Ludwig August Riedinger (1809–79)

Ludwig August Riedinger achieved distinction in mechanical engineering and played a large part in the development of the textile industry in Germany, but his principal achievement was to contribute substantially to the establishment of gas supply systems in numerous cities. He was also one of the entrepreneurs who made the city of Augsburg into one of Germany’s principal manufacturing centres.

He was an orphan, the son of a tailor, born at Schwaigen, now in Baden-Würtemburg. He was apprenticed as a carpenter, and worked as a journeyman at Ludwigsburg, north of Stuttgart. He then worked as a pattern maker with the firm of Gebrüder Hartmann, who had a cotton mill at Heidenheim-an-der-Brenz, not far from Ulm. He moved in 1839 to Augsburg, where he took the post of spinnmeister (director of spinning) at the Augsburger Mechanischen Baumwollspinnerei (Augsburg mechanical cotton spinning company), and served as the company’s technical direction for ten years from 1842. He rapidly extended his interests and was a co-founder of textile mills in cities across Germany, in Bamberg, Bayreuth, Esslingen-am-Neckar, Köln (Cologne) and Worms.

In the 1850s he became increasingly involved with gas supply, and in 1857 established in Augsburg a company which manufactured gas appliances which by 1892 had more than a thousand employees. He also became involved with gas supply companies in 25 cities in Bavaria and 42 in other parts of Germany, Switzerland and the Habsburg Empire.

His son August Riedinger (1845-1919), was born in Augsburg, studied in Zurich and entered the family business in 1877. He contributed significantly to the development of dirigible airships and in 1897 established a balloon factory at Augsburg which provided 4000 balloons to the German armed forces by 1918. He was a member of the committee that established the Deutsches Museum in Munich.