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After the success of previous meetings in Hasselt/Beringen and Kortrijk/Zwevegem (Belgium), Barcelona/Terrassa (Spain) and Calais (France), the Fifth European Industrial and Technical Heritage Weekend will take place in TILBURG (The Netherlands), a city with good links by car, train and the nearby budget airport at Eindhoven.

Industrial Heritage Tilburg 2011 

Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands, situated in the south of the country between Breda and Eindhoven, and not far from the Belgian border.
Compared to many of the other large cities in the Netherlands, Tilburg cannot claim a particularly long history. Its charter was issued in 1809, so it celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2009.
After the Industrial Revolution Tilburg became one of the most industrialised cities of the Netherlands.


Tilburg grew up out of a number of small villages and hamlets, largely populated by sheep farmers. The trade in wool and the emergence of cottage industries weaving fabrics marked the beginning of Tilburg's 'golden age' as a centre of the textiles industry.
The first impulses to mechanize textile industry in Tilburg date from the beginning of the 19th century, but then only developed slowly. In 1827 a steam engine was installed in the textile mill of Pieter van Dooren, but it lasted until 1856 before mechanical looms were introduced (in the mill of J.N.Diepen & Co). In that year Tilburg still counted some 2000 home weavers, the real turn to mechanisation is only dating from around 1880-1890.
For much of the twentieth century, Tilburg was home to countless textile mills. During the 1960s, production shifted to the low-wage countries, whereupon Tilburg had to seek ways in which to diversify its economy. It has done so with great success, largely due to the perseverance and determination of its people.

The 'Goirke Street' still offers the traditional and typical image of Tilburg during the industrial era. It is a long ribbon with a mixture of workers dwellings, the houses of rich industralists, (remains of) workshops and mills, a graveyard, a convent, a school and the St. Dionysius Church (1835, one of the oldest neogothic churches in Holland). The old Mommers weaving mill now houses the textile museum. The street is now a conservation area.

Audax Textile Museum TilburgAudax Textile Museum TilburgAudax Textile Museum Tilburg
The history of textile is depicted in the
Audax Textile Museum, where the meeting starts.
In 1872 Chrisje Mommers (a wool weaver since 1854) laid the foundations of his modern weaving mill in the Goirkestraat. It developed into a vast complex comprising eleven buildings and two chimneys, which do illustrate its continous growth: the sheds from 1877, the smithy (1885) the multi-storey building also from 1885 enlarged in 1895, the steam engine and engine room (1904-1906) - till more recent reinforced concrete buildings (1937). The whole has been preserved, is splendidly restored and now houses the textile museum. This is more than a 'museum' but rather a centre for textile heritage, arts, training and experimenting. It offers the story of men, machinery, creativity connected with textiles then and now - using the operating old jaquard looms and steam engine to the most modern computer-controlled looms. It is a buildinng full of activity, still keeping the smells and noises of textile industry.
The steam engine of the textile museum
See the reports on the Audax Textile Museum on Youtube:
-> a general visit, the woollen blankets production and the TextileLab.
On Youtube you can even find a Russion video report on this museum...

Spoorzone Tilburg
Right behind the Tilburg railway station one can remark the vast repair and construction workshops of the Dutch Railways - situated and developed here when from the 1860s onwards the southern Dutch railway system was created.
The first train arrived in Tilburg in 1863, the decision to locate the central workshops in this town was taken 1867-1868, and their inauguration took place on February 1st 1870. A year later 31 locomotives, 118 passenger cars and 1479 wagons were repaired by 291 employees. At the turn of the century some 1000, and in the 1920s not less than 1400 people worked here.
The oldest buildings now date from the 1870s, the most recent from the post-war period, thus illustrating one and a half century of railway history.
The Dutch Railways are leaving this site and soon an extensive redevelopment programme will be launched

The meeting of Saturday will take place in the so-called Deprez-workshops
the Deprez Workshop in Tilburg
At the end of the 19th century the two Belgian brothers Jules and Caesar Deprez moved to Tilburg do establish a specialized construction workshop adjacent tot the railway workshops. In 1884 they took over an existing iron foundry, built in 1878, and soon started with the production of steam boilers and iron plates, later also of steam engines and other machinery. Jules died in august 1918, his brother in december of the same year. In 1924 the buildings and installations were purchased by the Dutch Railway Company, and merged with their central workshops.
The still existing original building now has been taken over by the Tilburg city council, has been restored and is used for all kinds of cultural activities.

Tilburg: Pius Harbour
The 'Piushaven' is the biggest city harbour in the province of Noord-Brabant. In 1923 the first shiploads were unloaded - and in 1998 plans were rised to fill in the basin. Thanks to the initiatives of the association 'Stichting Thuishaven Tilburg' and the 'Stichting Tilburg te Water' this did not happen, and today the harbour area is slowly becoming a hot spot where yachts and old ships are mooring, where new buildings and flats are erectec, where quays and a bridge are restored, where all kind of activities are organized.
Once the harbour was dug out, industries and housing settled in its neighbourhood. 

The Aabee Textile Mill in Tilburg
- or 'Albert van den Bergh, wollenstoffen- en wollendekenfabrieken'  - a factory of woollen cloth and blankets, opened its doors in 1929 and closed in 2008 as the last textile mill in Tilburg. The buildings have been purchased by the city and plans for adaptive re-use are now drawn.

In 1917 the engineer and town planner J. Rückert presented his development plan for Tilburg based on the expected population growth. It included a series of new housing estates beyond the city ringroad, one of those becoming the 'Jeruzalem' estate. It took untill 1934 before the town council was able to acquire the grounds, but then the economic crisis and the war delayed the project. It was only during the postwar reconstruction period, to solve the then housing shortage, that 365 frugal dwellings were built, using the fast and cheap Airey system in precast reinforced concrete and prefabricated concrete facade tiles. Although due to last for only 25 years, the houses are still there. Since 2007 they are renovated.

Moerenburg water purification plant Tilburg
In 1904 a first sewer pumping station was built at Moerenburg to clean the water contaminated by the Tilburg textile industry. In 1927 it became the location of the first biological water treatment plant in the Netherlands - and probably in Europe. It has proudly kept its original machinery and buildings, and was therefore protected and declared national monument in 2001.


The city's museums are important cultural forces. First of all there is the fascinating Audax Textile Museum. It is like stepping into a real old textile factory, complete with working steam engine and the Textile Lab studio. Modern technology and textile art can also be seen here.
In the field of visual arts, museum De Pont has an excellent international reputation. Located since 1992 in a marvellous old textile factory (the De Beer spinning mill), the museum boasts a sensational modern collection that invites visitors, literally and figuratively, to truly experience the works of art.
Other interesting museums include the North Brabant Nature Museum, the Vincents Artroom (Vincents Tekenlokaal, the room where Van Gogh studied 1866-1868,  ) and the Peerke Donders Paviljoen (a museum on charity, ), part of the Citymuseum.

The suburbs of Tilburg also have important industrial sites and museums. In Berkel-Enschot, one finds Muzima, the museum of musical instruments situated in the former Kessel factory - once the biggest factory producing musical instruments in Europe. The collection includes brass, strings, woodwind, percussion, pianos, player pianos, musical boxes and sheet music. Nearby Oirschot houses the Dutch leather and shoe museum (Nederlands Leder en Schoenen Museum) and a working museum brewery (Museumbierbrouwerij Oirschots Bier).

The steam engine at Oisterwijk
And, last but not least, in nearby Oisterwijk, a group of volunteers is preserving and restoring a large steam engine in an old leather factoryThis site will be visited on Friday evening...

2015 - European Industrial and Technical Heritage Year


European Industrial and Technical Heritage Year
Année européenne du patrimoine industriel et technique
Jahr des Industriellen und Technischen Erbes
Anno del Patrimonio Industriale e Tecnico Europeo
Año Europeo del Patrimonio Industrial y Técnico

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