A special transport

In open-air museum de Locht there is an object that reminds of the time when a large number of people in Melderslo earned a living in mushroom cultivation: a steam engine on wheels!

After each cultivation it was necessary to steam the cells in which the mushrooms were grown. Several crops could take place per year, but you always had to start in a sterile room. You only got a rich and healthy new harvest if the space was free of germs.

From 1958 to 1978 you could see a passenger car driving through Melderslo every day, pulling a steam engine on 4 wheels. Transporting was not easy, the trailer was heavy due to the large boiler and water content. For 15 guilders per day you could rent the device from the Cooperative Association of Growers. About 25 growers made use of it.

How did that steam process go? First, an oil burner ensured that a temperature of 65 degrees was reached in the cell space. That took 3 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the cell. Through a steam hose, the hot steam was then introduced into the cell through a small opening. This temperature had to be maintained for 12 hours to achieve an optimal result and kill all germs.

Around 1978, the number of growers had already decreased sharply due to an increase in scale and the price of the mushrooms. The steam engine reminds of times gone by. On display in open-air museum de Locht.

Pete Lenssen