On her ninetieth birthday, Elisabeth D’Admiraal – wife of the then deceased former mayor of Monnickendam, Roelof de Leeuw – bought a plot of land in the fens of Jan Betten Ven in the Buiksloterham polder. It cost her 350 guilders. She built a grinding mill that she named after herself. Between 1792 and 1942, the mill mostly ground chalk for use in paint. It also ground volcanic tuff, which when mixed with chalk formed a firm mortar. The mill and everything around it was covered in a thin layer of chalk – it sometimes looked as if it had snowed there.
D'Admiraal chalk mill, 1927
The last miller
The last miller who lived off the mill was Daniël Melchers. He worked the mill from 1897 to 1954, only retiring at 87 years of age. Melchers first used a steam engine and later an oil driven engine and an electric engine in the mill so that he could continue milling even if there was little wind.
D'Admiraal chalk mill, 2005
In action for the mill
D’Admiraal is the only remaining mill of the fourteen that stood in the area. When Melchers stopped, the mill fell into disrepair. A number of residents of Amsterdam-North created a foundation to save the mill. The foundation was successful as, after the restoration in 1967, the mill is again in use. It grinds chalk again, and in 2009 the chalk sheds were rebuilt. The mill is now a national monument and is open to the public by appointment.
D'Admiraal chalk mill, 2008. Photo: E. van Eis, Stadsdeel Noord.