TextilTechnikum, Mönchengladbach, Germany

Mönchengladbach is one of the most important textile sites in Germany. For this reason, the city has spent many years bringing together looms, spinning machines, and other equipment from old factories, resulting in an internationally unique collection of textile technology. Its main focus is weaving, and the collection ranges from the oldest looms to modern air-jet technology. In the TextilTechnikum in Monforts Quartier—a former textile machine factory—evidence of Mönchengladbach’s textile history has been preserved, brought back into operation, and exhibited to the general public.

The TextilTechnikum does not only show historical technology. It is also a connecting factor for many cooperation partners, such as the textile companies in the area or the internationally renowned Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Sciences. The TextilTechnikum gives its visitors access to the past, present and future of textile technology.

Mönchengladbach is still today one of the most important textile sites in Germany. In earlier years the textile industry played an even greater role and brought the city the nickname “Rheinisches Manchester”.

For many years, the city has combined looms, spinning machines and other equipment from old factories. The result is an internationally unique collection of textile technology. The center of the approx. 150 machines is the weaving mill. The range extends from the oldest looms to modern air nozzle technology. Here, testimonies of the textile past of the city are preserved, restored and made viable again. The Monfortsquartier, a former textile machine factory, is a special location for these purposes.

The textile technology does not only show historical technology. It is a starting point for many cooperation partners such as, for example, the textile companies on site or the internationally renowned textile division of the neighboring university of applied sciences Niederrhein. This allows historical developments to be combined with the requirements of modern research and education.

A central event space opens up the textile technology for events and allows the various groups of interested parties access to Mönchengladbach’s textile past and present.

Originally, hand weavers mainly produced linen fabrics. The work took place in the local loom, the sales took place in the so-called publishing system. A publisher supplied the weavers with raw materials and ensured the distribution of the finished goods.

In the nineteenth century these conditions changed fundamentally. Semi-automatic or fully automatic spinning machines and mechanical looms replaced hand spinning wheels and looms. The machines were powered by a central power source, usually a steam engine. The decentralized production in the domestic room shifted to centralized factories. At the same time cotton replaced the flax as a raw material.

Thus, in 1861, 17 spinning mills with 83,080 spindles and 1,855 employees were already working in Gladbach. Spinning was the pioneer of mechanization. For the weaving, 6,443 looms were counted in the same year, including 5,249 hand looms.

About 50 years later, before the outbreak of the First World War, 1.2 million spindles and 20,000 mechanical looms were running in the Gladbach-Rheydt district. At that time there were 650 textile companies with 55,000 employees.

The war, the subsequent crises and, finally, the Second World War presented the sector with ever-new challenges. Nevertheless, the number of employees continued to increase, and in 1939 it was 67,000. Even after World War II, the textual economy experienced an upswing until the structural crisis hit the industry in the 1970s and ‘8s.

Weaving is the main focus of textile technology. From hand looms to modern air nozzle technology, the basic development steps of the weaving technique are presented.

To dye:
The Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences has a very special treasure: in more than a century more than 10,000 samples of dye were put together in an extraordinary collection. A selection is available.

The steam engine of the former Juteweberei Blancke in Heinsberg is one of the highlights of the exhibition. For almost a century she was driving the company’s looms.

fashion & fiction:
Fashion & fiction is all about textile, fashion and literature. A mobile listening station is currently being developed, which will be used in various places in Gladbach and also in other places. There are literary publications on fashion.

The project is actively supported by the Department of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. The students there translate u.a. the fictional texts into real textiles and fashion drawings.

Today the Mönchengladbach textile industry is working with the latest technology. It is still produced locally. However, the entire textile industry is no longer geared primarily to the domestic market, as in previous years, but to the requirements of global trade and sales.