13 Industrial History Routes

Threads - Colours - Water - Steam

Wuppertal has a density of industrial history sites and testimonies that is unique in Germany and Europe. The Geschichtswerkstatt, a cooperation project with the Bergischer Geschichtsverein e.V., Wuppertal branch, has developed 13 signposted district routes on the industrial and social history of the industrial city of Wuppertal. The routes tie in with the themes presented in the Museum of Early Industrialisation and show the commercial and industrial development of the city of Wuppertal by way of example. The 13 routes cover a spectrum from the early search for iron ore and the yarn bleachery, urban and transport development in the 19th century to housing construction in the 1920s and document the development of trade and industry, housing and social facilities using specific buildings.

The "Geschichtswerkstatt" project was supported by the NRW Foundation for Nature Conservation, Heritage and Cultural Preservation and the Wuppertal Historical Centre.

The maps of the industrial route is available in the museum shop of the Engels Pavilion.

Editors: Manfred Alberti, Elke Brychta, Klaus-Günther Conrads, Eberhard Droullier, Dr. Uwe Eckardt, Prof. Dr. Harald Engels, Kurt Florian, Walter Friedrichs, Margret Hahn, Rainer Hendricks, Hinrich Heyken, Ursula Hüsgen, Günter Konrad, Dieter Kraß, Mirko Mankel Dr. Arno Mersmann, H.-Jürgen Momberger, Heinz-Werner Putzke, Reiner Rhefus, Jürgen Rottmann, Werner Zanner
Layout: Gerd Neumann, Medienzentrum Wuppertal
Cartography: Michael Holter, Ressort 102.3, Stadt Wuppertal

01 Cronenberg

From ore mining to the tool industry

As early as the 9th century, settlers from the east, probably in search of iron ore, penetrated the Cronenberg area. The field names "Hütte" (smelter), "Schorf" (scab) and "Steinwäsche" (stone washing) refer to ore mining. In the 18th century, scoops, hoes, picks, locks and other forged goods were made in Cronenberg's farmsteads. At first they were hand forges, but later water power was used for forging in the valleys. With the introduction of the steam engine and electric power, the workshops returned to the heights of Cronenberg, where a significant tool industry developed.

02 Beyenburg

Use of hydropower and development of the road network

Water and the road network were of decisive importance for the development of industry in Beyenburg. To the west of the actual village there was the Wupper Bridge, which was mentioned in a document as early as 1336 and was part of the old Hanseatic road from Cologne to Dortmund as a toll bridge. Water power for energy generation led to the first settlement of industrial enterprises in the early 19th century. Most of the companies were active in the textile industry, which used the water easily accessible through springs and streams, as did a brewery and two distilleries.

03 Heckinghausen-Öhde

From bleaching to artificial silk

Along the Wupper between Heckinghausen and Langerfeld, many impressive industrial plants have survived to this day. The oldest bleachers' houses in the city are located in the Öhde. Dye works, ribbon factories and spinning mills bear witness to the long development of the textile industry. In the large spinning mill building of the company J. P. Bemberg AG, work was done after 1900 on the development of semi-synthetic yarns, artificial silk, known worldwide as Bemberg silk. Due to its favourable location at the intersection of old coal routes and the rapid economic development, Rittershausen railway station (today Oberbarmen) became an early transport hub. In addition, important municipal utilities such as the gasworks, the baths and the dairy were built near the station.

04 Ronsdorf

On the trail of the ribbon weavers

Ronsdorf was called the "town of ribbons" because this formerly independent town has been inextricably linked with ribbon manufacturing since its foundation. When Elias Eller, a ribbon manufacturer from Elberfeld, set out with his followers to found the settlement of Ronsdorf in 1737, religious reasons were primarily decisive. But economic concerns were hardly less important, for Eller was not only the leader of a Pietist religious community, but also an economically minded merchant. Soon an important cottage industry developed in Ronsdorf, which was joined by the first ribbon factories in the second half of the 19th century.

05 Friedrich-Ebert-Straße / Arrenberg

Grand boulevard with factories and workers' quarter

In 1840, Königstraße, a wide avenue by Elberfeld standards, was opened. The first companies settled there: Wilhelm Boeddinghaus's dye works, the weaving mill Grafe & Neviandt and the Küpper brewery. In 1844, the first mechanical loom in Prussia was exhibited at Boeddinghaus. Königstraße became an important centre for the manufacture of fabrics and cloth. At the same time, factory owners lived here in luxurious villas in the immediate vicinity of their factories. The workers lived on the other side of the Wupper, the "Arrenberg". From 1850 onwards, facilities for the "administration of the poor" were built there: a large orphanage, a hospital for the poor with a disinfection facility and a home for the elderly.

06 Wichlinghausen

Barmer articles - laces, braids and ribbons all over the world

The district of Wichlinghausen occupies a special position among the districts of Barmen because it retained its rural seclusion for a long time. In the course of industrialisation in the 19th century, large and often well-known ribbon factories were established. In addition, there were braiding factories and manufacturers of machine-made lace. Wichlinghausen became a centre for the manufacture of "Barmer articles", which were shipped all over the world. During the Second World War, Wichlinghausen was largely spared damage. Thus, numerous factory buildings, the magnificent factory owners' villas on the Diek and the simple workers' houses of the Barmer Baugesellschaft have been preserved.

07 Unterbarmen

Social life on the representative avenue

In 1811 - still under Napoleon's rule - the mayor of Barmen called for money to be raised to build a spacious avenue. The success of the collection gave the people of Barmen a 21 m wide avenue, which quickly became the main traffic artery and the most magnificent street in Wuppertal. Like in hardly any other Wuppertal district, Unterbarmen offers the opportunity to view over two hundred years of industrial and residential culture in great complexity and density. Thus we find paint factories and early textile machine factories, which in some cases developed into important steam engine manufacturers. We come across simple dwellings and taverns in the vicinity of representative factory owners' villas and distinguished society houses. Highlights of the route are the Engels House and the Museum of Early Industrialisation in the Engels Quarter.

08 Elberfelder Nordstadt - Ölberg

Everyday life and politics in the working class district

Social life on the representativeIn the course of industrialisation, a workers' quarter developed in the north of Elberfeld, whose part known as the "Ölberg" was extremely densely populated. Since one house was lined up after another and the weavers' families needed three or four paraffin lamps to illuminate their work, which often lasted into the night, the North Town on the hill far above the city stood out with its sea of lights. The district was therefore also called the "petroleum quarter" or "oil hill". The route provides insights into the everyday life of the neighbourhood, its club and pub life, unemployment and support for the needy. Since its creation, the Ölberg has been a stronghold of the workers' movement.

09 Elberfelder Nordstadt - Ostersbaum

Social progress in the mirror of social and cultural institutions

In the years between 1840 and 1900, the population of Elberfeld grew from 40,000 to 160,000. The town hall on Neumarkt, inaugurated in 1900, is a "symbol of the powerful bourgeoisie" that determined the fate of the industrial city. But it also refers to the many new tasks that a large city had to face. On the walk through the three neighbouring quarters, one encounters historic schools, kindergartens, a shower bath, a refuge house for "fallen girls", the General Local Health Insurance Fund, the Old Fire Station and other facilities that document the development of the urban infrastructure.

10 Vohwinkel

From early traffic junction to city foundation

Social progress reflected in social and The district of Vohwinkel was agricultural until about 1850. Its rapid development into an independent town in 1921 was due to its location at the intersection of important transport routes: the old coal route from Werden to Solingen and the Chaussee from Düsseldorf to Schwelm and Hagen via Haan and Hilden. From 1841 Vohwinkel became the most important railway junction in the Bergisches Land with an extensive goods and marshalling yard. The convenient location led to the settlement of a diverse industry with spinning mills, weaving mills, machine factories, paint factories, vehicle construction companies as well as trading and haulage firms. Working-class neighbourhoods developed, but also villa colonies.

11 Langerfeld

From village to city - urbanisation in the hinterland

Due to its proximity to Wuppertal in the Duchy of Berg, an important textile industry developed in Langerfeld. A world leader in the manufacture of lace was, for example, the company Alb. & E. Henkels. Wilhelm Hedtmann developed the lace-making machine which was used in the Henkels company and which made Langerfeld a centre of lace production. In addition to the textile industry, mining (Karl colliery) and the metal and aircraft industries were important. The historical route also looks at the development of infrastructure in the municipality.

12 Zooviertel

Villa district at the gates of the city

The villa district at the zoo was designed as a closed concept in 1891. Located in the west of the city, the prevailing westerly winds provided clean air. The scenic location at the Zoological Garden and the parks on the Königshöhe increased the attractiveness of the quarter as a residential location at the gates of Elberfeld's city centre. Wealthy middle-class families, such as chemists and directors of the nearby Bayer company or textile wholesalers, lived in the Zooviertel, among them many Jewish merchants. In the quarter, successive architectural styles of high quality can be found close together: historicism, art nouveau, Bergisch Heimatstil and the modern architecture of the 1920s.

13 Sedansberg

Cooperative and reform housing

The Sedansberg has been built on since the 1870s. Since then, many reform approaches in housing construction for workers have been realised here. Even the early residential buildings of the Barmer Bausgesellschaft for workers' housing, founded by industrialists, were innovative for the time. They were simply built, but not tenement houses. They were owner-occupied homes with garden plots for workers' families. After 1900, the "Vorwärts" consumer cooperative became involved in the construction of more comfortable housing. The Konsumgenossenschaft was also important for supplying the district with food. Most of the development on Sedansberg dates from the 1920s and was oriented towards the reform ideas of the time for workers' housing: "Light, air and sun!"