History of Industrial Production in the Český Krumlov Region

An outline of the development of industry in the region of Český Krumlov up to 1945.

Some companies have the characteristics of an industrial plant, like the breweries, lime works, brick yard, saw mills, and many others which existed in the region of Český Krumlov and Kaplice from long time ago. These companies were of a small size, which in many cases expanded and grew, and some of them exist to this day. Next to these small plants, at the beginning of the 19th century new manufacturing plants grew under the influence of technical progress, later on, depending on the production, real factories were built. These types of factories were not frequent in the region of Český Krumlov, during the last 150 years, and only a few survived to this present day. In 1890 industry employed roughly 2,329 people in the Český Krumlov region which was 3.9% of the total population. But the region of Český Krumlov could not compare itself with other more industrialised regions of central and the north regions of Bohemia. There were many reasons why this part of South Bohemia and Český Krumlov were left behind in the technical progress. One of the main reasons was, that there was not a sufficient supply of natural resources and energy, also insufficient investment and running capital. The infrastructure was not sufficient as a result of the slow development of the railway system, and therefore a bad link to the rest of the world. One of the other reasons was the hesitation and conservatism of the local population, who could have done something towards helping the expansion of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing plants which were established here, relied heavily on the supply of local raw materials, and they adapted their production to suit the supply depending on this.

Zlatá Koruna school, classroom aid from 18th century, picture of paper production

Apart from certain indications of the development economical growth in the first half of the 19th century, the first stagnation of the manufacturing industry in the region of Český Krumlov, was beginning to be evident during the 50's, mainly due the increase in the cost of fuel, and high transport costs. The missing railway link, did not encourage successful competition from the beginning in the tightening market. This situation was mostly visible in the region of Český Krumlov and affected the industrial manufacturing of glass, cloth, and partially the paper industry. On the other hand, successful trading was shown from the iron mills which made scythes, (mainly in Kaplice - Mostky), the requirement for knives for the manual cutting of straw diminished with the introduction of simple cutting machines. Graphite mines also became prosperous, as well as the steel works in Holubov. The machine works in Zlatá Koruna and the spinning mill in Nové Spolí near Krumlov, became well known.

The period of 1871 - 1875 was known as the period of economic growth, which in the following years changed to deep depression. The crisis occurred in May 1873 and soon affected all types of business life. The mining of graphite surprisingly maintained its successful position, this production concentrated in the surrounding area of Černá v Pošumaví and around Český Krumlov, as it is noted in the correspondence of the manufacturing plants (History of Mining in Český Krumlov).

In the region of Kaplice the biggest manufacturing plant was the cellulose plant in Loučovice, (History of the Paper Mill in Loučovice). Just for interest it is possible to mention several small factories, which specialised in processing sheep's wool: the spinning mill of Joseph Zückert in Český Krumlov (which carried on production until 1871), and the spinning mill of the Wozelka brothers and so on.

It is also worthwhile to mention the number of breweries at the beginning of the 70's in the region of Český Krumlov: Benešov nad Černou, Frymburk, Vyšší Brod - monastery, Vyšší Brod - town, Kaplice - farmstead, Kaplice - town, Český Krumlov - estate, Český Krumlov - town, Český Krumlov - parish, Horní Dvořiště, Pohoří na Šumavě, Rychnov nad Malší, Rožmberk nad Vltavou, Rožmitál na Šumavě, Černá v Pošumaví, Horní Dvořiště, Velešín, Cetviny. There was only one distillery in the region and that was in Vyšší Brod. The production was restarted at the beginning of 1874 and later was closed once more. The short lived distillery in Budákov finished its production towards the end of 1872. (History of Brewing in Český Krumlov).

From the 90's (1893) we have simple documentation available regarding industrial plants in the region of Český Krumlov: Václav Schinko, Český Krumlov (building and carpentry yard, 34 employees), K. Schönbauer, Český Krumlov (factory for gilding of picture frames, 98 employees), Ignác Spiro, Český Krumlov (paper mill, 182 employees), František Knechtel, Český Krumlov (factory for gilding picture frames, 45 employees), Josef Priesl, Český Krumlov (building, 173 employees), the Porák brothers - Arnošt Porák, Český Krumlov (graphite mines, 137 employees), the Wozelka brothers, Český Krumlov (factory for cloth, 58 employees), the Schwarzenberg graphite mines in Černá v Pošumaví and in Hůrka (712 employees), František Schullerbauer, Zlatá Koruna (smelting iron works, 15 employees),

Papermill and villa of Ignác Spiro, historical photo M. D. Roth, Zlatá Koruna (match factory, 64 employees), Ignac Spiro, Větřní, (paper mill and pulp mill, 460 employees - History of the Paper Mill in Větřní), the glass works of Josefův Důl (26 employees), Nové Spolí (spinning mill for flax and hemp, 196 employees).

This number of factories, apart from a few which were closed by the end of the first world war, have not changed to this day. Also the period before the Munich Republic had not seen any major changes. The number of manufacturing plants had continued to decrease, and only those that were strong and had sufficient funds to overcome the economic crisis of the 30's, had survived.

Lets have a look at the more important plants. After the monastery of Zlatá Koruna in 1785 was closed, the monks had left the premises, which remained empty for number of years. No one could find a use for them, and they became derelict. The first interest in the monastery buildings was shown only in May 1799 for the establishment of spinning mill for cotton. The buildings were suitable for this purpose, and after lengthy discussion with the management of the estate, they were rented for a period of 15 years to Antonín Bernard Joss, for the purpose of processing cotton. The production was started in 1810 with ten machines. Although it was proudly called a factory it was more in keeping with a large workshop than a factory as we know today. The plant employed 50 people, after a year's production there were already 86 people working on 13 and later on 17 machines. The Joss plant produced on full power for several years, and the outlet for the product was in the close vicinity as well as afar. In 1809 the market was saturated with the Joss' products mainly in the town of České Budějovice and in Český Krumlov, and the consumption started to diminish, until it was necessary to halt the production for a period of time. Shortly after this, Joss died, and the factory was taken over by his brothers. Even they had not much success and in September 1812, stories were heard that they will leave their business in Zlatá Koruna. Because of these rumours, the industrailistic Jungbauer brothers from České Budějovice showed an interest in the buildings of the monastery. The discussions ended in 1815, after which the Joss brothers remained in the monastery buildings with their spinning mill, and the Jungbauer brothers took over the convent with 37 rooms, where they set up a factory for cloth. At that time, the building already had 34 - 40 machines which belonged to the Joss plant, while the Jungbauer brothers started with 12 machines for making cloth and 12 machines for making cashmere. The industrialists from Zlatá Koruna had few problems in obtaining specialised technicians and labourers, which started to come over on their invitation from other positions. The Joss brothers had not much success with their business, they fell into debt and towards the end of May 1821 left the premises of Zlatá Koruna.

Some documentation preserved from 1821 gives us information about the age group composition of employees in the Jungbauer factory, and it states that there were several children from the age of 11 to 15 amongst the employees.

Petr Steffens from Aachen continued in business in the same premises, but in 1850 he started to show interest in a different form of manufacturing. Without the approval of the management of the estates, under whose jurisdiction the buildings belonged, and against the will of the state office, he set up a foundry works for steel, machinery yard and other departments. The factory was legalised in 1854. The factory of Steffens did great damage to the structure of the monastery buildings, and some were so badly damaged that they became a total ruin. The products from the steel works and the plant room were mainly sold in the region of Český Krumlov and České Budějovice, but were also exported as far as Austria and other countries. The factory machinery was powered by water energy with an out put of 40 hp. It is necessary to mention some of the machinery, 3 planing machines, 3 drilling machines, 9 lathes, 2 ventilators, one machine tool and one saw. The company (in 1875) employed 12 founders, two blacksmiths, 14 locksmiths, 7 turners and two carpenters. Yearly they processed about 400 q of raw steel, 250 q of smith steel, 2.5 q copper, 1 q pewter and zinc. The product they manufactured were, steam engines and their components, frame saws for steam and water power, planing machines for timber, industrial and agricultural machinery, ploughs and other similar products.

After the death of Mr. Steffens in 1879, the Zlatá Koruna factory continued to operate with variable success, but from the beginning of the 20th century it was clear that it would not survive for long. This of course happened and the factory closed in 1908.

In the buildings of the monastery of Zlatá Koruna apart from the textile and machinery industry other smaller industries existed. Their size was small, even though they had the privilege to be called a factory. In the other closed monastery buildings - in the chapel of St. Markéta, a foundry was set up shortly after 1813, for the production of melting pots from graphite and in 1815 a factory for pencil production. Both these industries used graphite as a raw material, which was supplied from the recently opened graphite mines near the village of Černá v Pošumaví. The foundry only had a short life. The pencil factory made six different kinds of pencils, which in the beginning were in demand in the home market as well as the Austrian market. Later on the situation changed, the factory closed and production stopped in 1824.

The production of pencils was succeeded in 1843 - 1849 by the manufacture of matches, by the industrialist Bernard Fürth, and after him his two sons. The successful business was burnt out in 1853, but production resumed and successfully performed on the market against the opposition of the Swedish factories. At the end the factory became unprofitable and was closed in 1876. The Fürth's factory in Zlatá Koruna, was replaced in 1881 by the company of M. D. Roth from České Budějovice, again producing matches. But even this plant closed for production in 1902.

The best known traders from long ago, in the region of Český Krumlov, were the drapers. There were 36 of them in the town of Krumlov during the period of 1815 - 1820, amongst them were also those that employed 20 - 24 labourers. But when the manual work was being replaced by machine production, the drapers did not manage to oppose the competition from the textile factories - mainly from the region of Liberec and Brno - and had to close their workshops. In 1860 there were only 5 drapers left and in 1871 there were none.

An important part in the textile industry in the region of Český Krumlov was played by the textile factory of the Jungbauer brothers in Zlatá Koruna, as was already mentioned, from whom Čeněk Jungbauer went alone. In March 1833 he started to build his own factory for making cloth in Český Krumlov, on the right side bank of the Vltava river and started production in 1835. The main building housed 17 machines which were powered by water power, there was a dyeing workshop, press room, store room for the ready made cloth and a fulling mill. At the beginning there were 60 people employed here. The cloth was mainly sold in South Bohemia, in Upper Austria and parts of Switzerland, Tyrols and in the border region of Bavaria. The prosperous business was affected by a sudden flood during the night of July 14, 1848 during which the machine equipment was nearly totally destroyed. Without taking into consideration the efforts of the business men to restart the factory, the company closed towards the end of the 1854.

A second small factory for cloth in the town of Český Krumlov was the building which belonged to František Wozelka, which stood on the bank of the Vltava river below the church and by the bridge which was at the end of the Kájovská street (Kájovská No. 58)which was established in the 60's of the 19th century. Wozelka was quite well known for supplying good quality cloth to the Austro-Hungarian army. It is stated, that the cloth was woven here from which the uniforms of the grenadiers of the Schwarzenberg Guard was made.

Papermill Větřní, machines and employees When the market for this material ended after the ending of the first world war - after the year 1918 - the factory then closed. At the beginning of production the factory had 13 weaving machines with 450 spindles. The machines were powered by a water wheel with a diameter of 19 feet (5.9 metres) with a width of 6 feet (1.8 metres). The output was 10 hp.

When flax became one of the most important raw materials during the 30's of the 19th century, in the region of Český Krumlov, there was an idea of processing this material with machines. A special spinning mill was built on the right bank of the Vltava river, not far from Český Krumlov in 1840 and the new factory was in production by the beginning of the 1843 after the completion of the building work. After the factory was extended for the first time, it employed 170 people. In 1852 the old machinery was replaced with new machines that had a capacity of 2,500 spindles. At that time the factory had 203 employees (65 men and 58 women and 80 children), and was able to process during one year 21,600 q of flax. After several changes in the ownership of the factory towards the end of the 60's, the greater part of the shares was bought by Loepold Steinbrecher and the factory became the property of his family. At that time there were 300 employees in the factory. In 1875 the water wheel and two steam engines powered 30 weaving benches, with 22 machines for preparation of material, 18 machines for tools and 5,344 spinners. After rationalisation the number of employees substantially decreased and the company employed only 3 administrative staff, 6 supervisors, 48 labourers, 90 female staff and 45 children. The spinner processed during the year 3,864 q of flax. From the year 1894 machinery for the processing of hemp was introduced. Similarly like with other manufacturing businesses, the spinning mill suffered with the reduced demand in its products, but before the Munich Republic, the mill prospered successfully with the exception of the general economical crisis, and provided employment for up to 400 people. During the second world war three shift production was introduced, which mainly concentrated in producing cloth for the army.

Important industry, which was for a while forgotten but now renewed in the region of Český Krumlov, was the mining of graphite. The biggest deposits were found around Černá v Pošumaví and Hůrky. The original works lasted until the year 1811, only it was restricted to the irregular mining of local farmers. The systematic mining only started when the manager of the Český Krumlov estate Mr Arnošt Mayer realised its importance. After the preparatory work, mining started under the control of the Schwarzenberg estate in 1812. At the beginning a small business started to develop and expand successfully and reached a good level of trading after ten years of its existence. In 1824 there were 50 employed here and in 1825 some of the mine pits reached a depth of 24 metres. In 1834 the first steam engine was introduced into the mine, which was the only one in the whole district. In 1934 the farmers in Hůrka sold their mining rights to the company of A. Eggert. In 1847 the farmers in Mokrá started to mine. The Eggert mine was bought by the Schwarzenberg Management Company of Mines in Černá in 1886, the mines of the farmers in Mokrá were also bought by this company in 1892, so was the smaller mine properties in the region. At the beginning of the 20th century, it is said, the yearly figure of mined graphite reached 7,889 wagon loads, which is about 78,890 tons.

An important event in the development of graphite mining in the region of Český Krumlov was the building of the railway line from České Budějovice to Želnava (1892) which was a link with other railway lines in the country. (History of Railway Transportation in the Český Krumlov Region). With this facility available, the graphite was transported into many countries of Europe. At that time there were 630 miners employed in the mine. The mine started to expand into the surrounding areas, and other areas were also tested to see if there was a possibility of graphite mining.

Part of the mine operation, was also the mining of peat in and around the village of Černá, which was used as fuel supply to the steam engines, and also as bedding in stables and so on. In 1894 in Dolní Borková there was a factory for manufacturing insulating material from the peat, which was closed after several years. After the first world war the mines lost the majority of their market and the production started to diminish. The bad administration of the business led to a reduction in wages and the dismissal of some miners from work, which was the reason for many minors' disputes, and strikes at the mine. In the vicinity of Český Krumlov near the castle gardens, were graphite mines from the 70's of the 19th century, they were established by Jan Jessl from Koroseky near České Budějovice. From 1867 the mining society had several members, with the Porák brothers being the most important ones, they originated from Trutnov. The whole mining industry was bought in 1876 by Anna Poráková, who set up Krumlov's graphite industries. After her death in 1882 the industry was renamed Krumlov's graphite industries - the Porák brothers. In 1914 the Porák brothers owned altogether 79 mines in the land registry of Český Krumlov: for example Kladné, Spolí, Přísečná, Vyšný, Novosedly, Křenov, Sloupenec and Mezipotočí.

The manufacture of glass in the region of Český Krumlov at the beginning of the 19th century was still only in and around the towns of Kaplice and Nové Hrady. (History of Glass Works in the Český Krumlov Region). They were the very well known glass works of the Buquoy family, the more recent ones were called Janova (closed in 1938), Pavlína (closed in 1852) and Stříbrná (closed in 1881), where they produced ruby glass. The closure of the glass works was for the same reason as with all other industries of this type, and that was not being able to keep up with the competition.

The founder of the famous glass works in Josefův Důl near Horní Planá, was glass expert from Zvonková, Mr. Leopold Schnudermacher, who in the spring of 1822 started to build here a glass works, a crusher for sand, a cutting workshop, dwelling and farm quarters for himself and ten very simple semidetached houses for 20 families of the glass works' employees. In 1823 the glass works in Josefův Důl was already in production. The second owner of the glass works, František Ricci from Linz was not able to sustain the production of this workshop and this glass works closed in 1858. Only in 1863 the thought of renewing the production of this glass works was realised by a well known glass expert Karel Stölzle from Lower Austria, who bought it for his daughter and her husband, a glassier Josef Palfinger. They together rebuilt the glass works and increased its production, but unfortunately shortly after this Palfinger had financial difficulties as a single businessman and had the cease production in 1891 after a fire at the works in 1885.

The manufacture of paper in the region of Český Krumlov has a hundred years old tradition. At the beginning there was a paper mill in Český Krumlov, which had already delivered its products far and wide into the surrounding countryside during the 16th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the mill was bought by the Pachner family. Morič Pachner, a member of this family, a knight from Eggendorf, owned this mill until the end of the 50's of the last century. At that time the mill contained two rollers and processed the usual material - old rags with a weight of 900 q per year. Also the yearly production of paper was in the region of 600 q. Two other paper mills in - Blansko and in Rožmberk, which were undoubtedly much smaller, were not in production at that time.

Construction of electrical power plant in Vyšší Brod, historical photo

The industry of paper production in the region of Český Krumlov was joined by Ignác Spiro, who at the beginning seemed to be of little importance, but who, on April 11, 1861 bought the Pachner's works. In 1866 the paper mill was burnt out, but within six months it was back in production. In 1867 Spiro bought the old Pečkovský mill and established here a pulp workshop for wood. This new raw material totally pushed out the present material used, and helped in a great expansion of the paper industry. The Český Krumlov factory was in 1879 rebuilt on a larger scale, and improved machinery was installed, with other boilers and two rollers. A paper mill was established in the old Pečkovský mill in 1880, and in 1883 a large cellulose plant was built here. Successful business enabled Spiro and his successor, to continually improve and expand the industry here as well as in Větřní. In 1895 the company with other partners managed to obtain a big plant in Čertova stěna (Devil's Wall) near Vyšší Brod, and they built here a power station (Power Station in Vyšší Brod). The electrical power produced, which up to that time was unknown in this region, was used by the factory only partially, the remaining electricity power they sold successfully to the town of Český Krumlov, and other surrounding areas.

Construction of electrical power plant in Vyšší Brod, historical photo

At the same time the workers at the factory were more and more suppressed, which because of the working conditions provoked continuous rifts and strikes, which reached their peak in 1925 with the Great Strike. The labour unrest and fights were renewed several times during the thirties, and ended with varied success by the changes in the ownership of the factory. After the Munich agreement, the majority of the Czech labourers left the factory, but the majority returned after the ending of the second world war.

Regarding the size and importance the second paper mill in the region was established in 1884 in Loučovice as a pulp mill, by Arnošt Porák. The factory went into production in September 1886. They produced 8 tons of cellulose daily. In 1888 the machinery already had to be increased due to the great demand of its products. After some time, the interest in cellulose diminished , and the owner decided that he will not sell cellulose but will produce and sell paper, and for this purpose two paper machines were commissioned for production in 1895 and 1896, and later on two further paper machines were added. In 1897 the plant employed 17 office staff and 350 labourers and produced 5,000 tons of paper from its own cellulose. The majority of the paper was tissue paper and also serviettes, toilet paper and other types of paper, mainly wrapping paper. From the beginning of this factory, there were problems with the workers, from time to time there were disputes regarding wages and the workers relationship with the employer. In May 1901 the factory was partially burnt down. At the beginning of the 20th century there was another factory built in Loučovice with more up to date machinery, which was called Svatý Prokop. This factory had equipment installed for the production of tar paper, in 1907 this equipment was complemented with two paper machines. In 1907 the old paper mill "Vltavský mlýn" produced 564 wagons of cellulose, 445 of these were processed in the paper mill and for the production of tar paper, the remainder was sold to other companies. Today the tradition of the paper industry is continued by Jihočeské papírny, a. s. , Větřní.

Větřní, papermill, historical photo, foto: Wolf

Companies for manufacturing mouldings and picture frames have a tradition lasting more than a hundred years in Český Krumlov. The first to be established here around 1860 was the Schönbauer workshop, which specialised in gilding works and later on expanded to the production of picture frames. A factory which specialised only in the production of picture frames was built by L. Schönbauer at the edge of the town in 1881. The second factory, whose owner was F. Knecht was on the outskirts called Tavírna and was in operation during the years 1878 - 1893. The products from these two factories were very sought goods, and a great part of them went for export into other countries, mainly to the near East. The factory, which was called U Trojice, was taken over in 1923 by Julius Tschunko, who up to that time was only a partner in a company, and it remained in the ownership of his family until the end of the second world war. The continued the production of picture frames today is carried out by a company called Lira.

In the building industry it is possible to include the lime works, of which there were several in the region of Český Krumlov (around Český Krumlov and in Černá v Pošumaví). The biggest one was found on the edge of the town towards the village of Kájov, and belonged to the estates of Český Krumlov. These were only closed in the 60's of the 20th century. The second lime works was established in 1886 in Vyšné by three businessmen from Český Krumlov. Both lime works were well known in the region, because they supplied good quality building and agricultural lime.

To encourage the economic revival in Holubov during the 19th century, the businessmen Vojtěch Lanna, František J. Klavík and Jan Procházka from České Budějovice built steel works near the Křemže stream, in 1841. A large furnace from sandstone was built, this stone was delivered from around Rokycany, part of the plant also consisted of 11 water wheels. Iron ore, necessary for the steel work was mined near Zahájí and Břehov, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Strážkovice and on a small scale also near Chmelná. This iron ore was not good quality. On average it contained 23 - 24% of metal. The foundry employed 3 office staff, 4 supervisors, 52 steel workers, 10 boiler men - at that time the fuel used was charcoal, 11 labourers near the furnace, 14 founders, 16 hammer labourers, 6 machinists and locksmiths, 8 bricklayers, carpenters and labourers. This was not a small works shop as one would imagine at first. The foundry was named in the honour of its owner of the Český Krumlov estate, and was called

Ironworks in Holubov - Adolfov - historical photo Adolf and was also known under this name in the rest of the world. During its most productive years, they produced here 1,000 tons of raw iron and over 300 tons of cast iron per year. Towards the end of the 70's of the 19th century the foundry finally closed.

Iron-mills, which used water as means of power supply for the production machinery, were a very old manufacturing process in the region of Český Krumlov. They specialised in production of scythes and sickles and other farming machinery. These works were found in villages of Cetviny, Loučovice, Mostky near Kaplice, Český Krumlov and in other places. Their number continually decreased in the 80's of the 19th century, and the production concentrated mainly on agricultural and forestry machinery. (History of Mills and Saw Mills in the Český Krumlov Region)

Further information :
History of Industrial Production in Český Krumlov