A museum that is still in production? A factory full of the noise of hammering and hissing, with a huge drop hammer beating glowing steel into shape? This is all part of the everyday life at the Hendrichs Drop Forge in Solingen. The machines here have never really stood still, not even in 1986 when the works were shut down. For they were then taken over almost immediately by the LVR Industrial Museum. The takeover also included some of the workforce who had scarcely enough time to remove their overalls. Today they are still standing beside the hissing machines and engines doing what they have always done -cutting and forging. The only difference now is that museum visitors can admire them working at close quarters and satisfy their curiosity about what goes on in such a place. It is scarcely possible to recount the history of the Solingen cutlery industry in a more living manner. You would not believe how many hands scissors had to pass through before they were ready for sale. The amount to which the factory affected the everyday lives of the workers and their families was equally incredible. By contrast the factory owners seemed to live on another planet. Their mansions stand right next door. Needless to say these also belong to the museum.
The Hendrichs Drop Forge in Solingen is around 120 years old. Until it ceased production in 1986 scissors were made here for the local cutlery industry. A mere two months after production stopped the LVR Industrial Museum took over the complete site including the buildings and technical equipment. Not only that. The workers were kept on: eight in all and a woman accountant. Nowadays they take visitors on guided tours of the works or stand beside the drop hammer and demonstrate how scissors were once made. The family works were set up in 1886 during a boom era in the town of Solingen. At the time this small town in the “Bergisch Land” was known as “the workshop of the world”. Every year millions of scissors, knives and weapons were turned out here. It is no accident that this occurred in Solingen. Steel goods were being turned out here as early as the Middle Ages. External conditions were ideal. There were almost inexhaustible supplies of ore. The nearby woods and forests ensured there was enough fuel to keep the fires burning, and the River Wupper and its many tributaries provided the necessary hydraulic power for all the forging and grinding operations. The introduction of drop forging techniques helped Solingen to rise to its position as the world’s largest producer of scissors. The hammer only needed to be dropped a maximum of four times to forge a scissor blade from a narrow slab of steel. The heavy, block-like forging dies were responsible for this: precision tools made of top quality steel into which the hollow outline of a scissor blade had been carved. The Hendrichs factory contained 33 drop hammers, which made it the largest drop forge in the area. The forging dies themselves came from its own workshops. In addition the factory contained a grinding works for processing the moulded blanks into finished tools. In this way it was able to house both of Solingen’s key industries under a single roof.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
Tuesday - Friday 10am-5pm
Saturday, Sunday 11am-6pm