Together with wooden shoes and tulips, windmills are the characteristic symbols of the Netherlands. The windmills is however by no means a Dutch invention, and the history of the mills goes back till Greece in the 3rd century BC, were their use was already described. Between 700 and 900 windmills were used in Persia for the milling of grain. From the 11th century onwards they were found in increasing numbers in Flanders and Normandy, after which their use quickly spread over the rest of Europe.
Windmills in Amsterdam
The amount of windmills in Amsterdam increased strongly after the application of the crankshaft made it possible to use them for the sawing of wood. This invention was a Dutch invention by Cornelis Corneliszoon from Uitgeest. Due to the strong increase in demand for wood by the shipbuilding industry, there was a need to mechanize the cutting of wood through the use of sawmills. The Amsterdam guild of sawyers managed to ban the construction of sawmills for a while, but when the ban was lifted in 1630 the number of windmills in the province of Holland quickly rose to about 1000. This was a very large number for such a small area, and it can be said that the region around Amsterdam, including the Zaanstreek, experienced a very early industrial revolution. With the invention of the steam engine and later the electrical motor people became less dependent on wind energy, and the number of windmills started decreasing. Nowadays we find only eight windmills in the whole city of Amsterdam.
The "Otter" along the Kostverlorenvaart in Amsterdam-West is the last remaining sawmill. This windmill (1631) dates from the period immediately after the lifting of ban on the construction of windmills in Amsterdam. During the glory days of the windmill era the city counted about 85 sawmills, which mainly fulfilled the large demand for wood by the shipbuilding industry. The sawmills were constructed outside of the city walls, mainly to the west of Amsterdam where they caught more wind. The "Otter" has been in use as a sawmill until the beginning of the 20th century, and still stands on the terrain of a sawmill. Due to the city expansion of the 1960s and 1970s, the windmills became surrounded by housing, making it impossible to catch enough wind for proper function. Therefore there have been plans lately to relocate the mill to a windmill park in Uitgeest, but in 2011 it was decided by the provincial government that the "Otter" has to stay on its current location. This historic windmills is therefore maintained at its original location, where is has been standing for more than 350 years. The surrounding buildings prevent the windmill from being used, although it is still in very good functional state.
The 1200 Roe
The 1200 Roe stands at its original location along the Haarlemmerweg in Slotermeer. It is a poldermolen that was used to pump water out of the Osdorper binnenpolder. When in 1631 this polder was cut in two by the Haarlemmer trekvaart (a canal connecting Amsterdam to Haarlem) it became neccessary to pump water out of the southern part of the polder. The 1200 Roe, a windmill that pumped water from the polder into the Haarlemmer trekvaart, was constructed for this purpose. In 1931 an electric motor was added to the pumping station. Due to the expansion of the city in the 1950s the 1200 Roe lost its purpose, and since 1950 the windmills has been decommissioned. With the arrival of a new owner in 2003 the windmill has been put to use more regularly, although the surrounding apartments decrease the amount of wind available to the mill. The name 1200 Roe refers to the distance to the city, more specifically the Haarlemmerpoort, with a Roe being about 3,75 meters.
The Riekermolen is a poldermolen dating from 1636 and stood originally in the former municipality of Sloten, to the west of Amsterdam. There the windmill was used untill 1932 to pump water out of the Riekerpolder. In that year the mill was made obsolete by a new motorized pump. As the city expanded after the Second World War, the windmill could not be maintained at its original position and after more than 300 years, the Riekermolen was deconstructed in 1956. In 1961 the Riekermolen was reconstructed in Buitenveldert, close to ‘t Kalfje along the Amstel, with the intention to function in the regular refreshing of the water in the canals of Buitenveldert. This was only partly successful, as the surrounding high rise apartments and large trees decrease the amount of wind available to the mill.
The 1100 Roe
Just like the 1200 Roe, the 1100 Roe used to stand along the Haarlemmerweg. The names of these windmills refer to their distance till the city gate, about 4 kilometer. The original windmill, that was used to pump water out of the Sloter Binnenpolder and the Middelveldse Polder, was constructed in 1674 and fully renovated in 1757. With the development of the Westelijke Tuinsteden (the expansion of Amsterdam to the west), both polders were filled up, thereby making the windmill obsolete. In 1961 the 1100 Roe was deconstructed at its original location and the parts were put in storage. Already in 1965 it was rebuild close to sportspark Ookmeer, where it is put to use in its original function to pump water out of the polder and keep the sportspark dry. Nowadays, the windmills is also known as the "Ookmeermolen" refering to its new location.
In the east of Amsterdam we find windmill "The Gooyer" along the Funenkade. This large elevated windmill dominates the view of the surrounding area and can be appreciated from the bridge towards the Scheepvaartmuseum. The Gooyer was used as a grain mill to produce flour. Although the name "Goyermolen" dates back till the 16th century, this windmill was constructed at about 1725. It was destroyed, relocated and rebuild several times, standing since 1814 at its current location. The Gooyer was used untill the late '40s to mill grain, but since that time it is only been put to use at special occasions. Although the windmill is located right next to brewery 't IJ (it is even featured on the logo) it is no part of the brewery. The windmills is owned by the city of Amsterdam.
Windmill d'Admiraal is a grindingmill dating from 1792. It was initially used to grind stones for creating concrete and later chalk for its use in paint. Within her categorie it is the only surviving windmill in the whole of the Netherlands. The mill is named after the family "De Admiraal" (The Admiral), descendents of the old-mayor of Monnikendam who gained this name after winning a sea battle against the Spaniards in the 16th century. During the 19th and 20th century, the windmill was upgraded and extended several times with a steam-, diesel- and electro-engine. The windmill has had many owners and was abandoned in 1957 after which it slowly started to ruin. In 1965 d'Admiraal was bought by stichting Krijtmolen D'Admiraal, after which the windmill was completely renovated. Nowadays, the Admiraal is regularly put to use, mainly by grinding roof tiles to create gravel for tennis courts. The windmill is open to visitors at specific dates and can even be used as an official wedding location for the city of Amsterdam.
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