A museum that is still in production? A factory full of the noise of hammering and hissing, with a huge drop hammer beating glowing steel into shape? This is all part of the everyday life at the Hendrichs Drop Forge in Solingen. The machines here have never really stood still, not even in 1986 when the works were shut down. For they were then taken over almost immediately by the LVR Industrial Museum. The takeover also included some of the workforce who had scarcely enough time to remove their overalls. The Museum, set up in the former Hendrichs drop forge premises, illustrates the manufacturing process of scissors at authentic workplaces and provides an overview of Solingen's industrialization since the early 19th century. In addition to exhibitions explaining the production of raw materials in the forge and the hardening, grinding and assembling in processing workshops, the museum focuses on how grinding was more and more mechanized.
It is scarcely possible to recount the history of the Solingen cutlery industry in a more living manner. You would not believe how many hands scissors had to pass through before they were ready for sale. The amount to which the factory affected the everyday lives of the workers and their families was equally incredible. By contrast the factory owners seemed to live on another planet. Their mansions stand right next door. Needless to say these also belong to the museum.
The museum is supplemented by a network of other sites involved in the production of cutlery. The ‘Wipperkotten’, the last originally preserved water-powered grinding shop, operates whetstones to the present day. Displays illustrate the ‘Reiderei Lauterjung’, then a cottage for the assembling of pocket knives, as well as the ancient steam grinding shop ‘Loosen Maschinn’ that rented workplaces to grinders, and the former ‘Lieferkontor’ (a counting-house for merchandise) of the company Friedrich Abr. Herder, where workers of the cottage industry delivered their products and received new work.
The Hendrichs Drop Forge in Solingen is around 130 years old. Until it ceased production in 1986 scissors were made here for the local cutlery industry. A mere two months after production stopped the LVR Industrial Museum took over the complete site including the buildings and technical equipment. Not only that. The workers were kept on: eight in all and a woman accountant. They have retired by now, but it is still experts who operate the machines and demonstrate how scissors are produced. The family works were set up in 1886 during a boom era that made the town of Solingen a global leader. At the time this small town in the “Bergisch Land” was known as “the workshop of the world”. Every year millions of scissors, knives and weapons were turned out here. It is no accident that Solingen became the dominant centre of the cutlery industry, since the first blades were being turned out here as early as the Middle Ages. External conditions were ideal. There were almost inexhaustible supplies of ore, the nearby woods and forests ensured there was enough fuel to keep the fires burning, and the River Wupper and its many tributaries provided the necessary hydraulic power for all the forging and grinding operations. The introduction of drop forging techniques allowed Solingen in the late 19th century to leave Sheffield’s competitors behind. The hammer only needed to be dropped a maximum of four times to forge a scissor blade from a narrow slab of steel. The heavy, block-like forging dies were responsible for this: precision tools made of top quality steel into which the hollow outline of a scissor blade had been carved. The Hendrichs factory contained 33 drop hammers, which made it the largest drop forge in the area. The forging dies themselves came from its own workshops. The factory also included a steam grinding shop in which self-employed grinders processed Solingen cutlery at rented workplaces.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
Tuesday - Friday 10am-5pm
Saturday, Sunday 11am-6pm