Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Old Frigorífico Anglo plant in Fray Bentos, Uruguay

Video: harbour zone and cold storage (Contemporary video) by Dep Info - FADUFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

The world's big kitchen

The plant installed here in 1865 an enterprise came to be known as "the world's big kitchen" as it fed Europe and the troops of several armies in times of scarcity.
This colossal food factory had been exporting canned meat and meat extract to five continents for almost 120 years. From its founding to 1924, it was called Liebig's Extract of Meat Company (LEMCO), then Frigorífico Anglo of Uruguay and Frigorífico Fray Bentos in its last years, until the closure in 1979.

Cold storage in 1950 (1950) by IRN. Museum of Industrial RevolutionFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Industrial revolution in the Río de la Plata

The Fray Bentos Industrial Cultural Landscape was the first enclave of the industrial revolution in the Río de la Plata.
The site has conserved all its material manifestations in multiple domains: landscape, urban, architectural, technological and documentary. It has preserved the intangible heritage as well, thanks to the living memory of its inhabitants transmitted from one generation to another and the presence of the former workers, many of them still alive.
The meat extract and the Corned Beef modified the forms and times necessary to process food and revolutionized the diet of the population of different countries and cultures in the five continents.

Remix Anglo, Marcos Lafluf, 2018, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Areas of the Landscape

The facilities of the Exfrigorífico cover 274 hectares where 30 industrial premises and some 232 homes can be found. The industrial-residential complex functions as a town called "Barrio Anglo".
Currently, 900 people live in the neighborhood; many of them are descendants of former workers.

Old drawing, Unknown, 1900/1930, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Barrio Anglo

As the factory was located in an unpopulated territory, the company had to resolve the question of accommodation of its workers during the construction of houses. The residential area includes housing for the hierarchical staff, employees and operators as well as social, cultural, educational and sports facilities. A different type of house corresponded to each social group.

Old picture from a Road (1910/1950) by unknownFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Headquarters, today's top floor (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Administration and offices

In this area, original furniture can tell us much about the form of administrative work and its hierarchical organization, as it was at that time.
The administration area is arranged and equipped as if the staff had barely paused their work. A high point next to the calculators, spreadsheets, typewriters and furniture of the 1930s is a telephone switchboard. There are also noticeable traces which reveal the wear of the wooden floor board, left by the employee José Elgarte, who worked there uninterruptedly for 40 years.

Old machine (2016-06-06) by Gabriela BarberFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Calculating (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Main House, Marcos Lafluf, 2018, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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The Main House

This mansion was built by the first manager of the factory, and founder of the enterprise, Engineer George Giebert in 1868. It was his family residence, used later by managers who succeeded him, as well as the headquarters of the German and British vice-consulates. Located at the highest point of the land, it overlooked the whole factory and the river. It has a large landscaped park with areas of high landscape value and exotic plant species.

Main house (1910/1950) by unknownFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Cold storage, history and present (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Cold storage chambers

This iconic building represents the entry into the refrigeration era and a huge increase in the production volume. It also marks a change in the ownership and direction of the company, which was renamed Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay.

Tunnel to the cold chamber (2016-06-06) by Gabriela BarberFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

It was the Liebig's Extract of Meat Company (LEMCO) that started the construction of the building in 1921, implementing new technologies of cooling and conservation of meat. Its seven plants of 100 by 40 meters allowed to store up to 18,000 tons of meat. The success was so stunning that the building was, almost immediately, expanded twice: its height was increased in 1924 and an annex was built between 1926 and 1929.

Fire protection system shelter (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Harbor Area

The deepwater port and all the boarding, importing and exporting facilities are some of the most important elements of the industrial establishment infrastructure.

In the year 1898 alone, a total of 450 ships arrived at LEMCO's wharfs. The movement of vessels was similar to that of some European ports of the time.

Thomas Smith & Sons cranes (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Pier and Cranes

The pier and the cranes are an icon of the international reach of Frigorífico Anglo as a point of departure for merchandise from Fray Bentos to the five continents. The first cranes were steam-powered. The current ones are English, manufactured by Thomas Smith & Sons (Rodley) Ltd. The pier was seriously damaged by a flood in 1959. The Ministry of Transport and Public Works is going to rebuild a part of the concrete pier and the entire wooden part which connects it with earth.

Slaughterhouse (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Slaughtering yard

This building was constructed at the beginning of the refrigeration era and opened in 1924 under Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay.

It is located southeast of the industrial plant. Here the slaughter of the animals would take place and the elaboration of the primary products would begin. The slaughtering yard is located on the upper level of a three-story building. It is divided into two sectors: one for cattle and one for sheep.

Slaughtering yard (2016-06-06) by Gabriela BarberFrigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Tunnel and cold chamber, Gabriela Barber, 2016-06-06, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Anglo complex buildings, Gabriela Barber, 2016-06-06, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Boiler Room and chimney

This area is partially closed and partially open. From this room, a network of steam distribution lines runs to some sections of the factory.

The chimney, built in 1906, is one of the most outstanding icons of the Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape. It was 45 m high originally, but after a lightning hit it, it was lowered by three meters and the most damaged parts were removed.

Chimney (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Engine room construction works, Frigorífico Anglo, 1922, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Machine room

This was the great engine of the cold storage cooling system. Initially, it worked on the basis of steam compressors, to become equipped with fuel oil-powered electric compressors later. The reinforced concrete building was built in the 1920s. The upper enclosure has a light span roof made of sheet metal, built in the 90s.
It is here where, in 1883, an electric lamp was first switched on in Uruguay.

Guts, tripe and offal section building, Contemporary photograph, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Meat extract division

The meat extract manufactured in Fray Bentos owed its success to the formula developed by German chemist Justus Von Liebig (1803-1873) and the business initiative of German engineer George Giebert.
The research projects Liebig had been pursuing for years were influenced by the circumstances of the time in which he lived. At that time, hunger and wars were the common denominator of Europe. Hence his interest in investigating how to make food more accessible.

Fat-rendering section building, inner stairway, Contemporary photograph, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Fat-rendering division

Located in the heart of the industrial complex, this building is, along with the slaughtering yard and the cold storage chambers, one of the most representative areas of the establishment. It was built in the refrigeration stage of the enterprise, when it passed into the hands of the English managers and becomes Anglo Frigorífico de Uruguay. The vast majority of the original machinery in its interior are still preserved: all those which are of interest as world heritage contributing to the understanding of the productive process taking place here.

Blacksmithing and carpentry workshops, Contemporary photograph, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Carpentry and blacksmithery workshops

Self-sufficient production

These buildings are somewhat distant from the greater building concentration, more dispersed in space, but also linked to the industrial establishment. In this case, they are dedicated to the production of key industrial elements for independent operation.

Carpentry sector, "1920", From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Cement witnesses (Contemporary photograph)Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution

Mechanical canning division

Here is where cans were produced, especially for Corned Beef and meat extract packaging. This hall housed the production equipment covering stages from the arrival of the tinplate to the finished container, including cutting, folding, molding and welding.

Mechanical weaving plays a prominent role not only in the production process but also in the collective memory of the citizens of Fray Bentos. As a skilled trade, it gave the workers certain pride and quality of employment.

Treasured memory, Contemporary photograph, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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Living memory

Although the plant ceased to function in 1979, the memory and identity of Fray Bentos are strongly linked to it. Virtually every Fray Bentos family has a relative who was linked to Frigorífico among their ancestors. In the city and in the Anglo neighborhood, surrounding the factory, there are still many former employees of the company, who proudly transmit their experiences to the new generations.

World Heritage Site, Contemporary photograph, From the collection of: Frigorífico Anglo, Museum of the Industrial Revolution
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World Heritage Site

This "Industrial Cultural Landscape" located on the bank of the Uruguay River in the city of Fray Bentos, has been part of the Historical Heritage of Humanity since 2015, as declared by UNESCO.

Credits: Story

Museo de la Revolución Industrial
Laboratorio de Visualización Digital Avanzada (Vidialab, Fadu, Udelar): Fernando da Silva Nuñez, Ana López Boccassino, Gabriela Barber Sarasola

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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