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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.

Holbæk | Denmark
The port of Holbæk lies on the north coast of the Danish island of Zealand. Andelslandbyen Nyvang (which loosely translates as ‘share the village’) is an open air museum of the co-operative movement which portrays in detail life in Danish villages and small towns between 1870s and 1950. The movement ...

Co-operative Village Nyvang
Andelslandbyen Nyvang
Oldveyen 25
4300 Holbæk, Denmark

Kongens Lyngby | Denmark
From the first water-driven factory to modern mass manufacture à la LEGO, the Brede Værk makes 150 years of Danish industrial history so palpably clear, that you might almost think that you had been part of it yourself. The central venue is the Brede Klædefabrik, one of the largest 19th-century ...

Brede Works
Brede Værk
I.C. Modewegsvej
2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Kongens Lyngby | Denmark
Molleaen, the 12 km long Mill Stream, north of Copenhagen, powered nine mills, and was for many centuries one of the reasons for the prosperity of the Danish capital. It has been called the Cradle of Danish Industry. The various mills were used for grinding grain, fulling woollen cloth, making ...

National Open Air Museum
Frilandsmuseet ved Sorgenfri
Kongevejen 100
2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Odense | Denmark

The Funen Village
Den Fynske Landby
Sejerskovvej 20
5260 Odense, Denmark

Olgod | Denmark
The preserved creamery in the village of Hjedding, managed by the museum at Olgod, is a monument of a particular stage in the development of the food industry not just in Denmark but in Europe as a whole. In the late 19th century small farmers in several countries established co-operative creameries ...

Hjedding Meierimuseum
Mejerimuseet Hjedding Andelsmejeri
Hjeddingvej 2
6870 Olgod, Denmark

Rønne | Denmark
Rønne is the principal town of Bornholm, the Danish island in the Baltic Sea, which is well-endowed with clays suitable for ceramic manufactures. Lauritz Hjorth began to make terracotta in the town in 1859 and three years later moved to premises in Krystalgade, which the company he founded still ...

Hjorth’s Factory
Hjorths Fabrik
Krystalgade 5
3700 Rønne, Denmark

Silkeborg | Denmark
The city of Silkeborg grew up around a paper mill established in 1844 on the banks of the River Gudena by Michael Drewsen, who in 1867 helped to acquire the paddle steamer Hjejlen (Golden Plover), which still plies on the Silkeborg lakes. The mill had a 6o hp iron waterwheel, and in 1847 acquired a ...

Silkeborg Museum
Hovedgårdsvej 7
8600 Silkeborg, Denmark

The workings for chalk at Mønsted in Jutland, 15 km west of Viborg, are claimed to be the largest of their kind in the world. The stone was used for building, and can be seen in many medieval churches in Jutland. Lime mortar from Mønsted was widely used, as was whitewash made by grinding the ...

Mønsted Limestone (Chalk) Mines
Mønsted Kalkgruber
Kalkværksvej 8
7850 Stohelm, Denmark

Vinderup | Denmark
Hjerl Hede is an open air museum of the Skansen type at Vinderup in the municipality of Holstebro in West Jutland. 35 km W of Viborg. Hans Peter Hjerl Hansen (1870-1946), a successful industrialist, a philanthropist and, for a time, the Danish finance minister bought the heathland which was named ...

Hjerl Hede
Hjerlhedevej 14
7830 Vinderup, Denmark

Tallinn | Estonia
Estonia’s maritime museum was established 1935 although it had earlier antecedents. Since 1981 its headquarters has been the Fat Margaret artillery tower. It had been planned to open the museum the previous year when the regatta events of the Moscow Olympics were held in Tallin, but the project was ...

Estonian Maritime Museum
Eesti Meremuuseum
Pikk 70
10133 Tallin, Estonia

Tartu is Estonian’s second largest city, the seat of an ancient university and the location of the country’s agricultural museum which is based in the outbuildings of a substantial mansion called Ülenume Manor.Displays reflect the various stages of the agricultural year, and such activities of ...

Estonian Agricultural Museum
Pargi 4
61714 Tartu, Estonia

Tartu | Estonia
The museum at Tartu is primarily concerned with ethnography, but it has particularly important collections of clothing from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was established in 1909 and dedicated to the memory of Jacob Hurt, Estonia’s greatest folk-loreist. Its principal ...

Estonian National Museum
Eesti Rahva Muuseum
Veski 32
51014 Tartu, Estonia

Helsinki | Finland
Finland’s museum of technology, founded in 1969 and opened in 1975, occupies the premises built in the 1870s for the City of Helsinki Water Board, which are magnificently situated on the island called Kuninkaankartano at the mouth of the River Vantaa. The displays trace the development of ...

Museum of Technology
Viikintie 1
00560 Helsinki, Finland

The Sunila pulpmill at Kotka of 1937-8 was designed by the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1888-1976) and is one of the most notable 20th century industrial buildings in Europe. It remains in production and parties can visit the premises by arrangement.Adjacent to it is a large residential area ...

Sunila Pulpmill and Residential Area
Alvar Aallon katu
Kotka, Finland

Mänttä | Finland
The G A Serlachius Museum in Mantta, a town of about 7,000 people in West Finland, 90 km north-east of Tampere, depicts life in industrial communities in Finland from the mid-19th century to the present day. It shows how the small village of Mantta became a town at the centre of a huge forest ...

G A Serlachius Museum
G.A. Serlachius museo
R. Erik Serlachiuksen katu 2
35800 Mänttä, Finland

Nakkila-Seura | Finland
Nakkila church in western Finland, designed by Erkki Huttunen and built in 1937 is regarded as an iconic building, and is the subject of a popular saying ‘by the Nakkila church’. It was paid for by a factory owner, J W Suominen, and has a 58 m high tower. Close by the church is a cheese factory ...

Nakkila Cheese Museum
Nakkilan kotiseutumuseo Juustomeijerimuseo
Jyrki Jaakolankuja 20
29250 Nakkila-Seura, Finland

Pori | Finland
Pori is a substantial town and port in the Satakunta region on the Gulf of Bosnia with a current population in excess of 80,000. For more than a century, from 1853 to 1987, the Rosenlew company was one of the most important in the city. It began as a foundry making household pots and pans, and ...

Rosenlew Museum
Kuninkaanlahdenkatu 14
28100 Pori, Finland

Puntaharju | Finland
Finland’s national forestry museum is located in the Puntaharju region in the south-east of the country, an area rich in woodlands and with a long history of working timber. The permanent exhibition is entitled ‘Discovering the Forest’, and shows how forests have shaped patterns of work and leisure, ...

The Finnish Forest Museum
Lutso suomen metsämuseo
Lustontie 1
58450 Puntaharju, Finland

Siuntio KK | Finland
Siuntio is in southern Finalnd, 60 km W of Helsinki, an area where many of the population speak Swedish. A small museum of homesteads (Siuntion Kotiseutumuseo, Pappilantie 22B, 92570 Siuntio, +358 (0)40 7689591), on the pattern established at Skansen, was re-located to its present site around the ...

Gårdskulla Agricultural Museum
Gårdskulla 89
Siuntio, Finland

Urjala | Finland
The Nuutajarvi glassworks was founded in 1793 to make bottles and window glass. Its range of products was enlarged on the advice of French and Belgian experts in the mid-19th century to include table wares, and it remains the oldest glassworks still in production in Finland. The oldest remaining ...

Nuutajärvi Glass Museum
Nuutajärvi Glass Village
31160 Urjala, Finland