Last week we have visited Paper mill Herisem and former cardboard factory Winderickx located in Alsemberg, not far from Brussels. This 19th century industrial complex build in the valley with the wonderful view include farm, house with the former office and tavern. As their opening hours vary from season to season I'd advice to make a reservation if you plan to visit it. Or you might like to take a guided tour, which will take you on the 1,5 hour journey through the history of the mill and its workers.
According to the information from archives the old mill at the Herisem site already existed in 1571, but the exact date is unknown. From 1763 the mill belongs to Gillis Winderickx and his family. He expanded the industrial complex from one building to five.
Just like 250 years ago the paper is still being produced (in small quantities) in the old mill and the most of the machinery is still in a working condition. I was surprised to see a few drawers full of metal type (mainly Nobel) and a small box of wood type, but I didn't see any printing presses.
During the economical crisis in Belgium in 1858 the handmade paper was not economically profitable so it was decided to switch the production from handmade paper to industrial cardboard (see pictures of old cardboard above). It was a success. But unfortunately not for long. WOI and the crisis of the 30's brought unseen damage to the factory and it closed its doors in the beginning of the WOII. The owner took care of the machinery for many years but the condition of the factory was not optimal. In the 70's the factory was included in the list of protected monuments and nowadays almost 80% has already been reconstructed.