Made in Poland

Linen is always associated with France but did you know that Poland was a Linen Empire in XIX? Our table linen is made on looms in Zyrardow, a town that was created for one purpose only! To weave linen!

I am getting on a fast train from my home city Poznan to Warsaw - only my intermediate stop before I head to my final destination, a city about an hour’s distance from the Polish capital.

As I approach my destination, my heart starts to race. I know what to expect, I have been here before.

As I get off the train, I take a taxi, passing red bricked buildings everywhere, some, impressive examples of the industrial architecture of the early XIX century. Tate Modern comes to mind. No, Tate Modern is just a one big building sticking out like an island. Here it’s more like a forest, a labyrinth of red shaped structures with tall metal windows and an industrial feel about them only somehow stripped of their soul and purpose. It’s like one big body that had once been buzzing with life, with the sounds of working machines, an atmosphere of creation. It is more like Manchester.

Zyrardow: Industrial buildings converted to flats

We are in Zyrardow, a place that was dedicated entirely to one purpose and one purpose only. The entire infrastructure, mills, weaving, spinning factories, houses, train station, schools, retirement homes, hospital, post office, churches for different faiths and shops were created to make linen cloth and to serve people who worked in those factories and their families. The City’s Gardens were awarded a gold medal in Paris in1900.

Old Spinning Mill in Zyrardow

In 1828, The Brothers Lubienscy brought from France an engineer and inventor of a machine for the mechanical spinning of linen, called Fillip de Girard (therefore the name of the city – Zyrardow). They made him the first technical director of the establishment. In the second half of XIX, the factory was bought by two Germans, Karol Dittrich and Karol Hille who modernized and expanded the scale of the factory and it became the most potent linen manufacturing plant throughout Europe. Linen cloth coming from the looms and products made out of it, were exported not only to other European countries but also to Russia, Asia and the Middle East. The new owners built an entire social infrastructure for people who worked in the factory including nurseries, schools, hospitals, halls and churches.

A school in Zyrardow built for workers' children.

There was a geometric network of streets with housing for workers and different living zones for the directors of the company; there were green areas, parks and an industrial area all built according to the rule of an ideal city. This was a masterpiece of urban planning.

Zyrardow was a multicultural city. People who lived here were from varied backgrounds and nationalities: Poles, Jews, Germans, Czechs, French, Russians, English (doctors and lawyers), Scottish, Irish and Austrians as well as believers in different religions: Catholics, Anglicans, Evangelicals, Baptists, Orthodox and a large number of Moises (Jews).; a truly cosmopolitan place.

The manufacturing plants survived WWI and WW2.

Old weaving looms :: devastation after WWI

They managed to operate well during hard Communist times.

Weavers Unions during communism