Beuchelt – Submarines, Bridges, Waggons and Cars

Though the cars made by Beuchelt are just a footne in most historical books, the company has a rich history. Story by  Piotr Pluskowski

Western Poland just as many other regions in Central Europe has a turbulent history. In the middle ages it was part of the Bohemian Kingdom, then in the 18th century it became part of Prussia. Later it was a part of Germany until WW2. The story of Beuchelt concerns two cities: Zgorzelec (German name: Görlitz) and Zelena Gora (German name: Grünberg)

Georg Beuchelt

Georg Beuchelt (1852-1913) and Albert Ribbeck (1847-1930) who worked for a mechnical engineering company in Görlitz set up their own company, „ Fabrik für Brückenbau und Eisenkonstruktionen Beuchelt u. Co. in Grünberg in 1876. As its name suggests this company was active in the construction industry building railway tracks, roads, bridges etc. They connected the banks of the Oder, but also many cities in Romania, Serbia, Denmark, Turkey, Japan and Africa. The company built spire dams, water dams, river mills, factory halls, platforms, railway tunnels, and overground rail structures. They also worked roof structures for churches, theaters, zoos and botanical gardens. Though Ribbeck retired early on Beuchelt built a huge industrial conglomerate.

In its initial period, employment in the plant was only 6 people. The following year it grew to 80 employees. In 1888, there were already 200 employees. Four years later the headcount reached 500 employees. In 1914, employment amounted to 1,200 people and quickly increased to 1,500 people. In 1939, over 2,200 people worked there.

The factory was ideally located along the Stettin (today Szczecin)- Breslau (today Wrocław) railway line and near the Cigacice port. Cheap labor also contributed to Beuchelt’s success.

In 1886 the factory launched production of railway carriages. Altogether Beuchelt built around 25,000 of these offering a great variety.

The plant’s area at the beginning of its operation was 4,600 m2. Which has been increased to 19,500 m2 in 1901, and then to 41,000 m2 in 1926. In the following years, the usable area increased to 58,500 m2. New technologies were introduced systematically. In 1943, the area of ​​the halls increased by 2,300 m2, and a year later another, more modern hall with an area of ​​almost 650 m2 was built.

The owner systematically introduced the latest technologies along with modern devices. Electric welding was introduced instead of riveting the elements.

After Georg Beuchelt’s death (August 17, 1913), his sister Lidia Beuchelt took over the company, and the factory was run by Paul Henke, husband of Marta Beuchelt, the founder’s niece.

After World War I, the plant did not regain its previous orders. By 1922, orders for bridges had also ceased. The factory began to lose its financial liquidity.

Mercedes-Benz bus

In 1924, in order for the plant to survive, cooperation with the German Post. Beuchelt assembled Mercedes and Büssing-NAG buses for the post and then later for trucks the German army, including Daimler-Benz G3a, Magirus-Deutz M-206, Henschel 33-D1 and so on.

Mercedes-Benz G3

In 1925 Beuchelt also teamed up with dr Josef Sablatnig, an Austrian-born engineer and aviation pioneer. After WW1 Sablatnig was forced to stop all aviation-related activities so he turned his attention to the automotive industry. Beuchelt and Sablatnig developed a passenger car, called the 6/30 PS which was produced in two body variants as a limousine and a convertible. Production lasted until 1926.

Sablatnig-Beuchelt 6/30 PS limousine

In the post-crisis period, the plant built bridge and viaducts as part of the Berlin-Katowice motorway. After 1939, the plant began building submarine hulls. The factory also produced torpedo hatches and bows with torpedo tubes.

In 1945, the plants were completely destroyed. In 1946, the plant started operating as the “WAGMO” Wagon and Steel Structures Factory, and after a few years it was transformed into “ZASTAL” Metal Industry Plant.

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