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Molen de Valk - Montfoort

 

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The Windmill history

250 YEARS MOLEN 'DE VALK'

Research: dr. Piet Schiereck. Tekst: Hans Ferrée

1753 - 2003: 250 moving years

Must is coercion ...

Owning a mill at the time was a kind of gold mine. The owner was usually a high gentleman, who received two special (wonderful) rights from an even higher gentleman. Against payment, of course. The first right was the wind right. You can't imagine it today, because the wind is the only 'product' that is free for everyone. But in those days and centuries before, there was a price tag on the wind. Wind was the energy source for all those thousands of mills in our country. And just as the current government levies a hefty tax on energy sources such as gasoline, so did the then government on the wind. Only in 1798, when the Netherlands was occupied by the French who established the first democracy with their revolution in their own country, and our country became known as the Batavian Republic, was that wind right of the high lords abolished.

The second right that the owner of the mill could buy was the forced right. That meant that everyone, farmers, bakers, etc., had something to grind, was forced to let that one mill do that. Hendrik's right of coercion not only concerned the residents of themselves but also all the surrounding neighborhoods. Hendrik had the absolute monopoly and woe to the one who was caught when he offered his grain at another mill. There was fine and even imprisonment.

 

It is all about the money

It goes without saying that the miller was paid for his work by the people who offered to mill grain. Only the 'rates' differed a lot. The miller was paid in kind. He was allowed to take a shovel for himself from every flour sack. However, how large was that shovel? There was a lot to argue about, and that was done eagerly. But the miller was also unloved for other reasons. He had to act as a tax collector. 'Impost' had to be paid for everything that was ground at him, you could say a kind of VAT. Naturally, cheating could also be done here. Oh well, the temptation The fraud is of all times. The miller did receive a payment for his role as a publican. The archives show, for example, that miller Jan van Berkestein received 6 guilders from the city council in 1789 over a period of three months for the specification of the quantities he had in that period

 

Millers fighting

Hendrik's monopoly only concerned the grinding of the most common product: grain. So there was permission for others to, for example, grind buckwheat to grits in a so-called grit mill, or barley to barley in a peel mill. Or to press oil with a roller mill (driven by a horse). A few of these mills have been in Montfoort. But when one of those mills was sold by the owner, castle dweller Gobius, in 1812 to miller Johannes Sieverts, he also wanted to grind grain. The wind law was abolished, but the compulsory right was not yet. That is why Sieverts did not receive permission from the States of Utrecht. That decision was announced by displaying that everyone was obliged to grind their choirs at 'De Valk'. But Sieverts secretly grinded wheat, because he probably did so at a lower price than the monopolist.

Competition is always to the advantage of the customer However, the illegal milling of Sieverts did not remain secret and this led to violent clashes between the owners of the two mills. 'De Valk' was then owned by Johan Wilhelm Montandon. who had bought the mill in 1800 from Johanna Hermina, douarière from Utenhove Bottestein, granddaughter of Hendrik.

It was not until 1822 that the squabbling between the owners and millers came to an end by a decision by King Willem I who abolished the right to coerce and gave Sieverts the freedom to grind what he wanted.

 

Where does the name come from?

Frankly, we have to guess at that. The aforementioned Gobius, tenant of miller Sieverts, was married to Lady Margaret Falck. She became a widow in 1785. In 1808 a daughter was born to the owner of the (then still unnamed?) Mill, the aforementioned Montandon. There was also a witness of the Falck family. Would Montandon therefore have called the mill 'De Valk'? But the name of the mill can also be based on associations with the wind, and what do you soon think about? To birds. There were a lot of windmills in the Netherlands with names of birds and why not the tough falcon that was still used a lot in hunting. Oh well, that's how it goes.

 

From hand to hand

It is clear that after the abolition of wind and forced law, competition in the milling world got off to a good start. Many wanted to enjoy a grain, an expression that perhaps dates from that time. That's why owner Montandon no longer saw bread in 'De Valk' and sold it to Izak Stalenhoef. He, in turn, sold the mill in 1853 to Jan van Nieuwendijk. Apparently. yielded less grinding of wheat than he had expected, for as early as 1858 'De Valk' came into the hands of Johannes van Wichen, corn miller from Harmelen. But not for long, because in 1866 Jan Bos became the new owner. Then Willem de Jong comes into possession of 'De Valk'. Willem dies in 1884 and his descendants still keep the business running in 1897 when Nicolaas van der Horst buys the mill. This Nicholas lived on the Lieve Vrouwengracht and had 10 children who all got involved with the miller's life. His daughter's married millers, and his sons were first servants on 'De Valk' and later went to work elsewhere as a miller. After Van der Horst died in 1906, his widow had the mill auctioned in 1907. Gijsbert Johannes van Dijk came into possession of 'De Valk' and subsequently sold it to Petrus van Rijn

 

 

 

From overdue maintenance to expiry

Over the years, there was hardly any investment in maintenance of the mill, because little was earned for that. The traditional milling of grain was increasingly replaced by industrial milling and mills everywhere in the Netherlands lost their function. 'De Valk' also stood still for years and threatened to get the same fate as thousands of other mills in our country that collapsed like pathetic monuments of a bygone era. In 1944, for example, Van Rijn sold the mill to a certain Bos who used 'De Valk' as a stable for his pigs - what a downfall for that once majestic top-down! In the Fifties of the last century it seemed that, shortly before the 200th anniversary, 'De Valk' would have a glorious end, namely demolition. wind and rain had free rein. But when the need was at its highest, rescue came.

 

André Versteegen: thank you posthumously!

 

The (as it turned out: provisional) rescue came from the local contractor/project developer André Versteegen. He was also a member of the board of the local tourist office and could not see such a defining monument as 'De Valk' disappearing from Montfoort. He bought the mill and started the restoration with enthusiasm. With the proviso that the production part was removed from the interior to make room for the home and office. Grinding was no longer there, but the picturesque exterior was nicely restored. The 'picture' on the old city wall was again a pleasure to see. Yet it turned out that even for a well-to-do person like Versteegen, the maintenance of such a large mill was too ambitious. In the meantime, there was a growing interest in our country for preserving the heritage that is so typical of the Netherlands, the mills, in cooperation with the Municipality of Montfoort in 1984 the mill was sold to the 'De Utrechtse Molens' foundation

 

Help! The mill is almost falling over!

With the help of experts from the mill world, a plan for a thorough restoration was drawn up, with an estimate of the costs. A subsidy application has been submitted to cover these. Because, as is known, official mills do not run so fast, pending the subsidy, the tail of the mill was removed in 1985 and in 1986 the two rods were removed. That weight reduction was necessary because the entire mill was sinking more and more to one side. And the valley could pose a danger to traffic on Provincialeweg. _ By the way, it is not inconceivable that the huge increase in that traffic has encouraged the sinking of the mill. Another cause may be that land subsidence occurred after large gas tanks were removed from the adjacent De Reuver car company.

 

An archaeological surprise

The first recovery that was tackled when in 1986 the subsidy tap of an entirely new foundation. was opened, the application was a technical feat, because the mill could not be moved for a short time to pour a 50 cm thick slab of reinforced concrete. What was done was that the entire ground floor space of the mill was excavated half a meter deep. In addition, the workers came across a surprising find, namely the foundation of a post mill that had stood on this site before 'the Falcon' was built. A nice kick for the mill historians, who of course immediately dived into old archives and learned that this precursor to 'De Valk' was already mentioned in 1432. It was a forced mill, owned by the Burggraven van Montfoort.

If you are somewhat familiar with 'deciphering medieval Dutch, then you can read that on placards in the churches of Montfoort and the surrounding area it was strictly stipulated that grain could only be ground in this mill.

 

Back to the restoration

When the foundation of that medieval post mill was accurately mapped, the half-meter-thick slab of reinforced concrete was poured on it, to which the thick walls of the octagonal mill were anchored. Ten recesses were held in this floor, so that pipes with a diameter of 27 cm to a depth of 15 meters were pressed into the ground. These pipes were then filled with concrete and 50 tonnes of pressure companion on each post, after which the posts were connected to the floor. The entire mill now rests, via the concrete floor, on those ten posts that together can support 500 tons. There are no longer any skew bags, but the mill was not jacked up completely horizontally, because that would probably not survive the house.

After this rescue for the foundation, part two of the restoration was discussed. On the surface, the exterior of 'De Valk' looked pretty good. In any case good enough for a romantic postcard. But the experts from 'De Utrechtse Mills' understood that a nice backdrop is satisfactory at the Opera, but cannot withstand the elements of merciless outdoor living. That is why the hood in bad beats had to be removed, and that happened on February 22, 1988. A spectacular operation, with a very large and heavy crane, because that hood does not only consist of an empty 'hat', but everything depends on it. As everyone knows who is renovating in an old house, when restoring one, you often come across something else that also needs to be renewed. Such a setback also hit the restoration of 'De Valk' and that meant extra delay and higher costs. But setbacks are there to be overcome, and so on 24 June 1988, with a great public interest, the new canopy was placed on the mill.

 

Turning is beautiful, grinding even better

Compared to the spectacular work with a giant crane, the further finishing of the exterior was a matter of good workmanship. Such as the application of a new reed coat on the octagon, which the reed coverer finished on I December. And then the exciting moment of the trial run came. Does it do it or does it not work? He did it, after an investment of so much craftsmanship. And when the new sails were set, it was a party. Montfoort had 'De Valk' back in full glory. And after an 'interim period' with millers Henk van Houweling and Martie Gouma, the mill has been manned since the beginning of 1998 by a real 'mill freak' who prefers to turn the blades daily. Sometimes decorated with flags, sometimes with Christmas trees, sometimes completely paved with hundreds of lights and even recently with protest signs when the height of the new supermarket threatened to take the wind off the sails. All's well that ends well. But not yet complete. It is the wish of the 'De Utrechtse Mills' foundation that the interior of the mill is made suitable for peeling and grinding. So that farmers, citizens and people from outside will be able to buy their environmentally friendly traditional flour here, as is already happening in some places in the Netherlands.

 

New: Stichting Molen 'De Valk'

In order to be able to realize this final phase in the rebirth of 'De Valk', some residents of Montfoort, with a start-up grant from the Rabobank, have set up a foundation with the aim of not only seeing the mill as a folkloric attraction but also to be productive. That is why the foundation has seized the 250th anniversary of 'De Valk' to make this goal known to the world and to recruit friends/donors.