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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

Vaduz | Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein in a principality of only 160 sq km which is doubly landlocked since its only borders are with Austria and Switzerland neither of which has any coastline. Its population is over 38,000. While its economy is chiefly dependent on financial services the principality has always had some ...
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Liechtenstein National Museum
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum
Städtle 43
9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Hyllestad | Norway
Nearly 400 quarries are identified in Hyllestad. The production of quernstones dates to the Viking Age, c. 800s, and continued up to more recent times, and represents an approx. 1200 years old industrial history. At approx. 1000 AD, the range of product types was expanded with millstones for ...
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Norwegian Millstone Centre
Norsk Kvernsteinsenter
6957 Hyllestad, Norway

Katowice - Szopienice | Poland
It is one of the landmarks in the history of the mighty steel industry, which provided employment and livelihoods for many generations of residents of Katowice up until not so long ago. The Zinc Rolling Mill was built in 1904 near Huta Bernhard (Bernhard Steelworks) and the railway line from ...
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Zinc Rolling Mill
Walcownia
11 listopada 50
40-387 Katowice, Poland

The Bread and School Museum is not a typical museum. The exhibits are not displayed in show cases as in many other museums. No, here everything is easily accessible and visitors can actually handle and touch the interesting and unusual exhibits. The museum was established as a “labour of love” by ...
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Museum of Bread, School and Curiosities
Muzeum Chleba, Szkoly i Czekawostek
ul.Z.Nałkowskiej 5
41-922 Radzionków, Poland

Ílhavo | Portugal
The Vista Alegre porcelain factory at Ílhavo is one of the world’s largest producers of table ware. The factory was built in 1824 beside the Aveiro estuary, close to supplies of china clay, sand and imported coal. It became famous for high-quality design and decoration. The company began its museum ...
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Vista Alegre Museum
Museu da Vista Alegre
3830-292 Ílhavo, Portugal

Slovenska Bistrica | Slovenia
Slovenska Bistrica prides in rich traditional craftsmanship, which, as a precursor to industry, has had a significant impact on the development and expansion of the town. Records show that pottery was one of the most common activities in the area due to the availability of clay located in the ...
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Art and Craft Centre, Handicraft Cooperative
Center domače in umetnostne obrti, Rokodelska zadruga, z. b. o., so. p.
Grajska ulica 13
2310 Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenia

Standing in the heart of Pagoeta Natural Park, next to the Iturraran homestead, the Agorregi Ironworks and flour mills, plus the infrastructure of reservoirs, dams and canals. This faithfully reproduces the 18th century iron industry. The earliest records date it to the beginning of the fifteenth ...
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Agorregi Ironworks and Mill
Ferrería y Molinos de Agorregi
Pagoeta Natural Park Laurgain Auzoa Barreiatua, 13
20809 Aia, Spain

Bilbao | Spain
Bilbao Maritime Museum is located on the former site of the outbuildings of the Euskalduna shipyard. Its purpose is to preserve and present the history, culture, and identity of the men and women who have lived on and from the sea in Bilbao and Biscay, areas with a strong maritime tradition. The ...
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Bilbao Maritime Museum
Euskal Itsas Museoa
Muelle Ramón de la Sota 1
48013 Bilbao, Spain

Konsoni Lantegia is a warehouse where the Basque Government Department of Culture and Linguistic Policy stores all the moveable industrial items considered to be Cultural Heritage. Visitors to this old store can find around 2000 items: old motorbikes, fire trucks, linotype machines and printing ...
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Konsoni Lantegia. Basque Country Industrial Heritage Warehouse
Konsoni Lantegia, Depósito de Patrimonio Industrial de Euskadi
Ribera de Zorrotzaurre, 20
48014 Bilbao, Spain

Donostia-San Sebastián | Spain
The Basque Maritime Museum is located in one of the few buildings that survived when the city was burned to the ground by British and Portuguese troops after the siege of 1813. The museum has no permanent exhibition but annually presents several large temporary exhibitions on the Basque maritime ...
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Basque Maritime Museum
Museo Marítimo Vasco
Kaiko pasealekua, 24
20003 Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain

Donostia-San Sebastián | Spain
The cement museum at Donostia was established in 2000 by the company which now forms part of the Heidelberg group, and still has a plant in Donostia-San Sebastián. The museum occupies a modern building and its displays tell the story of mortars from antiquity to the present day, with particular ...
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Rezola Cement Museum
Museum Cemento Rezola
36 Añorga Hiribidea
20018 Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain

Eibar | Spain
The town of Eibar boasts an arms-making tradition, particularly damascened arms, that spans several centuries. Located on the 5th floor of the former arms factory 'Aguirre y Aranzabal' the museum gives visitors an insight into the evolution of the town's industrial past and technological ...
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Arms Industry Museum
Museo de la Industria Armea
Bista Eder 10
20600 Eibar, Spain

Elgoibar | Spain
The museum consists of the "1900 machining workshop", "the smithy" and the exhibition and learning room, where the technological evolution of the industry is shown in an educational and documentary way. With its facilities and machines in operation, it uniquely presents manufacturing procedures, ...
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Museum of the Machine Tool
Museo Máquina-Herramienta
Azkue Bailara, 1
20870 Elgoibar, Spain

Karrantza | Spain
In 1956 exploitation began of the Donosa quarry located in the Peña de Ranero mountain, next to the Pozalagua Caves.  The mineral dolomite was extracted from the quarry andthen transported to the Ambasaguas district by cable car. There stood the dolomite factory with the unloading station and the ...
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Dolomitas Museum
Museo Dolomitas
C/Ambasaguas S/N
48891 Karrantza, Spain

Navelgas | Spain
Although today gold is still being mined using industrial methods (in both Bueinás/Boinás, council of Belmonte de Miranda and in Carlés, council of Salas), the sport of gold panning is becoming increasingly popular in the streams in the west of the region. The historical aspects of this activity are ...
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Asturian Gold Museum
MOA Museo del Oro de Asturias
Barrio San Nicolás
33873 Navelgas, Spain

Pasai San Pedro | Spain
Albaola the Maritime Heritage Factory is a shipyard-museum dedicated to the promotion and development of Basque maritime heritage. It focuses particularly on the construction of historic boats and ships and retaining the traditional skills involved in and around shipbuilding, such as ropemaking, ...
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Albaola the Maritime Heritage Factory
Ondartxo pasealekua 1
20110 Pasai San Pedro, Spain

Pasaia | Spain
MATER is the last big Basque wooden tuna ship. After it stopped fishiing, it was saved from being broken up by Itsas Gela, in 2003. Nowadays, MATER is docked at the port of Pasaia, and has become a true living piece of maritime heritage. This peculiar EcoActive ship has two objectives: informing ...
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'Mater' Tuna Boat Museum
Museo Mater
Arraunlari kalea z/g
20110 Pasaia, Spain

Portugalete | Spain
Portugalete is a municipality on the south–west bank of the River Nervión downstream from Bilbao, where the river is best known as the Ria de Bilbao. The industrial museum RIALIA (which takes its name from the river) occupies a building begun in 1993 which was intended for various projects that did ...
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RIALIA: Museum of Industry
RIALIA: Museo de la Industria
Paseo de la Canilla
48920 Portugalete, Spain

San Salvador | Spain
The museum remembers the social and regional transformation that meant the settlement of a French company in this agricultural and livestock mountain area. From their industrial activity, it is interesting to visit the preserved old steel-making ovens as well as the galleries connected to the ...
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Ethnographic Museum of Quiros
Museo Ethnográfico de Quirós
Carretera General AS 229 - P.K. 8,4
33117 San Salvador, Spain

The Fisherman’s Guild has been traditionally used for all the activities related to the sea and the people who worked there. The building was built in 1916 and rebuilt in 2012, when the maritime museum Santurtzi Itsasoa Museoa opened its doors in the old basement that was once used as a warehouse.  ...
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Museum of the Sea | 'Agurtza' Fishing Boat
Santurtzi Itsasoa Museoa
Puerto Pesquero 20
48980 Santurtzi, Spain

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