Ciechocinek – The graduation tower and salt works complex together with the Graduation Tower Park and the Spa Park, Ciechocinek
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Ciechocinek – The graduation tower and salt works complex together with the Graduation Tower Park and the Spa Park

Ciechocinek

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Value of the monument

The graduation towers and salt works together with the Graduation Tower Park and the Spa Park in Ciechocinek constitute a unique complex of historic structures, buildings and industrial equipment, connected with the recreation area of the spa, used for production of evaporated cooking salt and in natural therapy. They are an artefact of particular historical and scientific significance, documenting the nature of industrial and wellness activity. The unique qualities of the historic complex are expressed in the authenticity and integrity of the elements of the complex, the preserved original structure and form, continuation of its function and integration with the landscape.

Construction of the facilities of the salt works in Ciechocinek over an extensive area suggests high qualifications of the constructors, who skilfully combined their knowledge of the laws of nature with construction technologies and solutions which were considered modern in the first half of the 19th century. This is particularly evident in the large brine graduation towers made of wood, which constitute an example of mastery in the field of carpentry, as well as a reflection of the constructors’ artistic sensibility.

The historical value of the monument lies in its significance for the political and economic history of Poland. The complex constitutes a tangible document showing the efforts connected with construction of a modern salt industry in post-partition circumstances. The establishment of the Ciechocinek salt works is linked with the figures of economic activists: Franciszek Ksawery Drucki‑Lubecki, Fryderyk Wilhelm Lempe, Konstanty Leon Wolicki and others.

A unique aspect of the historic complex is that its exclusively industrial function was already transformed into industrial and wellness activity in historical times.

History

Exploration drilling for appropriate brine springs in the area of today’s Ciechocinek were initiated at the end of the First Polish Republic. In 1824, the titles of ownership in the salt areas, which belonged to Konstanty Leon Wolicki, were transferred to the government. Wolicki entered into agreements with the Government Committee for Revenue and Treasury (represented by minister and prince Franciszek Ksawery Drucki-Lubecki) for construction of buildings and equipment of salt works and for evaporation of salt. Design works and supervision of the construction were entrusted to mining engineer, professor of the Mining Institute in Freiburg and the Mining Academy in Kielce, Jacob Graff. In the same year, construction works were commenced with regard to brine intakes, graduation towers and salt works facilities. Industrial-scale evaporation of cooking salt began in 1832. Extraction thereof was accompanied by creation of a spa based on the healing qualities of by-products of brine evaporation (sludge and bathing lye). The first healing baths were established in 1836 in the local tavern, and the inhalational properties of graduation towers were discovered in the mid-19th century. In 1866, a railway siding was connected to the salt works, leading from the newly created line from Aleksandrów Kujawski to Ciechocinek (official opening of the line in 1867).

In 1918, after Poland regained its independence, the salt works were acquired by the Polish state. In the years 1931-1932, an extensive complex for natural therapy was constructed within the Health Park (created in accordance with the concept of the physical exercise head, doctor Tadeusz Chrapowicki), on the area between the graduation towers, consisting of an open brine pool, beaches, a sport field, playgrounds. Design and construction were entrusted to architect Romuald Gutt and engineer Aleksander Szniolis.

In 1926, the spring from which brine has been obtained for health- and production-related purposes to this day, was enclosed with a mushroom-shaped fountain designed by Jerzy Raczyński. At present, the production of salt is based on the historic equipment and the original method. The oldest equipment, like graduation towers no. 1 and no. 2, date back to the first period of operation of the salt works. The younger equipment, such as vacuum pan sets or the salt intake, dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Changes made in modern times to the historical technology concerned only systems of pumping and transferring brine. The old brine-pumping systems powered with steam machines and windmills have been replaced with pumps with electric motors.

Description

The complex is situation on an extensive area of land, in the northern part of Ciechocinek. The graduation towers were located on a sandy elevation (protection against overflowing of the Vistula river), with the longer axes opposite to the prevailing wind directions. The first two graduation towers, constructed in the years 1824-1833, were placed parallel to each other. Graduation tower no. 3 from 1859 was arranged diagonally in relation to the other two, closing the space between the graduation towers from the north.

The graduation towers are enormous wooden structures erected on the floor plan of elongated rectangles. The main construction element of the graduation towers is the wooden structural frame in the form of a row of beams placed above reservoir with concentrated brine. The entire structure rests upon posts which are sunk in the ground, as in the case of graduation towers no. 1 and no. 2, or upon a stone and brick foundation, as in the case of graduation tower no. 3. The structural frame is filled with bunches of blackthorn. In the top section of the graduation towers, there are flumes which carry the brine through valves and cause it to drip evenly onto the blackthorn.

In the space between the graduation towers, there are buildings connected with extracting and transporting brine: wooden enclosure of intake no. 17, a pumping station and a small wooden brine reservoir, as well as a currently degraded park for sport and recreation from the 1930s, whose central part is occupied by a deteriorating modernistic swimming pool.

Within the salt works area, in the central part of the internal yard, there are two reservoirs for strong brine (saturated in the graduation towers). They are wooden structures erected on a rectangular floor plan as reservoirs elevated above the ground, supported by rows of posts. The collected brine is protected from external factors by a gable roof.

Out of the four salt works buildings, only building no. 4 has survived to this day. It is a one-storey brick building on an L-shaped floor plan and covered with a gable roof. Next to the building, on the side of the north-east wall, there are two tall free-standing chimneys made of brick. Originally, there were four sets for production of vacuum-evaporated salt inside the building, which consisted of brine heaters and fire pans. At present, only set no. 1 is used for production (sets no. 2 and 4 remain unused, set no. 3 has been disassembled). Brine heaters and vacuum pans have the form of rectangular vats made of steel sheet metal, arranged above heating ducts.

The salt works building remains connected with the salt storehouse (from the turn of the 20th century) with a post-and-beam structure and walls infilled with bricked, which is covered with a gable roof. In the western wall, there is a gate to the loading bridge (previously near the track of the railway siding).

An intra-site transport system from 1905 has been preserved in the buildings of the salt works and the storehouse in the form of a suspension railway meant for transport of salt from the salt works to the drying facilities and to the storehouse.

General information

  • Type: technical monument
  • Chronology: 1824 - 1830
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Tężniowa 5, Ciechocinek
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district aleksandrowski, commune Ciechocinek
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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