countryside and Windmills in Holland

By Amsterdam City Tours


In the lovely Dutch countryside you can visit one of the beautiful working windmills (Zaanse Schans), a local cheese factory (Volendam, the perfect place for a delicious sea food lunch) or the local wooden shoemaker´s workshop located in Marken!


English: De Zoeker (the Seeker) windmill in Za...

English: De Zoeker (the Seeker) windmill in Zaanse Schans, North Holland, Netherlands. This mill was used to produce oil. Español: Molino de viento De Zoeker (el Buscador) en Zaanse Schans, Holanda, Países Bajos. Este molino fue utilizado para la producción de aceites. Français: Le moulin à vent de Zoeker (« Le Chercheur ») à Zaanse Schans, Hollande du Nord, Pays-Bas. Ce moulin était utilisé pour la production d'huile. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Around 1920 there were only about 50 windmills left of the 1000 that had made the Zaan district the oldest industrial area of the world. One of this windmills is De Zoeker. The history of the oil mill De Zoeker goes back to April 1676, when this windmill was given its milling permit. In 1891 the mill´s looks further deteriorated when its interior machinery was removed and it was set up as a dye mill. In February of 1925 the windmills was severely damaged by a particularly violent gust of wind. Thanks to the effort of volunteers, it could be restored. In 1968 the mill was moved from Guisveld to its present location on the Zaanse Schans because of urban development plans.

One of the feature of oil mills of Zaanse Schans which immediately catches the eye is their colossal millstones, which turn relentlessly, crushing the oil-bearing seed or nuts under their weight. The runner stones turn on top of a flat stone pan which lies on the bedstone. The sides of the runners stones were painted blue and white as a safety measure, so that even at night, when there was little light, one could immediately see that the stones were turning.

When the seeds or nuts have been pulverized by the runner stones, the meal which is left over is heated up on a stone stove fueled by wood, peat or briquettes. The mill-hands also used the stove to keep their coffe hot or to heat up a pan os soup.

The heated mass of seed is then put into two woolen bags. Because the bags are going to pounded repeatedly. The whole is put into a wooden space in the oil press and the pounding begins squeezing the oil out of the seeds. The content of the bags are removed after the oil has been pressed out. In former days very little was thrown away; everything that could possibly be used, was used. The constant pounding meant that there was always a terrific din in the windmill. The noise caused many of the mill workers to develop hearing problems. This occupational problem was referred to as “pounding deafness”. This is a very time-consuming job, but the mill workers’ wages were s low so that extra processing was still profitable.

Sources| Amsterdam City Tours, De Zaansche Mole Windmill Society

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