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St. Antonius mill
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in Heythuysen

Among the older generation of mills, the stone hilltop-grain mill St. Antonius is better known as “the mill of Coenen”. Three generations of the Coenen family leased and ground the mill. The last millers were the brothers Jean or Sjang and Antoon or Toon, of whom Jean was the most widely known. He was, among others, the founder and chairman of the Middle Limburg Millers association of which Chr. van Busse in Weert was the secretary. The windmill was built in 1860 under orders of Catharina Berden, the widow of Theodoor Geenen, and Bernard Geenen, distiller in Heythuysen, who was the co-owner. After the death of widow C. Geenen-Berden the mill came into the possession of her children Willem, Martinus and Dorothea. Later Martin became the sole owner. He was married to Elisabeth Canoy, originally from Baexem, and gin distiller by trade. The mill with the large miller’s house was inherited by the Geenen family. In 1930 Maria Helena Seraphina Geenen, married to Hyppolite Houtappel, salesman in Maastricht, became the owner. After her death, Mathieu Clement Charles Marie Houtappel and his sister Maria Clemence Hyppolite Elisabeth, wife of Gustave Jos Maria Hubert van Liebergen from 's-Gravenhage, inherited the mill with appurtenances. The municipality of Heythuysen bought the mill in 1969.

The mill was built as a grain and oil mill on the Neerakker or "Achter het Areven". The road was later given the name St. Antoniusstraat, named after the St. Antonius chapel. In 1886 a steam engine was placed and a double grinding seat at the bottom of the mill. The oil mill was then broken out and two casemates were built in the mill. In one, probably the right one, a steam engine with the boiler was set up. The machine and the grinding seat were operational for over 40 years. In 1927 they were replaced by a 25 PK electric engine and a single grinding seat.

Two couples of “17-er” stones always lay in the mill. In the second and early third decade of this century the blue German natural stones were replaced by artificial stones, which were on the rise at the time for grinding feed grain and rye. The blue German stones that were now no longer used were put outside against the mill’s hill. Until the 1940s six stones decorated the hill of the St. Antonius mill. The final couple of stones, which were cut out on the left side, which is very remarkable for this mill, were positioned in the Nuenen (North Brabant) mill in 1972. In 1983 the author provided the couple of stones cut on the right side, which this mill uses, as is common in smock mills. In 1928 the windmill sail was fundamentally changed. The wooden axis was replaced by a cast-iron axis made in Belgium and self-slacking was applied on the inner rod. A longitudinal hole was drilled through the axis to pull through the central operation rod for arranging the position of the valves from the tail. The roof was again covered in oak slate after the repair.

In 1936 the Bilau streamline system was applied to the outer rod; enough self-slacking could thus be maintained on the inner rod. In relation to the weight of the Bilau vane system and the forces working on it, use of this vane system on the inner rod was preferred. It’s the only mill in the province of Limburg where Bilau vanes were used. The execution was assigned to the licences of the A. Wijnveen Company in Voorthuizen. The Bilau vane system was applied in two main versions. The most common one was the version with a running valve along the entire vane that was mounted on brackets or frames against the rod. Less common was the valve system which stretched over approximately 0.8 parts of the vane’s length. At the axis, the entire profile had the shape of an airplane wing. This version that made theBilau vane look nicer, was used on the mill of Heythuysen. In case of a closed valve only the rear of the profile has a flowing motion. In detail Bilau valves differed in how the position of the valves was arranged. The two mill rods in the St. Antonius mill were manufactured by Fransen Bros. from Vierlingsbeek (N.B.).

When the mill had ground with the Bilau vanes for about a year, it was thought that the 30 year old outer rod wasn’t strong enough for the vane system, which exposed the mill’s rod to strongly varying loads. This is why the decision was made in 1937 to order a new 26 m long outer rod from the Pot Bros. in Kinderdijk that was applied to the vane system and was reinforced at the axis head. The new Pot rod broke at the end of 1940 due to a construction error in the centre of the axis head. The axis also broke off, so the inner rod with the self-slacking also fell down.

At the end of 1942 and early in 1943 the Chr. Van Bussel Company from Weert placed a used axis and two used rods, to which the Van Bussel streamline system was attached. The mill became operational on 24 March 1943.

According to the farming lease the Coenen Bros. had to pay all costs. This also included the mill’s furnishing, which could be considered as modern for this period. Apart from the previously mentioned electric grinding seat, the company already used a 40 PK electric hammer mill and a mixer elevator. In the 1930s electricity was expensive energy, so wind grinding was used as much as possible. With the streamlined vanes, the long windmill sail and the rather small transmission ratio of 1:5.33 the mill turned easily, also with heavy loads. Self-sharpening artificial stones of the Jaspers Bros. company from Aarle-Rixtel were used as grinding stones that were mainly used to grind simple feed grain. The mill wasn’t damaged during the liberation in 1944. Over the next few years the compound feed company seriously expanded under the third generation of Coenen Bros. In 1960 they also bought the windmill and business of the Rutten heirs in Roggel-Nijken. The St. Antonius mill wasn’t active any more even then and the lease wasn’t renewed. In 1969 the municipality of Heythuysen took over the mill, which was in poor condition. The necessary upkeep had been neglected for several years. The roof was partly open and third parties could easily access the mill, so a lot was destroyed on the inside. There were more changes in the 1970s. The Coenen compound feed company was discontinued and the large round sheet-iron silos and business premises became disused. The characteristic miller house was vacant and there was also vandalism and deterioration here. The surroundings had also lost part of its rural charm. In these years restoration began, carried out by the Adriaens Bros. Company from Weert. The extensive work ended with a three-day mill fest. On Saturday 14 October 1973, representative J . van der Woude officially released the brake.

© P.W.E.A. van Bussel “De Molens van Limburg” 1991. Publication rights obtained from the author’s son.

Afterword: The mill was restored from 2000 to 2002 and the base of the grinding seat was eventually restored in 2004.

Opening times: Thursday from 12:00 to 16:00 clock. on the first and the second Sunday in Month 13:00 to 17:00 Clock.

Address: St. Antoniusstraat 32, 6093 GC Heythuysen Phone: (+31) (0) 475-452397