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Wacław Moritz and his father Robert were pioneers of the agricultural machinery and tools industry in Lublin. Robert Moritz (1830-1906) was a Protestant of German origin. He moved from Poznań to Lublin in the second half of the 19th century. In 1864, he joined a small company run by polonized Scots, which dealt with the production of agricultural machinery in Lublin. The company began to grow rapidly. In no time, the company increased its production capacity, changed headquarters to larger ones and quickly became famous for “Lublin plows”, threshers, horse mills, as also machines and equipment for mills and distilleries. With time, Robert Moritz became the sole owner of the Factory. In 1985, he handed over the company to his son Wacław.
Wacław Moritz was born In 1865 in Lublin. His education path started in Russian junior high school at Namiestnikowaska Street in Lublin. Then, he moved to Germany to study on Higher Technical School in Mittweid. After graduation, Moritz began apprenticeship: first, at the Hipolit Cegielski factory in Poznań and then at his father’s factory at Krakowskie Przedmieście in Lublin. As an entrepreneur, citizen, member of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church, he played a significant role in the economic, cultural and local government life of Lublin. Outside of factory management, he was also co-founder of the Lublin Circle of the Polish School of Math, the Gymnastic Society “Sokół”, the Association of Technicians in Lublin, vice-president of the city and councilor on behalf of the National Party.
After taking over the company from his father, Wacław Moritz decided to change the location of the factory to a better one. In 1900 the “Factory of Agricultural Machines, Tools and Iron Foundry” was built at the Zamość Road (now Fabryczna Street) near the bridge over Bystrzyca River and over the Czerniejówka pool.
The new location required the ground to be strengthened with huge oak piles. Soon new factory buildings were erected there. What is worth mentioning is that the buildings were mostly built of red brick. The factory was consisted of 3 modern departments – mechanical, carpentry and a forge. In 1912, an iron foundry was established, which produced 850 tons of castings per year. In addition to production facilities, there were also factory and technical offices, workshops, a wood drying room, warehouses, an exchange office, etc.
The wooden buildings housed machine depots, a casting cleaning plant, a porter’s lodge, a workers’ kitchen and… a chicken coop for hens and ducks. A few years later, a soccer field was built next to the factory. From the side of Fabryczna Street, behind the garden and an arbor, there was a modest house of the factory owner.
In different years, depending on the condition of the factory and the demand for products, the factory employed 100 to 300. Moritz’s factory produced modernized “Lublin plows”, chaff-cutters, potato toppers, threshers, potato and beetroot choppers, treadmills with a power of 1 to 10 hp, stationary and transportable threshers with grain cleaning devices, iron, technical and construction castings and many others. The products from the Wacław Moritz factory were assessed as highly as the products of other well-known companies, such as Lilpop and Gerlach, thanks to which they won many diplomas and awards at exhibitions and competitions in Poland and abroad.
Participation in the famous Lublin Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition in 1901 was the first success of the factory. The exhibition in Berdyczów brought a Big Gold Medal, and in 1909 at the exhibition in Częstochowa, Moritz’s plows were awarded with another Gold Medal. The quality of products from the Moritz factory, which has been confirmed many times, has opened up markets in many countries, also exotic ones. Among all agricultural machines from Moritz’s factory, the threshing machines were the most popular. These machines were exported to Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Yugoslavia and Turkey.
The dynamic development of the factory was stopped by the outbreak of World War I. In order to strengthen the condition of the factory, Wacław Moritz joined the “Union of Polish Agricultural Machines and Tools Factory S.A.” in Warsaw in 1921. This allowed the production to return to normal, at least for a few years. However, the crisis of the 1930s brought the company to bankruptcy. It was re-launched in 1937 under the name “Lubelska Fabryka Maszyn i Urządzeń Rolniczych “Plon””, also with branch in Warsaw.
After the outbreak of World War II, during the Nazi occupation, the Moritz’s factory was under compulsory German management. Due to his origin and surname, he was strongly persuaded to enter the Volkslist. Wacław Moritz, however, remained faithful to his Polish patriotic convictions. The Polish factory management and factory employees, despite the enormous risk, conduct underground and subversive activities.
Just after the war, on September 18, 1947, the Moritz’s factory was nationalized and merged with the factory of Wolski, which was the second famous manufacturer of agricultural machinery and equipment in Lublin. Fusion of these two companies created “Lubelska Fabryka Maszyn Rolniczych and was name after “The Revolution of 1905””.
Wacław Moritz had died a few months earlier, on May 25, 1947, and didn’t experience those events. Many employees of his factory and Lublin residents followed the funeral procession. He was buried in the Evangelical cemetery at Lipowa Street, where his parents and wife were buried in 1961.
In the following decades, the factory underwent numerous reorganizations and restructurings, as well as its name was changed several times. The end of its activity dates back to 1990, when the production of agricultural machinery was moved from Fabryczna Street (then known as the Red Army Street) to new facilities in Wrotków district.
The abandoned buildings were adapted to serve commercial purpose. GALA quickly became one of the largest companies trading in construction materials in Lublin, as well as in the east part of Poland.
At the beginning of the 21st. Century, GALA has started building of a modern commercial, service and business complex. About 100 salons and shops are located under one roof. The variety of products and services is reach, mostly focus on home and interior appliances and furnishings. There are also headquarters of design offices, financial institutions and others.
The impressive shape of the five-storey building was designed by “Biuro Bieńkowski, Lis, Mierzwa Architekci”. The facade of the building deserves attention. It is made up of glass panes of unprecedented size. Their production has not been managed by any Polish glass works and were made by a foreign manufacturer. It is the first glass front elevation of this type in Poland. GALA shopping mall, like the Moritz’s factory in the past, dominating on the intersection of Unia Lubelskia avenue and Fabryczna Street. It is a kind of ” precursor” of the new spatial and architectural order in this part of Lublin – with the inspiring panorama of the Old Town, the Bystrzyca Valley and an important communication spot.
To this day, on the GALA third floor, there is an exhibition dedicated to incredible work of Wacław Moritz. There are information boards presenting historical documents, photos and plans of the famous Moritz’s factory. Moreover, you will find real exhibits that were excavated from the ground during construction works of Gala shopping mall. One of the excavated structure was kind of “ecological” solution from over 100 years ago and was used as a container for used paint and lubricant.
We invite everyone to see the exhibition during the opening hours of the GALA shopping mall.