Picture an idyllic valley dotted with attractive ponds which have built up here along the River Bremecke. They were once needed to provide the necessary water power for the many hammer works in the neighbourhood. In 1780 there were 88 such works in the area of Lüdenscheid. Just one has survived the centuries: it is now the Bremecker Hammer Forge Museum. Its equipment comes from a number of different workshops in the region and shows the history of technical improvements in the craft of forging from traditional hand forging via the tilt or stretch hammer to the mighty strap-lift drop hammer. On demonstration days the historic brick building is filled with the noise of pounding and clattering machines as if the works had never ceased.
The first water-driven tilt hammer went into operation here in 1763. It was very similar to a normal hammer, but in a much larger format. At the time the märkisch Sauerland area could boast of the particularly high quality of its wrought iron, with the resonant name of Osemund. Its particular qualities were an extraordinary high level of purity, rigidity and toughness. It was produced in long, thin rods which had been stretched and lengthened under the rapid blows of the tilt hammer. Osemund is ideally suited to making wire. Not for nothing was this one of the region’s major industrial activities. Demand for iron and steel began to rise at the start of the 19th century and drop hammers were introduced into many of the workshops. The process is simple and direct. The heavy hammer head is guided and dropped from a height of several metres onto an anvil and then pulled back up to its starting position with the aid of leather straps. This process increases the pressure of the hammer blows and saves a lot of time. From the time of its introduction Lüdenscheid blacksmiths began to specialise in large items: scythes, axes, spades and shovels. At the same time there was a continual improvement in driving techniques. This equally applied to work at the Bremecker Hammer. It first received a turbine and this was improved even further in 1930 by the addition of an electric motor. The hammer works were only shut down in 1972. The Lüdenscheid Municipal Museum has maintained an outside site here since 1980. The fully-operative equipment and machines provide a living picture of blacksmiths’ techniques from the Middle Ages to the industrial era.
>> Currently the museum is closed for renovation. <<