Lichtenwörth - Nadelburg
The Lichtenwörth community has at its disposal a building ‘ensemble’ that is unique in the whole of Europe, i.e. the Nadelburg. Only in recent years has the enormous value of industrial archaeology been recognised. It is not only the history of the ruling powers, but also that of the workforce which shows the effect of all of the historical processes to this present day.
In the western part of Austria, near a place called Lichtenwoerth, lie the remains of one of the earliest needlemaking factories in Europe.
Early needlemaking was done as a cottage industry or in small workshops. But it was the Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) who had the vision of a metal making industry on the factory model, which would decrease the Austrian dependence on imported items, while at the same time providing a decent living for the workers. As an absolute ruler, she was able to see her plans come to fruition and the Nadelburg was established in 1747 as the first workers industrial settlement in Europe.
The Nadelburg, meaning needle castle, was in fact a walled factory compound. It had three gates, and consisted of an almost self contained community. In addition to the metal working factories, (mainly brass and iron works) there was a church, a tavern and even a school. The workers were housed in 30 houses along with their families. Products included all items made from wire, including needles and pins as well as a large variety of other metal items such as pots and bells.
Unfortunately, the Nadelburg was never profitable, and the state owned facility was sold in 1815 to the industrialist Anton Hainish. He and his son Michael drastically changed the work force and benefits and on the rising tide of the industrial revolution made the factory compound a financial success, as could be viewed from their luxurious villa. However, world war I and the following economic upheavals reversed the fortunes of the company and it closed in 1930. Due to the lack of understanding, everything was allowed to gradually fall into disrepair following the closure of the factory in 1930. The villa (the so called castle Nadelburg) and most of the Nadelburg were demolished for modern housing, no doubt a great loss to the community. A small part of the Nadelburg remains, along with a few walls of the original needlefactory building.
It is only in the last few years that an appreciation for this unique structural jewel has been rekindled. Restoration and reconstruction work has, however, hardly been carried out due to a lack of finances, among other things. For example, the remains of the guesthouse were demolished in 1991 and were not rebuilt despite being listed under a preservation order. The needle factory that was built in 1747 has not been preserved either; only two walls remain (and within the confines of these, a housing development has been established) to remind one of this unique factory. Our private museum offers a fascinating view in the history and industrial practices of the region. A restored “Nadelburg”, exactly as it stood during the era of Maria Theresa, would not only constitute a cultural feat but would also be such a unique attraction that Lichtenwörth would have no competition for miles around, probably even beyond our borders. If this were to be carried out, many other tourist towns would envy Lichtenwörth with its most beautiful panoramic view into the eastern foothills of the Alps.
Interesting facts from the Nadelburg:
Klick to enlarge!
Adlertor (Eagle gate) - This is the entrance to the industrial settlement, crowned with a double eagle, which was a sign from empress Maria Theresia.
The Needle factory
Guesthouse with the nine ambulatories, picture from 1934. In the front: Hubert Halbwax with wife.
Irons, Bells & Postcards
Villa (Castle Nadelburg) built between 1880 and 1882. There lived the owners from the Nadelburg. In 1951 until 1954 the castle was abrupt.
The villapark in the Nadelburg - here stand once a water castle in 12. century. The ‘Villateich’ (i.e. Villa lake) and the old baroque church are also worth seeing.
The church was only built for the workers of the factory. Nicolo Pacassi, the most famous of Maria Theresa’s master builders of the court, designed the church. The architectural style of the church corresponds to a diagonal oval, an extremely unusual ground plan for a church.
Old post card - Year 1895.