Sawmill ‘De Gekroonde Poelenburg’

Sawmill De Gekroonde Poelenburg

The entire ‘paltrok mill’ turns on a ring of rollers. There were once more than 200 of these mills in existence…

Sawmill ‘De Gekroonde Poelenburg’ catches the eye with its distinctive light green color and rather atypical shape. The unusual silhouette of this type of windmill gives rise to the name ‘paltrok’, which comes from the sleeveless cape or cloak that men once commonly wore. Because the work floor of a paltrok mill is open on three sides, the strikingly painted frame saws bearing warnings such as ‘Beware’, ‘Watch out’ and ‘Then touch’ are clearly visible. Turning the mill to face the wind is accomplished by rotating the entire mill on a ring of stone rollers. The paltrok mill was once a highly successful type of windmill, with hundreds of them previously operating in the region. Only two now remain in the Zaan region, however, and three throughout the rest of the Netherlands. Another striking feature is the ‘makelaar’ or crown post on the roof ridge at the rear of the mill. This crown post was not just an ornament – it had a specific function. If the windmill wasn’t properly turned towards the wind, the wind would blow through the slots carved in the post, making a whistling sound that alerted the miller. You can take a closer look at a similar crown post at the Windmill Museum further along the dike.

Sawmill De Gekroonde Poelenburg


‘De Gekroonde Poelenburg’ was erected in Koog aan de Zaan in 1866 as a replacement for another windmill that was to be removed to make way for the construction of the Amsterdam-Alkmaar railway line. Notably, this took place 100 years after the invention of the steam engine, which meant that it was the last paltrok mill to be built in the Zaan region. In 1963, the sawmill was relocated to Zaanse Schans in order to make way for a new housing development that still bears the name ‘Poelenburg’. The mill was first painted entirely black, but when its thorough restoration commenced in 2004, the exterior was reconstructed with planks and the windmill was repainted in its original green. The opportunity was also taken at this time to restore the ‘getrapte weeg’ (‘stepped wall’) – the partially overlapping structure of the planks on the mill body. Reconstruction of paltrok sawmill ‘De Gekroonde Poelenburg’ in Zaanse Schans in 1963. Hulling mill ‘De Grootvorst’ had previously stood at this location, but it was completely destroyed by fire in 1928.