Remnants of a post-industrial complex, Wąchock
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Remnants of a post-industrial complex

Wąchock

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Preserved remains of a complete manufacturing complex of the 19th century with a water power system; an example of the development of the cultural landscape of the Kamienna River in the form of an industrial complex with the relevant architecture.

History

The industrial tradition of the Wąchock region dates back to the 13th century when the local Cistercians began to extract ores. The following centuries saw the rapid growth of the steel and metallurgical industry; in 1818 the monastery assets together with the industrial complex were taken over by the state. In accordance with Stanisław Staszic's plans for the development of metallurgical industry in the Old-Polish Industrial Area, the Wąchock plant was seen as one of the components of the whole industrial system on the Kamienna River. The plan to build a blast furnace failed but in the years 1821-1823 a forging plant was built manufacturing a variety of finished goods and wrought iron. The water system on the Kamienna River was completed in 1833 as part of the investment of the Bank of Poland, which involved a substantial redevelopment and upgrading of the metallurgical plant (after the forgeries were decommissioned). It was a modern plant with six hearths, three hammers and box bellows. It operated (as the State Mining and Metallurgical Plant) probably until the 1860s; In 1869 it was purchased by the local entrepreneur Piotr Hutt. The complex consisted of the water system and factory buildings (built of stone and wood). During that period, the plant was probably modernized. It changed hands again in 1888. It was purchased by the German entrepreneur Nauman who assigned it his son-in-law M. Schoenberg. Having access to his family capital, Schoenberg made considerable investment to given the complex its current shape. He upgraded (reconstructed and extended the existing infrastructure) the buildings and machinery and built a two-storey brick building (the so-called “Palace”) to accommodate his family. The complex embraced the water mill, foundry, mill machine factory and outbuildings; the area was closed by a fancy fence from the east side. Power was supplied from the hydro-technical system: first driven by water wheels and at the end of the 19th century by turbines. In 1924 Schoenberg leased the factory to the Lidowiecka Commerce and Industrial Company subject to the condition that the metal production would continue. Soon, however, the factory closed, only the water mill operated until the wartime (1938), powered by a water turbine and later by an electric motor. The water system stopped functioning after the flood of 1938 when the weir was heavily damaged. The Schoenebergs left Wąchock in 1944 and the estate became the property of the state. In the 1950s the factory buildings served as a precast concrete products factory and a workshop; they were also used by the Communal Cooperative for storage purposes. The Palace served as temporary lodging, a communal office and a health center; the mill kept operating until the 1970s. In the 1980s, the local authorities started the renovation of the Palace which soon stopped. In 1989 the buildings with the adjacent land were purchased in a tendering procedure by the Stempnowski brothers who intended to convert the complex into a hotel and leisure facility. Those plans never came to fruition and the property was purchased by another private entrepreneur in 2004. The area was fenced on all sides and partly cleaned up but no major investment ever started. Today, the area is overgrown and hardly accessible; the condition of the buildings is deteriorating and the remains of the former water system are almost gone. In the meantime (2008), the outer water reservoir was recreated along with the embankments. The weir on the river was rebuilt.

Description

The postindustrial complex is located in the north-west part of the village, between the Kamienna River and the railway line; from the west, it borders on the recently rebuilt water reservoir. The boundary of the property is the embankments separating the buildings from the water system, accessible by roads from the east. The area is fenced: from the south-west by the old stone and cast iron decorated fence, from the north-east by a stone wall, and from the other sides by contemporary fencing panels. Originally, the complex possessed its complete internal hydroelectric system: beginning with the pond - the upper canal with the culvert, turbine chambers (former water wheels) with the energy channel inlet and the lower input canal. Characteristic was the considerable length of the dam and the small distance between the inlet and relief culvert and the parallel arrangement of two separate water chambers in relation to the inlet canal. The whole complex represented an asymmetric industrial spatial system with the factory buildings clustered on one side. The buildings are arranged on both sides of the inlet canal, at the water cage, thus creating a symmetrical system (probably developed in the 2nd half of the 19th century based on some former buildings). On the north side, there are the remains of the foundry and workshop; the mill and production shop were situated on the south side. In addition, a residential building (Palace) was erected here. The complex also contained numerous auxiliary and storage buildings in the east and west part of the property - most of them have already disappeared. The central part of the plot was occupied by a garden: today, lush and disorderly high and low greenery. The buildings have a rectangular plan. For the most part, they were two-storey structures (the Palace with a basement), covered with gable roofs and half-hip roofs. The façades reveal some traces of decorative cornices and pilaster strips. The Palace has a richer ornamentation: its façades are in neo-Renaissance style, symmetric and multi-axial. Its corners are highlighted as well as the central avant-corps (including the east three-arcade entrance). The building also has a stone base course and three stone cornices; it the upper part, there are more stone decor elements (window sills, rosettes, acroterions). The interior of the building has been altered but the two-bay layout with the winder staircase with stone steps is still visible. The buildings were made of stone and sandstone (preserved to this day), including the base part made of dimension stone and the upper parts of quarry stone; the Palace has some spots of brick used to give the ultimate shape to holes or openings. The buildings were plastered, and the façades of the palace went very well with the embossed, stone (not plastered) architectural design. Today most building are ruins: no roofs, ceilings or plaster. Relatively well maintained is the Palace and the adjacent factory building; in the renovation in the 1990s, the roofing, roof truss and ceilings were replaced; also some architectural decor has survived on the façades.

The site is not accessible; private, fenced area; lack of owner’s contact details.

Compiled by Włodzimierz Pedrycz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 28.11.2014.

Bibliography

  • Karty ewidencyjne: Założenie przemysłowe, System hydroenergetyczny, Pałac, Budynek gosp.-produkcyjny, Młyn, Odlewnia, Warsztaty, Budynek produkcyjny,  Ogrodzenie , oprac. G. Balińska i J.A. Baliński, Kielce 1994 oraz Jaz, oprac. L. Budych, Kielce 1994 [Archiwum Świętokrzyskiego Wojewódzkiego Konserwatora Zabytków w Kielcach i Archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie].
  • Krygier E., Katalog Zabytków Budownictwa Przemysłowego w Polsce, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1961, t.2, z.3, powiat Iłża, miasto Skarżysko-Kamienna, miasto Starachowice.
  • Radwan M., Rudy, kuźnice i huty żelaza w Polsce, Warszawa 1963.
  • Rey A., Zagadnienia energetyki wodnej w budownictwie przemysłowym Zagłębia Staropolskiego w I połowie XIX w., Kwartalnik Urbanistyki i Architektury 1957, t.II. z.3-4.
  • Rey A., Geneza i rozwój układów przestrzennych zakładów hutniczych w Zagłębiu Staropolskim., Kwartalnik Urbanistyki i Architektury 1966, t.XI. z.2.
  • Suliga J., Studium historyczne przyrodniczo-kulturowe doliny rzeki Kamiennej, KRAJOBRAZY 8 (20), Warszawa 1995.
  • Wojewódzki R., Najcenniejsze zabytki techniki - Wąchock; w miesięczniku IKAR, nr 6 (34) z 1996r.
  • Zieliński J., Staropolskie Zagłębie Przemysłowe, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1965.

General information

  • Type: factory
  • Chronology: 1833 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wąchock
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district starachowicki, commune Wąchock - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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