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Book reviews — February 1985

THE CARE OF WINDMILLS IN FLANDERS, by J. De Schepper (translated from the Flemish by L. Cocquyt)
VVIA 1984. 32pp. illustrated. Obtainable from VVIA, P.O. Box 30, B-9000, Gent-12, Belgium
This interesting survey of legislation and policy in Flanders for the preservation and restoration to working order of windmills, deserves the attention of the more serious minded British windmill enthusiast. Although many mills survive, building subsequent to the end of commercial milling often means a loss of windright and relocation may be necessary. Even a tree 4 metres high at a distance of 300 metres from a mill may be a hindrance and preservation in working order, say on the edge of a village, can be a bigger problem than the novice might imagine. A school for the training of would-be millers was founded at Baaigem in 1978 and in May 1980 the first 13 millers received a diploma. In the area considered there are some 175 substantial windmill remains, of which 42 are mills able to mill and of these 25 work regularly. This total is made up of 41 postmilIs with open foot, 25 postmills with closed foot, 13 composite mills, 24 tower mills, 37 sunken tower mills (one of which is a brick octagonal mill), 22 tower mills with gallery, 2 drainage mills (one with an Archimedian screw, the other with a paddle wheel), 4 octagonal smock mills and 5 ornamental mills constructed to scale. Most of these are corn mills but there are some oil mills. Formerly there were also industrial mills e.g. 'sawing mills' at Bredene near Ostende (1750-1824). By province the number of mills is as follows: Antwerp. 31, Brabant (including the Walloon part) 17, Hainaut 6, Namur 1, Liege 1, Limburg 16, East-Flanders 35, West Flanders 67, (including Walloon provinces).

A rich heritage such as this should tempt British industrial archaeologists to visit a region whore windmills are an important part of the scenery and this booklet, concentrating as it does on planning policy for windmill conservation and very much concerned with related government and local government matters, will enable English-speaking windmill enthusiasts to compare the situation in Flanders with that at home. The author is an inspector with the RMLZ (Department of Historic Buildings and LANDSCAPE) and writes from practical experience. Sometimes the English retains a Flemish idiom and a little thought is needed to make the meaning plain, but this pioneer booklet can be recommended to anyone seriously interested in the future of the windmill. Bob Carr

© GLIAS, 1985