An army of windmills.
When the hand-dug canals reached their drainage limits in the early 1700s, and the river levels became too high to allow the canals to drain the surrounding area, a series of windmills were built to raise the water, step by step, to river level.
What resulted was this fantastic example, where you can see how polders worked, how windmill pumps worked, and some amazingly well preserved Dutch ingenuity.
Kinderdijk is a UNESCO world heritage site, now below sea level, and no longer using the windmills. They are now preserved as a historic record of Dutch achievement.
The name, meaning "child's dike" comes from the legend relating to the 1421 flooding here, where a baby in a cradle was kept afloat in the flood water by a cat that balanced the cradle to stop water from filling it (the origin of the "cat and the cradle" story).
- The windmills are laid out in 4 groups. On the left is the Overwaart reservoir, and on the right is the Nederwaart reservoir.
To the right of the Nederwaart reservoir are the 8 Nederwaart windmills, turning right half way down.
In the distance is the Blokker windmill, draining the Blokweer polder into the Nederwaart reservoir.
To the left of the left reservoir are the 8 Overwaart windmills, turning left half way down.
Invisible further to the left are the Hoge and Lage windmills (some maps show a third mill...), draining the Nieuw-Lekkerland polder.
- Poppy on the path.
- Nederwaart 1.
- Nederwaart 1 showing the capstan and chains used for fine directional adjustments. The Dutch seemed to be a little behind on the technology, and their windmills need manual adjustments - they do not have a rotor for automatic direction control.
- Nederwaart 2 with a construction date of 1738. The sails can be used in low wind with the canvas completely covering them, in moderate wind with the canvas partially covering them, or in high wind as shown here with the canvas completely removed.
- Bridge to Nederwaart 2.
- Clogs at Nederwaart 2. These mills were cramped family homes, and were a full time job, keeping the mill working, and ensuring it always faced the right way, and rotated at the correct speed. There are two doors to the main rooms in the windmill, at opposite sides, to make sure that you could always get out, even if the vanes were in the direction of one of the doors.
- Nederwaart 2 showing the gearing mechanism. The windmill turns the large cog which turns the shaft that runs down the middle of the windmill. This in turn uses a similar gear to turn the scoop wheel at the base of the windmill.
- The splash paddles of the scoop wheel of Nederwaart 2. The mills used these paddles to splash water up a maximum of just 1 metre, through a simple valve, into a higher canal.
- Nederwaart 5, 4, 3, 6, 7, 8.
- Overwaart 2, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3, 4, Nederwaart 3, Blokker, Nederwaart 5, 4.
- Nederwaart 5, 3, 4.
- Kayaks heading past Nederwaart 5, 6, 7, 8.
- Blokker mill, showing the exposed paddles, and completely different design.
- Overwaart 1, showing the octagonal design of the Overwaart mills. With a satellite dish on the house.
- Overwaart 3. The washing line shows that this is still a (clearly very expensive) home. The manufacturing date reads 1740.
- Overwaart 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
- Modern Archimedes' screw pump.
- These are able to lift water over substantially greater heights than the scoop wheels, and were invented over 2300 years ago - the Dutch apparently failed to use them on the old mills.
- Forest of windmills - mostly those on the Nederwaart.
- Panorama of the 19 windmills, showing how much lower the polders are than the river Lek, into which they had to drain.
- Lage, Hoge, and one of the Overwaart windmills (or perhaps it is the mysterious third mill [OK, the third windmill actually appears to have been removed, though its base can be seen from satellite pictures]).