Richard Hartmann (1809–78)

Richard Hartmann was one of the leading figures in the engineering industry that flourished in Saxony from the mid-nineteenth century. He was not a native of Saxony having been born at Barr in Alsace, now in the French département of Bas-Rhin. He was the son of a tanner but was apprenticed to tool making and on completing his articles went on the tramp to gain experience as a journeyman.

At the age 23 he arrived at Chemnitz in Saxony, where he worked for Carl Gottlieb Haubold (1783-1856), founder of the Chemnitzer Maschinenbau company who is regarded as the father of mechanical engineering in the city. He was recognised as a citizen of Chemnitz from 1837 which enabled to set up his own business, a workshop repairing cotton spinning machines, with a partner and just one worker. Two years later he formed Götze & Hartmann, a mechanical engineering company in which he handled technological developments and his new partner the commercial aspects. In the same year he purchased a patent for a slubbing frame which proved the foundation of his initial prosperity. His firm had 30 employees in 1839, 76 the following year and 350 by 1844, and moved several times to successively larger premises.

Hartmann’s first steam locomotive was completed in 1848. He built locomotives that were the equal of those imported from England, with which they were competitive in price, and he became the principal supplier of locomotives to the Königlich Sächsische Staateisenbahnen (Saxon State Railway). By the late 1850s he was employing 1500 workers, a total that increased to 2700 by 1870 when Sächsische Maschinenfabrik vormals Richard Hartmann (Saxon Machine Factory formerly Richard Hartmann) was formed. The company manufactured and turbines, milling equipment, mining machinery and machine tools, as well as spinning machine and locomotives with which he supplied global markets. His one thousandth locomotive was completed in the year of his death.

The company declined in the 1920s and was wound up in 1930 although some parts continued until 1990. The former engineering building is now the Richard Hartmann Halle in Chemnitz, and the building that was once the company headquarters is now used by the police service. Some 25 Hartmann locomotives are preserved, the majority in Germany but some in Norway and the Czech Republic.