Pede's Molen

Hundelgem (Zwalm)

The future of water mills

The Flemish Government has made numerous efforts during the last decades to provide clean surface water. Collectors have been installed to gather waste water and transport it to purification plants. In practice however, this means that a lot of water mills have seen their flow rate reduced, which is especially true on smaller brooks. A partial solution is to separate rainfall from waste water by using individual collectors, so that more rainfall flows back into the brooks.

An additional problem is the dense construction and hardening of the soil caused by the extensive road network in this region of Belgium. Rainwater normally penetrates the soil and then gradually flows into the brooks when the soil is saturated. Dense construction however means that rainwater flows directly into the watercourses, which results in sudden increases of the water level and floods. It is sad that water mills are usually pointed out as troublesome obstacles which should disappear, whereas the origin of the problem lies elsewhere.

It is also important to protect the water collection area of the mill. Otherwise. a water mill would be useless, not only from a practical but also a historical point of view. Today, a miller fulfills the role of heritage custodian and also in part the role of environmental conservator.

Currently, Pede's Mill is a true peace haven for the owners, who are fond of the very special character of the premises. The mill has its own history and has witnessed centuries of traditions, knowledge and hard work. It could not be allowed to doze off. The purpose of the restoration was very clear from the start: the mill had to be restored not only from an aesthetical point of view, but also made completely operational. Thus a lasting preservation of a historical monument was achieved. Mills are agrarian workshops and as such they need to gain an appropriate new allocation to preserve them for the future. Traditional mills are witnesses of the continuous urge to survive and the technical ingenuity of our ancestors.

Portfolio 1:

Portfolio 1 provides an overview of pictures before the restoration took place. The oldest known pictures date from circa 1938.