Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Müller Cloth Mill - Industrial Museum "Tuchfabrik Müller" in Euskirchen (Germany)


The Müller Cloth Mill (Tuchfabrik Müller) is located in the City of  Euskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). It is part of a growing group of the so-called "Museums of Industry". This delightful Museum provides interesting and unusual insights into the production process of a Cloth Mill by showing fully working machinery and equipment from around 1900.

The Museum opened its door to the public in 2000. The Museum preserves the Cloth Mill's state exactly as it was when it was closed down for business by the owner Kurt Müller in 1961. He simply walked out the door and locked it behind himself.

This industrial Museum is at the heart of the "European Route of Industrial Heritage" and a central stop on the "Wool Route".




The factory started life as a papermill in 1801. A few decades later things changed quite a bit. In the mid-19th century the building was used to scoure and spin wool and to full the cloth. From 1860 onwards the increasing demand of power supply lead to the installation of a new steam engine, which replaced the old mill wheel.

The building was purchased in 1894 by Ludwig Müller who decided to set up a Cloth Mill.




For the first time, the whole process of production was then brought together under one roof. Like most other regional mills at the time, Ludwig Müller offered coarse woollen cloth, "loden" ("Loden") and uniform cloth. The machinery that was purchased around 1900 together with the "new" steam engine that dates back to 1903 set the production on a firm basis.

After Ludwig Müller's death in 1929, his son Kurt Müller led the Cloth Mill. In 1961, it was finally closed down, due to a lack of orders. It is hard to believe, but the equipment was never changed or replaced until the factory was closed.




Despite the fact that he had to close down his factory, Kurt Müller had always hoped to start production again one day. However, during the years following the close down, nothing really happened that would have justified re-opening for business. In 1988 the "Rhineland Museum of Industry" ("Rheinisches Industriemuseum") seized the opportunity and took over a completely fitted factory nearly untouched since the last day of work.




The unique building, the machinery and thousands of small pieces of equipment were to be preserved. The building had to be carefully stabilized and the Cloth Mill had to be restored. Today the Cloth Mill turned Museum is providing an insight into the production of woolen cloth, into the different working processes and into the life of the workers. During guided tours through the mill, the old machinery from around 1900 is set in action.




All of the equipment and machinery was restored into conditions that they were in at the time of the closure of the factory in 1961. Therefore the most important machines, the "heart" of the Cloth Mill, such as a "carding machine",a "spinning machine", a "threading machine", four "weaving looms" and a "steam engine" can all be set into motion during guided tours and you can admire the fact that they have been lovingly restored to make them work properly like they did until 1961.

Some machines that are not in action nowadays were also restored by carefully preserving all traces of usage  to provide an authentic insight into the life of a Cloth Mill.




The acids that were necessary for mixing the different dyes were kept in these original glass bottles, some of them leaning up against the wall.




Restrooms for the workers (ladies and gents).




Time for a break.




The following tag was attached to the acid bottles. It is a comment by one of the former worker of the Mill. It reads "Black is the simplest color to mix. But you have to be careful not to mistake one acid for another. Only if the acetic acid has boiled for a half  hour, are you supposed to add the formic acid. Three to four workers were in charge of adding the wool to the mixed dyes."

Tags with wonderful quotes from former workers can be found throughout the Mill.




A belt that was repaired with some metal clips.




Wrenches and metal chains of different sizes that were left right in this spot.




A scale with some orange-yellow wool thread (one of my personal favorite "still lives").




Some of the original machines.




This is the so-called "secret" recipe for mixing one of the dyes. The guide told us that the "recipes" for the dyes were known only to the owner of the Mill and that he would always mix the dyes himself, except for this one time when he had to tell one of his trusted workers how to mix a dye. The worker marked it with white chalk on this wooden door. So much for a secret...




A window where one of the workers had his workspace and kept all his tools close at hand.




One of the bicycles with the original leather saddle used by the former owner to get around the factory premises.




An assortment of spindles all lined-up and with ready to use yarn.




More spindles, this time piled up.




And more spindles - love that striking blue yarn.




One of the most difficult tasks in a Cloth Mill was getting rid of or preventing the infestation of moths. These bags of moth powder were left in this wooden tool box next to some solid looking nuts and bolts.




And a natural way of fighting those pesky moths.There were little white cotton bags filled with dried lavender  in every room. Definitely another one of my personal favorite "still lives".




Wool threads leading from the spindles to the loom.




The finished wool cloth, dyed in different colors, rolled up and lined up for a final inspection.




Handwritten notes in the office of the former owner.




The final fabric was packed up and stored in the office of the owner - no one else was to enter this storage room.




Some glass bottles with different dyes.




What a wonderful "Pfaff" sewing machine.




The brook that flows along the brick walls of the Cloth Mill.




A sample of the different colored wool threads after they were dyed and aligned for weaving.




This Industrial Museum is certainly worth more than one visit - there is also a nice Shop where you can purchase some of the cloth that is still being produced in very small quantities at the Mill. And there is also a wonderful Coffeeshop where you can relax and ponder this charming Museum that you just visited, promising yourself that you will be back soon.

For more information:

LVR-Industriemuseum
Tuchfabrik Müller
Carl-Koenen-Straße
53881 Euskirchen
Germany

e-mail: info@kulturinfo-rheinland.de




20 comments:

  1. What stunning photographs. My husband and I would have loved to explore this beautiful place. Thank you for transporting me with your pictures! I hope you are having a lovely week. Stay warm, eat well, and enjoy the weekend!

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    1. Monet, thanks so much for the nice comment - this old Cloth Mill is by far one of the most charming "Industrial Museums" that we have visited so far. Everything looks so amazingly photogenic.

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  2. These are similar to the looms my weavers have, though they are all manually operated. Gorgeous pics Andrea!

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    1. Paula, I certainly do hope that your weavers works on some kind of more modern looms than the ones that were restored to their "old glory" at the museum - those date back to 1900 and this used to be an important factory were looms operated with steam were a necessity. As far as I understand manually operated looms are more suited to the creation of "artistic" cloths like you sell. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. This was such an interesting post - thanks for sharing your visit to the museum.

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    1. Hope you enjoyed the "virtual visit" - we really enjoy these new types of "industrial museums", there are a few more that we will be visiting soon.

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  4. What neat photos...love the spindles, the glass bottles, the wooden doors...and that dried lavender is a moth repellant!

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    1. Liz, thank you very much - it is a real pleasure to be able to take pictures in these kinds of museums. And I am quite grateful that the more than patient guides were extremly tolerant of all that picture taking!

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  5. WOW! I just spent the last 30 minutes reading several of your posts. I'm having a lazy evening after an already long work week and it's nice to have a break with your interesting and beautiful blog. I don't sleep very much so for a quiet hobby I work on our family history/genealogy. I've found so many great stories. I think I told you that lots of our family, both mine and Hubby's, immigrated to America from Germany. I love seeing the sites, and often the city names you share are some that are familiar to me...at least on a map as where our ancestors are from. We had several family cloth weavers immigrate back in the 1600-1700 from Germany/Netherlands or Holland. These people all came to Pennsylvania. One story I found was from a great, great....grandfather of Hubby's who won the governor's prize for weaving the best linen. It is interesting to see the cloth making mill. Some of our ancestors set up large mills here and employed many people. Seeing your post makes be think of them and I imagine their mill might have been something like the museum you visited. Love your posts.

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    1. Krissy, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and read up on some of my posts - hope you enjoyed them! I love hearing about your family roots - what a fantastic bit of family history about the weaver who won the Governor´s prize for the best linen. I cannot believe how wonderful these stories are. Whish I had a few amazing stories like this about my family.

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  6. Another interesting tour, Andrea. There is a museum about thirty minutes away from us in Massachusetts that I have not been to...it was the largest cloth mill in New England. I'm now inspired to go visit it. Karen

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    1. Karen, these Industrial Museums are absolutely wonderful - they are always worth a visit and a "long drive" to get there.

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  7. What an interesting post, and with such beautiful pictures. How fortunate that they were able to find this building so intact, and turn it into a museum.

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    1. Thank you, Beth, this old Cloth Mill was and still is a true treasure. Lucky for us, the curators found it and turned it into the delightful museum that it is today.

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  8. I love how you take pictures, Andrea, and it's fun going on a field trip with you. :)

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    1. Nami, that is a huge compliment coming from you (I adore the pictures you take) and it really means a lot to me! Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for taking us on your trip to the museum - it looks like such a fascinating place to visit. I do love the contrast of the vibrant blue spindles of yarn in that one photo!

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    1. Elaine, thank you - this is a fantastic museum and I enjoyed our visit tremendously. I do hope that we will be able to return soon and maybe even attend one of the weaving workshops there.

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  10. Andrea, I love anything to do with fiber and wool, so I really enjoyed your virtual tour. There is a museum in Lowell, Massachusetts (which might be the same that backroadjournal commented on above) which is 15 minutes away from my house. It explains and shows equipment and mills from the 1900s when that town was one of the largest centers for cloth mills in the US. I'm inspired to revisit now.

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    1. Betsy, now I am really curious and will look up that museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. Thank you so much for the nice comments, I cannot stress enough how much all the lovely comments mean to me!

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