Coaches, carriages and farm wagons
About 50 years ago, the present museum was established as a wagon museum. It gained national renown because of the unique collection of wagons for the transport of people, cattle and agrarian produce. All coaches, carriages and wagons have been in service on Texel. In addition to the collection of originals, there is also a big collection of very realistic and skilfully built wagon models.
Piet Mulder on the isle of Texel, a painter on holiday
Watercolors, drawings, gouaches and paintings by Piet Mulder (1919-2001).
Flax cultivation is an almost forgotten crop on Texel. In the Middle Ages, a lot of flax was grown and processed on Texel. Until well into the 18th century, many spinsters and specialised wool and linen weavers worked on the island. The Weverstraat (Weaver Street) in Den Burg reminds us of this. Linen cloth was made into bed linen and undergarments. When the flax disappeared from Texel, so did the linen weavers. In 1838, flax did return to Texel when farmers from the province of Zeeland arrived at the newly diked Eierland polder. But when the mass import of cotton got underway, the days of flax cultivation on Texel drew to a final close.
Our exhibition features the workings of flax cultivation in words and images. The end products, in the form of home-made and decorated linen, show that the earlier farmers’ wives also mastered this art.
Madder grows wild in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean region. It has been cultivated in the Netherlands since the 15th century, thriving mainly in the fertile clay found in Zeeland and on the South Holland islands. Attempts at cultivating the plant in other parts of the Netherlands, such as the Betuwe, Friesland, Groningen and North Holland, have all failed. Madder has been grown on a limited scale on the island of Texel.
Around 1870, the species disappeared as a crop within a relatively short period of time when a chemical process was invented for easily extracting the same paint ingredient from coal tar.
Previously, madder had mainly been grown for the red dye known as alizarin, which was used to colour textiles and leather.
An example of textile treated with this compound can be seen in our museum.
Madder was also applied as a pigment for colouring oil paint or distemper paint used for miniature paintings. And medicinal properties have also been attributed to this plant since ancient times.
After being harvested, the roots of the madder plant were transported to a „Meestoof“. First, they were stored here. Then, the process started in a so-called drying tower where the roots were laid out on slatted platforms and dried using the heat of a peat-fired oven. Once cleaned and dried, the fragments of madder root were called racine.
Finally, this racine was ground into madder powder in a madder kiln mill, a process that took place in a madder factory from 1850 onwards.
A cutaway scale model of the madder factory can be seen in our museum.
Flood Disaster 1st of February 1953
A poignant account of the disaster that took place in Polder ‘De Eendracht’ on the 1st of February
Early in the evening of the 31st of January 1953, the situation at the dyke of the small De Eendracht polder had already become critical. It was situated on the Wadden Sea shore of Texel, south of De Cocksdorp. The guards were summoned by supervisor Ten Hoorn when, early in the morning, the waves started to wash over the top of the dike. The dyke finally broke at a quarter past eight. The polder quickly became fully inundated. The water surprised a group of volunteers that had arrived at a farm by bus. As soon as they became aware of the danger, they fled to the Eierland polder, further inland. The strip of land along that dyke was especially low, however, and the current there was very strong. The rapidly rising water dragged even the bus from the road and into a ditch.
It claimed the lives of 6 people, among them 5 from village De Waal.
The Adoration of the Magi
In the course of 2014, the Cultural-historical Museum Texel acquired the painting The Adoration of the Magi from the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht.
The panel was restored to its former glory thanks to a Municipality of Texel subsidy and contributions by the Texelfonds, Stift and TESO. The entire restoration process can be followed via a video presentation
For several centuries, this panel used to hang in a prominent place in the Roman Catholic clandestine church(es) in Den Burg. Generations of Texel people knew it well. With the completion of the new modern church in 1863, it was considered old-fashioned and not suitable for modern times and was therefore banned to the attic, where it was discovered by the founders of the Episcopal museum in Haarlem and was subsequently moved to the Museum Catharijneconvent.
The role of women
The farmers’ wives of Texel were worth their weight in gold. They made cheese and butter and thus used to earn about half of a farm’s income. In addition, they fattened pigs, fed the chickens and young stock, processed meat and pickles, baked bread and prepared food.
They sewed and repaired clothes and bed linen, knitted, kept the farm clean, painted the walls in spring and helped during the summer hay harvest.
Until the 19th century, women used to sometimes die during childbirth. A farmer would remarry as soon as possible since a housekeeper, called a “meid” (maid) in those days, required wages and could run away. A wife with cheese-making aptitude brought in money, remained at the farm and together they ensured offspring and thus the continuity of the farm.
Texel men in the Pope’s army: the “Zoeaaf”
On a stormy Sunday in 1866, Cornelis Witte, a then 29-year-old inhabitant of Texel, left on a boat from the Oudeschild harbour. He became zoeaaf: a soldier in the army of the Pope. A few years later, Cornelis Witte patrolled the mountains around Rome, looking for robbers, good food, clean clothes, beautiful churches, nice wine and adventure. He managed to avoid the soldiers of Garibaldi, the dreaded Italian warlord who attacked Rome and the zoeaaf soldiers.
“At first sight, it is calm here, but it continues to brew and fester all the time”, Witte wrote. Willem Maars was one of the other six Texel men who followed Cornelis Witte and enrolled in the Pope’s army, to serve God and to seek adventure. Here, you find background information about Cornelis Witte and his stories, journal and uniform.
The museum has a fully equipped historical as well as a modern-day forge. Paagman’s original old forge is more than 100 years old and used to be situated at the crossroad of the Nieuwlanderweg and Pontweg. Once it had been moved to our museum in De Waal and had been augmented with tools and models of other blacksmiths on Texel, the legendary Jan Kiljan became the first smith in the museum.
In the forge burns an original blacksmith’s fire in which formerly metal bands were forged around wagon wheels and horseshoes were made to measure. There is an impressive arrangement of different tools (whetstones, saws, drill and lathe) that are powered through long drive belts by an electric engine.
Demonstrations are given every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon (2pm till 4pm).
Dairying (sheep’s cheese and butter)
When the lambs no longer need mother’s milk, that milk can be used to make sheep’s cheese and butter. Milking the sheep and making cheese and butter used to be the task of the farmer’s wife.
Texel farmers only began to milk sheep themselves in the 19th century. Dairying remained the domain of the farmer’s wife until approximately 1980, when sheep began to be milked by machine and dairying also became part of the farmer’s tasks.
Until well into the 19th century, Texel farms kept only 1 to 5 dairy cows in different colour varieties. Most cattle were reared for fattening (for meat consumption) and for the breeding of young dairy cattle for specialised dairy farms in the province of North Holland.
Black Pied dairy cattle
Breeding to improve the milk production only began with the establishment of dairy factories around 1900. Since that time, the farmers of Texel have enjoyed an excellent reputation as breeders of Black Pied dairy cattle.
Different colour varieties
Due to the European agricultural policy, some stockbreeders switched from dairy cattle to suckler cows / beef cattle from about 1995 onwards and thus cattle with different kinds of colour varieties returned to Texel, as you can see in the pictures and paintings. One of our guides can tell you much more about this and about his own dairy cattle.
Texel is above all associated with sheep rearing: “Texel, the Island of Sheep”. The “Tesselaar”, a Texel sheep breed, is world famous. Once, small sheep cheeses and wool were Texel’s main export products. As early as the Middle Ages, Texel sheep cheese was famous far beyond Texel. These days, sheep are mainly reared for dairy production (cheese) and for consumption (lamb meat) since sheep shearing currently costs almost as much as the sale of wool generates.
The Texel Pielsteert
In the museum, a film about Texel sheep rearing around 1948 is shown. In addition, the development of the Texel Pielsteert – the oldest sheep breed of Texel – is on view for everybody. Our guides can tell you a lot more about this subject as well.
The museum offers a large display of horse harnesses. On Texel, horses were very important as draught animals for working the fields. An interesting film about this subject is shown.
In the inner court, you will find the “Tuunwoal” (Garden mound) typical of Texel. Garden mounds were made of stacked grass sods that served as meadow boundaries. Here you can see how a Tuunwoal is constructed.
There is also an old-fashioned “crapper” or privy, a wooden outhouse that used to be situated some distance from a home and an original wooden pump for the dwelling’s water supply. Finally, there is also the wheelwright’s storage room made of elm.
In the authentic pyramidal “stolp” farmhouse you can see how farmers lived around 1900. The cowshed, the little kitchen, the back annex where the laundry was done and the living room with bedsteads were all located in a —measured by current standards— rather small space. In the hay store, an old-fashioned hatcher is exhibited.
In the barn, with original loam threshing floor, still stands a big wagon for livestock transport to take lambs to the market in Den Burg or to the ‘lamb-boat’ (lammerenboot) in the Oudeschild harbour. In addition, cheese and butter were made here.
Several wheelwrights worked on Texel. Part of their work has been brought to life in our wheelwright workshop with its original instruments, tools, casts and moulds.
Working partnership with the blacksmith
They made three-wheel dung carts, wheelbarrows, hay wagons and carriages, but also a goat cart for the children of a rich sheep farmer. Instead of a billy goat, they would use a sheep to pull the cart. Blacksmiths and wheelwrights always used to work together: the smiths made the metal bands around the wheelwright’s wheels and supplied all metalwork.
The battle against the sea
Texel has battled against the sea since time immemorial. From the high, dry clay and loam boulder you can see how small polders were one by one reclaimed from the sea until the 19th century, when several large polders were reclaimed. First with wheelbarrows, three-wheel carts, sand, clay and sea grass.
Dykes and able men
From the 18th century onwards, big stones from Scandinavia protected the outer slope of the dyke, but these days it is rock-fill and asphalt. The museum shows that the stonemasons were very able men. You can see how a dyke is built and how water management in the polders is organised. Finally, we also show the aftermath of the 1953 flood disaster on Texel.