Berndorf suddenly lit up day and night

Young, ambitious, temperamental and highly technically qualified: the 23-year-old Arthur Krupp led the Berndorfer Metallwaarenfabrik (as it was spelled at the time) from the 19th into the 20th century. In 1879 – the same year that Arthur Krupp unexpectedly took over the business due to the early death of his father – Thomas Alva Edison invented the lightbulb. The young Krupp immediately seized upon this innovation. It is thanks to him that parts of the town of Berndorf had electric lighting before most of Vienna did. The Berndorf plant was the first in Austria to introduce electric lighting in all of its production halls, from 1880-81. Now, cutlery and crockery could be produced according to a three-shift timetable. The factory was lit up day and night – and in the evenings people came from all over the surrounding area to wonder at this miracle of the new age. Its founders had provided a solid basis on which Arthur Krupp purposefully expanded the business, at breathtaking pace. He enlarged the plant to four times its original size, and left a business with a worldwide reputation. The wave of modernisation that took over the factory enveloped the whole town in its wake. Illumination of streets and squares followed the electrification of the town’s theatre (the Kaiser Franz Joseph Theater) as well as other institutions. In theatres in particular, lighting by means of naked flames had frequently led to calamities that could cause hundreds of deaths – as for example in the fire at the Wiener Ringtheater in 1881. Berndorf’s town theatre, which was built by Arthur Krupp and was the first theatre for the working class in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was designed for electric lighting from the outset. The theatre’s central chandelier dates back to 1898, and has always used electric bulbs. The factory was also to thank for a well-functioning fire brigade in Berndorf. In 1883, the town and factory fire brigades were merged, and provided with new equipment. The two fire brigades operated as a unified service throughout both world wars and beyond.

Science and technology in this time

1884: Steam turbine – Charles Parsons, England

1884: High-speed petrol engine – Gottlieb Daimler, Germany

1885: Motorcycle – Gottlieb Daimler, Germany

1888: First electric tram (with overhead contact line) – Richmond, Virginia, USA

1891: Electric oven – Carpenter Electric Company, USA

1892: Diesel engine – Rudolph Diesel

1895: X-rays – Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Germany

1900: Zeppelin – Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Germany

1900: Blood groups – Karl Landsteiner, Austria

1903: Controlled powered flight – Orville and Wilbur Wright, USA

Produktion in Berndorf um 1900

Stadttheater Berndorf Innenansicht