June 19, 2012

0227 & 0254 NETHERLANDS (Netherlands / South Holland) - Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 28.05.2012
The windmill in the picture is a variant of smock mill (I wrote here about this type of mill), namely grondzeiler (ground sailer). These mills can be operated from the ground, and because the sails reach almost down to the ground, being a great danger to people and animals, are surrounded by a fence. This type of mill was built in locations with little wind barrier, for example in the barren western polders of the Netherlands. The best known example of such mills is the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout, an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The mill in the image is part of this group, which is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands.

Located in Alblasserwaard (-waard = "land in or along the water), a polder at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers, about 15km east of Rotterdam, this network, consists of 19 windmills built around 1740 and very well preserved, had the purpose to drain the polder. In Alblasserwaard, problems with water was always apparent, so when the large canals dug in the 13th century weren't sufficient anymore, were built this windmills, which pump the water into a reservoir at an intermediate level between the soil in the polder and the river, and from there into the river, by other windmills. Although some of the windmills are still used, the main works are provided by two diesel pumping stations.

The legend about the name Kinderdijk (Children's dike) is very nice. During the Saint Elizabeth flood of 1421, one of the worst floods in history, the Grote Hollandse Waard was flooded, but the Alblasserwaard not. It's said that someone who went on to the dike between these two areas to see what could be saved, saw a wooden cradle floating on the waters, and on the cradle a cat, trying to keep it in balance by jumping back and forth. When the cradle reached close enough, he saw a baby who sleeping inside it.

The stamp is part of Green Progress set, about which I wrote here.

Added on 19.06.2012

Outstanding this winter image of the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout. Ever since I saw the postcard it made me think to the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who otherwise was born in Breda, 45km from Kinderdijk. Regarding the legend about the name of the place, you can find here the lyrics of The child in the cradle, an old Dutch folk song very known in Netherlands.

About the stamp

The stamp is one of the two presented by Netherlands for the theme Visit..., chosen for Europa Stamps 2012. The stamps, issued on March 26, 2012, show how Amsterdam’s wealth and development as a city has been dominated by its historic concentric rings of canals and the River Amstel. The second stamps of the series can be seen here.

sender 1: Marion / patmar (postcrossing)
sent from Nijmegen (Netherlands), on 14.02.2012
sender 2: Wilma van Vegten (direct swap)
sent from Leiden (Netherlands), on 11.05.2012
photo: Emile Luider 

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