The Kerkhovense Windmill is the last remaining mill in Oisterwijk. The history begins in the 14th century and the company function ends just after the Second World War. This spans an active period of no less than six centuries.
The technique of the milling process has not changed much in all those centuries: heavy, slow-turning millstones are still the heart of the company. Meter-sized cog wheels, completely made of wood, still ensure that the millstones are set in motion.
The history of this last mill in Oisterwijk is exemplary for the rise and fall of the traditional miller’s business on the sandy soils of the south of the Netherlands. In addition, the history of the Kerkhovense mill also has special features that are specific to this building.
The current mill
The current mill dates from 1895. In a fire in that year, the old wooden mill, which stood there since 1369, was destroyed. That original mill was a so-called post mill. After the fire, a stone scaffolding mill was built, which was again hit by a serious fire in 1910. As a result, beams, attics and the ongoing work are largely lost. In the subsequent restoration, parts of the polder mill “het buitenland van Rhoon” from Rhoon were used. We know that the mill was built in 1709, so that the oldest parts of the Kerkhoven mill probably also date from that time.
After rebuilding, the mill had four pairs of stones, two of which are used for grinding bark for the tanneries and two for grinding grain. There is also a steam engine in a separately built boiler house.
In the 1920s, the mill was hit by the crisis and by the establishment of new mills. The mill falls into disrepair. In 1926, restoration took place and the mill was given its current name.
After the Second World War, the mill came to a standstill. In 1953, the municipality of Oisterwijk buys the mill from the Van Riel family, who had operated it from 1895. But the mill changes function and becomes a youth hostel. The grind function is lost. The interior (beams sawn into planks) partly ended up in café “’t Molentje” of the Van Riel family in the Kerkstraat in Oisterwijk.
Between 1976 and 1979 the mill was completed and restored. In 1979 the mill started running again thanks to the efforts of two members of the Guild of Voluntary Millers, who still belong to the active millers. This lasted until 1992. Then the structural condition deteriorated to such an extent that the mill had to be shut down. In that year the ownership is transferred to the current foundation “De Kerkhovense Molen” and the collection of restoration funds (at the time 340.000 euro) began. Restoration started in 1998/1999. Moisture problems were the main cause of the bad condition. Unfortunately, it turns out that this was not completely over after the restoration. After various experiments (including with beeswax), it was finally decided in 2005 to provide the western part of the facade (above the scaffolding) with a coating. That fixed the problem! The mill has been dry ever since, and half black.
Other mills in Oisterwijk had several mills in the past. There were two mills. One stood south-west of the Kerkhovense mill, on the other side of the former Udenhoutseweg, and it was referred to as early as 1579. The other mill was located at the Weijenbergh, originally a medieval mill by the water. That mill was mentioned as early as 1694. There was also a water mill ‘Ter Borgh’. It stood in 1429 on the Voorste Stroom, where Burghtweide now stands. The ruins of the mill were demolished in 1924. Heukelom also had a watermill (1419); it stood near the current café Mie Pieters and disappeared in the middle of the 19th century. In 1375 mention is already made of the post mill ’ter Nedervonder’ or ’ter Vonderen’. It was about 150 meters north of the current railway, east of the Haarenseweg. The name of this mill, which was demolished in 1873, came from a bridge over de Kuypersloop located on the spot.
In the current municipality of Oisterwijk there is still a mill in Moergestel, owned by the municipality. It is a mill that dates from about 1600. This mill was used by members of the Roozen mulders family. This mill is operated from time to time, usually on Saturday afternoon, and can be visited then.
sources:Data from the booklet “Kerkhovense molen Oisterwijk” by Jan Scheirs and Wim de Bakker, which was published on the occasion of the reopening in 1999. The booklet is for sale in the mill shop.
Hooray, the new grinding chair is ready.
After 11 years, the electric grinding chair is finally ready for use. In December 2001 we bought a couple of bricks and ironwork from the mill in Dongen and brought them to the Kerkhovense Molen.
In view of the fact that the bricks show a lot of wear (the runner was later poured with a cement layer to gain more weight, otherwise they would have already been ground down and no longer usable) and based on advertising material from this company, we assume that it is a grinding chair from the period between the two world wars; but rather from just after the first than shortly before the second world war.
The old beams of the construction come from the Larum windmill in Geel in Belgium. This is a post mill that was in need of a restoration. During the restoration of this mill, the cross plates and seat were replaced. The old cross plates and seat were brought by Joris van Iersel to the Kerkhovense mill and used for the new grinding seat.
Joris van Iersel designed and built the grinding chair according to his own insight. Joris works as a windmill maker at Molenbedrijf John de Jongh in Oerle.
The location of this grinding chair was chosen because in this attic there used to be two couples of stones for grinding oak bark (also called eek or run) for the benefit of the tanneries in the area. The stones at the entrance to the bridge are stones with sharp edges for grinding bark and probably come from the post mill that used to be here.
The grinding chair is powered by a 20 HP electric motor. The connection was made by our volunteer Ger van den Brand, for which we thank him very much.
In the photo you also see a stone crane or gallows, which comes from the mill in Moergestel. This allows the stones to be lifted and turned when they are dull and need sharpening. This crane was made and adapted by Sjaak van Herk who gladly and selflessly did this for us. This grinding chair is an enrichment for the Kerkhoven mill. Not only because the milling capacity has increased considerably, but we can now also produce when there is no wind or other obstacles prevent us from milling with the wind.
Technical data: Electric motor drive 20HP Speed millstone 80 rpm. per minute Manufacture bricks, composite French bricks
diameter 145 cm.
12 pawn sharps Production 125 to 150 kg per hour.