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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.

Bushmills | United Kingdom
Portrush is a resort on the coast of Co Antrim, with harbour installations of 1827-36 by John Rennie, and a spectacular railway station of 1892-3, designed by Berkely Deane, now used for other purposes, while trains call at modern, utilitarian platforms. The depot, a passenger station and some ...
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Old Bushmills Distillery
The Distillery
2 Distillery Road
BT57 8XH Bushmills, United Kingdom

Cambridge | United Kingdom
Lode Mill, part of the Anglesey Abbey estate north of Cambridge, now owned and managed by the National Trust, is one of England’s best-reserved water corn mills. Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean house containing many works of art collected by Huttlestone Broughton, first Baron Fairhaven (1896-1966) who ...
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Lode Mill, Anglesey Abbey
Quy Road Lode
CB25 9EJ Cambridge, United Kingdom

Campbeltown | United Kingdom
Campbeltown, 90 km south-west of Glasgow, is the principal town on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula, and in the 19th century its 34 distilleries rivalled Speyside as a centre for the manufacture of whisky. The town’s prosperity, based on its easy sea links with Glasgow, diminished as railways enabled ...
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The Tasting Room
8 Bolgam Street
PA28 6HZ Campbeltown, United Kingdom

Chatham | United Kingdom
It’s obvious that a ropery has to be long. But a quarter of a mile long? That’s how long it is in the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, near London. The dockyard which only closed down in 1984 was at its peak in the 17th and 18th century and is generally regarded as the most complete remaining example ...
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The Historic Dockyard
Dock Road
ME4 4TZ Chatham, United Kingdom

Cheddleton | United Kingdom
The Cheddleton Flint Mill, 12 km north-east of Stoke-on-Trent, was one of many concerns that supplied materials to the The Potteries, Europe’s greatest concentration of ceramics manufacturers. There are two mills on the site, one a corn mill of uncertain date that was adapted to grind flints in the ...
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Cheddleton Flint Mill
Cheadle Road
ST13 7HL Cheddleton, United Kingdom

Chelmsford | United Kingdom
Chelmsford Museum’s new Bright Sparks Exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the achievements of the late 19th century industrial pioneers Guglielmo Marconi, R.E.B.Crompton and the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company who created global industries in the town. New hands-on exhibits vividly ...
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Chelmsford Museum
Oaklands Park Moulsham Street
CM2 9AQ Chelmsford, United Kingdom

Cockermouth | United Kingdom
Jennings Brewery was originally established as a true family concern back in 1828, in the village of Lorton. The company moved to its current location in 1874, in the historic town of Cockermouth, in the shadow of Cockermouth Castle, at the point where the rivers Cocker and Derwent merge.Jennings ...
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Jennings Brewery
Jennings Brothers Ltd. Castle Brewery
CA13 9NE Cockermouth, United Kingdom

Colchester | United Kingdom
The Tiptree Visitors’ Centre adjoins the factory of Wilkin & Sons Limited, jam and marmalade manufacturers since 1885. Inside, the factory processes soft fruit including medlars, mulberries, quince, plums, loganberries and the famous Little Scarlet Strawberry which are grown on Wilkins 1000-acre / 4 ...
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Tiptree Jam Shop and Museum
CO5 0RF Colchester, United Kingdom

The museum of industry in Derby stands on the site of a water-powered five-storey mill built circa 1721 by John and Thomas Lombe to accommodate silk throwing technology that they had observed in Italy. The mill, the first powered factory of its kind in England, prospered and was described by many ...
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Derby’s Museum of Industry and History
Silk Mill Lane Off Full Street
DE1 3AF Derby, United Kingdom

Dereham | United Kingdom
The vast ´House of Industry´ at Gressenhall was built in 1775 to provide a home and work to the rural poor who were otherwise unable to obtain work. In 1834, it became known as the Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse. Workhouses were a well-known feature of nineteenth century Britain immortalised ...
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Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse
Gressenhall
NR20 4DR Dereham, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Downham Market | United Kingdom
Denver Windmill is one of the finest examples of a working English tower mill. Once again Denver Windmill is milling wheat to produce flour in the traditional way using wind power only. The wind mill was built in 1835 and continued to grind corn using windpower for over one hundred years until 1941 ...
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Denver Windmill
Denver
PE38 0EG Downham Market, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Dudley | United Kingdom
There’s no towpath for your horse, and no engine in your boat, so how do you get your narrowboat through the long tunnel into the vast limestone caverns? You have to get out and push! Two men would lie across the narrowboat and ‘walk’ along the tunnel walls, pushing along tons of boat and its cargo. ...
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Dudley Canal Tunnel and Limestone Mines
501 Birmingham New Road
DY1 4SB Dudley, United Kingdom

East Tilbury, Essex | United Kingdom
East Tilbury is one of the most important planned landscapes in the East of England. It was built by the Czech Tomas Bata to provide both work and housing in a garden village setting. The Bata Museum and Reminicence Centre is located at East Tilbury Library in the midst of the Bata Estate. Tomas ...
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Bata Factory and Estate
Bata Reminiscence & Resource Centre East Tilbury Library
Princess Avenue
RM18 8ST East Tilbury, Essex, United Kingdom

Forncett St Mary | United Kingdom
The museum of steam engines at Forncett St Mary in the heart of rural Norfolk was established by Dr Rowan Francis, an anaesthetist. It is open to the public two days a week through the year, and engines are steamed on the first Sunday of every month during the summer. The collections includes some ...
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Forncett Industrial Steam Museum
Low Road
NR16 1JT Forncett St Mary, United Kingdom

The adaptation of a large mid-20th century flour mill as a centre for the arts has proved to be one of the outstanding examples in England of the adaptation of an industrial building for new uses. The Baltic Mill, constructed in the 1950s, was the last large-scale installation to be constructed ...
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Baltic Flour Mill | BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quar South Shore Road
NE8 3BA Gateshead, United Kingdom

Gaydon | United Kingdom
The museum at Gaydon, a village 30 km. south of Coventry, has its origins in the tortuous takeovers that characterised the British industry in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. British Leyland Motor Holdings brought together in 1968 the British Motor Corporation (the result of an earlier merger of the Austin ...
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Heritage Motor Centre Motor Museum
Banbury Road
CV35 0BJ Gaydon, United Kingdom

Great Dunmow | United Kingdom
Great Dunmow Maltings is a rare example of a small 16th century two-storey, timber-framed malthouse in a market town. Operational until 1948 and rescued from dereliction in the 1990s it is authentically restored to afford a fascinating insight into the structure of timber-framed buildings and the ...
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Great Dunmow Maltings
Great Dunmow Maltings
Mill Lane
CM6 1BG Great Dunmow, United Kingdom

Great Yarmouth | United Kingdom
Time and Tide, the Museum of Great Yarmouth Life, occupies the premises of the former Tower Fish Curing Works. The works closed in 1988 and in the following year it was first suggested that the building would be an appropriate location for a museum to tell the story of Great Yarmouth and its herring ...
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Time and Tide Museum
Museum of Great Yarmouth Life
Blackfriars Road
NR30 3BX Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Grimsby | United Kingdom
In the second half of the 19th century ‘industrial’ fishing ports developed in many European countries, with docks for handling steam trawlers, systems for supplying them with coal, rail connections for distributing fresh fish, facilities for smoking, salting and freezing edible fish and factories ...
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Fishing Heritage Centre
Alexandra Dock
DN31 1UZ Grimsby, United Kingdom

Hawes | United Kingdom
The small market town of Hawes near the head of Wensleydale, through which the River Ure flows eastwards from the Pennines towards the sea, is the location of the only factory that still makes the traditional Wensleydale cheese.Since the Second World War when cheesemakers were obliged to produce a ...
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Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre
Gayle Lane
DL8 3RR Hawes, United Kingdom