Historisches Lahnstein

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Didier Villa

Didier Villa

The Splendour of Wealth

In the mid 19th century Niederlahnstein undergoes rapid development due to increasing industrialisation and the town’s connection to the new railway network. The terrain at the mouth of the Lahn is almost completely flat and offers adequate space for the establishment of industrial plants - a distinct advantage over Oberlahnstein and the other towns in the narrow Middle Rhine valley. A rapid succession of prominent companies now opens branches here.

These include the Stettiner Chamotte-Fabrik Actien-Gesellschaft which finds the ideal location in Niederlahnstein when it decides to open a new plant in the west of Germany at the end of the 19th century. At its works in Stettin and Gleiwitz the company produces refractory bricks (firebricks) for the furnaces of iron foundries, smelting works and steel mills. By opening another factory on the Middle Rhine, the company can reduce the distance to its most important customers, the heavy industries of the Rhine and Ruhr. With the clay and quartzite deposits of the nearby Westerwald the most important raw materials are also close at hand, a fact which helps to cut production costs.

And so in June 1890 the foundations are laid for the largest industrial plant in Niederlahnstein. The new factory building is 200 metres long and 33 metres wide. In addition, the company builds living quarters for the employees and a three-storey directors’ villa. Production begins in 1891. As there is an initial lack of skilled workers, 15 workers and their families move to Niederlahnstein from Gleiwitz in order to train the local work force. A further factory building is erected at the turn of the century.

At different times there are over 400 people employed in the Niederlahnstein plant which merges with its subsidiaries and associated companies to form the Didier-Werke-AG in 1932. The decline of the heavy industries on the Rhine and Ruhr also marks the end of the Didier works’ golden era. In 1995 the factory closes its gates forever.

All that remains is the prestigious directors‘ villa. Even when the factory was still in production, the villa was affectionately known to the local population as the “firebrick palace”. Today the stylishly restored building is home to “Maximilians Brauwiesen”, a private brewery and restaurant.