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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.

Arhus C | Denmark
The Old Town in Arhus, the principal city of Jutland, is unusual amongst European open air museums in that it consists largely of urban buildings rather than farmsteads that have been removed from their original sites and re-erected, and that it is located close to the modern city centre. The ...

The Old Town
Den Gamle By
Viborgvej 2
8000 Arhus, Denmark

Broager | Denmark
Broager is a small town in South Jutland, on the Broager Peninsula which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Flensborg Fjord. The area was celebrated for several centuries as the principal source of bricks in Denmark. Bricks, made from deposits of stoneless clay from a glacial lake, ...

Catherine Brickworks
Broager Cathrinesminde Teglværk
Illerstrandwej 7
DK 6310 Broager, Denmark

Copenhagen | Denmark
Holmen is the name given to the row of islands linked by bridges to the east of Copenhagen between Zealand and the northern tip of the island of Amager, most of which are artificial, having been created from the 1680s onwards by sinking the hulks of ships and filling in the areas around them with ...

Holmen Naval Base
Copenhagen, Denmark

Beer is not simply beer. The huge visitor centre in the historic Carlsberg Brewery covers an area of around 10,000 square metres and as such seems to be a complete brewery universe. Today more than 500 different beers are linked with the name Carlsberg. A tour of the museum leads you through the ...

Visit Carlsberg / Carlsberg Visitors Centre
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11
1799 Copenhagen, Denmark

Helsingor | Denmark
The museum of technology was established by a private trust in Copenhagen and moved to Helsingor in 1966, where it has been located in several premises but is now all on one site in buildings once occupied by an iron foundry. It has extensive collections on science and technology from the 18th ...

Danish Museum of Technology
Danmarks Tekniske Museet
Fabriksvej 25-27
3000 Helsingor, Denmark

Holbæk | Denmark
The port of Holbæk lies on the north coast of the Danish island of Zealand. Andelslandbyen Nyvang (which loosely translates as ‘share the village’) is an open air museum of the co-operative movement which portrays in detail life in Danish villages and small towns between 1870s and 1950. The movement ...

Co-operative Village Nyvang
Andelslandbyen Nyvang
Oldveyen 25
4300 Holbæk, Denmark

Kongens Lyngby | Denmark
From the first water-driven factory to modern mass manufacture à la LEGO, the Brede Værk makes 150 years of Danish industrial history so palpably clear, that you might almost think that you had been part of it yourself. The central venue is the Brede Klædefabrik, one of the largest 19th-century ...

Brede Works
Brede Værk
I.C. Modewegsvej
2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Kongens Lyngby | Denmark
Molleaen, the 12 km long Mill Stream, north of Copenhagen, powered nine mills, and was for many centuries one of the reasons for the prosperity of the Danish capital. It has been called the Cradle of Danish Industry. The various mills were used for grinding grain, fulling woollen cloth, making ...

National Open Air Museum
Frilandsmuseet ved Sorgenfri
Kongevejen 100
2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Odense | Denmark
Den Fynske Landby (The Funen Village) is a Skansen-style open air museum in Denmark’s second city which displays about thirty buildings from Funen and nearby islands, ranging in date from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Displays are particularly concerned with the ways in which ...

The Funen Village
Den Fynske Landby
Sejerskovvej 20
5260 Odense, Denmark

Olgod | Denmark
The preserved creamery in the village of Hjedding, managed by the museum at Olgod, is a monument of a particular stage in the development of the food industry not just in Denmark but in Europe as a whole. In the late 19th century small farmers in several countries established co-operative creameries ...

Hjedding Meierimuseum
Mejerimuseet Hjedding Andelsmejeri
Hjeddingvej 2
6870 Olgod, Denmark

Rønne | Denmark
Rønne is the principal town of Bornholm, the Danish island in the Baltic Sea, which is well-endowed with clays suitable for ceramic manufactures. Lauritz Hjorth began to make terracotta in the town in 1859 and three years later moved to premises in Krystalgade, which the company he founded still ...

Hjorth’s Factory
Hjorths Fabrik
Krystalgade 5
3700 Rønne, Denmark

Silkeborg | Denmark
The city of Silkeborg grew up around a paper mill established in 1844 on the banks of the River Gudena by Michael Drewsen, who in 1867 helped to acquire the paddle steamer Hjejlen (Golden Plover), which still plies on the Silkeborg lakes. The mill had a 6o hp iron waterwheel, and in 1847 acquired a ...

Silkeborg Museum
Hovedgårdsvej 7
8600 Silkeborg, Denmark

The workings for chalk at Mønsted in Jutland, 15 km west of Viborg, are claimed to be the largest of their kind in the world. The stone was used for building, and can be seen in many medieval churches in Jutland. Lime mortar from Mønsted was widely used, as was whitewash made by grinding the ...

Mønsted Limestone (Chalk) Mines
Mønsted Kalkgruber
Kalkværksvej 8
7850 Stohelm, Denmark

Vinderup | Denmark
Hjerl Hede is an open air museum of the Skansen type at Vinderup in the municipality of Holstebro in West Jutland. 35 km W of Viborg. Hans Peter Hjerl Hansen (1870-1946), a successful industrialist, a philanthropist and, for a time, the Danish finance minister bought the heathland which was named ...

Hjerl Hede
Hjerlhedevej 14
7830 Vinderup, Denmark

Imavere | Estonia
The Estonian Dairy Museum was founded in 1976, when Estonia was still part of the USSR, but it was not opened until 2001. It is located in a dairy established by Joint Dairy Society of Estonia in 1938. The museum receives support from most of the dairy companies in the country. It portrays the ...

Estonian Dairy Museum
Eesti Piimandusmuuseum Imaveres
Hans Rebase tee 1
74021 Imavere, Estonia

Tallinn | Estonia
Estonia’s maritime museum was established 1935 although it had earlier antecedents. Since 1981 its headquarters has been the Fat Margaret artillery tower. It had been planned to open the museum the previous year when the regatta events of the Moscow Olympics were held in Tallin, but the project was ...

Estonian Maritime Museum
Eesti Meremuuseum
Pikk 70
10133 Tallin, Estonia

Tartu is Estonian’s second largest city, the seat of an ancient university and the location of the country’s agricultural museum which is based in the outbuildings of a substantial mansion called Ülenume Manor.Displays reflect the various stages of the agricultural year, and such activities of ...

Estonian Agricultural Museum
Pargi 4
61714 Tartu, Estonia

Tartu | Estonia
The museum at Tartu is primarily concerned with ethnography, but it has particularly important collections of clothing from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was established in 1909 and dedicated to the memory of Jacob Hurt, Estonia’s greatest folk-loreist. Its principal ...

Estonian National Museum
Eesti Rahva Muuseum
Veski 32
51014 Tartu, Estonia

The Estonian Paper Museum has comprehensive displays showing how paper is made, and on the history of printing. There are old printing presses with wooden and lead type founts, together with examples of paper sculpture. The museum regularly holds workshops teaching visitors book-binding, ...

Estonian Print and Paper Museum
Eesti trükimuuseum MTÜ
Kastani 48f
50410 Tartu, Estonia

Helsinki | Finland
Finland’s museum of technology, founded in 1969 and opened in 1975, occupies the premises built in the 1870s for the City of Helsinki Water Board, which are magnificently situated on the island called Kuninkaankartano at the mouth of the River Vantaa. The displays trace the development of ...

Museum of Technology
Viikintie 1
00560 Helsinki, Finland

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WORK it Out – Day of Industrial Culture

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