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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.

Merthyr Tydfil | United Kingdom
Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery is one of the great “finds” of the South Wales Valleys. The castle was built in 1824 by the ironmaster William Crawshay the second. It overlooked his immensely successful ironworks which were the largest in the world in the first quarter of the nineteenth ...

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery
Brecon Road
CF47 8RE Merthyr Tydfil, United Kingdom

New Abbey | United Kingdom
A beautiful two-storeyed mill dating from the late 18th century, built from white-washed local stone, with a grain-drying kiln and adjoining miller‘s house. The mill has been restored and brought back into working condition in order to demonstrate the milling process, and guided tours are available. ...

New Abbey Corn Mill
DG2 8BX New Abbey, United Kingdom

Poynton | United Kingdom

Anson Engine Museum
Anson Road
SK12 1TD Poynton, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury | United Kingdom
This is really an iconic building of the industrialisation and a must-have-seen for everybody who is interested in the history of the industry: The 5-storey 55 m long red brick building at the northern suburbs of Shrewsbury was the first iron-framed building in the world. Together with Abraham ...

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings
Spring Gardens Ditherington
SY1 2SX Shrewsbury, United Kingdom

Southampton | United Kingdom
How is it that brickworkers were paid less when it rained? What is a green brick? And why was it crucial to handle wet bricks with the flat of one's hand only? Find the answers to these questions at Bursledon Brickworks in Southampton. The site which is now an industrial museum tells the whole story ...

Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum
Swanwick Lane
SO31 7HB Southampton, United Kingdom

Gjirokaster | Albania
Gjirokastra on the Drinos river in southern Albania was classified a ‘museum city’ by the former Communist regime, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is a city of fortress-like houses with thick stone walls and tiny windows, built between the late 17th century and about ...

Museum of Ethnography
Rr Hysen Hoxha 3
Gjirokaster, Albania

Im Zentrum von Kruje in Nordalbanien steht die Festung des Nationalhelden Georgius Kastrioti Skenderbeg (1405-68). Der restaurierte Basar aus der Zeit um 1800, als Kruje Teil des osmanischen Reichs war, erinnert heute an ein lebendiges Museum, in dem die verschiedensten Handwerker in Können ziegen. ...

Ethnographische Nationalmuseum
Fortress of Kruje
1501 Krujë, Albania

The power generated by the streams that flow down from the rugged mountains of Andorra has been put to many different uses over the centuries. This complex consists of a saw mill and a corn mill powered by the North Valira river, which date from the 16th and 17th centuries. They ceased working in ...

Cal Pal Saw Mill and En Solé Corn Mill
Mola de cal Pal y la mola d’en Solé
Ctra General 3 La Cortinada
300 Ordino, Andorra

Sant Julia de Loria | Andorra
The tobacco plant was once commonly grown on the lower slopes of the mountains of Andorra, and its leaves were processed locally and made into products for smoking. This museum occupies the multi-storey factory worked by the Reig family between 1909 and 1957 and is sponsored by the Fondació Julià ...

Tobacco Museum
Museu del Tabac
Carrer del Doctor Palau 17
700 Sant Julia de Loria, Andorra

The Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum is a very large institution whose statutes date from 1833. Since 1963 its headquarters and principal  displays have been in the Schloss (castle) which dominates the city of Linz and towers above the River Danube. The south wing of the Schloss was destroyed by ...

Upper Austria Regional Museum
Schlossberg 1
4010 Linz, Austria

Salzburg | Austria
Stiegl beer is one of the symbols of the city of Salzburg. Stiegl-Brauwelt which forms part of the brewery is a 10-minute bus journey from the centre of the town. It was opened in 1995 in a former malthouse. Visitors are able to explore displays illustrating all aspects of the history of brewing, ...

The Stiegl Brewing World
Bräuhausstrasse 9
5020 Salzburg, Austria

Sankt-Michael-im-Burgenland | Austria
The museum at Sankt-Michael-im-Burgenland opened in 1995, and shows the development of agricultural machinery over two centuries, from the sickle to the remotely-controlled combine harvester. Its exhibits include some of the traditional wooden carts used by farmers in Austria, and in other parts of ...

Landtechnikmuseum Sankt Michael
7535 Sankt-Michael-im-Burgenland, Austria

Steyr is a city with long industrial traditions, particularly in the working of iron. When its fortunes were declining in the 19th century, they were revived by Josef Werndll (1831-99) who established the Osterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft (Austrian Rifle Company) which made breech-loading ...

Museum of the Industrial World
Wehrgrabengasse 7
4400 Steyr, Austria

Vienna | Austria
The Vienna Arsenal is a huge industrial complex that once supplied one of the largest European armies. Unlike the Arsenale in Venice, it has no ancient origins, having been established in 1849 on the initiative of young Emperor Franz Joseph I. The architects, the Dane Theophil Hansen (1813-91) and ...

Military Museum
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Militärhistoriches Institut
Arsenal Objekt 1
1030 Vienna, Austria

Vienna | Austria
The technical museum in Vienna holds many artefacts of significance to the industrial history of Europe. It was formally established in 1908, with Dr Ludwig Erhard as its director, as part of the jubilee celebrations of the Emperor Franz Josef, but it was not opened until 1918. The museum has an ...

Technical Museum
212 Mariahilfer Strasse
1140 Vienna, Austria

Wiener Neustadt | Austria
The Museum of the Industrial Quarter was established in 1982.by Karl Flanner (1920-2013), a welder in the city’s famous locomotive factory, who endured slave labour under the Nazis, was imprisoned in concentration camps, served as a member of the city corporation in the decades after the Second ...

Museum of the Industrial Quarter
Industrieviertel Museum
Anna Rieger Gasse 4
2700 Wiener Neustadt, Austria

Ptick is a village 40 km from Minsk which was the location of the estate of the Elski family, whose most celebrated member was Michael Elski (1831-1906), a famous violinist and composer. The family was dispossessed by the combined effects of two World Wars and the October Revolution. Eugene Buchim, ...

Dudutki Museum of Folk Culture
222845 Ptick, Belarus

Alle-sur-Semois | Belgium
Alle-sur-Semois is a community in the province of Namur, 88 km south of the city of Namur and 27 km north-east of the French city of Charleville-Mézières. Much of the area is forested and there are many traces of former slate workings. Ardoi’Alle at Alle-sur-Semois offers to visitors a 45-minutes ...

Rue de Reposseau 12
5550 Alle-sur-Semois, Belgium

Alsemberg | Belgium
The museum at Alsemberg, in the Molembeek Valley, 12 km south of Brussels, consists of an ancient farmstead, which incorporates a corn mill, a paper mill with 16th century origins and a building of 1763, and the Winderickx cardboard factory, one of several built in the valley in the 19th century, ...

Papermill Museum Herisem
Fabriekstraat 20
1652 Alsemberg, Belgium

The contrast could scarcely be greater: the little town of Amay, with its old town centre, narrow alleyways, mansions and cloisters situated idyllically in the Mass valley, in the shadows of the massive cooling towers of the Huy atomic power station. Baroque middle-class splendour right next to the ...

Les Maitres du Feu - Route du Feu
Maîtres du feu à Amay – Route du feu
Rue de Bende 5
B-4540 Amay, Belgium