How did people used to make bricks? Where did they make them? And who made them? You can find the answers to all these questions on the historic brickworks site of the Westphalian Industrial Museum in Lage. The brickworks are situated in the heart of the Lippe region that was once renowned for its migrant brick makers. Every year they would leave their homes to offer their services all over Germany, leaving their families behind to look after themselves. Life here was not at all easy. You can see this for yourself inside the old workers’ cottages at the Lage brickworks. Here museum visitors can find out how more about the families’ everyday struggles to survive whilst their menfolk were working away from home. A railway wagon dating back to 1898 brings their travels back to life once more. Of course the museum also tells of the work in the local brickworks. At first everything was made by hand here. It was only in 1922 that machines began to take over production. These have all been preserved and are put back into operation on certain days several times a year. In addition the museum offers regular small-gauge railway trips around the site of the former clay pit. And every year at the Museum Festivities the huge ring furnace is set alight in order to bake bricks in the traditional manner.
For many years clay was the number one treasure of the Earth at Lage. It determined the lives of a huge number of families and threw up a very special type of profession: the migrant brick maker. He grew up in the midst of clay and bricks and his craft was in demand all over Germany. But mechanisation also affected the brick making trade and with it the “brick making town” of Lage in the Lippe region. Museum visitors can get more details about this at the historic brickworks in Lage. It was in action for exactly 70 years – from 1909 to 1979. After that it began a second lease of life as one of the eight sites of the LWL Museums of Industrial Culture. The core of the museum is the brickworks itself and its equipment, all of which has been preserved. Machines, gadgets and tools of every shape and size vividly depict a branch of industry which has shaped our world in a unique fashion. The works at Lage contained the whole range of everything which could be made from clay: from roof tiles to house bricks and paving bricks. At first they were made by hand but starting in 1922 production was gradually turned over to machines. The old machines are working once more and are set in motion at regular times during the year. The result is a steady output of bricks. The traditional ring furnace which existed in all major brickworks during the 19th century is also set alight once a year. It had a twofold advantage over more conventional furnaces. It was possible to keep it alight on a permanent basis and, by doing so, to also save fuel. More correctly, a good brick burner was able to do this. Which brings us back to migrant brick workers, the true professionals in the brick making business. They knew how to turn their knowledge into money – as itinerant specialists. This in turn created unusual living conditions, not only for the workers themselves but for the families they left behind. Migrant brick makers were as typical in the Lippe region as were mineworkers in the Ruhrgebiet – in the pre-industrial era. The start of the Industrial Revolution sealed their fate and changed the face of the “brick making town” of Lage for ever.
|Recommended duration of visit:||1,5 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm