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European Themeroute | Production and Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable ... more

Icon: Production and ManufacturingGoods for the world. European Theme Route Manufacturing

Domestic handmade textile production was typical for the pre-industrial age. The father sat at the loom and the women of the family were responsible for spinning the yarn. An entrepreneur (in Germany he was called a "Verleger") delivered the raw material and organised sales, often over considerable distances. Textile manufacture was the leading industry in Europe: from the 16th century onwards it was basically organised on such a system.

The first types of factories grew up in the 17th century, when larger groups of workers were concentrated in so-called "manufactories". Although this also applied to textiles, it was more common in glass and salt production, ironworks and hammer works. In France, Royal manufactories produced tapestries, furniture and porcelain in magnificent style. The process was divided up into sections from the start, and the workers had to keep to a strict discipline despite the fact that the majority were still working individually by hand. The decisive element which turned the whole world of work on its head was mechanisation.

The factory age began around the end of the 18th century in Britain, with large spinning mills in the county of Lancashire. Here one waterwheel was able to drive around 1000 spindles. Shortly afterwards there followed the steam engine, which made production independent of swiftly flowing water and gave a huge boost to mechanical spinning, weaving and, soon after, the whole of the British economy.

From now on machines dictated the organisation and tempo of work: but not only in textile manufacturing. The Economist, Adam Smith, tells of a factory where the manufacture of a pin was divided up into 18 working sections. In 1769, the English pioneer, Josiah Wedgwood, opened up his porcelain factory "Etruria" near Stoke-on-Trent. Whereas before that, workers had followed the path of their product from the pottery wheel to decorating, firing and storing, they were now ordered to keep strictly to their own department.

Division of labour raised productivity considerably. The actions of the workers, on the other hand, were increasingly reduced to a few, constantly repeated movements. As a result they gradually became alienated from the products they made. Formerly their products had been the pride of hand workers. Since expert knowledge was hardly necessary, employers now preferred to employ women and children whom they could pay less than men. The workers were ruthlessly exploited. Women and children in textile factories had to work shifts of between 14 and 16 hours. Even hen working conditions improved during the course of the 19th century – primarily for children – this tendency was aggravated even more by the introduction of mass production.

As early as 1797 an American by the name of Eli Whitney suggested making rifle locks from exchangeable parts, instead of making them individually for every weapon. Thanks to this standardisation – a basic prerequisite for mass production - costs were drastically reduced and production further accelerated. The manufacture of exchangeable parts only really came to the fore at the end of the 19th century with the arrival of new metal precision tools. After that, the production of standard quality tools gradually became a manufacturing branch in its own right: machine tool manufacturing.
In 1881 in the USA, Frederick W. Taylor began to divide working processes systematically into their smallest components, in order to rationalise them even more. His quantitative analyses laid the foundations for "Taylorism": scientific production management. The immediate results were that engineers would go round the factories checking working processes with a watch in their hand in order to speed up the work.

The last stage of mass production was the introduction of the conveyor belt. This began in the stockyards of Chicago and Cincinnati. It was then adapted by Henry Ford in 1911 for his motor car factories in Manchester and Detroit. Whilst the conveyor belt was moving forward the next chassis at a constant speed the workers had to mount the components with as few actions as possible to avoid any "unproductive" movements. The pace of production was even more drastically increased. Whereas it had formerly taken 12.5 man-hours to mount a chassis, by 1914 only 93 man-minutes were needed. Thus Ford cars could be afforded by everyone.

In the second half of the 19th century methods of industrial production reached the food sector. The powerful engines which delivered energy independent of the specific location, encouraged entrepreneurs to set up large bakeries and breweries. New techniques made the processing of agrarian products increasingly independent of the seasons of the year.
The invention of artificial cooling methods was an important step. In 1748 a Scotsman by the name of William Cullen was the first man to demonstrate how to extract warmth from the environment by reducing a fluid to steam. The process was made even more effective by compressing the refrigerating agents. That said, it was quite a long time before these principles could be used to make the first effective refrigerator. An American by the name of Jacob Perkins is reputed to have built the first model in 1835. Around 20 years later an Australian, James Harrison, introduced refrigerators to the meat and brewing industries.

Thus large-scale beer production became possible during the summer months. At the same time people learnt how to control the temperature of the mash with a thermometer, and the amount of original gravity with a saccharometer. Such scientific knowledge was characteristic for the whole area of food production.

Conservation was a further step. The fact that food remains edible when it is kept in a closed container at a certain temperature over a long period of time, was discovered by a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert, in 1809 when he was charged with supplying food to Napoleon's armies. His British colleague, Peter Durand, discovered that tins were the best containers for doing so. But it was not until 1863 that a scientist by the name of Louis Pasteur discovered that microbes could be killed by heating. The production of tinned food spread quickly, most of all in the USA, and the United States soon became the market leader.

Milk conservation can also be traced back to military requirements. During the American Civil War in the 1860s Gail Borden developed condensed milk. A Swiss firm launched it onto the European market and soon after it merged with another firm owned by Henri Nestlé, the inventor of baby food. The result was that condensed milk became famous under Nestlé’s name.

Around the end of the 19th century a new form of co-operative manufacturing arose in dairy production. Dairy farmers, above all in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and northern Germany, joined forces to market their dairy produce. Cooperative dairies produced butter and cheese to uniform standards and conquered ever larger markets beyond national boundaries. The standardisation of food production, increasingly independent of the time of manufacture and the region where it was made, has continued right down to the present day.

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Member Sites ERIH Association

Großalmerode | Germany
The museum of Großalmerode, the „city of good clay”, takes its visitors on a trip through 800 years of clay work and glass-making, showing the development of local trades and their impact on the people involved, with a primary focus on the time from the beginning of the industrialization until the ...
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Museum of Glass and Ceramic
Kleiner Kirchrain 3
37247 Großalmerode, Germany

The Großauheim Museum has been housed in the former power station and in the historical bathhouse since 1983. It has been fundamentally overhauled and its contents given a new direction in the past few years. The exhibition area is divided into two sections. In August 2010, the art exhibition opened ...
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Großauheim Museum of Art and Industrial History
Pfortenwingert 4
63457 Hanau, Germany

Immenhausen | Germany
The Glass Museum in Immenhausen, established in 1987 in a building of the former glassworks Süßmuth, is one of the few museums specialised on glass products in Germany. Between World War II and its shut down in 1987 the company produced high-quality consumer glassware like vases, bowls, and goblets. ...
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Glassmuseum
Am Bahnhof 3
34376 Immenhausen, Germany

Magdeburg | Germany
If there is one feature which unites the exhibits in the Magdeburg Technical Museum, it is pioneering spirit. This is immediately obvious in the threshing equipment manufactured by the Magdeburg company, Zimmermann, around 1900, which was discovered in a barn in Glindenberg. Its owner was utterly ...
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Magdeburg Technical Museum
Dodendorfer Straße 65
39112 Magdeburg, Germany

Mendig | Germany
The millstone district in the Eifel is an area of the eastern Eifel between Mayen and Mendig with a 7,000-year history of continuous grindstone and millstone production using local deposits of basalt lava. The district developed as a result of quaternary volcanic activity caused by eruptions from ...
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Eifel Millstone District
Lava-Dome
Wintgertsbergwand
56743 Mendig, Germany

Merseburg | Germany
Chemistry is the basis of a modern affluent society. This is the message put out by the German Chemistry Museum which opened in 1993 in Merseburg. Its aim is to pay tribute to the outstanding economic and social importance of chemistry using demonstrations of historical and modern achievements. The ...
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German Chemistry Museum Merseburg
Rudolf-Bahro-Straße 11
06217 Merseburg, Germany

When margrave Karl Friedrich von Baden founded the manufactory of jewellery and watches in 1776, he laid the basis for the development of a small town to a city and a center of jewellery and watch industry with global reputation. In the course of the past centuries, national and foreign goldsmiths ...
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SCHMUCKWELTEN | World of Jewellery Pforzheim
Westliche Karl-Friedrich-Straße 56
75172 Pforzheim, Germany

The museum radiates an aura of vibrant activity; it smells like oil and metal in here, and the machines make a lot of noise! In the building of the former Kollmar & Jourdan jewellery manufactory, visitors have an opportunity to gain insights into the world of Pforzheim’s traditional jewellery and ...
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Technical Museum of Pforzheim’s Jewellery and Watchmaking Industries
Bleichstraße 81
75173 Pforzheim, Germany

Rüsselsheim | Germany
Adam Opel (1837-95) laid the foundation for Rüsselsheim’s industrialisation. He started in 1862 by producing sewing machines and then expanded operations to bicycle production, which ultimately led to vehicle manufacturing in 1898. His company flourished to such an extent that the American car ...
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Municipal and Industrial Museum
Hauptmann Scheuermann Weg 4
65428 Rüsselsheim, Germany

Schönebeck/Elbe | Germany
The town of Schönebeck, located 15 km south of Magdeburg on the Elbe river, has a considerable but little-known industrial history, which also has some special features. Since the 12th century, brine, from which salt was extracted, has been mined in the area of today's Bad Salzelmen district. From ...
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Schönebeck/Elbe Museum of Industry and Art
Erlebniswelt Technik und Innovation (iMUSEt)
Ernst-Thälmann-Straße 5a
39218 Schönebeck/Elbe, Germany

Sonneberg | Germany
Sonneberg, the town of toys, was founded in the Gründerzeit (Wilhelminian era) as an industrial settlement with checker-board pattern streets, composing a structure of urban blocks. Over 90 percent of the buildings dating to the time between 1840 and 1940 were dedicated exclusively to toy production ...
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Sonneberg Town of Toys
Bahnhofsplatz 1
96515 Sonneberg, Germany

Villingen-Schwenningen | Germany
The Wuerttembergische Clock Factory is located in the center of the city of Schwenningen, once called the world’s largest clock town. It is considered the oldest clock factory in the former German state of Wuerttemberg. The factory’s founder Johannes Buerk, started his manufacturing career with an ...
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Museum of Industrial Clock Making
Bürkstraße 39
78054 Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany

Hermoupolis | Greece
Hermoupolis is an industrial community with an astonishing history. The island of Syros is relatively barren, has few classical antiquities of note, and had a population of only about 4000 in 1800. From 1821 at the beginning of the war between Greece and Turkey Greek migrants previously resident in ...
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Hermoupolis Industrial Museum
George Papandreou 11
84100 Hermoupolis, Greece

In the evolution of mankind, in the formation and development of our culture and civilization light played an essential role. It was the symbol of life, comprehension and wisdom from the very beginning. The collection of Electrical Engineering commemorates the history of light and lighting, and ...
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Museum of Electrical Engineering
Elektrotechnikai Múzeum
Kazinczy u. 21
1075 Budapest, Hungary

Budapest | Hungary
The Technical Study Stores can be considered as a museum, yet it does not incorporate a permanent exhibiting place.The artifacts are presented on metal shelves in three spacious halls – sixteen-thousand pieces altogether. The collection contains world patents, first copies and enormous ...
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Technical Study Stores
Múszaki Tanulmánytár
Prielle Kornélia 10
1117 Budapest, Hungary

The main site of the Hungarian Technical and Transport Museum in Pest is primarily concerned with transport, and includes a replica of a railway station of the early twentieth century and numerous railway models. It also has extensive sections on the history of roads, and on boat-building and ...
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The Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport
Magyar Müszaki és Közlekedési Közlekedési Múzeum
Városligeti Körut 11
1146 Budapest, Hungary

Reggio Emilia | Italy
The Historical Archive of Officine Reggiane contains company documents dating from 1904 to 1994, testifying almost 100 years of industrial activity in various productive sectors (railway, agricultural, aeronautical, food machinery). At the height of its development, the factory was the fourth ...
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Officine Reggiane Historical Archive
Archivio Storico Officine Reggiane
Via Dante Alighieri 11
42121 Reggio Emilia, Italy

Amarelli family represents a story in the history, a saga, which began in the 11th century and continued over the centuries through Crusades, intellectual effort and farming. A history that you can now experience and live in the “Giorgio Amarelli” Licorice Museum. Seat of the Museum is the historic ...
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"Giorgio Amarelli" Licorice Museum
"Giorgio Amarelli" Museo della Liquirizia
Contrada Amarelli Strada Statale 106
87067 Rossano, Italy

Ruda | Italy
The Chiozza starch factory is a real unique first industrial revolution factory fully equipped with the original machinery. More than 30 old machines powered by a steam machine are preserved. The factory was founded  in 1865 by Luigi Chiozza, a chemist and entrepreneur who developed and patented a ...
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Chiozza Starch Factory
Amederia Chiozza
Via Luigi Pasteur
33050 Ruda, Italy

Settimo Torinese | Italy
The Freidano Ecomuseum takes its name from the canal that provided the energy for the earliest industrial activities in the area that lies between Torino and the suburb of Chivasso along the left bank of the Po River. It is part of a broader project for environmental and cultural requalification ...
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Freidano Ecomuseum
Ecomuseo del Freidano
Via Ariosto 36-bis
10036 Settimo Torinese, Italy

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