Did you know that windmills in Schiedam are the tallest traditional mills in the world?
In the 18th century, Schiedam became the ‘jenever’ (Dutch gin) capital of the world. The windmills played an important role in the production. These cylindrical shape ‘tower stage’ mills with stone brick exterior and a movable wooden ‘cap’ or roof were built taller than the surrounding buildings, so they could catch the flow of air needed to turn the sails. By 1880, there were 400 distilleries in the city producing the famous gin of Schiedam. At the peak of 19th century, there were as many as twenty operating windmills grinding assorted grains which was then sold to the local distilleries.
Nowadays, there are only seven mills left of the twenty that once stood tall right here in the historic old town. Six of them are located walking distance from one another within Schiedam city center, one mill is based outside the city and an additional one new modern mill in disguised, built in 2005.
Here is the list on the last seven mills and the eighth in Schiedam:
- De Walvisch (1794) | The Whale
Windmill De Walvisch was officially reopened in May 1999, fully restored after an unfortunate fire happened in 1996. Now it has a mill shop on the ground floor, which offers a wide range of baking goods, local produce and organic products. A mill museum on the upper floors where you can learn about the history, operation, life of a miller and enjoy the panoramic view of Schiedam 5-storey high from the stage balcony. Admittance fees do apply to enter the museum section. http://www.molendewalvisch.nl
Address: Westvest 229. 3111 BT Schiedam.
- De Drie Koornbloemen (1770) | The Three Cornflowers
This is the oldest windmill in Schiedam. It has had many different functions throughout the centuries; sawing mahogany, peeling rice, process food into animal feed and grinding stone. It is the only mill with a real miller’s house attached, including a voluntary live-in miller, Rens Franken and his wife, to ensure that the mill often runs. Windmill De Drie Koornbloemen is not open to public.
Address: Vellevest 5. 3111 PR Schiedam.
- De Vrijheid (1785) | The Freedom
Restored extensively by 1974, Windmill De Vrijheid still has many original parts such as a cast-iron windshaft which was made in Schiedam in 1838. This mill is fully equipped with three milling stones, one of which can be electrically driven. It is still in daily operation grinding for various businesses; bakeries, distilleries, catering establishments and mill shops. Windmill De Vrijheid is not open to public.
Address: Noordvest 40. 3111 PH Schiedam.
- De Noord (1803) | The North
Windmill De Noord was once the highest mill in the world until 2006, measuring at 33.3 meters high. First, it was a wooden post mill built around 1400. This wooden post mill was then replaced by a stone mill in 1707. When the mill became too small, De Noord was built. Windmill De Noord is the second largest windmill in the world. The premise is occupy by Restaurant De Noordmolen serving French-Dutch cuisine. http://www.noordmolen.nl
Address: Noordvest 38. 3111 PH Schiedam.
- De Palmboom (1781) | The Palm Tree
Windmill De Palmboom was destroyed by a fire in 1901. Restoration and reconstruction only begun ninety years after the fire. In 1993, it became Windmill De Nieuwe Palmboom and opened its doors to the public. It was a mill museum until January 2018. According to the Dutch windmill database, it reverts its name back to original, De Palmboom. The mill museum function was transferred to Windmill De Walvisch in February 2018, which was renovated for this purpose. Presently, the Windmill De Palmboom functions as office space.
Address: Noordvest 34. 3111 PH Schiedam.
- De Kameel (1715) | The Camel
This is a replica mill where up to 1865 flour mill, De Kameel, once stood nearby. Due to a fire, it was demolished completely in 1868. Windmill De Kameel was officially opened for use again in 2011, equipped with a pair of grinding stones and able to generate electricity. It also has a cave where small boats can sail into the mill through a semi-circular passageway for loading and unloading. De Kameel houses the De Schiedamse Windmill Foundation. The entire mill is available for rental.
Address: Doeleplein 6. 3111 PA Schiedam.
- De Babbersmolen (1710) | The Babbers Windmill
Windmill De Babbersmolen was built with the aim of draining the Babbers polder located outside the old town. It was a working mill until 1924, when it was dismantled and truncated. In 1980, the mill became a bird shelter for the Royal Natural History Association. It was rebuilt and restored in 2012.
Windmill De Babbersmolen is open for FREE visit every Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Visitors are able to learn and experience how a polder miller lived with his family around 1920 through a miniature polder with water pumps, ditches, sluices, etc. Babbersmolen is probably the oldest surviving stone polder windmill in the Netherlands. I have yet to visit. Thus, no photos.
Address: Schiedamsedijk 2A. 3117 HA Schiedam.
- De Nolet (2006) | The Nolet
De Nolet is the world tallest wind turbine disguised as a traditional Schiedam windmill. It is standing tall at 43 meters and has a gross height of 55 meters including its rotor tips. It was built in 2005 by the Nolet Distillery to power their brewing factory which produces the world-famous Ketel One vodkas and gins.
Address: Hoofdstraat 14. 3114 GG Schiedam.
If you are looking for a short walk around the city … Try a walking route from De Walvisch (1) to De Kameel (6). It is about 1.2km along the scenic Noordvestgracht canal. FREE things to do in Schiedam!