Posts Tagged ‘Renkum’

Where streets have no names [anymore]

-one click away-

Yesterday my eyes saw a documentary about the lost city of Detroit, USA. I was stunned about this wasted property and thought about a friend who told me he was a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen because he sang about the American Crisis back in the eighties. My friend was from Groningen and saw the same thing going on, unemployment and people moving away from the countryside towards metropools. He became a friend when he settled in Renkum-city. He had seen the world by that time and learned from the experience.

Googling the topic I found out about 50 modern city’s are abandoned last century. Finally nature takes over and streets have no names anymore. Who wants to go there …

Being in Peking

Being in Peking

Another thing stroke me: people were talking about regaining the wastelands for the use of farming. I’ll hope the ground is fresh and clean, not poisoned by industrial use of the area. Modern builded cities in China are know to suffocate children by their poluted air. The chances for lungcancer are 2 or 3 times higher then in the countryside.

Brings us to the next topic: what if one lives in these urban area’s, there are still people leaving their birthplaces to search redemption in big cities all over the world … rumor goes more Ethiopia-trained doctors are living in Chicago then in Ethiopia.  Better call them Utopia-trained doctors in that case.


1985 – Bono mission trip


Strangely Ethiopia is the place which got Bono [U2] inspired of writing ‘where streets have no name’. During a concert, Bono said that the song is about judgement. He and his wife travel on a mission trip to Ethiopia every year. In this country, your class determines the street you live on. So just by knowing the name of your street, someone is already prejudging you. “Where the Streets Have No Name,” is a place that Bono longs for where people are not prejudged in this manner.

Live aid brought up £150 million (approx. $283.6 million) and wanted to stop famine in Ethiopia before the end of the year. They send all the food and trucks and else at the beginning of the rainy season, most food got piled up in storrages. Back then Eritrea was part of Ethiopia and got the harbours, but Eritrea and Ethiopia were in war for independance for 30 years. What caused the famine in the first place. transformation

One could easily say July 13th 1985 wasn’t the day music changed the world. Unfortunately it is war what changes the world, and war is the sum of all evils. People often say religion gives war. The truth is divisions come out of unwill to devide equal amongst  the other family, tribe or race.

Humans have the tendency to do right and wrong. In some people the dark side overrules them, other people have a strong force moving them to do the right things.

I myself traveled to Ethiopia in 1995 and saw a country in progress and met people wanting to share there bits and pieces of food and shelter with me.

Unfortunately there were areas where people lived of food aid for 2 generations. No one did anything until food arrived in trucks, they eventualy helped it unload…

My trip to Ethiopia started up a proces of Transformation fromout within …


Royal Water

Last summer I visited Royal Brewery Grolsch in Enschede with my brothers in law. [not mentioning them will fill the comment box below…] They were proud to pronounce producing environmental friendly. They rebuilded the factory in 2004 on a different location, so they could make it ahead of the future.

It might be well known the Netherlands has no shortage of water at all. It’s in our name and gravity makes water run to lower parts. But … Grolsch didn’t want to waste water. In 2015 Grolsch wanted to reduce 25% of it’s water consumption. Not including the water to make beer from, most likely the want these results up with 25%. Grolsch sat its target for 7 years.

Since it was a rainy day, I asked the tourguide what they did with rainwater? Although he knew all the ins and outs of his factory he couldn’t give me an answer. They just let is flush away?

Made me wonder … what do factories with sky water and since we were talking about the topic earlier this blog what does the paperindustry do with all its water? They claim to be enviromental friendly but how do they use their biggest gift of nature: water?

Case studies show that in Renkum’s township there are two main purchasers of water: Vitens and Parenco. Vitens is the water company and Parenco a paperfactory. Do not be mistaken: the factory is allmost as big as the town itself.

So this weeks quest would be; what do they do with their rainwater?

Because the other grazy thing is: the municipality of Renkum transformed its underground water infrastructure completey. They opened up streets to set other parts under water during rainy days, so called wadi’s. Kids started complaining for it was their playground and parent thougt is was sewage water…

Which it wasn’t, it just got a little dirty from running over the streets.

So they opened up the wadi’s and made an underground sedimentation system.

The idea was as very old, the implementation quite new. From the first days of using water as an energy source, the millers dug out brooks and springs. [AnnO 1600]


dig, duck, dug

The Dutch language provides words for these: Spreng or Sprang, these are menmade wells.

Although the Netherlands have enough water the land will dry out if all water effluxes.

What if we build factories which not only use rainwater, but purify it as wel? Take Ford for example, they drain water cleaner than it lands on their roof.

 Related articles

Stream Valley Renkum

Mill Brook Renkum

Watermolenklein.jpg  418×329

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

Although the newest trend on Mountain Bikes are tubeless tires, the standard remains wheels with innertubes. At first bicycles came with solid rubber or wooden tires, later on John Boyd Dunlop developed the pneumatic tire and its valve, also named after him: the Dunlopvalve. Until the late ’80’s it was the standard valve used in bicycles in the Netherlands. For that reason we called them Dutch valves. The other ones were called French or Belgium valves.

Dunlop Valve

Dutch Valve

Presta Valve

French Valve

Dunlop invented the airtube because his son got headaches riding his bicycles on the bumpy roads of Scotland.

Couple years later Édouard Michelin invented the detachable tire. It was held on the rim with clamps, instead of glue, and could be removed to replace or patch the separate inner tube.

In the entire history of tires, these were big inventions. Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1839.

Until today, these are big names in Tire Industry.

To me Vredestein Tires are my favourite.

Vredestein took over Hevea, its biggest concurent inside the Netherlands.

Hevea means ‘rubber’, before Goodyears invention it was the only thing one could do with the natural material; to rub pencil lines away.

In 1915 Hevea started his company and builded a complete village named after the fabric. And so Heveatown was born. The blocks were named after Islands of Indonesia: SumatraJava and Borneo. That’s were we had our plantations. The houses were build in English landscape style with thatched roofs.



Airphoto Heveadorp 1925

Airphoto Heveadorp

The Fabric was build on a hill, which was not very practical. The first thing Vredestein did was move the factory towards Renkum’s industrial area.

The same area which recently was transformed back to nature.

Bicycle tires are now manufactered in the far East. Giving ‘Indian Rubber’ a complete different new meaning, the other name for Ficus Elastica.

Somewhere in the eighties all houses were renovated, since they did not belong to the factory anymore, no one felt responsible. Builded together with 199 new houses this project was done.

Rubber Tree

Rubber Tree – Living Bridge

There is a lot of things to say about Cross Country Cycling and Mountain biking, one of the things is its guidelines towards nature.



Since I grew up in the woods I allways hated offroad bikes for their overload on noise. We’d love to help the forester to keep watch over his domain, so we could play peacefully in our illegal treehouses and underground huts. We felt like we were the good guys because we ruined the wildlife in silence. Off course we were affraid of the forester too, but maybe he liked us more if we betrayed the older guys with their mopeds.

Cross Country Cyclists and Mountainbikers have the same relationship towards offroad motorists. Most forests in the Netherlands are forbidden area for those guys. The woods are simply to small and overpopulated with animals for noisy machines. We love our deer dearly and have organisations who buy land in the countryside and restore those pieces into historical paterns.

More and more people start living in the countryside and take public transport or drive towards their workplaces in the big cities. Good market for folding bicycles of all sorts.

A couple remarkable things happened during the last decade in Renkum’s municipality. Industry made place for what we call natural infrastructure. So the animal kingdom got it’s rightfull place in our monarchy. Wildlife got it’s freedom and could walk freely passing by bio industrial complexes. It is complicated I know …

One of the big guys was Vredestein, a well known producer of bicycle tires

Vredestein Renkum

to pieces

Former Factory Vredestein

Former Factory Vredestein

But … the Transformational Architects did a pretty good job …

Beekdal Renkum

Brook Valley Renkum


A Thousand Apologies

Walking out of the Airborne Museum Oosterbeek, one directly faces this remarkable stone. Wondering why liberation forces would be to blame for the effort they made. Indeed came terror over the citizens of Gelderland, but that didn’t start September 1944.  German oppression and criminality started back in 1940. Since Belgium was liberated in September 1944, Allied forces wanted to move on and secure Antwerpen and bridges towards Germany. Starting up Operation Market Garden.

I’ve spoken with an old guy decades ago, present May 1940 at battlefield Rhenen 10 clicks away from his hometown Renkum. As a prisoner of war he had to work in camps in Germany and later on in Russia, for the Sovjet Army took over all labor and forced them to work in The Gulag Archipelago.  Their road through Hell continued untill November 1950. On the other hand; he wasn’t the only good guy who couldn’t live as a free person. Most soldiers from Poland had to wait another 40 years when pressure was released of their country.

When this man spoke of his war, he started to cry. He was a sweet, gentle man when he came to age. A real sportsman too, he went skiing until his late 70’s. But what was he like in his 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, confronted with stress and raising up his children. Did he cry or did he yell faced with his war trauma and anxiety attacks? A lot of times, he made an exhaused impression.

President Roosevelt

President Roosevelt

Although psychiatrists were advancing in their understanding of war trauma, combat exhaustion was not universally accepted.  General George Patton was notable in his lack of sympathy for the psychological afflictions of soldiers. He is said to have slapped two soldiers who were recuperating in a military hospital while yelling to a medical officer, “Don’t admit this yellow bastard … There’s nothing the matter with him. I won’t have the hospitals cluttered up with these sons of bitches who haven’t got the guts to fight”… President Roosevelt received thousands of letters about the incident, most of which indicated support for Patton. “Ultimately, though, Patton was reprimanded, ordered to apologize, and relieved of command of the Seventh Army”  

[from history of PTSD]

Besides Cross Country Cycling through Renkum municipality’s countryside, one can get a glimpse of how it was like back in the days of Operation Market Garden, by playing a videogame called: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway.

Brothers in Arms : Hell's Highway

View on Venlo

The whole Operation could be cut into two pieces; Market: airborne forces had to seize bridges and other terrain, and Garden: ground forces of the Second Army to move north spearheaded.

The ‘Brothers in Arms’ series is developed by Ubisofta company who started their journey in Carentoir – Brittany back in 1986.  Although D-day took place in Normandy, one can imagine guys from Brittany wanting to make a contribution too. Unfortantely the Battle of Arnhem is completely left out of this first person shooter. For a better view we have to watch the series ‘Band of Brothers’ or the film ‘A Bridge to Far’.

Perhaps Ubisoft – Montreal might consider bringing out: Brothers in Arms : Battle of Arnhem, most of the soldiers in 1944 were from Canada. Grazy thing is, the games are rated 18, but I’ve seen graves of guys younger.

Probably the worst battle for myself and my platoon was the battle for Arnhem where most of my platoon were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Of the 10,000 paratroopers, glider troops and glider pilots who entered Holland, only some 2,000 survived the ten days of fighting and came back to England.

I was wounded and became a prisoner of war but luckily survived the battle.

After the war ended I got back to England from the prisoner of war camp and spent four months in hospital recovering from my wounds. These finished my army career and I received a medical discharge, having obtained the rank of Warrant Officer. I was 24 years old.


Battle of Arnhem

These words came from an old man, who kept his mouth shut all of his life. Finally one of his grantsons asked him to open up…

The BBC published and updated these stories until February 2012; they were good guys …

to the people of Gelderland

to the people of Gelderland