JINCE A unique technical monument is hidden in the valley of the Litavka streamlet, between two sharp Brdy hills. As the only one in Europe, the charcoal blast furnace Barbora has survived with the adjacent buildings till today. The small town Jince bought it from a private person for 5 million Czech crowns two years ago. After tens of years of dilapidation, its rescue was started. It came at the last moment.
Another money awaited
At present, the situation is better. On the ground where the cynologists trained their dogs, the construction works are carried out lively. “We are finishing the roof repairs just now. The facade, new windows and doors will come after. At the same time, we are preparing a project for the reconstruction of interiors and adjacent buildings,” the Jince mayor, Josef Hala says. He and his colleagues estimate that the complete revitalisation of the historical complex will cost about 40 mil. CZK.
“It is not possible to get the donation from the Czech or the European funds. That is why we have registered for the Norwegian funds where the resources for technical monuments are available. To apply for the support, it is necessary to have a Norwegian partner who will assess the project. We succeeded in getting two experts who have world-wide experience with the Norwegian funds. They also took part in two Czech projects – in Prague and Kutna Hora,” Josef Hala explains.
The two specialists for conservation of technical monuments visited Jince at the end of September. “We spent 4 days with them, including a trip to Prague and a visit of the Mining museum in Pribram and Eco-centre in Orlov. They appreciated that the furnace Barbora is situated in the area of long-time mining and iron industry tradition, moreover in the very middle of Europe,” the mayor continues. He adds that the excursion to the Pribram mining exposition assured them of the fact that the Czechs know how to protect and maintain the technical historical sights. Also this is why they are favourably inclined to our project.
The proceeding to the salvation of this monument was not easy and it will take much time in future, in spite of the activity of the local municipality. “It is difficult to estimate how much time it will take. It depends mainly on the money inflow,” Josef Hala points out the fact that the investment into this project is a great deal above the budget of the small town. The roof itself costed 4 mil. CZK. It was financed for example from the Central Bohemia district office, that sent 2,88 mil. CZK, and from the Fund for Culture and monument restoration. Another donation from the Ministry for Culture is still awaited.
However, money is not the only problem for Jince. Recently it has been water which started to leak to the furnace beneath the dam of the neighbouring pond Pecovak. The water which once supplied the mechanism of the blowers of the furnace and later the saw mill, threatened the building. The only way was to lower the water level and after the agreement with local fishermen, to fish out the pond.
“We dug a line beneath the dam by the furnace and found out a pipe which second end was discovered on the pond side. The pipe was plugged with wood which rotted away and water started to leak. During winter the pond will freeze and we will repair it, “Josef Hala says.
Museum, amphitheatre or charcoal kiln
The reborn Barbora should serve for culture and history. The visitors of the museum exposition will be informed about the history of local iron production, which is dated late back to the Latten period, but also about a famous violin virtuoso, native of Jince, Josef Slavik. There will be also an exposition of trilobites, fossilized ancient sea animals which deposits round Jince are well known.
“We would like to take advantage of the position on the 17 kilometres long nature trail. The Barbora furnace should be one of the most attractive points on it”, Mr. Hala wishes. He also would like to use the areal of the used to be furnace for such as events as Jince festivities.
That is why there will be also necessary background facilities in this multifunctional centre. It will include also an amphitheatre or diminished replicas of furnaces and kilns, on which it will be demonstrated how the iron was once produced.
Another attraction will be a charcoal kiln; charcoal was the only source of heating in the furnace. Also a hydroelectric power station is planned which could propel a thermal pump. “Of course, this all is pie in the sky, but at least this is what we can look forward to”, the major remarks.
From the history of the blast furnace
- The blast furnace in Jince was constructed by the owner of the estate and the metallurgical expert Rudolf, Count Vrbna in 1805 – 1810. He further extended the production and processing of iron, calling workers from Saxony and Bavaria and using the local inhabitants.
- The name Barbora comes from the wife of the director of the Iron works Vaclav from Rosenbaum.
- The raw material for the iron production came from the near surrounding. Iron ore was mined by the Jince ironworkers in Brdy. Komorsko belonged to the richest deposits with iron content of almost 50%.
- Brdy highland served also as a source of wood, the second raw material essential for the production; charcoal was produced in so called charcoal kilns.
- In those times, the Jince furnace belonged to the best ones in the monarchy, with the production almost 1.100 tons of pig iron when operated continuously.
- From the technical point of view, structurally it is the most complex monument of the older era of the production of blast-furnace pig iron on our territory.
- It was burnt out in 1874 when it succumbed to a competition with the modern metallurgy based on coking coal. 10 years later, a saw mill was established in the rear part and it was in operation till 1951.
Překlad: Ing. Hana Kratochvílová