The History of Żyrardów

For over 150 years Żyrardów has been called the „Polish Capital of Linen” – a European leader of the textile industry, a city the heartbeat of which was set by the workings of the textile mills.
Żyrardów was settled on the territory of Ruda Guzowska – an industrial village dated back to the 15th century.
The foundations of the textile mill date back to 1829. It was then that the Society of Linen Products was founded. The main goal of the Society was to build a factory which would utilize the invention of an ingenious French constructor Philippe de Girard – a mechanical spinning frame
24th July 1833 marked the beginning of the production in the newly built factory. The first engineering manager was Philippe the Girard, who is the namesake of the newly founded centre of textile industry.
13th March 1857 was a turning point in the history of the mill. The new owners Karl Hielle and Karl Dittrich expanded and modernized the factory. Many foreign experts were brought to Żyrardów. In 1880 the Żyrardian factories established 40 shops in 26 biggest cities of the Kingdom of Poland and the Russian Empire. The highest quality of the merchandise was one of the main reasons for such widespread sales of the factory’s products. The quality of the products won the factory many medals and awards, the most prestigious of which was the “Grand Prix” of the Paris world exhibition in 1900.
The factory’s development reached its peak falls in the years 1910-1914 until the outbreak of the First World War. The factory employed over nine thousand workers and the overall population of the town exceeded forty thousand people. In these days Żyrardów was a well-organized and constantly developing industrial centre.
In 1916 with the decree of the occupational municipality Żyrardów was granted the civic rights.
After the War the factory continued to operate, but never fully reached its former glory. The new owner a French industrialist Marcel Boussac nearly brought both the city and the manufacture to the edge of demise. By the end of the 1930s the factory was brought under state control and its development was halted by the outbreak of the Second World War.
Between the years 1945-1989 the manufacture maintained its main functions – it was the main source of employment and the owner of nearly whole of the social infrastructure. The city regained its position as a major industrial centre famous both locally and abroad.
The 1990s were the downfall of the majority of Polish textile industries, Żyrardów factory included.
Nowadays Żyrardów with its unique industrial architecture thrives again. Adaptation the post-industrial sites for new purposes became a new trend. This allowed giving a new lease of life to the old factory buildings which became new housing areas and commercial centres. Thanks to the diligently carried through renovation the effect is breath taking.
The industrial town, nearly completely preserved (approx. 95%), takes almost the whole of the central part of the city (76 ha). It consists of: the buildings of the textile mill, the workers’ housing estates with utility buildings, the so called “storages”, churches, schools, a kindergarten, the Resursa, a community centre, an exchange office, residence houses of Charles Dittrich and other officials, laundry house – over 200 sites entered into the register of cultural heritage. The industrial town is the only completely preserved complex of industrial urban architecture from the turn of the 20th century in Europe.
It is a red brick city in which every area of human life found its place. It astonishes the tourists with its splendour even nowadays. For those who seek touristic attractions Żyrardów can offer a one of a kind experience and a glance to both the past and the future.

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