Fazola Blast Furnace in Újmassa

Heinrich Fassola (born in Würzburg, 1730) and his brother Lenard arrived in Hungary around 1760. The blacksmith and clockmaker Fassola brothers settled down in Eger and Heinrich became famous under the name of Fazola Henrik. His forged iron masterpieces -like the wrought iron gate at the Building of the County Council- can be seen in Eger.

Henrik applied for a concession to build and operate a blast furnace on the area of the current Ómassa. Queen Maria Theresia granted the concession in 1770 and the first tapping was in 1772. The blast furnace’s capacity was 6.3 m3, waterwheels drawing the bellows were driven by the Garadna stream, iron ore was supplied from the mines of Uppony, Dédes, Tapolcsány and Nekézseny.

The factory has seen better and worse years. The low quality of the local iron ore and insufficient water power supply of the Garadna stream caused the most problems. Though Henrik Fazola was professionally respected and honoured, his shareholder partners cheated and betrayed him. Henrik lost his shares, his house and vineyards and was forced to resign from his director position. He died as a poor and mortified man in 1779.

His son Frigyes Fazola (1774-1849) stepped into his father’s shoes and became a well-known metallurgical expert. After finishing the Mining Academy in Selmecbánya (now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia) he worked in iron and steel factories in Austria. When he returned to Hungary he started to work in the factory his father established and soon were mandated to manage its operation. He introduced new technologies like crucible steel production. He also initiated and managed the construction of a reservoir (now Lake Hámori) to provide continuous water supply to drive the waterwheels of the forges.

By the turn of the century the blast furnace in Ómassa became obsolete, and Frigyes built a new blast furnace between 1804-1814 in the nearby village Újmassa. The Ómassa furnace terminated operation in 1814 (according to other sources in the 1820ies), it’s stones were used to build a school, only its buttress remained untouched, which is still standing behind the school building.

The blast furnace in Újmassa (Újmassai Őskohó) started operation in October 1814. Its working volume was 22 m3 exceeding more than three times the capacity of the Ómassa furnace. Originally its shape was a truncated cone; its present shape was attained in 1831 after several reconstructions.

Pig irons from the furnace were further processed in the forges near to the furnace and around village Hámor. An iron foundry was also operating in front of the blast furnace where stoves, kitchenware and material parts were casted. The blast furnace in Újmassa was shut down in 1872, since a new steel and iron factory was built in Diósgyőr.

The blast furnace in Újmassa deteriorated. There were already plans in 1936 to restore the ruins, but reconstruction took place only in 1951-1952. There were no original drawings available for the reconstruction, but detailed study of the ruins appeared a satisfactory basis for restoration. The Újmassa blast furnace was opened to the public on 18 October 1952, and is one of the most important industrial monuments of Hungary.

In 1960 the original drawings were found and proved that the restoration was authentic.

Near to the blast furnace stands the Massa Museum showcasing the history of iron production in Ómassa and Újmassa. On the opposite side of the road and stream Garadna there is an open-air exhibition of machines, tools, vehicles used in iron and steel manufacturing.


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Copyright ©: Text and photos by Károly Teleki Industrial Heritage Hungary

Source: 1) A Visegrádi Négyek országainak technikai műemlékei I. Informacni Centrum CKAIT, Praha, 2000 (ISBN 80-86364-06-02) 2) Magyarország Ipari Műemlékei / Industrial Monuments in Hungary. Kiss László, Kiszely Gyula, Vajda Pál (szerzők). Országos Műszaki Múzeum, Budapest, 1981. (ISBN 963-562-750-5) 3) “Az Európai Vaskultúra Útja” Magyar vasművesség művészi emlékei Észak-Magyarország területén. Drótos László (pályázati megbízott). Miskolc, 2005.