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The Cradle of Industry

The history of Tampere is tightly linked with the history of factories and mills, of which Finlayson, Tampella and Frenckell belong to the most important ones. All were once powered by the Tammerkoski Rapids, which also gave birth to the whole city. Today, the rapids together with old red-brick factory buildings make one of Finland's national heritage landscapes.

James Finlayson, a Scotsman, came to Finland via Russia and founded a cotton mill in Tampere in 1820, thereby creating what was to be the first major industrial establishment in the country.

As elsewhere in Europe, the first large-scale industry focused on cotton, since cotton was best-suited to mechanical processing: to be woven into thread and fabric. Finished products were sold to Russia; the export of the goods was promoted by generously granted customs and tax reliefs.

From the very beginning, Finlayson's cotton mill exemplified the state-of-the-art technology in the field world-wide. The required technology and know-how were acquired from England, the leading industrial country in those days.

From the 1830's to 1900's, Finlayson was a town within a town. The new owners of the factory, the Nottbeck family, ruled the community like an enlightened king rules his kingdom: they provided employment, housing, a school, food, a home for the elderly, a hospital and a church.

Finlayson introduced large water wheels and turbines in Finland, as well as an automatic fire-extinguishing system. In the late 19th century, Finlayson also boasted the largest steam engine and the first Edison electric light system (1882) in the Nordic countries.

The necessary skills and know-how were acquired from England: drawings for machinery and buildings, as well as foremen to run the various departments of the factory.

Completed in 1837, Finlayson's six-storey factory building, called Kuusvooninkinen is the most significant monument of Finnish industrial history. It was the first building designed for large-scale industry, where halls had no partitioning walls. Instead, the intermediate floors were supported by cast iron pillars.

Today, Kuusvooninkinen is a protected building, and the National Board of Antiquities and Historical Monuments is supervising its restoration.

Co-operation between an architect and an engineer shaped the industrial architecture, of which the multi-storey buildings in the Finlayson area provide an excellent example. Even though the sounds of weaving and spinning machines have died away, the buildings are still full of activity; they house various businesses, studios for artisans and artists, exhibitions spaces, college premises and sports facilities.

Today, the Finlayson Area also hosts a variety of museums, such as the Spy Museum, Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, Steam Engine Museum, Textile Industry Museum, Rupriikki Media Museum and TR1 Visual Arts Centre.

Moreover, there are cafés and restaurants, bars and pubs, a 10-screen cinema theatre and a children's theatre in the area.

All over Finland, the early industrial towns were located by rapids. The wood processing industry, in particular, sought locations near the water, as water was an essential element in its operations. How was the power of the rapids harnessed? How could the irregular power be converted into a stable flow of energy required by the factories?

While new technologies introduced in the wood processing industry turned Finnish forests into green gold and steered Finland's economy to a new direction, another driving force of the economy began to gain ground, namely the engineering industry. Finnish factories needed grinders and water turbines, ships and locomotives.

All of the above were manufactured by Oy Tampella Ab, founded beside the upper reaches of the Tammerkoski rapids in 1861.

During the Second World War, Tampella began to manufacture arms and ammunition. After the war, the factory started to make paper machines. Machinery felts, in turn, were manufactured by the town's largest wool factory, Tampereen Verkatehdas, for use in the wood processing industry.

Today, most of Tampella has been converted into a residential area, but, for example, the Vapriikki Museum Centre and Tampere Comedy Theatre also have their home there.

The introduction of wood as the raw material for paper truly revolutionised Finnish industry. Thanks to Finland's 'green gold' - the forests - industry began to grow rapidly. Since the 1860's, groundwood mills as well as pulp and paper mills were founded near rapids all around the country. The first groundwood mill in Tampere started in 1865.

Turbines and mechanical wires for the purposes of industry are still produced in Tampere.

In the same place as 130 years ago, mechanical pulpwood is being ground at Tako - today M-Real -, and shipped to paperboard mills, where it will be converted into high-quality packaging materials, which will be used in industrial applications worldwide and eventually end up in the hands of consumers.

The forests remain the foundation of the Finns' well-being. Roughly 70 per cent of the country is covered with forest, making the forest-related industries the second-largest generator of export revenue in Finland after the metal industry. Finland is the leading exporter of printing and writing paper worldwide.