“The real history of glassworks in Krosno is practically 100 years old!
The real history of Krosno City of Glass began in 1923, each time a glassworks was built and opened within the limits of the then city. The name was officially directed at the city on June 2, 2012 with the opening of the Glass Heritage Centre there. The President of Krosno was presented with symbolic glass keys to the town gates and the act of locating Krosno – the Glass City, engraved on a glass plate, was signed.
Thus, in 2012, after about 650 years since its foundation, Krosno in an expression came to be again. New life, and therefore new glass figurines opportunities and hopes, but also tradition and an obliging heritage cultivating the glass history of the region.
And this story begins when Poland regained its independence.
On November 11, 1918, an armistice between Germany and the Entente states was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne, France. This date effectively ended the First World War. As a result, Poland regained its independence after 123 years of partitions. The united states was devastated, traces of war and years of foreign rule were visible at every turn. Corrective action was quickly taken. Construction works have started. Industrial plants, public buildings, roads and bridges were erected.
In the first years of independence, Krosno, with a population of about 6,000, faced many problems. Lack of industry and thus insufficient work, modest, partly rural buildings were the everyday reality of the times. Soon the construction of industrial plants that changed the town began: “”Lnianka””, “”Wudeta”” Rubber Plant and glassworks.
In 1923, talks concerning the planned investment were arriving at an end. Representatives of Polskie Huty Szkła Akcyjna having its seat in Krakow stumbled on Krosno buying a place to finalize the project. The choice fell on the estate of Cecylia Kaczkowska, née Potocka. In her palace the last talks of the procedure took place and the deed of purchase of a part of the manor land was signed. A glass factory was to be built on the site.
Construction work began in the same year. The plant was quickly erected and the crew began to be assembled. The initial steelworkers originated from distant places: the Borderlands (Żółkwi near Lviv), Silesia, and Romania. Already in January 1924 the plant was opened. Production started and the first shipments of finished products began to leave the plant. Many families have gained a steady supply of income. Of the approximately 1,200 people employed at the plant, most worked in the main hall, where glass was melted in furnaces and glassworkers made glass objects by hand.
The steelworks has blended in to the urban landscape. It has become part of the lives of its residents, and the production has gained recognition. This was demonstrated by the gold medal received from the Minister of Industry and Trade, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, at the General National Exhibition in Poznań (1929).
World War II
On September 1, 1939, World War II began with the attack on Poland. One of many Luftwaffe’s strategic targets was the Krosno airfield and the “”Wudeta”” rubber factory. The loom found itself in heat of battle. The Germans entered it on September 8, beginning a five-year occupation. The Nazi terror covered the city’s everyday life. The tragic balance of the occupation in the district is 3700 dead.
The steelworks, like one other plants, was presented with a German management, represented by Oskar Happak and Walter Behm. Work suspended for the war effort was quickly resumed. Through the war over 600 people worked in the steelworks. Household glass, lighting glass, and even crystals were produced.
For Krosno, the war ended in the fall of 1944. The retreating German troops set fire to the steelworks on 9 September, earlier removing machines, products, destroying raw materials and infrastructure. The factory was burning down before the eyes of the people of Krosno, but at the same time freedom was coming. The smelter, which had been on fire for 2 days, was almost completely destroyed. The ruins, protruding in to the sky, attracted the worried citizens of the city. On September 11, 1944 the past act of the war drama took place. Soviet troops entered Krosno. They certainly were the 241st Infantry Division, the 140th Division of the 38th AR of the Byelorussian Front, and the 12th Armored Brigade. Along together came the socialist order.
Already 9 days after the liberation, at a meeting of 40 steelworkers, it was decided to rebuild the plant. Work began immediately. The repair and construction brigade contains 89 people. In order to obtain funds, salvaged glass products were sold, state subsidies and prepayments from future contractors were used. In a very difficult situation, because it was soon after the liberation, everything was missing. The folks from Krosno, have been rebuilding the steelworks, went to the bombed airfield searching for materials. The roof truss from one of many hangars was in relatively good condition. On her behalf hands she was carried to the steelworks, where she was used to construct a fresh roof for the hall.
Production resumed on January 20, 1945. In those days the glassworks had only 1 glass bath with 6 workshops, a drawing shop (for de-stressing glass) and several grinding stands. The initial products were No. 8. oil lamp slides, blown in a mold of 2. One particular glass cost 1.50 zloty (for comparison, in the autumn of 1945 in Warsaw, one egg cost almost 10 zloty, and the free-market price of a loaf of bread was about 33 zloty). The sole truck they’d was used to send products on further routes. In the region, transportation was by horse-drawn carts.
Steelworks employees actively participated in the life span of the town and the region. They supported the rebuilding of the Krosno senior high school using their extra production, they went to simply help with the harvest and digging. In respect with the policy of the time, the nearby villages were visited by company speakers and artistic groups.
Modernization, construction and adaptation works were constantly carried out. The increase in production and thus employment required new investments. In 1945 the plant had 267 employees and produced 329 a lot of products, in 1948 – 360 crew members and 599 tons. The crew was systematically expanded. In 1950 less than 400 people worked in the plant, eight years later it was already 860. The plant was bustling with activity. Every year the production was increased. Waiting for her were households, factories, hospitals and hotels destroyed by the conflagration of war. In 1953, 1151 a lot of products left the plant, five years later it was already 1833 tons. In 1958 a paint shop was opened. In the same year, in January, by virtue of a government decision, a state enterprise underneath the name “”Krosno Glassworks”” was established.
In 1953 the smelter became a good success – its products gained recognition in the world and exports began. The initial countries on the listing of Krosno glass recipients were England, Brazil and Canada. The equipment park was constantly modernised. The initial “”Sloan”” automatic glass making machines and “”Pall-Mall”” grinders made the work much simpler and increased production. The former Kaczkowski palace was developed and adapted to the wants of the plant’s staff. It housed a typical room, a collection, a medical and dental clinic and a kindergarten.
In 1951 the first two company housing blocks were put into use. In 1957 another. The great neighborly atmosphere fostered togetherness. Children playing together, the ice rink, and residents’meetings were the fact of the years.
Domestic and export production is increasing at a rapid pace. Handmade products were mainly sent abroad, while automatic glassware enjoyed popularity on the Polish market. A further expansion of the plant became necessary. On 1 October 1955, on the expropriated land of Polanka village the construction of technical glassworks – HST “”Polanka”” – was launched. The construction of the Technical Glassworks occupied a location of 20 hectares, and the first buildings were the barracks and warehouses of the builders. Gradually, proper buildings and the necessary infrastructure grew up.
In 1959 “”Krosno Glassworks”” already had 1350 employees, and the enlargement of the enterprise was continued by expanding the plant in Polanka. Two new baths for melting glass were put into operation there and the construction of hall no. 2 began. In 1960 hall no. 1 in HST “”Polanka”” was put into use. It produced neutral, lead and soda glass tubes. Annually later, bath No. 6. for the production of CRT tubes was put into operation. On September 22nd, 1959, another investment was launched – the construction of a professional glassworks “”KROSNO-II””. The construction took up 7 ha of land close to HST “”Polanka””. The newest plant was to create household glassware sought after on domestic and foreign markets.
On September 1, 1959, the business’s Basic Glass School was inaugurated. Its establishment was a response to the constantly growing demand for qualified metallurgical staff. At the same time, the extramural Glass Technical School was also launched. Initially, theoretical classes were held in the Textile Technical School building, and practical training in the steel mill. In the following years a fresh school, dormitory and workshops were put into use. In its 25 years of existence, 1500 graduates have left the school.
In October 1962 “”KROSNO-II”” was launched. The plant had its own railway siding, a network of internal roads and a fence. Initially, as in the “”KROSNO-I”” factory, the production of household glass was carried out there by hand. The company quickly stumbled on the forefront among Polish glass manufacturers. Official visits were paid by representatives of the greatest party and state authorities.
On April 1, 1967 the “”Jasło”” Glassworks was incorporated in to the Krosno enterprise. This plant, which was the same age while the Krosno glassworks, produced tiled window glass and bottles. Following the war, the production was switched to manufacturing bottles for liquor stores, and then coloured glass for signal lamps was added. Following the merger with KHS, the core business became reflector glass. The production of coloured pressed glass utilized in stained-glass making was also taken up.