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A taste of nostalgia in the Walmolen

Friday, 21 June 2019 12:14

In May 2019, commercial manager Bart Thiele made the acquaintance of one of the ancestors of today's wind turbines: the Walmolen in Doetinchem; a genuine stone smock mill featuring a gallery.

As well as the obvious differences with today’s technology, there are definite similarities. The Walmolen has a span (rotor diameter) of 23 metres. The Walmolen's predecessor was a post-mill, but this was destroyed by fire in 1850. The mill was re-built in its current configuration, and remained operative until 1908. The mill was dismantled in 1910, after which only the shell (without the roof) was left. The mill came under threat of demolition in 1961, but a campaign initiated by local residents saved the building from destruction. This splendid mill now holds pride of place on the former Doetinchem rampart or ‘wal’, hence its name: Walmolen.

From pork lard to a greasing system

Throughout the guided tour, it was noticed that a great many traditional design features and tools, such as the blades and main shaft, but also the integrated crane for the exchange of parts, are still used in today's advanced wind turbines. It was also interesting to hear that the main shaft used to be greased manually using pork lard, as opposed to the automated greasing systems in place today. If you would like to know more, the miller will be happy to welcome you whenever the pennant is flying from the Doetinchem mill. Alternatively, you may want to visit an old mill in your own locality. It will be well worth your while!

A taste of nostalgia in the Walmolen