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The autobahn in 1951. Has it changed much?
Courtesy of Mr P.A. Lockett
History of the YMCA-Windmill



Today only a few servicemen know something about the existence of the former YMCA-Windmill. It has been the only British canteen on a German Autobahn from 1946 to1971. The windmill was situated near Beckum on the A2 Raststätte Vellern direction Hannover/Berlin.

During that time many servicemen made a stop here for a cup of tea. In the meantime many British Army vehicles could be seen parked .It was a busy place. Vehicles and convoys stopped here for a break all day long. Though many guests were inside the mill, only few knew about the history of the windmill.


According to a still existing contract from 1850 the miller Johann Heinrich Brockhinke bought the then still existing mill. The building was used as a mill until1937. During the time of construction of the then called Reichsautobahn existed a plan to demolish the mill. But later the management of the building administration of the Reichsautobahn bought the mill and decided a conversion to a Raststätte. The windmill-restaurant called `Alte Mühle´ was opened in1939. After the war in 1946 the British Army confiscated the mill which from now on was used as the YMCA-Windmill. In this way the mill was used until 1971 when a greater parking space was needed and the costs for repairing the building were very high.


In 1971 the YMCA era ended. The windmill had until then reached an age of over 150 years. But it is not completely forgotten. Since 1991 the modern Rasthaus Vellern with day and night service is on that place were in former times the mill has been. Above the entrance remembers a mill of old times. If you enter the Raststätte you will find on the right a `Historie` from Heimatverein Vellern reporting about the history of the mill. Besides this is a photo b/w showing the old YMCA-windmill. The visitor books of that time are still in existence. Together with other material relating to the YMCA and British Forces in Germany it can be found in the archive of the University of Birmingham (special collections).



                                                                                                             Herr Jürgen Balke


Above is a postcard of the YMCA canteen that was on the Autobahn between Berlin & West Germany. I remember that we were able, in 1958 or 1959, (before the Berlin Wall went up) to drive in the family car across East Germany on the Autobahn. What all the paperwork and restrictions would have been imposed by the Communists - goodness knows.
During those times the Western Forces had the right to go into East Berlin and I remember a bus tour of East Berlin that we did, when army personnel could take their families as well. My younger brother & I were given the strictest instruction not to take photos of the Russian/East German troops as they would then take our cameras from us and smash them up in front of us. Quite scary for us boys - I was about 8 years old & my brother 2 years younger!
Courtesy of Mr Frank Bishop
 Courtesy of Mr David Porter
Wiedenbrücke - Windmill Cafe
Although the majority of long distance movement was by rail in the late 40s/50s there was also significant road movement particularly along the main Ruhr-Hannover autobahn. The Windmill Cafe situated alongside the westbound carriage way midway between Hamm and Gutersloh was a popular rest point for "a char and wad" for British Servicemen irrespective of rank. Situated in an actual windmill and manned by members of the Salvation Army it closed in the early 1960s due to declining demand and the refurbishment/widening of the adjacent autobahn. The windmill was demolished but the site is now an official "Rastplatz".
Mr Peter Watson

The photo above was taken on the autobahn, outside the Windmill Cafe YMCA.  The wagon in the background is a three ton Bedford , the good old standby for the British Army in BAOR. The one immediately behind us is an Austin fifteen cwt (Loadmaster) lorry and in front was a Austin Champ and trailer.

Courtesy of ex RMP Malcolm Smith 



The Windmill was on what is now E34 (route 2). If you were driving from Duisberg towards Hannover in an west to east direction it would have been on your side. Those travelling in the opposite direction east to west & wanted to stop at the windmill, parked up & used the under pass. Between Wiedenbruck & Vellern but closer to Vellern, there is a proper raststadt there now.  When the windmill was there if the truth was known, there was also a pub there, keeping some troops happy. In the early 50's there was a perm recovery post there manned by non other than Albert Waller (member of my recovery site).I had many a bacon banjo there in late 50's early 60's.

Courtesy of Larry The One


The Raststätte Vellern.

Courtesy of Herr Jürgen Balke