History of Brno

1848 - 1918

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The last century was a period of important economic changes for Brno.
The successful growth of the city necessitated political changes.
In close proximity to the independent royal city of Brno, 28 independent administrative authorities had been created during the period of industrialization.
These districts were all under the control of various noble families.
The Revolution of 1848 resulted in the abolition of the anachronistic remnants of the feudal order, which had hindered further development.
As a consequence, these 28 aforementioned administrative units were attached to Brno.
The area of the city thus grew from 349.3 to 4,485.5 acres (7.01 square miles).
In 1859, guilds were abolished and there was then nothing else to prevent the further growth of industry.
Manufacturing in Brno was quickly adopting the techniques of mass production.
In 1849, there were 42 factories in Brno: 24 cloth manufacturers, five spinning mills, one linen mill, one hat manufacturer, three metal works, three tanneries and three manufacturers of food products.
Their number was quickly growing.
Textiles, particularly the wool industry, were the most important.
Opportune contacts were made by representatives of the textile industry in Brno at the London world exhibition of the textile industry in 1851.
Products of Brno attracted the attention of businessmen from all corners of the world.
This was also true of other world exhibitions held in London and Paris.
The 1850s were the most successful period in cloth production for Brno. New mills were constructed in suburban Brno, along millraces of the Svratka and Svitava Rivers.
Records show that in 1865 , there were 21 major wool mills in Brno, as well as 22 smaller ones, ten spinning mills and seven cloth shearers.
Although there was a low degree of specialization in the factories of Brno, by the 1860s, the production of yarn in Brno's spinning mills was fully mechanized.
The production of cloth in Brno was continuously being improved.
During the 1860s, textile mills in Brno were granted 27 patents for various inventions and improvements.
Manual labor was prevalent in weaving mills despite the fact that the number of modern mechanical looms was growing.
In the late 1860s, specifically between 1867 and 1868, the production of wool in Brno reached its peak.
A range of products made from carded fine wool fabrics were without equal in the domestic market and were successfully marketed in North and South America, in the Danube Basin, in Germany, in Switzerland, in Holland, in England and in Russia.

Wool production in Brno went through a period of considerable difficulty during the last third of the nineteenth century.
Nevertheless, it maintained its dominant position within industrial production in Brno and an important place within the textile production of the Czech Lands and, indeed, within the entire Austrian monarchy. In the late nineteenth century it reached its zenith and then began to decline.

The process of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the Czech Lands in the first half of the nineteenth century, brought about a considerable need for labor and machinery.
This was a stimulus for the fast development of machine manufacturing and metal working.
Works in Brno also increased their production.
A portent of future economic crises forced C. F. Luz and T. Bracegirdle to merge their factories, resulting in the establishment of the First Brno Engineering Works.
Its successful strategy of production was based on the manufacture of high-speed steam engines, high performance boilers and pumps, which were exported to all parts of the world.
In 1896, they were awarded a gold medal at the world exhibition in Paris for the invention of Lentz's valve-controlled steam engine.
In 1902, on the basis of a partial license, the Works were allowed to produce Parson's turbines for Austria-Hungary and the Balkans and thus became one of the first propagators of steam turbines on the European continent.
At the turn of the century, the engineering works formerly belonging to Bedrich Wanieck and founded in 1864, were absorbed by the First Brno Engineering Works.
Wanieck's works had been the first in the world to start the production of diffusers used in the extraction of sugar squash from sugar beets.
In 1902, the First Brno Engineering Works employed 1,010 workers, in 1910, between 1,800 and 2,000 and by 1915, 3,000.

The firms Brand and Lhullier also developed into important industrial factories as did the foundry originally owned by Ignac Stork established in 1861.
It was in this factory that Professor Viktor Kaplan constructed his famous water turbine in 1912.

Another important factory, which was located in Brno was Lederer and Porges, founded in September 1889.
This factory was also known as Kralovopolska and by 1907 had 1,850 employees and was a successful producer of medium - and high-pressure steam boilers, railway storage tank cars, wood-working machines, cleaning machines, deep freezers, steam engines, railway and road bridges, and steam rollers.

Beginning with the 1880s, the development of industrial production was influenced by the introduction of electric power.
Electrification became one of the main characteristics of the second industrial revolution.
The growing number of electric power stations increased the need for electric machines and as a result, an independent electro-technical industry was formed.
This branch of industry was also represented in Brno.
In 1887, the second electro-technical works in the Czech Lands (and the first in Moravia), known as Bartelmus-Donat, was founded in Brno.
In spite of the fact that it was a Czech firm and as such was out of favor with the German city administration and industrial lobby, it was successful elsewhere in Moravia, in Bohemia and even abroad.
Its greatest success was the production of an arc lamp which improved upon the patent of Doubrava-Donat.
This firm was commissioned to create the lighting for the Emperor's imperial train.
Later, other electro-technical factories were founded in Brno.

The lack of capital to purchase machinery for Brno's tanneries resulted in a twenty year loss of competitiveness with modern German, Belgian and, later, American tanneries.
However, beginning in 1870, the tanning industry in Brno entered a new phase, successfully competing with foreign producers of modern leather used in shoe soles, beginning even to export abroad.

In 1902, in Brno, there were 3,926 factories with more than fifty employees.
Of this number, 159 factories, employing 12,609 workers, produced textiles.
The 293 tanning and industrial factories employed 6,562 workers.
There were also 2,355 garment mills, with 6,151 employees.
The 241 construction firms gave work to as many as 4,488 workers and the 362 factories involved in food production employed 2,686 workers.

The necessity of finding new outlets for the products of Brno's industrial factories, resulted in an occasional revival of the idea of holding regular trade fairs in Moravia.
This idea had, of course, been conceived of in an earlier era.
Because of the high costs involved, this idea had never been put into practice.
It was only in the year 1888, that the Moravian Industrial Museum, in cooperation with the Moravian Trade Association, organized an exhibition.
This exhibition displayed the success of Moravia over the last forty years.

The development of industry and trade was limited by the growth of the network of rail links.
After completion of the line from Brno to Ceska Trebova in 1851, a line between Brno and Strelice, with a station and warehouse, was completed in 1856.
At the same time, a customs office was built on the tract of land in front of what is now the Grand Hotel.
Freight trains were directed to the Lower Station, also called Rosice.
Passenger trains from Strelice continued from the railway station in Horni Herspice along the northern track to the Upper Station.
In 1870, a second railroad line between Brno and Vienna was completed.
This track went from Strelice via Moravsky Krumlov and Hrusovany - Sanov.
In order to make rail service faster, a new, double track junction for freight trains going to Prague was constructed by the National Railway Society between the Lower and Upper Stations.
The track which was later called the Vlara River Gorge Track, was connected in 1888, with the Lower-Rosice Station, which had been the passenger station on this track.
Later, passenger trains which used the Vlara track, went via the double track junction to the Upper Station.
In order to relieve the burden on the Lower Station, which had been overloaded, trains coming from the Vlara defile had to use a double terminus at the junction of the freight track between Brno and Ceska Trebova, that is to say from the station at Cernovice, via the stop at Zidenice to the Upper Station.

As a consequence of there being two companies, Northern Rail and the National Railway Society involved in the construction of the railway network which primarily followed their own interests and operational needs and not those of the public or the city, large problems were created.
Two freight stations, which had unsuitable connections with each other, were constructed.
A common railway station for passenger trains of both companies had been created by 1885.
This station was also used by trains coming from Tisnov. The local, private track from Brno to Lisen, which was the last in a series of tracks constructed during this period, had its own station in the suburb of Cernovice and was linked with the Vlara track only via a switching track.

Between the years 1903 and 1907, the first major attempt to rebuild the passenger station was carried out.
The aim of this reconstruction was to build a direct connection for trains from Okrisky and Hrusovany - Sanov to the passenger station, so that the inadequate connection between the two Brno stations could be eliminated.
After the nationalization of both railway companies in 1907 and 1908, the drawbacks in the organization of the railway crossing in Brno, both from the point of view of railway operation and the needs of the city, became obvious.
The disorganized development of the railway system around Brno created some hazardous spots and dangerous traffic control, which were only eliminated after a long period of time.
An important problem for every city is that of public transportation.
The first public transportation system in Brno was horse-drawn trams, which was begun in 1869 by the "Brünner Tramway Gesellschaft für Personen und Frachtenverkehr."
In 1884, the horse-drawn trams were replaced by steam-driven ones.
At the beginning, the total length of the local steam trams network was 6.5 miles (10.4 km).
Seven junctions to various industrial enterprises, used for freight transportation of containerized shipments, were made part of this system.
In 1886, the steam-run local transportation system was bought by the Moravian Society of Local Railways, but within three years, it had been bought by the city.
The city resold it in 1896 to the Österreichische Union-Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft", which committed itself to replacing the steam engines with electric.
Electric trams began to run in Brno on June 21, 1900.
The electric transportation system only provided passenger service. Freight service continued to be provided by steam locomotives until 1908.
The running of the transportation network was taken over by a stock-holding company, in which all the shares were eventually bought by a Berlin based company.
In 1914, the city succeeded in buying back all the shares and in 1915, it was leased to the Austrian Society for Electric Supply in Vienna.
By 1906, the total length of the network had risen to 14 miles (22.5 km).
As with the entire development of Brno, the city transportation system suffered from nationalistic conflicts.
The municipality of Brno hindered the extension of tracks into the growing Czech suburbs.
Only after eight years, in 1914, was a slight extension built from Tivoli to Tabor.
Further development was completely halted for the following ten years as a result of the World War I.

After the destruction of the city walls, the city faced the task of creating a modern housing policy.
The zoning plan agreed to in 1847, could not be put into practice.
In 1863, a new zoning plan, which only dealt with area formerly occupied by the city wall, was put forth.
The comparatively high standards of this zoning plan were not equaled by the zoning conception for the city center.
As a result, in 1901, a competition for a city-wide general zoning plan was announced.
However, this competition was only for German architects.
The competition was won by the Viennese architect E. Fassbender.
The implementation of the plan would have given Brno a completely different appearance.
It is fortunate, however, that this plan was to a large extent not implemented.
Nevertheless, structures influenced by late historicism and art nouveau (Viennese Secession) disturbed the original concept of highlighting the city's dominant structures.
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, neighborhoods consisting of villas began to be constructed in Brno.
Their architecture shows a combination of late historicism with Romantic and Secession elements.
The latter finally prevailed and had a great impact on the architecture of residential and public structures.
Examples of important architectonic structures include the neo-Renaissance Klein Place on Liberty Square built between 1847 and 1848, the public pavilion in Luzanky Park from 1855 (both designed by L. Furster), the "Municipal Court", a Romantic- neo-Renaissance structure finished in 1855 and originally a residence, but later used as an administrative building (L. Frulich), the secondary school at 8 Commenius Square, built in 1862 by van der Molle and Siccardsburg (the designer of the Vienna Opera House).
An admirer of the strict classicism of the High Renaissance, Teofil Hansen was the designer of the hospital on Pekarska Street, built between 1865 and 1868, the Social House (Besedni dum) and Prazak Palace, built between 1871 and 1873.
And finally, the new building of the Provincial Assembly on Jost Avenue was built according the design of R. Raschka.

As a result of the industrialization of Brno, the municipality began to apply the newly developing technological achievements in the city.
Two years after the foundation of the gas works in 1849, gas illumination was introduced, which remained in use long after electric illumination had been introduced.
This is difficult to understand, bearing in mind that there was awareness of the advantages of electric light, which was first seen in the lighting system of the new Municipal Theater.
At its opening, on November 14, 1882, it was lit by Edison lamps.
After the founding of the city electric power station in 1898, the theater was hooked up to the city's electric grid.
In January 1901, modern Liberty Square was lit by six electric lamps.
The area in front of the railway station was lit by three arc lamps and in 1905, six lights were installed in the pedestrian tunnel under the station.
It was only in 1913 that the city was hooked up to the high-capacity power station in Oslavany and as a result the streets of Vinohradska and Radnicka and the Radnicni Trail were given electric lights.
The remaining streets continued to be lit by gas lamps.
In 1872, a new water treatment plant in Pisarky was put into operation and in 1913, the first branch of Brezova water supply system was opened.

As a result of the growing economic importance of the city, its population increased from 47,359 to 125,737 and continued to grow.
The city government was basing its policies on a provisional municipal constitution from March 1849, which had introduced a system of local autonomy.
On July 6, 1850, the emperor granted Brno an extraordinary statute under the title, The Provisional Statue for the Royal Capital of Brno".
At the beginning of the 1860s, a municipal constitution was drawn up.
The city government was, at that period, in the hands of wealthy German citizens.
The extremely unfair election laws and forced Germanization prevented the Czechs, whose number was ever growing, from participating in the administration of the city.
This was mainly reflected in the city government's strong resistance to the establishing of Czech schools, the use of Czech as an official language and to the incorporation of other villages in the vicinity, which were predominately Czech.
The nationalistic attitude of the city government at that time is documented in many archival sources.

Aside from the ecclesiastical school system, the beginnings of university education in Brno date back to 1778, when the university and the Academy of the Noble Estates in Olomouc were transferred to Brno.
However, in 1782, they were transferred back to Olomouc.
In 1848, the academy was again transferred from Olomouc back to Brno and then in 1849, replaced by the first modern institution of higher education, the Technical College of Brno.
According to a resolution of the Estates, all lectures at the Technical College in Brno should have been given in both Czech and German.
However, the German nationalists in Brno saw to it, that by 1873, the Technical College had become a purely German-speaking institution.
In response to this, Czechs began to try and establish Czech-speaking schools.
The first attempt, which was to establish a Czech agricultural college in Brno, failed.
Following strong pressure from the Czech part of the population, a Czech technical college was established in Brno in 1899.
Attempts to establish a Czech university in Brno only met success after the founding of the independent Czechoslovak state.

The first state-supported elementary school in which Czech was the language of instruction, was founded in Brno in 1881 and was only established at the order of the provincial school board.
Other Czech schools which followed were only established after tough battles with the city council.
In 1911, there were eight Czech elementary schools in Brno.
In contrast, there were 46 German elementary schools.
While the first German secondary school was founded in Brno as early as 1778, the first Czech secondary school was only founded in 1869.
Other Czech schools founded in Brno were: the Men's Teacher Training College ( 1871), the Women's Teacher Training College (1872) and a non-academic secondary school ( Realschule) in 1880.

This period, which was one of the most important in the history of Brno, was marked by significant achievements in science, arts, music and literature.
Gregor Mendel, abbot of the Augustinian monastery in Old Brno and a natural scientist, was the founder of modern genetics and became world famous as a result of his research.
He carried out his genetic experiments in the garden of his monastery.
He was also active in the fields of meteorology and apiculture.
His memorial bust by Teodor Charlemont can be found in the garden of the Old Brno monastery.
Sculptors did not have many possibilities to practice their art.
They mostly made decorative ornaments for houses, tombstones and memorials.
Sculptors working in Brno at this time included Josef and Antonin Brenek, Jan Tomola and Vojtech Saff.
Most commissioned sculpture went to sculptors in Vienna.
One of the notable painters in Brno, Josef Svanda died prematurely.
An important personality in the arts was a native of Brno, Josef Axmann, the foremost engraver of reproductions, illustrator and the inventor of some intaglio printing techniques.
The growth of the arts in Brno was stimulated by an association which was established in January 1900, with the name "The Friends of Art Club". Members of this club were such personalities as Emil Filla, Otakar Kubin, Antonin Prochazka, and beginning in 1910, Jaroslav Kral, who eventually, in 1916, settled in Brno and became, along with Antonin Prochazka, one of the most noted creative artists in Brno.

The theater developed along two separate lines, the German and the Czech.
The theater has a long tradition in Brno. Originally, performances were held in the Reduta Theater, belonging to the German nobility.
The first Czech performance at the Reduta Theater was presented on stage in 1815.
In 1843, however, Czech performances ceased to be presented at the Reduta, in part as a result of increasing national tensions at that time.
The German Reduta Theater burned down in 1870.
During the period of reconstruction, German performances were held in the Cafe Bellevue.
Between the years 1881 and 1882, a new theater was built according to plans by the architects Fellner and Hellmer.
The sculptural decoration of this new theater was commissioned to the Viennese sculptor Friedl.
Czech theater associations, which had been banned from the Reduta, used to hold performances in such public houses as "At the Mondsajns" on Kopecna Street, "At the White Cross", on Pekarska Street, "At Rudis's Carpentry" in Old Brno, "At the Mexican Emperor's" on Prague Street and in various others.
Later, Czech theater was performed in the newly built Social House.
When Czech theater was eventually banned from this place as well, the Czech National Theater Cooperative bought the public house belonging to the Marovsky family on a corner of Veveri Street and converted it into a theater.
This theater was opened on December 6, 1884.

Musical life in Brno was influenced by Leos Janacek, who was a disciple of his teacher Pavel Krizkovsky.
Janacek coordinated the activities of the Brno choir "Beseda Brnenska" (the Brno chapter of a patriotic club), of the organ school, of which he became head, and stimulated and organized concerts.
At the same time he composed his works. Janacek was an important influence on musical life in Brno until the World War I.
Beginning in the 1880s, literary life in Brno was influenced by a new generation of men of letters, who associated in the group "Young Moravia".
In 1905, a literary section the Friends of Art Club was established. Active in this section were Josef Merhaut, the Mrstik Brothers, Stanislav K. Neuman, Josef Holy, Karel Elgart Sokol and others.
In 1912, writers founded their own new organization, the "Moravian Writers' Circle", which was better able to meet their needs than had the previous association.

Brno Tramway 2

 Brno - Královopolská strojírna Lederer & Porges 1903

Brno Tramway 1