One of the key attractions in Ratingen, Northeast of Dusseldorf, is the remarkable Cromford Textile Factory, which is driven by the regional authority LVR (Rhineland region) as one of their Industrial Museums (“Industriemuseum”). In summer 2018, I stopped by this place called “LVR Industriemuseum Textilfabrik Cromford” to review it.
Cromford Factory – Location and Admission
Cromford is in the North of Ratingen, quite conveniently located to several motorway exits. The easiest way to get there is likely by car. If you follow the signs to the parking lots, you may first of all have to pay limited parking fees and secondly have a some 500 meter walk – it feels easier (and maybe: a bit more unfriendly) to trust your GPS navigation and look for a free parking lot around.
The museum is open Tuesday to Wednesday 1000 to 1700 hrs and Saturday and Sunday 1100 to 1800hrs. There are demonstrations of the machinery regularly. The adult entry is 4.50 EUR, kids under 18 years are generally free in LVR museums. There is an additional fee in case of temporary exhibitions. If you are interested in industrial history and culture, it might be worth to buy a LVR card, which is valid for one year and costs 25 EUR for one person and 35 EUR for two. It covers several LVR museum places as well as the ones of the regional authority of the Northwestern part of Northrhine-Westfalia, the LWL (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe). Other LVR places I visited are the Alte Dornbach Paper Mill and the Lindlar Open Air Museum.
You may even have civil marriages in the manor house, so this might have a limited impact on your visit. The museum accepts the RUHR.TOPCARD.
Cromford Factory – History
Producing strong-enough twine to make cloth out of cotton in an industrial way was a very well-preserved secret at the end of the late 18th century. The world leading company was driven by Richard Arkwright in the English village of Cromford. The German Johan Brügelmann managed to get the details of Arkwright’s machine, though it was patented and even protected by death penalty in England in case you spy the construction, in 1783. It is not fully sure how he managed it, but one potential story is that he worked in Arkwright’s factory and collected pieces of the machines as long as he was able to reconstruct it.
Thus, Brügelman managed to set up one of these machines called Waterframes (as they are driven by water) in Ratingen. In respect to his idol, he called the area Cromford, which is still the name today. While most of the area nowadays is a posh living area, the original manor and the factory building are preserved – the machine is a reconstruction, but still working (while the original machine in England is in display, but therefore not able to be used).
Cromford Factory – Factory Building
The main attraction of the museum is of course the reconstructed Water Frame and all the environment to have solid-enough cotton to create cotton cloth. The replica is no longer running on water power (though there is a water wheel), but by an electric motor, which allows to switch the transmission on and off. Seeing the machine and the single worksteps live in action by the museum guide is definitely impressing – however, I felt the tour was slightly unmotivated. Finally, it teaches you a lot about the processing of cotton. The museum also does not leave out critical aspects like the fact that comparably young children have worked in that factory.
There is an audio guide available. However, the website does not state whether it is available in English or any other language.
Cromford Factory – Manor House
In order to tour the manor, you enter the building from the rear door (which also allows to have an accessible exhibition). There are various rooms – the most impressing one is definitely the Garden Hall, which you will visit quite at the end of your walk through the building. Many other rooms are quite interesting as well. There is a small museum cafe, which is however just having a limited menu.
Cromford Factory – My View
Though the machines are “just” a reconstruction, the Cromford Factory is definitely an interesting spot and a nice place worth visiting. I personally liked the manor very much as well. A really interesting industrial history gem, which I is definitely worth a visit if you are around.
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