From Hand Weaving to the Textile Industry
The records of Martin Pauluhsen from Rheydt give an indication of the arduous work involved in the pre-industrial hand weaving of this cottage industry. He describes how he came to work at the loom at a young age in the middle of the 19th century.
Film: TextilTechnikum/Radio Viktoria
View of Rheydt
Rheydt has a more rural character than Gladbach, having only been awarded city status in 1856. This is a view from 1829 from the Schloss Rheydt Municipal Museum.
Rheydt, however, was also characterized by the textile industry for centuries. On the right of the picture, next to the church, a factory chimney is already visible in 1829.
Another picture from that time shows smoke rising from this factory. Here too, modern industry overshadows traditional church buildings.
The artist's interest in depicting this particular factory is unsurprising. It is Lenssen and Beckenbach, which was the first company in today's Mönchengladbach to operate using a steam engine.
Wilhelm Dietrich Lenssen came from a respected Rheydt family, who had long been active in the textile industry. As a young man, aged 22, he traveled with two companions to Manchester and Liverpool—the center of English industry. At that time, the country was leagues ahead of all other competitors. Anyone who wished to compete with England had to familiarize themselves with the industry there.
Lenssen noted his observations—briefly and hastily written on loose sheets, with the addition of a few quick sketches. At that time, industrial espionage was subject to severe penalties and the export of steam engines from England was forbidden.
Wilhelm Dietrich Lenssen's journey records from 1827 hastily jotted down:
"[Then, the warp for the loom is] smoothed by a machine, of which there were nine, each costing 40 pounds, and put onto the weaving machine. Two girls of 18 years of age operate one machine. Every stroke of the heddle formed a thread. The heddle picks 100 times per minute. The fabric was rather good."
In the same year as Lenssen's trip to England, the first steam engine in today's Mönchengladbach region was set up at his home factory, the Lenssen and Beckerath spinning mill. The factory building was constructed in 1807, and this photograph shows its condition in 1878.
The steam engine came from another pioneer of industrialization in Germany, the Harkort company in Wetter on the Ruhr. It attracted great attention because of its progressive nature, and the connection between Lenssen's journey to England and this technical innovation are obvious. It was not until 1844 that the second Gladbach steam engine came along.
Historical photographs from the textile company Achter & Ebels in Mönchengladbach show what it was like to work in the factories. The photographs are mostly from 1927, with some from 1941, but little has changed since the turn of the century. A steam engine served as a central power supply. This is a view inside the boiler house.
Images from the factory Achter & Ebels 1927/1941