Home Drenthe Windmill Museum ‘De Wachter’ in Zuidlaren

Windmill Museum ‘De Wachter’ in Zuidlaren

Did you know that Windmill Museum ‘De Wachter’ in Zuidlaren is more than a windmill? The Windmill Museum comprises also a clog workshop, bakery and grocery shop, smithy and you can take a cruise on a steam-powered boat.

The museum is entirely run by some 200 volunteers. All year round they make sure to preserve the cultural history and craftmanship of ‘De Wachter’ for current and future generations.


The 19th century windmill is part of the Molenmuseum ‘De Wachter’. It was built in 1851 and has three functions: flour mill, oil mill and spice mill.

You can see the entire process of grinding grain into flour by using the power of wind. The oil mill presses oil from linseed. The spice mill has four grinding stones for cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and cloves.

Enjoy a beautiful view of the surroundings from the top floor of the windmill.

Steam museum and steam-powered boat

‘De Wachter’ owns a collection of nine steam engines and steam boilers. Most of them are still working. In addition, there are a steam locomobile, a steam tractor and a steam-powered boat.

If the steam-powered boat is ‘under steam’ you can cruise to polder windmill Boezemvriend or to the southern tip of the Zuidlaarder Lake. During a cruise on ‘De Jonge Wachter’ the operation of the steam engine is demonstrated. The boat is 10 meters in length and carries up to 12 passengers.

Bakery and grocery shop

Bread is baked in the traditional way. See the baker knead, divide and prepare the dough before it goes into the oven. Enjoy the delicious smells when the freshly baked bread, cookies, currant bread and sausage rolls come out of the oven.

The ancient grocery shop features brands and items which are often no longer for sale. The shop does sell spices and old fashioned Dutch sweets and candy.

Berend Botje

The old nursery rhyme goes ‘Berend Botje ging uit varen
met zijn scheepje naar Zuidlaren. De weg was recht, de weg was krom, nooit kwam Berend Botje weerom’.
Free translation: ‘Berend Botje went out sailing with his ship to Zuidlaren. The road was straight, the road was bent, Berend Botje never came back again.”

There are several stories about who would have been a model for Berend Botje; from a nobleman to a farmer to a shipowner. A fountain with a replica of the Berend Botje statue is located at the Stationsweg in Zuidlaren in the province of Drenthe. The original statue of Berend Botje can be found at ‘De Wachter’.

Clog workshop

After retiring local clog maker Roelof Westerhof donated his entire clog factory to the museum. He continued as a volunteer to demonstrate clog making at the museum. Roeloef Westerhof was one of the last artisan wooden shoe makers in Drenthe. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 83.


For over 100 years blacksmith Bruininkmeijer was located at the Koningstraat in Zuidlaren. After the death of the last family member, the smithy was demolished and built up again at the museum. Volunteer blacksmiths demonstrate this heavy profession in the smithy.

Mechanical music instruments

Although music instruments may seem a bit out of place, ‘De Wachter’ has a collection of four historical mechanical instruments: pianola, orchestrion, tingeltangel barrel piano and a small barrel organ. Kids can play the barrel organ and earn a barrel organ certificate.

Extra activities in 2018

Saturday 9 June
Steam Day: all steam engines will be in operation

Saturday 23 June
Swinging honey and braiding baskets

Saturday 14 July
Blacksmith Day: blacksmiths show what they can do with fire

Saturday 11 August
Wood Day: everything about working with wood and making clogs

Wednesday 25 August
Drenthe Windmill Day: games for kids and their (grand)parents

Saturday 22 September
Steam Day: all steam engines will be in operation

Saturday 29 September
Linseed Oil and Flax Day: how linseed oil is made from flax

Saturday 6 October and Saturday 20 October
Kids Month: baking cookies and games

Saturday 27 October
Season Closing Day: baking competition ‘Heel Zuidlaren Bakt’

Saturday 3 November
Special evening opening from 17.00

Opening hours

Windmill Museum ‘De Wachter’ is open from the last Saturday of April to the last Saturday of October.

Wednesday 13.30-16.30
Saturday 10.00-16.30

Op zaterdag werkt alles, op woensdagmiddag alles behalve de stoommachines

Entrance fees

Adults €6
Children €3.50


Molenmuseum De Wachter
Havenstraat 36
9471 AM Zuidlaren
Molenmuseum ‘De Wachter’ on Facebook

Address for GPS
Bolwerk 11
9471 AT Zuidlaren