Csepel Works

The history of the Csepel Works goes back to 1882, when the Weiss brothers Berthold and Manfréd established a canned food manufacture at Lövölde tér in the 7th district of Budapest. A few months later the canned food factory was relocated to Soroksári út to an estate close to the Cattle Slaughterhouse.

When the company had free capacity workers were dismantling of ammunition for the army. Since the Weiss Company possessed sheet metal forming machines, they started to produce rifle magazines and cartridges. There was an explosion in the factory in 1890, and the Weiss brothers decided to move operation to the small, underpopulated Csepel village (now 21st district of Budapest) in 1892. In 1896 Berhold had left the company and became a member of parliament.

Between 1896 and 1914 Manfréd developed the company to one of the biggest defence contractors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire producing mostly ammunition, but also other military equipment e.g. field kitchens. During the World War I the number of employees was around 28,000 and the company was operating on a 250 hectares estate. After World War I number of employees decreased to around 6,000 and the company started to produce household appliances (e.g. kitchenware, ovens, and sewing machines), bicycles and agricultural machines. Manfred Weiss died in 1922, his sons and one of his son-in-law continued the business.

By 1930 number of employees reached 15,000. In World War II the Weiss Manfred Company supplied ammunition, aircraft engines, tanks, land cruisers and other military equipment for the army. After the World War II the factory was nationalised in 1948 and as Csepel Iron and Metal Works became a flagship company of the communist era by producing tubes, machinery, bicycles, motorcycles, vehicles. In the 1970ies more than 35,000 people were working in the factory.

In the 1990ies the company’s assets were privatised, currently hundreds of ventures operate on the area employing 6-8,000 people. There are 14 industrial monuments and another 30 noteworthy buildings in the Csepel Works.


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

Source: 1) Csepel története. Bolla Dezső (szerző). Budapest-Angyalföld, 2010. 2) Weiss Manfréd Acél- és Fém Műve. hvg.hu, 2005. 3) A Weiss család szerepe Csepel történetében. Bolla Dezső (szerző). 4) A „nagy-gyár” 120 éves 1-5. hirkomp.hu, 2012. 5) Srapnelgolyóktól a Moby Dick-ig. Százéves a vasöntvénygyártás Csepelen. Sohajda József – Dózsa Sarolta (szerzők), Kohászat 144. évfolyam, 2011/5. szám, 2011.