“Clean and tidy and ready to be fired up once more”. That may be so. But blast furnace no. 5 on the site of the disused Thyssen ironworks will stay for ever cold. Because it is right in the middle of the North Duisburg Landscape Park. This 200 hectare area is a clear example of how nature and industrial heritage cam match each other to perfection. On a site where workers were once pouring pig iron you can now find 28 kilometres of cycle paths and rambling trails running through a unique landscape park. If you like you can even book yourself an industrial guided tour, a torch-light tour, or an ecological ramble. There’s a lot more going on here. The old Gasometer can boast of housing one of the largest indoor diving centres in Europe. And on the ore bunker site the German Alpine Society maintains a challenging range of rock faces for would-be climbers. If you want to go even higher you can even try climbing the stairway to the top of the blast furnace. Children can enjoy themselves on a giant slide, stroll along a nature study trail or visit a farmyard. The steam blast house, the foundry and the 170 metre long central power station are popular showplaces for exotic, high-class events and artistic shows.
The northern part of Duisburg became a part of the Ruhr industrial area at a relatively late stage: around the mid 19th century when heavy industry was beginning to burst the limitations of the Ruhr valley. In 1901 August Thyssen commissioned the building of a blast furnace in the Duisburg suburb of Meiderich. Shortly before that he had bought up coal fields nearby for it is impossible to make iron without coal. From the start the five new furnaces were connected to an aerial railway which fed them continuously with coke from the neighbouring Friedrich Thyssen 4/8 coking plant. The driving force within the Meiderich ironworks was the monumental central power station, a genuine cathedral of industrial heritage. It contained ten high-power gas engines to drive the dynamos which supplied electricity to the works and the adjoining housing settlement. The steam blast house with its rounded windows and surrounding ornamental decorations shows the high value which was placed on external appearances at the time. Blast furnace no. 5, on the other hand, is a prime example of the late industrial era. It was built and put into operation in 1973 because its modern cooling system and wind heaters were able to meet strict environmental demands.
Two years later, on 4th April 1985, the Meiderich ironworks were closed down after 80 years of pig iron production. Blast furnace no. 5 was left “clean and tidy and ready to be fired up once more”. But overproduction on the European steel market banished any thoughts that it would ever be taken into production once again. What was to be done with this huge industrial site? A group of committed townsfolk campaigned successfully for the ironworks to be preserved on the grounds of its value as an industrial monument. The Emscher Park International Building Exhibition took up the fight and from 1990 to 199 a new type of park was created between the suburbs of Meiderich and Hamborn combining untamed vegetation, specially designed gardens and green areas, and disused industrial monuments. Since then the North Duisburg Landscape Park has been developing further every year.
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You can visit the park at any time.
Saturday, Sunday and public hols 2pm and on request
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public hols: after sunset