The last grain elevator of the world

On Monday 26 of July, wharf workers started an extensive restoration of the Maritime Museum’s iconic grain elevator – the last one of its kind in the world. Currently docked in the harbour of the Dutch town of Franeker, the heaviest restoration work on the machine will take place until the end of this year. Afterwards, the elevator will be moved back to Rotterdam, where the restoration will continue throughout 2022. The impressive machine is expected to be back on view at the museum harbour in 2023.

What exactly is a grain elevator? The purpose of this machine is already apparent in its name. The machine features a large suction tube, which was used to lift the shiploads of grain (or beans, peas or rice) from the freight ships. Afterwards, it could easily be transferred to another ship or warehouse. In the nineteenth century, this was considered a great innovation. Previously, this job was performed manually by harbour workers, for whom it would sometimes take days to transfer a load of grain in its interity. Today, in the port of Rotterdam, this job is performed by cranes, and the grain elevator has turned into a monument. The last grain elevator of the world is owned jointly by the maritime museums of Rotterdam and Antwerpen. Therefore, it spends a part of the year in Belgium as well, and will resume this movement once it is fully restorated.

Would you like to know exactly how the grain elevator worked? Check out this video at the Maritime Museum!

Rotterdam city sketcher Jeffrey de Bruin has created beautiful prints of the world’s last grain elevator and its neighbouring monuments in the museum harbour. You can purchase these prints in the physical store of the Maritime Museum and in our online shop.

Fun fact: Jeffrey de Bruin is a co-host of the Urban Sketchers collective of Rotterdam. The collective explores the city together to organize workshops and find prime locations for sketching. Would you like to join a workshop? Join the collective on Sunday 1 of August to enjoy a sketching session at the Rotterdam Museum Quarter! Have a look at Facebook for further details.

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