Steve Edwards' website

Home Page

Holland

Amsterdam


A couple of old windmills in my neighborhood


There were a couple of old windmills near my apartment in west metropolitan Amsterdam, where I lived for the latter half of 2000. This was Osdorp, right on the western edge of the newer city (1950ís & after,) and bordering the older communities.

The nearest windmill, about a quarter-mile from the building where I lived, was well-maintained,** and caretakers would occasionally unfurl the canvas on the blades and operate it. The water at this molen rises about four feet (a bit more than 1 meter,) from intake to output.

Sloterplas, a nearby lake where once there was a lake...


The other windmill, just a ways down the diketop path alongside the large high canal De Ringvaart, was no more than a derelict brick octagon. This could only be a former windmill, and indeed it is. There was a bit of literature posted on a chainlink fence that surrounded it. I could decipher some of it, with my poor Dutch-language skills and, back at home, a dictionary.

A preservation drive was in progress to save what was left of this structure, which dates from 1876.

The original device on the site was a paddlewheel. "De Oude Molen," or "the Old Mill," was fitted with a "wind-vijzel," or screw-jack, in 1896.

In 1921, a diesel engine replaced the wind mechanism altogether. Later, an electric motor replaced the diesel engine.

The electric pumphouse today is just landward of the old mill — just downhill into the polder, on the side of the dike.

It's the same process by different method. In the day of the windmill, thousands of these devices throughout Holland pumped the water by degrees to higher-level canals, until above sealevel.

De Ringvaart (like a "ring road" of water,) where these mills stand, is one of the high-level canals. The Ringvaart has it all — houseboats, windmills; it is a major shipping route. Walking along the edge of Akerpolder on a path about halfway up the dike, the midsize Dutch cargo ships pass just on the other side of the dike on water at oneís head-level.

The windmills here were at the last stage of transport for the water from the polders, and from here it's out to sea.


** I've learned since writing this page that the windmill is the "Molen van Sloten."


Contact