history




( 1850 - 1925 )
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Chronic of the Thonwerke Ludwig GmbH & Co KG

As recorded by Dr. Paul Ludwig at the celebration of the 100th jubilee of the Ludwig company in the year 1950.

Already since the eighth century BC has mankind known how to extract and process iron. Only much later, in the course of the 14th century AD, the possibility to cast iron was discovered. Again it took centuries to discover steel, the foundation of our modern technology. This was carried out for the first time in England in 1784, the then leading industrialized nation and became common property when Henry Cort invented the Puddle Kiln. Now only one more step was needed to pour steel. One was already able to pour minute amounts of steel to small ingots. In 1851 Alfred Krupp and Jakob Meyer succeeded with the actual steel casting, meaning to cast commodities into steel, and with this marvelous deed they became the founders of the new-age large-scale industrial enterprise. With the possibility to change iron into steel and the development of the steel casting the refractory industry was born.

The first steel plants of the industrial zones of the Rhineland-Westphalian areas firstly got the suitable clays from Belgium. Krupp was market leader in search of domestic raw materials since they found in their "Sayner Hütte", near the Lambertshöhe nearby Kettig suitable steel crucible clays (Stahltiegeltone). Thus the western slopes of the basin of Neuwied became a vast part of our industrial development and this remained until the end of the first World War.

In the 1840's, following the tracks of Krupp, representatives of the Reinhardt & Koenig company, today Steel Casting Plant Witten, met with the founder of the Ludwig company, Peter Ludwig I (born on May 7, 1803 in Bendorf) in Muehlheim and asked the crucial question if he could supply a similar clay as was found in Kettig. We do assume that our ancestor did have a good idea about the transactions along the Ruhr river since besides operating a locksmith's trade he also was involved in a flourishing coal business, both special businesses that tied him obligatory to the Ruhr river. Knowing the localities very well Peter Ludwig offered the gentlemen from R&K the blue Mülheimer clay which he knew from the valley of the owls and where the clay had been mined probably for centuries for the potters from Euler.





Peter Ludwig II

The trials carried out surpassed all expectations since the clay from Mühlheim, due to its specific characteristics, was the preferred clay for the manufacture of steel cast pan and steel casting mixes. The monies offered by R&K for the purchase of land was refused by our ancestor since he and his wife, née Zils, owned enough land. In total they left 42 "morgen" (107.233 m2).

The marriage of our ancestor was blessed with three sons. There were Peter, Anton and Markus of which only the eldest, Peter II, born on New Year's eve of 1842-43, was involved in the clay business.
As per documentation dated February 22, 1873, he came to an agreement with his brothers and started with great energy to enlarge the business.




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