D'Hondt Site is one of the most important and best-preserved flax sites in the Lys Valley. The complex consists of a 19th-century farmhouse with annexes, a rettery and two scutching mills – a sampling of the flax industry in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The site is located in Wervikstraat, but you can get the best view in Ropswalle, the street along the River Lys. The flax factory dominates the view on the right. The buildings date from the interbellum. In front you see a complex featuring some large chimneys; this is the rettery.
If you want to extract flax fibres, you first need to soak them from the stalk’s woody core. This requires a bacterial rotting process which is called retting. As from the mid-1920s, warm-water retting gains momentum: closed concrete tanks are filled with flax and then filled up with water of approximately 32 degrees. The building in front is one of the largest retteries in the region.
After retting, the flax stalk is broken and the remains of the woody stalk are subsequently removed from the fibres. This process is called scutching. The scutching mill is the large brick mill behind the rettery. A bit further you have a unique 19th-century scutching mill, but you can’t see it from the street.
If you continue along the street, you can see the oldest part of the site: the 19th-century farmhouse and annexes. The striking building with the tower is a tobacco oast: tobacco leaves were dried here before being cut.
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