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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.

Ostend | Belgium
Walraversijde, in the coastal dunes 6 km west of Ostend, is a medieval fishing village that has been excavated since 1992 under the direction of Marnix Pieters of the Free University of Brussels. A museum showing the results of the excavations, was opened in 2000. Walraversijde is perhaps the most ...

Walraversijde Museum
Nieuwpoortsteenweg 636
8400 Ostend, Belgium

Recht/Sante Vith | Belgium
The deposits of slate at Recht in eastern Belgium were worked by open-cast methods from the eighteenth century, but in 1886 the brothers Margraff opened a shaft to layers of slate some 60 m below the surface. They employed 25 men but the mine closed before the outbreak of war in 1914. The last open ...

Recht Slate Mine
Zum Schieferstollen
4780 Recht/Sante Vith, Belgium

Roeselare | Belgium
The Rodenbach brewery south of Roeselare is one of the best-known in Belgium and provides an enlightening introduction to that country’s notable brewing heritage. The tour includes the malthouse and a vast hall in which there are 300 oak casks for maturing beer, which is sometimes used for banquets. ...

Rodenbach Brewery
Palm Breweries SA
Spanjestraat 131-41
88-00 Roeselare, Belgium

Romedenne | Belgium
Romedenne is a small community within the municipality of Philippeville in the province of Namur, not far from Belgium’s border with France. The Gambrinus Drivers’ Museum is one of Europe’s most specialised industrial museums. Located in a nineteenth century malting and brewery complex, it is ...

Gambrinus Drivers’ Museum
Musée des Camions de Brasserie
Fontaine Saint-Pierre 2A
5600 Romedenne, Belgium

Outside the gates of Seraing, which is dominated by the huge industrial plant belonging the Cockerill-Sambre concern, lies a truly splendid building on the right bank of the River Maas: the former Cistercian monastery of Val Saint Lambert. Since it was founded it has been heavily damaged many times: ...

Christal Discovery Val Saint Lambert
Val Saint-Lambert
Esplanade du Val
B-4100 Seraing, Belgium

Sprimont | Belgium
The road from Theux is lined with industrial buildings. Shortly behind the sign telling you that you are entering Sprimont there is another smaller sign pointing the way to the Museum of Stone. The road leading to the museum opens out onto a large square covered in hewed stones, cranes and old ...

Museum of Stones
Museé de la Pierre
Rue Joseph Potier 54
B-4140 Sprimont, Belgium

Sofia | Bulgaria
The National Polytechnic Museum was founded in 1957 and is managed by the Academy of Sciences under the direction of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. It occupies a building that formerly accommodated a museum commemorating Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949), the Communist leader and theoretician. Its ...

National Polytechnic Museum
Ul Opalchenska 66
1303 Sofia, Bulgaria

Zagreb | Croatia
The museum of technology in Croatia was established as a result of the efforts of Dr Bonz Tezak, a professor at Zagreb University, and was formally constituted in 1954, although there was an earlier museum of trades and crafts in the city which had ceased to function. It occupies timber buildings ...

Technical museum
Tehnički Muzej
Savska cesta 18
Zagreb, Croatia

Lefkosia | Cyprus
Cyprus has long traditions of jewellery manufacture which are illustrated in this museum, which includes pieces of all kinds made on the island since the eighteenth century, a variety of silver utensils, and tools that were used in silver-smithing, diamond cutting and other specialised aspects of ...

Cyprus Jewellers’ Museum
Odos Praxippou 7-9 Laiki Geitonia
Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus

Nicosia/Lefkosia | Cyprus
The island of Cyprus, the third largest in the Mediterranean, has been part of many civilisations, and the historic coins collected by the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation provide one of the best insights into Cypriot history. The collection is divided into chronological sections which display ...

Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage
Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation
Odos Stasinous 51 Agia Paraskevia
2002 Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus

Jablonec nad Nisou | Czech Republic
Jablonec, known before the Second World War as Gablonz an der Neisse, is celebrated as the cradle of the Bohemian glass industry and as one of Europe’s principal centres for the manufacture of costume jewellery. Both industries developed in the eighteenth century, but were most prosperous in the ...

Museum of Glass & Jewellery
Muzeum skla a bižuterie v Jablonci nad Nisou
U Musea 398/4
4601 Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic

Jaroslavice | Czech Republic
The water-powered corn mill at Slup is a building of outstanding quality, a building in the Renaissance style constructed in 1512, which has four undershot waterwheels. The machinery that has been restored dates from the 19th century. The museum based in the building has displays on the development ...

Water Mill Slup
Vodní mlýn ve Slupi
Slup 94
671 28 Jaroslavice, Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary | Czech Republic
Karlovy Vary, 120 km west of Prague, is renowned as a spa and for the 19th century ironwork which adorns its buildings. It has also been a centre for the manufacture of high quality glass for which Bohemia is famous. The museum attached to the Moser factory at Karlovy Vary displays the history of ...

Moser Glass Factory & Museum
Kapitan Jaroše 46/19
36060 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Lodĕnice u Beroun is a small village near the town of Beroum in the forest region 26 km south-west of Prague near to which are two important museums of the extractive industries that once flourished in the karst (limestone) region of Bohemia. To the north of the village is the Chrustenice Shaft, a ...

Mining Exhibition Chrustenice Shaft | Open Air Museum of the Solvay quarries
Železmorudný Chrustenice Skansensolvayovy lomy
267 12 Lodĕnice u Beroun, Czech Republic

Mlada Boleslav | Czech Republic
The Skoda factory in Mlada Boleslav, 72 km N of Prague, traces it origins from 1895 when Vlaclav Laurin and Vlaclav Klement began to manufacture bicycles, soon progressing to motor cycles, and in 1905 to motor cars. The present factory, dating from 1945, the principal motor manufacturing plant in ...

Skoda Auto Museum
Vaclava Klementa 294
293-60 Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic

Prague 7 | Czech Republic
The collections of the Czech National Agricultural Museum date from the World Fair (or Jubilee Exhibition) held in Prague in 1891. After the exhibition closed they were part of a museum of ethnography but the agricultural museum became a separate institution in 1918. The collections were ...

National Agricultural Museum
Národni Zemĕdĕlské Muzeum
Kostelni 1300/44
17000 Prague, Czech Republic

Prague 7 | Czech Republic
The former Bohemian lands of the Habsburg Empire have long traditions of manufacturing and the independent Czechoslovakia of the 1920s and 30s was in the forefront of industrial design.The National Museum has collections of machines, vehicles, clocks and cameras, but the departments of industrial ...

National Technical Museum
Národni technické museum
Kostelni 42
17078 Prague, Czech Republic

Pribram VI - Brezové Hory | Czech Republic
The Pribram region of Bohemia was important for the mining of silver from the middle ages, of coal from the late 18th century, and of uranium after the Second World War. The principal mining museum in the Czech republic is centred round the Vojtech mine of 1779, which in 1875 reached a depth of 1000 ...

Príbram Museum of Mining
Hornické muzeum Pribram
Námesti Hynka Klicky 293
261 01 Príbram, Czech Republic

Zatec | Czech Republic
Bohemia has been famous for centuries as the source of some of Europe’s best hops, and particularly for the Saaz Noble variety, grown around Zatek, a market town of about 20,000 inhabitants some 70 km north-west of Prague. The hop museum is located in a three-storey building of the late 19th century ...

Hop Museum
Chmelařské Muzeum
Námĕsti Prokopa Velkého
43801 Zatec, Czech Republic

Zlin | Czech Republic
The town of Zlin grew up in the early 20th century around the shoe factory established in 1894 by Tomás Batá (1876-1932), which exported its wares to many countries. In the 1930s Batá also manufactured furniture, machinery and aircraft.Parts of the town were planned by Frantisek Gahwa after ...

Museum of Shoemaking
Obuvnicke museum
Svit 1
760 00 Zlin, Czech Republic

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WORK it Out – Day of Industrial Culture

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