Industrial culture in Prignitz – an overview

In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, industrial sites developed in the purely rural region of Prignitz

The illuminated hands and digits of the Singer clock tower still shine far into the Prignitzer Land and across the Elbe to the Altmark. The tower is an impressive landmark of the city of Wittenberge and was originally used as a water tower to supply the Singer sewing machine factory built.

Wittenberge, the city of sewing machines, was the largest location for the production of household sewing machines in Europe. After World War II and the dismantling of the Singer factory, production was resumed with great effort and the company developed into a modern factory with the “Veritas” brand. Up to 3,000 people worked in the factory, which in its final year 1990 still produced 400,000 sewing machines. With the fall of the Wall, the sewing machine factory was closed and production was shut down. In the meantime, the tower no longer serves as a water reservoir, but tells its visitors the history in an exhibition. The extensive investments and efforts of recent years - to renovate the city without losing its industrial charm - have paid off.

The best example of this is the “Alte Ölmühle”, which was built in 1823 by the Berlin merchant Salomon Herz as the first industrial enterprise in Wittenberge in the Prussian industrial architecture. A paradise for vacationers has been created on the large site with its industrial buildings in brick-red brick optics, directly on the new waterfront promenade. In addition to the “Alte Ölmühle” hotel, a loft spa, a beachbar at the Elbe, an indoor high rope climbing park and Northern Germany's only indoor diving tower have been built here. Right next door is the storage section, built in 1878, which today serves as a restaurant and show brewery. The freshly tapped HerzBräu (a beer), named after the founder of the oil mill, is served here.

As a partner in the Berlin-Hamburg railway company, Salomon Herz also ensured that the railway line between the two cities ran via Wittenberge. As early as 1846, the Berlin-Hamburg Railway put the first locomotive shed into operation in the Elbe city. It is still used by a railway company today, making it the oldest locomotive shed still in operation in Germany. In 1872 another shed was built, a so-called rotunda, and in 1889 the third ring shed was completed, which today forms the centerpiece of the “Historic Locomotive Shed”, Brandenburg's largest railway museum.

In Pritzwalk you can meet the brothers Ludwig and August Draeger. In 1839 they took over the traditional cloth making business of their father and founded the first Pritzwalks factory as the “Draeger Brothers Cloth Factory”. In 1858 the factory moved from the city center to its current location at the Meyenburger Tor. Sheep's wool was processed into cloths here and, as a uniform cloth factory, it mainly supplied official customers such as the railroad, the post office and the military. Shortly after the turn of the century, the cloth factories in Pritzwalk and Wittstock, which operated together, were among the market leaders in the field of uniform cloth throughout Germany.

Today the “Museumsfabrik Pritzwalk” has its home in the old cloth factory. The museum offers an extensive program to participate, including the workshop areas with hand weaving and printing and guided tours of Pritzwalk's industrial history.

The last originally preserved gasworks in Northern Europe is in Neustadt Dosse, making it one of the last surviving witnesses to the 150-year history of gas production in Europe. Its uniqueness is represented by the horizontal retorts in which town gas was generated from hard coal. Sought-after by-products were coke and tar. Planned in 1902 and opened in 1903, it provided light and heat for Neustadt (Dosse) until 1980. Today it preserves the “know-how” of the former gas technology as a technical monument. It offers fascinating, tangible historical technology to touch for young and old!