Søren Frich (1827–1901)

Iron foundries and engineering works were essential to equip new industries in the industrial revolution. In Denmark, Søren Frich was an engineer who created an important iron foundry and engineering works at Aarhus that supplied a wide range of machinery and equipment.

Frich grew up at Aarhus and attended the scientific school there and then the technical university in Copenhagen. After fighting and recovering from injuries in the war with Germany in 1851 he decided to study iron casting, first in Denmark at Frederiksværk and then at Charleroi in Belgium and finally Newcastle upon Tyne in Britain. When he returned to Denmark in 1853 he saw an opportunity to improve iron casting in the country and he decided to set up his own foundry.

With money from his father, he opened the foundry at Aarhus to make agricultural tools and machinery, stoves and structural ironwork. He made his first stationary steam engine in 1855 and from 1861 he made equipment for the new railways in Jutland. Many different objects could be made at the works, but specialities included machinery for paper mills, breweries, soap manufacturing and dairies.

In 1885, Frich sold his business and retired to a country estate. He died in 1901. The company continued to develop after him. With 400 workers it was the largest employer in Aarhus. From 1900 it became important in making electricity generating equipment. Encouraged by the government it began to produce steam locomotives from 1912, after 1919 in partnership with the Berlin company Borsig. It grew further during the twentieth century, employing 1,000 people. Until the 1950s it sold steam locomotives around the world, to countries including Thailand, France, Sweden, Spain and New Zealand. It also made diesel locomotives.

Frich still exists as an engineering company. The site of the old foundry is now a business park.