SCHIEDAM - In the center of Schiedam last night the age-old De Walvisch completely burned. De 33 meter increment mill on Westvest was one of the largest tower mills in the world. Because of sparks, released during the fire, evacuated several homes in the neighborhood.

The mill is almost nothing left. Injury estimated to be around two million guilders.

About the cause of the fire is still unknown, but there No evidence for arson. There are no vacant tracks.


The fire was discovered by neighbors, around ten past three. Then there were large flames visible from one of the windows. When the firefighters arrived, The Walvisch was already fully ablaze.

"In such a mill, it is dry, and there is a lot of wood", was captain Van Leeuwen know the RD. "Further, such a mill as a blowhole, although there are shutters. Fearing the collapse we could fire fight only from the outside. "

Mill Fire Walvisch – Youtube


According to fire the mill as well as lost are considered. The interior is completely destroyed, and the stone part should probably be demolished. According to fire these by heat affected.

The fire was not too hopeful about the future of the mill. Director of the Foundation Schiedam Mills Gunneweg sees what less gloomy.

"It's so much depends. How have the blades kept and how the tail. What about the masonry on the inside of the mill. We have not yet inspected "

(J. Gunneweg, Volkskrant 15-02-1996)

What damage may be, Mayor of Scheeres Schiedam stressed that the mill will surely return in Schiedam.

"This should take all Schiedammers deep in their hearts, that such an important piece of history goes up in flames. "

(mayor Scheeres, Leiden newspaper, 15-02-1996)

That Scheeres there are not only capable proved it today. The Schiedam Windmills Foundation was flat called by companies, funds and individuals. "Everyone offers help to", Gunneweg admitted to knowing RD.

The mill is insured against fire, but it is expected that insurance will not cover all losses.

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Security installation

The fire department stressed that there might be a chance Been to prevent damage to the mill. namely the flour mill had no fire alarm.

"If you have fire in a fire in a mill only a chance if you are in a very early stage with you. Now we were only on site when things already ablaze. When fire you are then powerless "

(Fire Chief Van Leeuwen, Rotterdam Dagblad - 15-02-1996)

Gunneweg director of the Schiedam windmills admits that Foundation has made a big mistake not to put fire detectors. Which plan was there, but is not yet implemented.

"As a foundation, we always have to make the most of our money. We were about to have a final decision on the construction of a fire alarm system to take. In retrospect, had argued the arrangement of our investments might be different ", The director told the RD.

The cost for a fire alarm system is between 40.000 en 50.000 gulden. Three other mills of the foundation were recently it equipped with fire detectors.

mill City

Schiedam is known as the mill town of Netherlands. The Whale was one of the five major mills in the city skyline. In Overall, the city had ever twenty mills.

Most mills were working for the distilleries in city. That includes the Walvisch, which have been crushed.

It is not the first time that the Walvisch affected by fire. In 1938 that was already the case. In recent years, the mill are fixed up and replace the blades and the hood.

That job was two months ago completed. That revamp has taken more than ten years and was paid by sponsors and volunteers.

Hoe ging het verder?

The words were the truth of Mayor Scheeres. The Whale would return and also kwam'ie.

In 1999 was running the mill and again three years later was the Whale again grind.

A few days after the fire has already begun the dismantling of the mill. It was also necessary,, because the mill was on to collapse. The inhabitants of sixteen temporary houses had their house, because of that collapse.

The dismantling was incidentally done in a few days. Especially disassembling the wings and the tail was an impressive job.

Then the fundraiser came to the ruined mill pass really loose. For example, men might in EEM bucket of the ladder truck of the fire brigade up, to watch from there to the havoc. That eventually yielded al 1500 gulden op.

The first day of action, almost two weeks after the fire, yield nearly ninety thousand guilders, completed by the VSB bank a ton. There were numerous large and small initiatives. Former Schiedammer Hans Breukhoven (Free Record Shop) also pledged his help.

The Mills Day in Schiedam, Some months later, was picked up a lot of money for rebuilding.

The new mill was a fire alarm. That was undertaken by a specialized company.

The Walvisch nowadays is a museum mill, with a store. In 2017 The mill was rebuilt again.


De Volkskrant – 15-02-1996 – Historic windmill in Schiedam destroyed by fire

Schiedam Courant (RD) – 15-02-1996 – Bergers dismantle Schiedam pride

Schiedam Courant (RD) – 15-02-1996 – "The fire detectors had Walvisch can save’

Author: Dave Datema

published: 17-08-1996

story number: 121

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