You remember the story of why Kinderdijk is named as such? Well read it back here.
Now hopefully if you had made it to this page, you would already know about our search for windmills in Holland had ended up with just the subject of this article and Zaanse Schans. But did you know that Kinderdijk is by far the only place with the most concentration of windmills as much as we researched? If anyone else can lend a hand and disprove that, we are more than happy.
Working but only as a backup
Located in Alblasserwaard, this is a polder that was reclaimed in the middle ages. But if you look at the map of Kinderdijk, you will notice that it is at the confluence of the Waal and Lek rivers. Geography buffs will know that the Waal is actually the end stretch of the Rhine.
As great rivers end, deltas are formed when the flow slows towards the open sea. So you can imagine that the area that is Rotterdam and even Zeeland to the southwest, are actually deltas built from the sediments carried further upstream.
The choice of reclaiming land here is interesting in itself and can be a conversation for another day, but the fact is that with all these water coming in, it was all too often that floods took place. And it is here that the windmill comes into its own. It pumps out surplus water from the land, draining it and displacing it back into the rivers.
And because this is especially challenging to do in this part of Holland, there are several pumps in a cascade to perform the pumping and lifting of water several meters above for discharge over the dikes. In 1738-1740, these were built to perform exactly that role. Today there are pumping stations to perform this role but in the past the windmills served as a backup in the event those failed. Not so today…
Get to the row of Eight
All this time we thought it was seven windmills in a row. Wrong!
There are two rows of eight : Nederwaard and Overwaard. There are walking and cycling paths that lead you from one to the next. While you can visit one, you pay for entry. When Suan’s parents visited, we walked up to the deck of one. The blades were tied down and we walked on what is technically called the reefing stage – layman terms = the deck over which the blades rotate.
Remember in our main article we mentioned that access is free? Well, this is because this entire area is public land and not a museum. There are not many touristic amenities save the cafeteria at the beginning of the stretch. Parking is limited and located around there.
Come to think of it, we would not have taken pictures of the entire 8 windmills. They curve out along the canals. If you have time, it would be a rather nice long walk.
The Overwaard is an ~2.3km stretch while the Nederwaard is ~1.7km. We opted to walk along the Nederwaard, but only made it as far as mill number 5 to view the stretch of windmills. This is the best position as far as we can recall.
Did you know?
Windmills have two doors. Because the wind direction, the blades are moved to face it. And if there were only one door when the blades are revolving in front of it, accidents can occur. Two doors were the solution on opposite sides.
Windmills can only perform one function at time. If used for grinding, it will not be able to pump water as most of the energy from the wind is used up by the friction of the grinding stones.
In the past the sail of the blades would be patched up if holes occurred and when it is time to replace the sail, the cloth will be used to make clothing for the children! True or not?? You find out. Anyway, its reduce, reuse and finally recycle.