The workers’ colony of Eisenheim in Oberhausen became one of the first international industrial archaeological causes célèbres in the mid-1970s. Ironworking in the area began in 1758, and the principal mines and works of the Gutehoffnungshütte company were subsequently established there. The colony consists of houses of several kinds built between the 1840s and the first decade of the twentieth century, and grouped around a central area of gardens. Eisenheim was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s but the art historian Roland Gunter (b 1936), publicised the colony internationally, making an eloquent appeal for its conservation at the first TICCIH conference in England in 1973, and bringing a succession of eminent foreign scholars to see the colony. The following year he settled with his wife Janna in a house at Eisenheim, and in 1975 the city corporation of Oberhausen decided to preserve the colony. In 2003 a scholars’ library, a ‘blue tower of many books’ was built near his house, and a ‘garden of poets’ laid out alongside it.
It is acknowledged that Eisenheim is the oldest surviving workers’ colony in the Ruhrgebeit. The LVR-Industriemuseum maintains a small museum in one of the houses, displaying the history of Eisenheim, adjacent to which are play facilities for children including a 10 m high tower modelled on a blast furnace on which there are slides.