Early Birthplaces

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Early Birthplaces > Oberhausen > The "Gute Hoffnung" and the "Neu-Essen" Ironworks

The "Gute Hoffnung" Ironworks in Sterkrade

In the 18th century the Ruhr was divided into a multiplicity of small territories. The predominant economic model of the time, mercantilism, envisaged a largely self sufficient economic development for each independent small state. For example, raw materials should be exploited and processed in their country of origin.

The first ironworks in the region, the St. Antony Ironworks, was located in the Vest Recklinghausen area - controlled by the Archbishop of Cologne – on the edge of three states directly bordering the Duchy of Kleve (Prussian) and the independent Imperial Abbey of Essen. When it went into operation, the neighbouring Prussian Duchy of Kleve also saw the advantages in constructing an ironworks.

The "Gute Hoffnung" Ironworks in (Oberhausen-)Sterkrade 1834, graphic by Weeser-Krell (Reproduction: LVR - Industry Museum)

In 1782 the "Gute Hoffnung" Ironworks in Sterkrade went into operation, under the leadership of the former tenant of the St. Antony Ironworks, Eberhard Pfandhöfer. The ironworks consists of blast furnaces with wind ovens, moulding shops, coal and iron ore stores. It is a charcoal powered blast furnace whose bellows – like the bellows of the St. Antony Ironworks- were driven by the Elpenbach river. In 1786 15 workers were employed at the ironworks; by 1794 this figure was 80.

Just ten years after its opening, in 1791, an ironworks went into operation in the third of the neighbour-ing territories; in the Essen Imperial Abbey, with the name "Neu-Essen". The ironworks, located at the Emscher river, was owned by the Abbess Kunigunde with Gottlob Jacoby as works master, whose father had run the Sayner irownworks at Koblenz.

This meant that there were three neighbouring ironworks just a few kilometres from each other, which fought with one another over ore and fuel. Two of the ironworks even used the same water course to power their bellows. Competition between the ironworks created problems in production. After the death of the founder of the St. Antony Ironworks, Franz Ferdinand von Wenige, his heirs sold the ironworks in 1793 to the Abbess of Essen, who first leased it and then allowed it to be operated by her own works master, Jacobi. When the religious territories were dissolved as part of a secularisation programme at the start of the 19th century, the Abbess sold her portion of the two ironworks to the brothers Franz and Gerhard Haniel in 1805, who ran the ironworks with Gottlob Jacoby. Following bankruptcy the Gute Hoffnung Ironworks was taken over from the Pfandhöfers by the Krupp family from Essen, who wanted to withdraw from the iron production industry. In 1808 the widow Helene Amalie Krupp sold the ironworks to the brother-in-law of Haniel Heinrich Huyssen who brought the three ironworks together under a single company. All three neighbouring ironworks were brought together in 1810 under the new company name "Hüttengewerkschaft und Handlung Jacoby, Haniel und Huyssen". This company later became the global concern, Gutehoffnungshütte.

Sketches of the blast furnace at Gute Hoffnung Ironworks in Sterkrade, constructed 1831 (Reproduction: Rhineland-Westfalia economic archive at Cologne)

The "Neu-Essen" ironworks at the Emscher at Oberhausen 1834, graphic from Weeser-Krell (Reproduction: LVR - Industry Museum)

Ironworks of Jacobi, Haniel and Huyssen in Oberhausen 1864, Court photographer Herrmann Günther, Berlin (Reproduction: Haniel-Archive, Duisburg-Ruhrort)