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European Themeroute | Production and Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable ... more

Icon: Production and ManufacturingGoods for the world. European Theme Route Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable distances. Textile manufacture was the leading industry in Europe: from the 16th century onwards it was basically organised on such a system.

The first types of factories grew up in the 17th century, when larger groups of workers were concentrated in so-called "manufactories". Although this also applied to textiles, it was more common in glass and salt production, ironworks and hammer works. In France, Royal manufactories produced tapestries, furniture and porcelain in magnificent style. The process was divided up into sections from the start, and the workers had to keep to a strict discipline despite the fact that the majority were still working individually by hand. The decisive element which turned the whole world of work on its head was mechanisation.

The factory age began around the end of the 18th century in Britain, with large spinning mills in the county of Lancashire. Here one waterwheel was able to drive around 1000 spindles. Shortly afterwards there followed the steam engine, which made production independent of swiftly flowing water and gave a huge boost to mechanical spinning, weaving and, soon after, the whole of the British economy.

From now on machines dictated the organisation and tempo of work: but not only in textile manufacturing. The Economist, Adam Smith, tells of a factory where the manufacture of a pin was divided up into 18 working sections. In 1769, the English pioneer, Josiah Wedgwood, opened up his porcelain factory "Etruria" near Stoke-on-Trent. Whereas before that, workers had followed the path of their product from the pottery wheel to decorating, firing and storing, they were now ordered to keep strictly to their own department.

Division of labour raised productivity considerably. The actions of the workers, on the other hand, were increasingly reduced to a few, constantly repeated movements. As a result they gradually became alienated from the products they made. Formerly their products had been the pride of hand workers. Since expert knowledge was hardly necessary, employers now preferred to employ women and children whom they could pay less than men. The workers were ruthlessly exploited. Women and children in textile factories had to work shifts of between 14 and 16 hours. Even hen working conditions improved during the course of the 19th century – primarily for children – this tendency was aggravated even more by the introduction of mass production.

As early as 1797 an American by the name of Eli Whitney suggested making rifle locks from exchangeable parts, instead of making them individually for every weapon. Thanks to this standardisation – a basic prerequisite for mass production - costs were drastically reduced and production further accelerated. The manufacture of exchangeable parts only really came to the fore at the end of the 19th century with the arrival of new metal precision tools. After that, the production of standard quality tools gradually became a manufacturing branch in its own right: machine tool manufacturing.
In 1881 in the USA, Frederick W. Taylor began to divide working processes systematically into their smallest components, in order to rationalise them even more. His quantitative analyses laid the foundations for "Taylorism": scientific production management. The immediate results were that engineers would go round the factories checking working processes with a watch in their hand in order to speed up the work.

The last stage of mass production was the introduction of the conveyor belt. This began in the stockyards of Chicago and Cincinnati. It was then adapted by Henry Ford in 1911 for his motor car factories in Manchester and Detroit. Whilst the conveyor belt was moving forward the next chassis at a constant speed the workers had to mount the components with as few actions as possible to avoid any "unproductive" movements. The pace of production was even more drastically increased. Whereas it had formerly taken 12.5 man-hours to mount a chassis, by 1914 only 93 man-minutes were needed. Thus Ford cars could be afforded by everyone.

In the second half of the 19th century methods of industrial production reached the food sector. The powerful engines which delivered energy independent of the specific location, encouraged entrepreneurs to set up large bakeries and breweries. New techniques made the processing of agrarian products increasingly independent of the seasons of the year.
The invention of artificial cooling methods was an important step. In 1748 a Scotsman by the name of William Cullen was the first man to demonstrate how to extract warmth from the environment by reducing a fluid to steam. The process was made even more effective by compressing the refrigerating agents. That said, it was quite a long time before these principles could be used to make the first effective refrigerator. An American by the name of Jacob Perkins is reputed to have built the first model in 1835. Around 20 years later an Australian, James Harrison, introduced refrigerators to the meat and brewing industries.

Thus large-scale beer production became possible during the summer months. At the same time people learnt how to control the temperature of the mash with a thermometer, and the amount of original gravity with a saccharometer. Such scientific knowledge was characteristic for the whole area of food production.

Conservation was a further step. The fact that food remains edible when it is kept in a closed container at a certain temperature over a long period of time, was discovered by a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert, in 1809 when he was charged with supplying food to Napoleon's armies. His British colleague, Peter Durand, discovered that tins were the best containers for doing so. But it was not until 1863 that a scientist by the name of Louis Pasteur discovered that microbes could be killed by heating. The production of tinned food spread quickly, most of all in the USA, and the United States soon became the market leader.

Milk conservation can also be traced back to military requirements. During the American Civil War in the 1860s Gail Borden developed condensed milk. A Swiss firm launched it onto the European market and soon after it merged with another firm owned by Henri Nestlé, the inventor of baby food. The result was that condensed milk became famous under Nestlé’s name.

Around the end of the 19th century a new form of co-operative manufacturing arose in dairy production. Dairy farmers, above all in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and northern Germany, joined forces to market their dairy produce. Cooperative dairies produced butter and cheese to uniform standards and conquered ever larger markets beyond national boundaries. The standardisation of food production, increasingly independent of the time of manufacture and the region where it was made, has continued right down to the present day.

Tychy | Poland
The brew house in the Tyskie brewery in the upper Silesian town of Tychy makes a truly palatial impression with its blue glazed tiles adorned with flowers, richly decorated pillar capitals, a precious panelled ceiling, and an interior full of blank copper brewery kettles, valves and instruments, ...
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Tyskie Brewing Museum
Tyskie Browarium
Ul. Mikołowska 5
43-100 Tychy, Poland

Żywiec | Poland
Feel it! Speak! Take a pic! Where have you ever heard such requests in a museum? In Żywiec, however, everything is a bit different. One of the most favourite traditional beers in Poland is brewed in this small pretty town, and the local Brewery Museum will tell you how this came about. On your visit ...
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Żywiec Brewery Museum
Muzeum Browaru "Żywiec"
Ul. Browarna 88
34-300 Żywiec, Poland

S. Joao da Madeira | Portugal
Industry is very important in S. Joao da Madeira. And, more recently, industrial history as well. This combination makes the city and its surroundings an exciting destination for fans of industrial heritage. The visitor center in the tower of the former sewing machine plant Oliva offers information ...
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Turismo Industrial
Rua Oliveira Junior nº 591
3700-204 S. Joao da Madeira, Portugal

Llanberis | United Kingdom
How do you steal a mountain? You knock it off. That’s the answer you’d get from a Welshman. The Welsh speak from experience. In North Wales they knocked off mountains en masse – in the form of hundreds of slate quarries. In the 19th century the slate tiles on almost every roof in Britain had been ...
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National Slate Museum
Padarn Country Park
LL55 4TY Llanberis, United Kingdom

Sheffield | United Kingdom
Knives, saws, scythes, files, razor blades, cutlery. No doubt about it, Sheffield is the English equivalent of Solingen. What began with small workshops in the 16th century quickly developed into the brand mark of an up-and-coming industrial city. Later Sheffield was to pioneer modern steel ...
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Kelham Island Museum
Alma Street
S3 8RY Sheffield, United Kingdom

Southampton | United Kingdom
How is it that brickworkers were paid less when it rained? What is a green brick? And why was it crucial to handle wet bricks with the flat of one's hand only? Find the answers to these questions at Bursledon Brickworks in Southampton. The site which is now an industrial museum tells the whole story ...
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Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum
Swanwick Lane
SO31 7HB Southampton, United Kingdom

St Austell | United Kingdom
The view from the visitors platform down into the 100 metre deep opencast mine in St Austell in the south west of England reveals modern machinery doing work which was once performed almost exclusively by people. From the middle of the 18th century onwards, and usually under harsh conditions, ...
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Wheal Martyn
Carthew
PL26 8XG St Austell, United Kingdom

Swansea | United Kingdom
Computer screens with interactive film sequences. Graphics and projections. Multi-media shows demonstrating how fireproof bricks, iron and steel were manufactured. The first impressions make it unmistakably clear that the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea (Wales) prides itself on ...
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National Waterfront Museum
Oystermouth Road
SA1 3RD Swansea, United Kingdom

Telford | United Kingdom
Length: 30.6 metres. Height: 16.75 metres. Weight: 378 tons. These are the basic facts about the Iron Bridge, which spans the Severn Valley in Telford. But who can regard the history of the first ever iron bridge in mere statistics? It is universally recognised as the symbol of the industrial ...
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Iron Bridge World Heritage Site
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Coach Road Coalbrookdale
TF8 7DQ Telford, United Kingdom

Waltham Abbey | United Kingdom
If you put saltpetre, charcoal and sulphur together the result is an explosive mixture. Gunpowder changed the face of the world. One of the main contributors was the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Essex. For 300 years the works near Waltham Abbey researched and produced almost everything to do ammunition ...
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Royal Gunpowder Mills
Beaulieu Drive
EN9 1JY Waltham Abbey, United Kingdom

Lobeč u Mšena | Czech Republic
The Lobeč Brewery, a significant technical landmark of czech brewing industry, is situated in Central Bohemian Region, some 60 km north of Prague. The village is located on the edge of Kokořínsko Natural Reserve and was declared a Rural Heritage Zone with the local Brewery and a Baroque castle as ...
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Lobeč Brewery
Lobeč 34
27736 Lobeč u Mšena, Czech Republic

Baruth | Germany
In 1716 Count Sigismund Friedrich (1696-1738) established a glassworks about 7 km from the small town of Baruth that lies 60 km south of Berlin. The community that grew up around the works gained the name ‘Glashütte’. The works continued to operate until 1980.The historical monument Baruther ...
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Baruth Glassmaking Village
Hüttenweg 20
15837 Baruth, Germany

Berlin | Germany
Brewhouse, warehouse, cooper’s workshop, horse stables, canteen and children’s home: the preserved complex of the historic Schultheiss Brewery clearly illustrates how a company that once ranked among the largest breweries in Europe was organized around 1900. The renovated industrial monument ...
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Culture Brewery
Schönhauser Allee 36
10405 Berlin, Germany

Bitterfeld-Wolfen | Germany
"Women Make Better Diplomats", starring Marika Rökk, was the title of a costume movie made in 1941, that was hugely popular in Germany in the middle of the Second World War. But the real star of this shallow piece of trivia was not so much Frau Rökk as the newfangled Agfacolor process. For this film ...
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Industry and Filmmuseum
Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen Areal A
Bunsenstr. 4
06766 Bitterfeld, Germany

Braunsbedra | Germany
Slender, pointed gable windows and a rosette in the middle of the red brick facade make the Pfännerhall central workshop look more like the outside of a church. But once inside it is patently clear that this building was once used to house briquette-making machines and repair locomotives. Nowadays ...
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Pfännerhall Central Workshop
Grubenweg 4
06242 Braunsbedra, Germany

Darmstadt | Germany
The museum, built by Alfred Messel in 1902, houses various interesting collections for example history of art, cultural history, geology, palaeontology and zoology. It is known as one of the very few universal museums in the world. Special exhibitions that take place regularly complete the museums ...
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Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Abteilung Schriftguss, Satz und Druckverfahren
Kirschenallee 88
64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Dessau-Roßlau | Germany
Fireproof, weatherproof, resilient, comfortable and extremely safe. These are the properties that swiftly made Junkers aircraft classics of aviation history. Less well-known are the other achievements of the famous aeroplane manufacturer, above all the invention of the bathroom gas geyser which ...
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Dessau technical museum
Kühnauer Straße 161
06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany

Frankenberg | Germany
Michael Thonet's (1796-1871) lifetime achievements impressively reflect the transition from handcraft to industrial mass production in the 19th century. Thonet is considered a pioneer of industrial design. Starting in 1819 he produced own designs using the then new bentwood process, which he ...
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Thonet Museum
Michael-Thonet-Straße 1
35066 Frankenberg, Germany

Großalmerode | Germany
The museum of Großalmerode, the „city of good clay”, takes its visitors on a trip through 800 years of clay work and glass-making, showing the development of local trades and their impact on the people involved, with a primary focus on the time from the beginning of the industrialization until the ...
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Museum of Glass and Ceramic
Kleiner Kirchrain 3
37247 Großalmerode, Germany

The Großauheim Museum of Industry is located in a formar electricity plant and exhibits the industrial history of Hanau. Since 2014 an interactive sound installation supplemented the exihibition.
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Großauheim Museum of Art and Industrial History
Pfortenwingert 4
63457 Hanau, Germany