THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN GERMANY
This big paper factory ‘Papierfabrik Wilhelmsthal’ was built in 1856 by German architect Schmidt. It is situated in Wilhelmsthal near Radevormwal.
The place was called Krebsholl until the 19th century, and was first mentioned in 1493 as Krefftzholl. During the year 1833, Georg Heinrich Stuhlmann received permission to build a small cloth factory. The place was shaped from 1856 by the large weaving and cloth factory of the Hilger brothers. With the transformation of the Krebsholl court into an industrial town, as a result the name of the town changed to Wilhelmstal. In 1890, a fire destroyed parts of the Hilger brothers’ cloth factory, but the main building was spared. Nevertheless, around 1890 bankruptcy had to be filed, and 325 employees became unemployed. From 1892 August Bünger produced corset rods, waist bands and other clothing accessories in the rooms.
In 1898 the industrial building was converted by Carl Cäsar into a paper factory for travel tickets and wallpaper. The factory was electrified in 1912, in fact the electricity was generated by a MAN steam turbine unit. However, in 1927 the factory ran into financial problems and was taken over by the Ernst & Luh company. They switched to the production of paper bags for cement. The need for cement bags was also huge in the post-war period, in fact in 1948 the British occupiers granted permission to restart production.
The factory also made finished documents such as crêpe paper, metallic foil papers, glass paper and laminated specialty papers. Some machines supplied 1200 meter paper every hour. The developed and produced padded envelopes still exists today. In 1952 the steam turbine was replaced by a new one from AEG. In the 1959s, almost 200 people worked in the factory.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the Swedish company Korsnäs took over the plant. With the know-how and the brand name of the Germans, the Swedish didn’t need the buildings anymore. The plant was closed in 1970 and the last 135 employees were sent home. In 1997, smaller companies settled in the facility, but the main factory is empty and decaying. I visited ‘Papierfabrik Wilhelmsthal’ in 2012.