The Register of Inspiring Examples of Safeguarding highlights examples of safeguarding developed by ICH communities, groups or individuals with ICH in the Inventory. These methods of safeguarding can inspire others and are shared with other communities on the basis of a step-by-step plan.


To make mills work, millers are needed and their training is extensive. The miller must have an insight in the technique of the mill, in the weather and in all kinds of safety aspects, important for the work and for maintenance. The work of a miller is to make the mill turn to grind, to saw, to pump or to extract oil. The miller manages the speed of the sails of a windmill by spreading sailcloths on them. An optimal position is obtained if the mill is turned with its back to the wind. This is done by the fantail, which can rotate. For a water mill the miller must keep a keen eye on the water wheel that drives the mill, which must turn continually. The level of the water and the flow are important in this process. The type of water wheel allows to distinguish four kinds of water mills. The profession of miller used to be passed on from father to son.



There are only some forty professional millers left in the Netherlands, but more than a thousand active volunteers. During the latter half of the last century a training course for voluntary millers was started by a group of mill lovers. From this initiative sprang the Gilde van Vrijwillige Molenaars (Voluntary Millers Guild), with more than 2100 members. A partner, the Association The Dutch Windmill, was established in 1923. This association accounts for the exams for the prospective millers, among other things. Some forty millers are united in the Traditional Corn Millers Guild. In Friesland the Frisian Millers Guild takes care of the training and the exams for the voluntary millers in the province of Friesland.



The first (water) mills on the grounds of our current country were operative before the year 1200. Around 1200 the wind mill – the wooden post mill – for grinding grain, came into use. From the beginning of the fifteenth century millers became active on mills that were used for the draining of polders. From the seventeenth century, the Golden Age for Holland, the number of mills increased enormously and hence the number of millers. The peak was reached in the second half of the nineteenth century, with over 9000 mills.  Mills were essential for the development of agriculture and industry, but they were equally indispensable for keeping the polders dry. With the rise of the mechanical drive the number of mills rapidly shrank. Up to World War II the windmill was able to survive in small-scale business situations. Farmers, for instance, could have their grain grinded at the village mill till late in the twentieth century. After World War II technical and economic changes caused an almost complete stop for all mills and thus the profession of miller appeared to disappear completely. Today, professional and voluntary millers are keeping the mills running.




  • To safeguard the specialisations, a donation has been received that will allow peeling, wood sawing, oiling et cetera to be better recorded through films, photos and interviews, among other things.
  • Material/books that are no longer available will be digitised and made available on the website.
  • The policy on international contacts will be continued.
  • Research will be done on broadening the organisation's diversity. A piece on this is already included in the anniversary book.
  • ‘Jong Ambacht’, for young people aged 14 to 30, has become an official working group of the Guild.
  • An annual safety day will be organised and the accident action team will be continued.


Gilde van Molenaars
Molenkade 8
1829 HZ