Workers‘ Dwellings of the Noelle & von Campe Glass Factory

Workers‘ Dwellings of Noelle & von Campe in 2020 Photo: Uwe Spiekermann

From the 1870s onwards, Boffzen was influenced considerably by glassmakers, who were mostly newcomers and migrant workers from the Siegerland. The lower part of the village lived from agriculture and forestry and consisted mostly of smallholders. Living quarters were scarce for the three-digit number of newcomers, but essential in order to encourage experienced glassmakers to move north. The growth of the two local glass factories depended upon attractive working conditions, good wages and affordable housing.

Blueprint of the company dewellings from 1898. Photo: Archive Freundeskreis Glas

Kitchen: 8,0 square metres
Bedroom 1: 11,3 square metres
Bedroom 2: 10,9 square metres
Living room: 14,0 square metres
Hall: 3,1 square metres

Total: 47,3 square metres

The first factory-owned workers‘ dwellings were built on the Bahnhofstraße. Noelle & von Campe was able to buy further plots of land in 1898, and built two more houses, each for four families. They were stone-built and corresponded to the standard of the time: a separate apartment for each family. The workplace and the living quarters were thus closely associated with each other. The core workforce had privileges, but had, of course, to be loyal to the company.

Workers‘ houses from the 1960s Photo: Elisabeth Pophal

In those days, it was quite common that several families lived together in one house. But in contrast to farm houses, where everyone used the same hall and communal kitchen, these workers‘ houses comprised separate apartments. According to the building plans, each family had about 47 square metres made up of two bedrooms, one kitchen and a living room. Heating was provided by two stoves. These, for those days, modern apartments were smalI, but better than the prevailing standard. In 1892, of the 227 workers of the glass factories in Boffzen, Rottmünde and Neuhaus, only 20 lived in their own houses, while 43 lived in rented flats, 61 in flats belonging to their employers and 81 with their parents. Apart from that, there were 22 people who slept elsewhere in a rented bed. Providing accommodation for workers was a precondition for creating jobs and for the industrialisation of the countryside.

August Ohm (l.) and Hermann Böker at the mouth blowpipe Photo: Willi Ohm