Windmill talk series: Oilmill "De Bonte Hen"

Opposite our segway training area, at the most northern point of the Zaanse Schans lies the windmill “De Bonte Hen” or “The Variecoloured Hen” in English. It is often nicknamed “De Kip” (The chicken) to shorten the name. It is one of the oldest mills on the Zaanse Schans, being originally built in 1693, Though it’s history stretches even further back in reality. On the same location in 1693, there is said to have stood a wind saw mill, though the demand for those was not high on that part of the Zaan at that time. The Old wind saw mill was taken down, and replaced with the current oilmill.

Many times, De Bonte Hen, was struck by lightning or damaged by fire, but everytime, the flames were dowsed in good time.  The windmill’s construction is typical of those on the zaanse schans and across Holland. It’s a smock type mill of octagonal shape and thatched roofing. The stage surrounding the base of the windmill allows for easy access to the outside. On the inside, the windmill is fully equipped to process oil.

Linseed oil was one of the many products produced on the Zaanse Schans. Alongside lineseed, rapeseed, hempseed and groundnut were also used to produce oil in these oilmills. In total, it is said that a total of 204 of these oil windmills existed on the Zaanse Schans. Each of these windmills, just like “De Bonte Hen” were able to process 100 - 200 tons of seeds. The Oil was later used for lighting; and also soap and paint.

The Mill worked in its original for up to 1926, and a decade later, it was taken down all the way to it’s stage/platform, leaving just the base and the attached barn. Finally, in 1973, the Zaanse Molen Association were able to put find the necessary funding to bring it back to its former glory, which you see now!