Historical background
Wybierz obiekt:

The Trail of Industrial Technology Heritage - the historical background

In the Middle Ages the area of Lower Silesia was industrially better developed than any other duchy of Poland thanks to intense colonization and the general introduction of the solutions for legislation and organization. Mining and related industries such as metal working in gold, silver, lead, copper and iron, along with glassworks, were particularly well-developed. Obviously, the craft production of fabrics and cloths, earthenware and leather goods, the production of food like the milling, brewing and distilling industries, as well as the production of building materials were widespread. The force of water was very often used as a source of power; for this purpose dams were constructed on rivers, mill races were dug and water wheels were often built. Gunpowder was also produced. The earliest mention of the use of coal comes from the late Middle Ages. The 16th century was a period of peace and economic prosperity in Lower Silesia. At that time people were mining tin ore, producing paper and printing books. Monuments related to the technology of that period are very rare but not impossible to find (medieval adits, remains of water works, glassworks and bridges). However, places where there was continuous production from the Middle Ages to the 20th century in a particular manufacturing spot are much more common (e.g. mining in Złoty Stok or Kowary, glassmaking in the Kamienna valley, the brewery in Lwówek Śląski or earthenware production near Bolesławiec).

When Silesia was a part of Prussia it once again became an important industrial area for the whole of Europe. Thanks to a deliberate administrative policy in the second half of the 17th century and in the 19th century, particular prosperity was noted in industries such as: coal-mining, glass working and coke production, the textile and cloth industry (which over the course of time had replaced home weaving), engineering, ceramics, paper making, food production (mainly sugar) and others. The waterway of the Oder River, the road network and, from the 1840s, the railways were constantly being developed to enable the transportation of raw material and products. There was a period when a system of strongholds was created to protect Silesia; a system of hydrotechnical buildings and anti-flood mechanisms, which were also used for producing energy, were established from the end of the 19th century until the 1920s.

Every single branch of production has left some remains in the landscape of Lower Silesia. Some of them are remarkably spectacular (such as the dam in Pilchowice) or well-known for their historical merits (such as the medieval bridge in Kłodzko). Compared to these, others are very humble, but extremely precious to the history of industry and technology (like the remains of the sugar refinery in Konary, or the cast-iron bridge in Łażany). Yet others are both spectacular and precious but are still unknown to the wider public - such as the water-supply tower in Wrocław on Na Grobli street).

Despite the increasing interest and awareness of the value of industrial monuments, some of them are still in danger of e.g. losing the competition with new enterprises as they are sometimes destroyed in order to make an attractive plot of land available for development.