The 300 or so weaving and spinning machines are now at work in China. But the cellars of the old spinning mill are still full of life. Here the waters of the River Wupper have been diverted through a mixed-flow water turbine which in turn drives a rotary current generator. The result is environmentally friendly electricity for the public grid. This has been going on since 1922 with the same machines and is a good example of how to turn the industrial past into a living present! That said, all the power-generating machines in the Johann Wülfing & Sohn Museum in Radevormwald are still completely intact. Another brilliant item is a glittering two-cylinder steam engine made in 1891. This is the largest steam engine in the Bergisch Land and its 400 horse-power capacity was put into action whenever the River Wupper was unable to supply enough water to keep the factory production in operation. Now, after 40 years of rest, the powerful apparatus is turning once again at regular intervals for show demonstrations. Visitors to the museum can get an idea of how the power was transmitted via the line shafts to the various production departments in the spinning, weaving, burling, dying and locksmiths’ shops. Not forgetting the pattern loom shop whose two Jacquard looms – the only two remaining on the site – are also still in working order. Furthermore the design department can also be visited. This was where the firm created its textile samples and fashion collections. In the testing laboratory visitors can see how incubators, heavy metal apparatus and plastic equipment were used to test manufactured textiles for durability by rubbing, shaking and heating.
The large factory site, built alongside a loop in the River Wupper, is a microcosm of a small town: it has its own half-timbered station, a manufacturer’s villa, worker’s dwellings built on top of one another several stories high, and a church. The oldest of the buildings dates back to 1836, the remainder followed soon after. The Johann Wülfing & Sohn company dominated life in the suburb of Dahlerau for a total of 150 years. The museum on a part of the site is now in the process of extending its exhibition on textile manufacturing. A number of small companies have set up business in and around the museum site – new beginnings within the walls of what was once a key industry in the Bergisch Land.