Full steam ahead for a new business

A very important anniversary will be celebrated in Berndorf on 25 May: on this day in 1843, Alexander Schoeller and Alfred Krupp signed a partnership deed to establish a metal goods factory, which would be erected in Berndorf soon afterwards. Schoeller, a Prussian wholesaler based in Vienna, agreed to invest a portion of his considerable fortune; German manufacturer Krupp wanted to add a new business to the industrial group founded by his father in Essen in the Rhineland.

Two events that took place in the preceding years laid the foundations for the establishment of the company. Firstly, Alfred Krupp had developed the spoon roller, cast in steel, permitting faster, cheaper production of spoons and forks. Secondly, Austria – which had retained a highly traditional agricultural economy – finally made the leap to steam power, much later than other European countries. At the time that Krupp developed his spoon roller, Austria’s first steam railway began operating: the Kaiser Ferdinand North Railway ran from Floridsdorf, in Vienna, to Wagram.
Schoeller and Krupp would surely never have ventured to establish a factory in the farming settlement of Berndorf, with just 300 inhabitants, but for this key development in the country’s industrialisation. With the laying of the foundation stone for the factory on 16 September 1843, they opened a new chapter in the industrial history of Austria: the construction of the country’s first fully steam-powered manufacturing operation, in Berndorf.

Science and technology in this time

1835: Railways come to Germany. The 7.45km Nürnberg-Fürth line opens on 7 December 1835. The first locomotive to run on this route – and in the whole of Germany – is the Adler, built by Stephenson.

1859: Internal combustion engine – Etienne Lenoir, France

1861: Colour photography – James C. Maxwell, Scotland

1861: Voice communication via a technical appliance is named telephony. The first researcher to achieve transmission of speech in this way is German Johann Philipp Reis, in 1861.

1863: Underground railway, London

1865: Rotary printing press – the Philadelphia Enquirer is the first newspaper printed using the new technology

Die Eigentümer der Gründerjahre