A top examples of creation of art from industrial archaeology is in Isola del Liri. But what is industrial archaeology?
Industrial archaeology addresses the themes of architectural, mechanical, historical and social memory of major industrial activities in which a large factory with its technological innovation and its work organization has changed local and sometimes national history.
To give an idea of the importance of technology in society we can cite the example of great powers of the past such as Rome and Venice. We can identify that the Romans were great engineers and their fortune was largely due to an ‘industrial’ way of conceiving the logistics of the armies and the realization of fast communication channels. There are no Roman factories but army encampments are in the townships of many cities.
The Venice Republic was also great thanks to the technology of its ships and the organization of the Arsenale. This was the place where they built with great skill, with an incredible industrial organization, and at an impressive pace, the ships that made Venice the Queen of the Seas.
But true industrial archeology arose in reference to the first factories begun in the second half of the eighteenth century in many parts of Europe. The industrial areas in England are famous, but also are those of the Bourbon Kingdom, which up to the unity of Italy was one of the richest, most intensive industrial areas and at the vanguard of technological development.
Industrial Archeology at Isola del Liri
Why was there an Industrial Revolution at Isola del Liri? The reason is largely due to the great availability of energy from the flow of the waters of the Liri River and its waterfalls. These moved numerous turbines so that each factory had its own mechanical and electrical power production system.
Thanks to this energy supply, at one stage in Isola del Liri there were many paper mills and wool mills, some of which are still in operation. What happened to others? Many naturally turned to activities of a different type, while those in the historic centre became homes, theatres and recreation halls, but some have retained their production lines from that time and have now been organised and can be visited.
The tour of industrial archeology begins with the public park under the small waterfall, where there is still an operational feltrification works, where they show beautiful mechanical wheels, with blades of different shapes, which were used for the production of energy. The park was part of the woolen mills and the industrial premises are today residences while a beautiful modern library holds many volumes on the industrial history of Isola del Liri.
The difference in the shape of the wheel blades tells the story of fluid dynamics and fluid mechanics and it is an incredible sensation to see the evolution of technology from human endeavor at a glance.
Looking closely at the small changes in river water flow, you can recognize the inputs and outputs from the underground canal network that fed the wheels and turbines of all the factories.
Immediately below the waterfall of Liri, there are the premises of the former Lanificio San Francesco, dedicated to the multimedia room for recording and performances. In one of these rooms is visible a machine that was part of the original production line of the wool factory. The machines are protected by a glass wall and panels explain their use.
Boimond Paper Mill
The paper mill takes its name from the entrepreneur who bought it in 1922 and built a hydroelectric power plant that powered two continuous production lines. The paper mill has been famous for being at the forefront of technology until it was closed.
The continuous production cycle was used to produce cigarette papers. In 1958 both Boimond heirs died and the factory entered a crisis that led to bankruptcy in 1977. Since then, it has become part of the state’s heritage that has restored the factory building that houses one of the production lines as an example of industrial architecture.
The wooden reproduction of many mechanical parts that are next to the long production line should be noted. The pieces are stacked on the floor next to the sections of the machine and served to be able to make spare parts from local artisans without waiting for pieces from Belgium, where the original production line had been built.
Fibreno / Lefevre paperboard
The original Lefevre paper mill was built under the current road surface at a small Fibreno waterfall and was the first paper mill to be built.
It produced paper from old rags and some parts of the industrial process can still be recognized.
A quaint story is that, with the change of technology and the opening of the new factory, the memory of this ancient industrial complex was lost. Over time a thick coating of vegetation grew that had covered everything. Only during the reconstruction of the road that had been damaged by a landslide did the buildings emerge and their recovery began. Today, they have been partially housed in an industrial archaeology display inside a park.