Westfälisches KettenschmiedeMuseum

This museum has it all. It features bears, fire breaks, and even a chain carousel, but none of it is what you usually think of. That's because this is about forging heavy chains with heavy machinery. This has long been an important industry in both the Ruhr and Sauerland regions. Fröndenberg lies exactly at the interface between the two regions ...

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… Today, the site of the former Himmelmann papermill is an attractive landscaped park. In a storage building, volunteers have gathered and restored machines from long-defunct chain factories: from the forge of a local chain manufacturing plant from 1910 to the knotted chain devices, link benders and torsion machines of the 1920s to 1950s.

The museum provides a detailed description of the individual steps in chain forging and retraces the gradual automation of the trade. The first step was the introduction of drop hammers around 1900, which significantly increased the striking force when forging – represented in the museum by the Ajax type drop hammer. The next technological push follows on its heels: machine electric welding, simplifying the production of smaller chains in particular. One consequence of this is the increased employment of women – before World War I they earn about two thirds less than male metalworkers. The electricity to drive the machines is supplied by the first hydroelectric power station of the Fröndenberg public utility company in 1905.

From the 1880s onwards, the pace of industrialisation provides Fröndenberg's chain factories with orders from a variety of industries. Soon the local companies specialise in the production of strong ship and anchor chains. Also promising are new technical devices that revolutionise agriculture at that time. In the coal mining industry of the Ruhr region, the increased use of chains starts in the 1950s: The so-called plough chain replaces the previously common wire rope when releasing the coal, which is then transported by chain conveyors to conveyor belts and wagons. Another important market emerges with oil rigs, requiring heavy chains to be anchored to the seabed. In the end, economic concentration processes and global competition put an end to the local chain industry – it almost completely ceases to exist in Fröndenberg at the end of the 20th century.


The "Steel Time Travelers" Luise & Alfred: Westfälisches KettenschmiedeMuseum


Now I'll show you how to forge real iron chains. With strong links that give a firm hold to pit cages and ...

Full dialog text
Lu: Now I'll show you how to forge real iron chains. With strong links that give cages a firm hold and allow lonely ships to anchor safely in a storm.

Al: I don't want to turn you down, Lu, but do I hear double talk?

Lu: Oopsala - the proud Bello suddenly chained for a moment? Don't worry, I don't want to marry you - and stop - we'll stop here at the Ruhr weir.

Al: I've known about Westphalian chains for a long time - without them, steel mills would be unthinkable, inseparable supply chains ...

Lu: Then you've long since entered into the bond of your life - but it's probably more of a marriage of convenience? - Tsss!

Al: Everyone is the architect of his own fortune. My fire burns more for glowing than for golden rings.

Visitor information

Ruhrstraße 12 (im Himmelmannpark)
58730 Fröndenberg/Ruhr
Phone: 02373/82004 und 0171/7092963

Opening hours:
Apr-Oct: Sat/Sun/Holidays: 10 a.m. -4 p.m.

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The Westphalian Chainsmith Museum through the ages

Westfälisches KettenschmiedeMuseum

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This museum has a lot in store. It offers bears, fire breaks and even a swing ride, but none of this is what you might imagine. Because this is about forging heavy chains with heavy machinery. This has long been an important industry in both the Ruhr and Sauerland regions. Fröndenberg is right at the interface between the two regions …

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