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The Jan Jarocki Museum of Ustroń (Muzeum Ustrońskie im. Jana Jarockiego)

The museum was opened on 18th April 1986 at Hutnicza 3 Street in a historical, 200-years old building that used to be the headquarters of the “Klemens” foundry.  It was originally founded by the Foundry Plant FSM and since 1992 the museum has been under the patronage of the local City Council.

Opened every day, the museum is undoubtedly one the biggest local attractions all year round. Additionally, the monumental foundry machines exposed outside the museum encourage passers-by to pay a visit.

The offer of the museum includes a few very interesting expositions touching a variety of topics, starting from the history of Ustroń illustrated by old photographs, documents and models; to enchanting regional dresses and utensils from the old homesteads which reflect the unique climate of the passed times.

The museum regularly organizes concerts and meetings with local artists and annually publishes The Ustroń’s Calendar and other regional publications.

During the twenty five years of its existence, the museum has organized over 440 cultural events with almost 200 000 participants and visitors, and yearly it is visited by 8-10 thousand people.

It also promotes local artists – painters, sculptors and lace-makers whose products can be bought on the premises of the museum.

Apart from that it is also responsible for elaborating a multi-thread history of Ustroń which has been presented in numerous regional publications, all to be bought in the museum.

The museum undoubtedly fulfils high expectations of everyone interested in the rich history of our town.

The Technical Exhibition  (Wystawa Techniczna)

Ustroń, a well-known Polish spa and health-resort, has also a long forging and metallurgic tradition. For almost two hundred and fifty years industry and health resort coexisted here. The discovery of iron ore as well as the abundance of local beech trees used in the form of charcoal led to the opening of the Klemens ironworks in 1772. Neighbouring the current museum, the ironworks was working till the end of the 19th century. Its headquarters were here in the museum, which is a historical stone building dating back to the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

The ironworks gave rise to the opening of five other iron centers situated in Ustroń and connected by the channel called Młynówka. Prince Albrecht Kazimierz, the son of the Polish king August 3rd, is believed to have been the founder of the ironworks. In 1766, by marrying Maria Krystyna, the daughter of the Austrian empress, he was given the so called Komora Cieszyńska (estates and lands in the Cieszyn area*).

In 1780 a first hammer forge Adam was opened and the first half of the 19th century was the starting point of the rolling mill, the tin and copper plastic forming centers, the foundry Elżbieta, the hammer forges Albrecht, Krystyna and Teresa and the nailery.

The boiler forge as well as the road and bridge factory were opened later in the second half of the 19th century.

At the end of the 18th century Ustroń was responsible for 40% of the iron production in Silesia which at that time was governed by Austria. The wide assortment included axles, cog-wheels, cast iron furnaces, machinery parts, nails, mortars and cannonballs.

With time the transport of raw materials and products by means of carts became unprofitable and railway was built here much later in 1888, so in the 70s of the 19th century the local ironworks started to be gradually closed. In 1877 the rolling mill was moved to Trzyniec where owing to the proximity of raw materials metallurgy was well developing. Consequently, the bridge factory was closed in 1881. The other iron centres still existed and one of them, the machine building factory, was one of the most important production centres in the 80s of the 19th century. It was responsible for producing steam boilers, containers, metallurgical and mining appliances as well as devices for railway, water and steam saw mills, distilleries, breweries and mills. Apart from England it was the first iron centre in Europe responsible for producing rivets, pumps, screws and steam plows. At the end of the 19th century the first water turbine was started and thus electricity could be sent to the existing iron centers.

In 1897 the big furnace was extinguished which marked the end of Ustroń’s forging era leaving only the iron processing based on imported raw materials.

In 1912 the remaining iron centres were sold to the Viennese company Brevillier-Urban.

In the 20s of the last century the production gradually increased in terms of quantity and variety of assortment. Railway equipment, railroad switches and railway lights were produced here for the railway industry. Among other products were also vices and tools such as hammers, pickaxes, spanners and tongs. In the 30s. , when the ironworks was in charge of Jan Jarocki, it started to produce motor forging parts, furnaces and different types of presses. Jan Jarocki arranged new orders for production and made first efforts to modernize the factory. At that time new machines were bought and the energy system was re-organized. This led to increasing the employment and the capacity of the ironworks.

During the Second World War, in 1941, due to cheap and well-qualified manpower the ironworks was taken over by a German company Volkswagenwerk. The production of forging parts for the agriculture and railway industry was continued and ordnance production was initiated. According to the intention of the new owners the ironworks was meant to become one of the biggest forges in Europe, however, the extension never began.

The factory survived the Second World War and after necessary repairs and renovations started to work again in the May of 1945. Jan Jarocki again became the director and managed it till 1959. The ironworks produced parts for agricultural machines and tools. In 1964 an engine prototype of the Polish motorcycle Sokół 125 was made here. In the same year new orders for railway parts came. Very good quality of these products reinforced the factory’s position on the Polish market and resulted in new orders.

In 1948  by the decree of the Industry and Trade Ministry a state company run according to the national economy and trade plans  was created and called Ustroń Ironworks Kuźnia Ustroń.

The main asset of the ironworks was high quality of production which rapidly increased due to the demand for plastic forming products, indispensable in all areas of industry.

In the middle of the 50s. the assortment of the products considerably changed and focused mainly on more specialized and diversified forging parts from simple mining chain links to more complicated crankshafts, vices and railway couplings.

In 1957 the management of Kuźnia started to think about the possibilities of exporting its products. Pioneer deliveries of railway couplings were sent to Egypt and India. With time  the company started exporting to former USSR, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Albania, United Arab Republic, Turkey, Abyssinia, Sudan, Israel, Sweden. The export reached its highest point in 1961 making 20% of the general value.

In the middle of 60s, among more then 40 ironworks that worked in Poland at that time, Ustroń’s company was the only independent Polish ironworks leading in forging parts production.  It was also one of the most important centers of highly qualified blacksmiths. Starting from 1962 specialists from abroad, interested in developing their skills, started to join the ironworks. The export of Polish machines and forging parts made it inevitable for the foreign customers to learn about the structure and applications of these products.

In 1966 Kuźnia Ustroń was classified as a company of first category. Many times it was leading among 17 other companies belonging to the United Motor Industry Association. At the end of the 60s came the dilemma of Kuźnia’s extension. It was finally decided to build a new object in Skoczów which was opened in 1968. This marked the beginning of a new era of development for the Ustroń’s ironworks which became a part of a holding. By the decree of the Ministry of Industry from 30th July 1970 it joined the Machinery Gear Factory (FSM) in Bielsko-Biała and became its outside branch. In 1972 the Machinery Gear Factory was changed into a Small-Bore Car Engine Factory uniting 11 companies. It was during that time that Ustroń’s ironworks celebrated its 200 years of existence.

The production of the Forging Company FSM gradually changed. By the end of the 80s. the bulk of the assortment included motor forging parts for the local market and later for export to Western Europe, Canada and USA.

The decrease in production during the transformation period resulted in getting lower funds for maintaining the factory and the machines. This led to the reduction of employment. In 2007 the management decided that the production would only be continued in Skoczów, which meant the shut-down for the branch in Ustroń.

Ustroń’s ironworks, which had worked continuously for 236 years, was finally closed in 2008. It was the biggest and the oldest factory in Ustroń with the biggest number of employees. It organized many important cultural, sport and educational events. In the 60s of the 20th century Kuźnia Ustroń was among the biggest and the most important factories in Poland producing die forgings.

On the exposition you can see the documents, old photographs as well as models of machines (hammers and presses) which have been collected by the museum for almost two hundred and fifty years. Authentic machines from the ironworks are to be seen in the nearby heritage park.

The Ethnographic Exposition in the Museum of Ustroń  (Wystawa Etnograficzna w Muzeum Ustrońskim)

The ethnographic exposition in our museum consists mainly of the relics donated by the local inhabitants. Most of the exhibits come from the second half of the 19th century, the beginning of the 20th century and the period between the two World Wars.

The Museum of Ustroń owns a very rich collection which is impossible to be presented at one time and for that reason every now and then  the exhibition is enriched and updated.

The asset of our museum is a collection rich in old apparel, mainly hosiery with hand-made embroidery and laces.

In the 19th century Ustroń used to be an important lace centre specializing in bobbin lace and needlelace on the handmade foundation threads. This method was used to decorate curtains, napkins and bedspreads  as well as linen inlets.

Many hosiery items on our exhibition are also decorated with Richelieu embroidery.

Bobbin lace was a difficult art characterized by very tight, fine threads. The bobbin lace presented here was worked with many threads, each wound onto a separate bobbin. The pattern (pricking) of pin-holes was marked on parchment paper and fastened to form a pillow. This was traditionally packed with straw. The lace was made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread which were wound on bobbins to manage them.  Depending on the type of lace and the pattern this technique required the use of few or even two hundred bobbins.

Bobbin laces were made in Ustroń till the 60’s of the 20th century. Right now the only person specializing in this technique is an inhabitant of the neighbouring Cisownica.

Nowadays the local women still make laces of different types, which can be seen on our exhibition, however, they only use the point lace technique.

The most important part of our ethnographic exhibition is the exposition of the folk costumes worn in Ustroń.  The asset of this is the men’s costume which is the only existing example in the area from the period between the two World Wars.  This particular costume used to be worn when the locals took part in the cavalcade during the harvest festival and other important events. The older examples of the folk costumes did not survive as the local men wanted to follow the style of the Austrian office workers employed in Ustroń and starting from 19th century began to dress in a more urban style. This can be seen on the oldest photographs from that time.

The local folk costume is called cieszynian (cieszyński) or Silesian (śląski) and is one of the richest and most dignified folk costumes in Poland. Its female version consists of a dress – lavishly pleated woollen skirt stitched with “żywotek” – a kind of bodice made of black or purple velvet.

The oldest bodice, presented here in the display cases, was richly embroidered with metal threads and gold and silver ribbons, lately they were also decorated with sequins and beads.

These sumptuous decorations started to disappear after the 1st World War, when our region was separated from Zaolzie, which in consequence led to losing the sources of supply for making the ornaments. At that time the bodice started to be embroidered with more simple, yet very colourful floral patterns.

Another element proving the wealth of our costume were silver decorations called hoczki – which are clasps of the bodice; as well as breastplates and belts. These, however, could only be afforded by the rich women.

The local woman would combine the Silesian dress with a beautifully embroidered white blouse with puff sleeves called kabotek. The additional elements of the costume were an apron and a well-suited headscarf festively tied at the back of the head.

During a special part of the wedding ceremony a married woman would put a coif under the headscarf. Since that moment she could not leave the house without a coif on her head.

When a young woman intended to get married she would prepare a wedding layette including linen, clothes and lingerie which she sewed and embroidered mainly herself and would put these in a specially prepared chest.  Such chests can also be seen on our exposition. They were always beautifully painted and were used as wardrobes before the proper ones came into use after the 1st World War.

Our visitors are always attracted by old objects connected with sewing, ironing and everyday hygiene. For that reason the museum shows vintage washbasins, baths, dressing-tables, mirrors, chamber pots, perfumes, towels and hair rollers. Ladies visiting our museum always admire old shoes, hats, gloves, muffs and handbags.

An indispensable part of the expositions consists of the vintage washing machines, not only the washboards which we have a variety of (from oak wood, glass, porcelain, metal and aluminium), but also other interesting inventions dating back to the 19th century.

A lot of interest is drawn by the old irons, among them numerous examples of charcoal irons, irons with metal slug, irons operated by gas as well as vintage sewing irons with a removable handle  that were heated in stoves. There is also the first steam iron in Ustroń operated by electricity.

A considerable part of the exposition is devoted to the old kitchen and shows beautiful vintage scales, mortars, brass and copper objects, cookie cutters, butter dishes and intricately carved forms for making butter as well as casual and festive crockery.

One can also smell the aroma of almost one hundred year old vanilla sugar and coffee from the period between the two World Wars as well as admire the old chocolate boxes, tea and coffee tins and aromatic spices.

Old pottery deserves extra attention – there are pitchers, vases, bowls, dishes for separating cream from milk – some of them repaired with wire and dating back even two hundred years.

For a few years a permanent part of the exhibition has been composed of old toys – with some of them children can even play when visiting the museum. It is a wonderful and unusual attraction that always evokes a lot of admiration among the youngest visitors. Apart from numerous toys (horses, birds, vehicles, cradles), we present old prams both for dolls and babies, teddy bears (including a one hundred and fifty year old teddy bear with silk fur) and beautiful dolls made of celluloid. They still have furniture made years ago by their little owners. The idea that led us to open this exhibition was the fact that nowadays children have too many toys and still they do not fully appreciate it whereas in the old times the only toy was a teddy bear or a rag doll. They would lull the child to sleep, ensure safety and sometimes during family meetings people would even take photos of them.

The painting “Wedding” which is a part of our permanent exposition presents a folk wedding ceremony in Istebna and was painted by Ludwik Konarzewski junior in 1975. It was ordered by the Consumer Co-operative “Społem” and shows the inhabitants of Istebna as well as former workers of the co-operative, some of whom could still identify themselves. The scene starts on the right with the bread and salt welcoming ceremony. Then come the dancing and feasting scenes. On the left you can see the coifing ceremony. This is the largest painting in the Podbeskidzie region measuring 9 metres wide and 2 metres high. It represents the local tradition, costumes and musical instruments.

The Spa Traditions  (Tradycje Uzdrowiskowe)

Ustroń has a long health-resort tradition which has been incessantly kept for two hundred and fifty years. The first spa guests arrived here in the middle of the 18th century and appreciated its beautiful location in the Beskidy Mountains by the Vistula River. They used the so called whey cure. Numerous herds of sheep were pastured on the nearby slopes and for this kind of treatment sheep’s whey was used as it was believed that drinking it had healing influence on patients.

In the years 1802-1804 a first building designed for guests was built. It was called Kuracyjny Hotel and had bathrooms especially equipped for cinder bath treatment (cinder was obtained from the nearby big furnace) as well as a whey drinking-room.

The hotel was situated close to the ironworks which was considered as an advantage and the cinder bath treatment considerably enriched its offer. Incandescent cinder was put into the bath filled with water which by leaching sulphur compounds mitigated rheumatic diseases.

According to census from 1840 Ustroń had almost two thousand inhabitants and over two hundred apartment buildings. Among the neighbouring villages it was the third as far as the number of residents was concerned and first when it came to the density of population.

Due to rural development in 1856  Ustroń received city rights, which meant it became a marketing borough with rights to three annual city fairs and weekly Monday markets. Owing to metallurgy development a post office was opened in 1856 and twenty years later a telegraph was introduced. Ustroń was the first village in the region of Cieszyn to have this kind of communication.

In the middle of the 19th century Ustroń was already a well-known and popular health resort. Guests would come here from distant locations, even from Galicia, former Czechoslovakia and Germany.  In the 80s of the 19th century a second hotel Beskid was built. In 1882 the National Government in Opava declared Ustroń to be an Austrian health resort and appointed a health resort doctor as well as a health resort committee.

The census taken in 1890 recorded 440 inhabitants and 450 apartment buildings. In 18888 railway was introduced which had a great effect on the development of the health resort. At that time Ustroń was visited by a growing number of patients, reaching from 300 to 500 by the end of the 19th century.

In the 80s of the 19th century mud was discovered here as well as the ferrous water springs also used for medical treatment.  The ferrous water spring in Gościradowiec valley together with the nearby restaurant were the most popular walking destinations both for the locals and the visitors.

Despite the crisis of the local industry which resulted in aggravating living conditions, Ustroń continued to exploit its health-resort and holiday potentials. In 1901 Bath Treatment Department was opened considerably widening the treatment  offer, which was often advertised in press. Here is one of the examples:

“First Silesian-Austrian mud baths following the highest standards of the bath treatment department, in-house supplies of mud, mud baths, carbonic acid baths, needle baths as well as saline and shower baths. Fresh whey every day.”

In the 19th century the number of people visiting Ustroń systematically increased and in 1936 reached the number of  4000 guests and patients.

In the period between the two World Wars Ustroń started to develop. Street lighting was installed and new walking trails were built. In 1933 a swimming pool was opened and a year later an asphalt road to Równica was finished. A mountain hostel on Równica had been built a bit earlier, in 1928. It was also at that time when commerce developed and a growing number of villas and pension houses were being built to fulfil the requirements of visitors and patients.

After the Second World War Ustroń focused mainly on developing the treatment and holiday possibilities. In the 60s a new resort and holiday center in Jaszowiec was opened as well as 16 new resort centers for 2500 people, a restaurant, shop, post-office, surgery and a culture center.

In 1967 Ustroń again obtained the status of a health-resort. It was at that time when a treatment district on Zawodzie started to be built. This location was chosen due to the discovery of concentrated saline water springs, good insolation and beautiful scenery and views. In 1967 a chair lift to Czantoria was opened being still the first and the only attraction of this type in the Cieszyn region.

In 1957 the Silesian Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases was opened in Zawodzie. It was designed for 360 patients and was the first in the southern Poland to treat rheumatic diseases.

The amphitheatre in Kościuszko Park was opened in 1976. It had a covered stage and an auditorium for 2000 viewers, which was also covered in 2003.

In 1986 the Health Resort Hospital was built and opened. At the same time most of the seventeen health resort pensions – the so-called pyramids – in Zawodzie started to work.

It is worth mentioning that Ustroń is the oldest and so far the only health resort in the Cieszyn region. With the beginning of the 21st century it is considered to be one of the most popular and well-known holiday and tourist destinations in Poland and is continuously gaining popularity on a European scale.

tłumaczenie Anna Głąbińska


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