Stream Valley Renkum – Paper Industry

Posted: 2013/11/21 in Back to Nature
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Stream Valley Renkum

Mill Brook Renkum

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Watermill near Renkum

Why was such a beautifull area crowded with industry in the first place, one could ask. The answer is quite simple: it just grew there. The first activity in that area goes all the way back to the 17th century. Somewhere in the archives, the city counsel of Arnhem forbade people to plant another watermill in its North area. This decree comes from the year 1592.


Open Air Museum – Arnhem

From that era until 1875 there are reports of at least 7 different mills at Renkum’ streams. The total of papermills on the Veluwe would be approximately 170.

Some of them got later on a different purpose, such as pressing oil or grinding grain. The streams on the Veluwe gave water of such a purity that the paper coming from these mills was wanted all over Europe. Very clean and white paper it was. All the brooks were cleansed by hand, most of them were dug by hand as well. One says this is unique in the world, but I’ve seen documentaries of canals in Ethiopia and Jemen which are dug by hand too. The uniqueness of these region is that the water isn’t so much used for irrigation, like in those area’s. It’s main purpose was to turn the waterwheels, so the pulp could be hammered.

Since the mills used water, not all of them were driven by water. A couple of them were windmills.

Last reports are one of the mills was completely renovated and brought back into bussiness. During operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem it was shot into pieces, and its function replaced by electric machinery.

But, needless to say, a miller wants his mill back. My grandpa was one of them, and my uncles never stopped talking about their mill.

In 1846 the Van Gelder family had aquired monopoly and started producing by steam engine. This factory grew bigger and bigger, changed from hand to hand and was finally relocated towards the river Rijn. They produced mainly paper for newspapers.

The other paperfactory is located in Heelsum on the other side of Renkum. They produce ‘high tech’ paper, for graphic design, artists and for example glasfiber paper.

Two factories, one choose the path of quantity, the other the path of quality. Off course is the produced newspaper of high quality too. But … the demand for such dropped with the digital revolution.

Like the invention of bookprinting caused a revolution, the digital era is revolutionair too. Sometimes causing the first originated industries to shut down. Why would one buy newspapers anymore if all of its content is also online too?

But … recent reports tell us they are thinking of starting up the second machine, to produce packaging paper. Parenco uses 100% recycled paper in its process. And … they are exporting to all European countries again.

Paper Art - Jan IJzendoorn

Paper Art – Jan IJzendoorn


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