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"De Aurora" mill
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in Baexem

The Princess-Abbess of Thorn possessed the right of mill obligation in Baexem. The inhabitants of Baexem, which was part of the principality before the French era, originally reported to the watermill of Dasselrode, which had already been the property of the convent in Thorn in 1244. The mill was a grain and oil mill and was situated at the later Tungelroy brook near the Slagmolenbrug. The watermill was demolished early on, after which the aforementioned Leveroy mill, which was also the property of the convent in 1244, was given mill rights. The Leveroy mill later became the property the St. Elisabethsdal monastery in Nunhem. When this mill had too little water, the inhabitants were forced to go to the watermill of Grathem.

In the French era, mill obligation was abolished by the act of 28 March 1790. It took until 1845, however, before a windmill was built in Baexem, which was accessible for the inhab- itants along shorter roads. The village counted approximately 500 inhabitants at the time, mainly farmers whose farms and houses were rather scattered. The small centre with the parish church originally lay by the Weert-Roermond road.

Dowager Maria Agnes Engelbertina, baroness de Keverberg d'Aldenghoor, born baroness de KerkerinckBorg, who lived in Aldenghoor castle in Haelen, had the windmill, which stood between the villages Haelen and Horn, relocated to Baexem in 1845. For this she purchased a plot of land on Herkerveld or Kerkveld from farmer Mathias Berben in Baexem.

In 1853 the baroness sold the windmill to Conrad Bartholomeus Canoy, who lived in the small castle in 't Schoor in Baexem. He owned a brewery and a distillery, which stood at the Schorsveld. In the same year Canoy also bought the Leveroy watermill. Both mills were inher- ited by Jan Mathijs Canoy in Baexem in 1859. At the division of the estate in 1885 Severinus Canoy was assigned the windmill. He was priest and teacher at the Episcopal College in We- ert.

In 1905 the priest-teacher had a warehouse with an engine and a generator room at the mill, where a grinding seat and a 22 HP Crossley-suction gas engine were positioned. It is likely that an umbrella was provided at the foot of the post mill in that same year, because of which the post mill became of the half-closed type.

In 1918 Severinus Canoy sold the windmill with the milling house engine to Jan or Johan- nes Hubertus Winkelmolen, husband of Johanna Josephina Franssen and miller of the post mill of Buggenum.

Jan Winkelmolen died in 1923 and left behind a wife and nine children. The Winkelmolen widow continued the business until 1930. She was first assisted by miller’s man Martinus Weekers, a son of the miller of Ospel, then by Bernard Roelofsen and her oldest son Sjeng, named after his father Johannes Hubertus.

In this era it was a beautiful mill. The roof and the shoulder were covered in oak slate; the umbrella with tarred asphalt paper. Winkelmolen had turned it into a “closed” post mill by including wooden walls between the foundations. What was striking was the splendid vane, which stood at the back of the roof. The inner wind-arm was called a Potroede, the outer rod was a Belgian rod manufactured by Verhaeghe and Decuyper from Ruddervoorde. In the 1920s and early 1930s the sides of the casing advertised margarine brand "Blue Band". In those days the mill stood near the railway line EindhovenRoermond- Maastricht and formed a striking point along the line for train travellers.

The presence of major advertising did damage the mill’s rural value according to the planning authority when the mill was given a new coat of paint. Advertising however ensured that the miller of a post mill was guaranteed a good and regular coat of paint of the vast superstructure and, in addition, the advertising provided him with a little extra annual income. During the Great De pression this income was more than welcome, as maintenance subsidies or other forms of govern- ment support were almost unknown at the time.

In March 1930 the Winkelmolen family offered the mill with the miller house engine for public sale. The miller’s business was bought by Hubertus Gerardus Wilhelmus Grubben, a baker in Baexem. Grubben remained in the baking profession and let the mill to the aforementioned Mathijs Antonius Martinus Weekers, until he took over the mill from his fa- ther in Ospel. Sjeng Winkelmolen moved to Gemert (North Brabant), where he had bought the stone wheat mill situated on a hill near the dairy factory.

In the summer of 1934 Grubben had mill makers Van Beek Bros from Nieuwe Wetering affix Dekker streamlined vanes to the mill. He also had the suction gas engine replaced by an electric motor. The mill was then rented by Peter Martinus Hubertus Weekers and then by Hoex. After World War Two, Grubben could no longer find a tenant for the mill and took on the operation himself. The mill wasn’t damaged by the war before or after the liberation in 1944.

In 1945 Grubben and his helper carried out repairs on a vane. The mill started to turn and the vane they stood on remained more or less in the horizontal position. Fearing that the mill would continue to turn he called out to his helper to jump down. His helper ignored this. Grubben did jump off the vane. He injured himself and later died of his injuries. The helper managed to get off the mill unharmed. Grubben’s widow later let the mill to farmer Brouwers, whose farm stood next to the mill. He, however, only ground electrically. In 1953 the post mill was in such poor condition due to the standstill that external restoration was required. With the help of subsidies the work could be carried out that same year by mill restorer Jos Adriaens from Weert. The vanes were streamlined according to the system of Van Bussel and provided with air brakes; the shoulder was finished with horizontally lap sided planks. On top of the mill there were still a couple of “17-er” cast stones.

On Saturday 12 December 1953 the mill was officially brought into operation. After this it only ground with the wind sporadically. Due to the arrival of mixed compound there was no longer work for the mill and it became dilapidated again over the years.

In the late 1960s the Provincial Public Works Department, which was very active in the field of mill preservation at the time, the "De Hollandsche molen" association and Netherlands Department for Conservation approached the town council of Baexem to purchase the mill and have it restored.The town council, however, was not prepared to do this. A dif- ferent interested patty then came forward. The municipality of Herkenbosch indicated that it was interested in the mill. In the village of Melick the post mill had fallen prey to war negotiations and the town council of Herkenbosch, which Melick is part of, wanted to have the mill moved to the old attractive place in the hamlet of Waterschey, because of which Baexem risked losing its age-old mill.

Thanks to the unremitting diligence of Mayor J.J.H. Hannen the town council of Baexem accepted the proposal in 1968 to buy widow Grubben’s mill and have it re- stored.

As the vicinity of the mill left much to be desired landscape-wise due to the presence of a pig farm and the mill’s yard had become too small due to the sale of land and the buildings erected on it, the decision was made to move the post mill to a suitable spot near national trunk road Weert- Roermond. The work was commissioned to Adriaens Bros, mill builders in Weert.

Technically speaking the move was a favourable decision for the mill. Hidden faults and bad parts of the construction were revealed. The mill’s exterior was entirely renewed, in- cluding the former watch house on the steps. The roof and the umbrella was again cladded with roofing felt and the shoulder was cladded with horizontally lap sided planks. The two used stocks were first in the stone hilltop mill of Nuenen (North Brabant), where they were extended with wooden parts, because the windmill sail of the Nuenen mill was longer.

With a grand Limburg mill party that lasted three days, the reborn post mill was brought into op- eration by the alternate governor of the province of Limburg P.J.C. Lebens Msc on 7 October 1972.

Lambert Symkens, a son of the former windmill owner in Oler and Kelpen was later given the management.

In 1972 the mill looked wonderful in an open field with on one side wind blockage by the old tress along national trunk road Weert-Roermond. The rural nature and the proper catching of the wind of windmill "Aurora", goddess of dawn, however, disappeared over the years.

The mill stands on an earthen elevation in a public garden where no roads are paved and is surrounded by trees and other afforestation. This has fully nullified the natural en- vironment of the windmill. The houses are currently still at a reasonable distance from the mill. To the west along the national trunk road a noise barrier has been erected for houses that are still to be realised, because of which the mill’s silhouette has also changed on this side.

The municipality of Baexem is now developing a plan to make changes in the immediate vicinity of the windmill.

© P.W.E.A. van Bussel “De Molens van Limburg” (1991). Publication rights obtained from the au- thor’s son.

Afterword: The adaptation of the mill grounds, as indicated by the author in the final sentence, took place in 1993. The entire mill grounds were changed and nicely adapted to the mill. The mill’s vanes were restored in 2006.

Opening times:
Wednesday from 12:00 bis 16:00 clock. On the second and fourth Sunday of the month from 13:00 bis 17:00 clock.

Adress: Rijksweg 26a, 6095 NC Baexem, Phone: (+31) (0)475-452397