Solingen – Home of the Dreizackwerk
Solingen became the heart of the knife industry as a result of the topography of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Transportation routes along the Rhine lay to the west, coal supplies from the Ruhr to the north and in the Siegerland region to the south there was ore mining.
Solingen itself had none of these features. All it had were forests, steep-sided valleys and fast-flowing streams due to high levels of precipitation. But these seeming disadvantages actually turned out to be beneficial. Streams and rivers were dammed and the power of the water was used to drive grinding stones, small hammer mills and other mechanical equipment. This is how the famous grinding mills came about.
Grinding mills operated by water are mentioned in records dating back to the 14th century. The commercial trade in swords and daggers from Solingen, which had its heyday in the second half of the 16th century, spread across the whole of Europe. Over the following two hundred years, these weapons waned in importance, however, the demand for shears and all types of knives was on the increase.
Around 1814, Solingen had 3,200 inhabitants, with approximately 16,000 people living in the surrounding area. Around 4,000 people were employed at 93 grinding mills and 6 hammer mills, where their jobs entailed forging, hardening, grinding and polishing blades and making knives or shears.
Over time, there were up to 120 grinding mills in Solingen and the surrounding area. One of them was the WÜSTHOF grinding mill at Weinsbergtal.
How did this small grinding mill develop into a company employing over 350 staff, whose products are still available 200 years later in over 80 countries?
Over the course of the year, under the category “200 years of Wüsthof“, we will use this blog to share with you the history of our family company.