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Czeladź - the oldest city in Zagłębie!

The first mentions of Czeladź date back to 1228, but traces of the Lusatian culture discovered in this area go back to the Bronze Age. Czeladź settlement was a stronghold with a moat around the wooden fortifications, located on the trade route over the Brynica River. Its location near the "great road" from Bytom, through Olkusz to Cracow, was conducive to the development of trade and craft, but the primary source of income for the townspeople was agriculture and cattle rearing. At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries one began to establish guilds of butchers, carpenters, drapers, tailors, bakers and stall-keepers. There were also two mills and two breweries in Czeladź. The townspeople also brewed beer in their homes, and many of them had wild beehives. All these industries served not only the local market, but also the travelling merchants who were transporting cattle from Russia to Silesia and Little Poland, as well as salt, lead, cloth and many other goods. A toll collected for crossing the bridge on the main tract connecting Cracow with Wroclaw, Prague and Vienna  was the source of income for the city.

Due to its location on the way to Cracow, on the border of two empires, the First Republic of Poland and the Habsburgs' state, Czeladź was very often passed by marching armies, diplomats and even crowned heads. In 1683 the king John III Sobieski passed through the city, coming to the relief of Vienna. Until the second half of the 19th century Czeladź had been a city of craftsmen and farmers. From 1860, it slowly began to change its character and became an industrial city. This change resulted from the discovery and exploitation of hard coal deposits. Hard coal mines became the main source of income for Czeladź inhabitants. Opening of mines was accompanied by the development of workers' settlements and urban infrastructure. The quality of life improved, the wooden houses were replaced with multifamily tenement houses, new streets were built and new parks were created. It was the first time the city had been developing so fast. For many years, mining was the city's main economic factor and driving force behind its prosperity. Today, due to its attractive location among the cities of the Upper Silesian Agglomeration, in the vicinity of Katowice, Sosnowiec, Siemianowice Śląskie and Będzin, at the intersection of the Warsaw-Katowice and Cracow-Wroclaw main roads, Czeladź is an  attractive place for investment and business.

 

The "Saturn" mine

When coal deposits were discovered around Będzin and Dąbrowa Górnicza at the end of the 18th century, the townspeople from Czeladź also began to look intensely for this raw material in the area of their own city, e.g. on the right bank of the Brynica river. The first mining level was set at the depth of 150 metres, and in 1898 the mine was extracting 400 thousand tons and employed 1160 workers. A tenement housing estate was created for the first mining families employed in the mine. In April 1899 Joint Stock Association, established by a company of Lodz industrialists (mainly Karol Scheibler and Alfred Biederman) took over the ownership of the mine. Owners of the largest textile factories in Lodz wanted to have their own source of fuel, to protect themselves against price increases. The company began its operations on July 3 1900 under the name of the "Saturn" Mining and Industrial Society.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the mine dewatering system was electrified, with the application of centrifugal pumps with electric drive. Electrification of the hoisting machines and introduction of an electric underground transport followed soon. The machines began to be powered with compressed air, pneumatic drills were introduced to drill loopholes in the stone, and hydraulic floor was applied to get thick layers. The "Saturn" mine became one of the most modern hard coal mines. In the vicinity of the industrial facilities, one constructed a mine administration building, the so-called Dom Zborny and a cosy villa for the mine director (which now houses the Saturn Museum), building of the "Saturn" Society Administration (at present the Palace of Saturn), a fire brigade fire station, Officer's Club with an entertainment hall for 600 people and the People's House with a library and a reading room. New housing estates with flats equipped with electricity and water supply systems were also built. The vast urban areas were adapted for the Jordan and Grabek parks. In the 70s of the 20th century, the mine became a modern and a safe giant. Thanks to the mine, the city's economic life became stable. At the turn of 1989/1990, when the Polish economy entered a process of transformations, one began to dismantle the mining equipment with a view of closing the mine in the near future.

By a decision of the Minister of Industry and Trade, the mine was put into liquidation on 1 January 1993. The last ton of coal was mined in December 1996. On September 19 2003 the city of Czeladź took over the ownership right to the facilities and to the perpetual usufruct of the post-mine areas. These facilities had already been quite degraded and damaged by the passing time. The preserved building of the mine power plant was envisaged for the seat of the Modern Art Gallery. To render those facilities an important cultural role, the City Mayor Teresa Kosmala acquired from the EU funds to help finance the reconstruction works on the power plant, the total value of which exceeded PLN 11 million. The project entitled "Adaptation and reconstruction of the building of the ELEKTROWNIA Modern Art Gallery" was prepared by the Municipal Buildings Establishment in Czeladź headed by Lena Wardenga. By giving the new "Elektrownia" to Czeladź inhabitants and all lovers of post-industrial monuments from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, we want to preserve the memory of what the "Saturn" mine was for many generations for over 100 years of the history of our city.

 

"Elektrownia" modern art gallery

Building of the current "Elektrownia" gallery was erected between 1902-1908, based on a  design by the prominent Polish architect Józef Fius Dziekoński (1844-1927), author of many monumental public utility facilities in Europe. It is a building constructed on a rectangular plane with an entrance on the axis, of a rather extensive architectural structure. Its characteristic feature is a Gothic-styled tower. The building facade is ornamented with many architectural details.

Owing to the remarkable architecture and the original machines and equipment of the former power plant preserved in an excellent condition: "Wanda" imposing generator from 1903, compressor, giant converters, control panel with glittering clocks and an impressive 8-ton overhead crane, this place is of high historic value. In October 2010 it was included in the Industrial Monuments Route of the Silesian Province. Due to the historic nature of this postindustrial building and necessity to restore it Czeladź commune decided to apply for funds from the European Union. On December 6, 2011, the Mayor of Czeladź Teresa Kosmala signed an agreement on co-financing the project entitled ."Adaptation and reconstruction of the ELEKTROWNIA Modern Art Gallery building in Czeladź '' within the framework of the Regional Operational Programme of the Silesian Province for the years 2007-2013. Sustainable urban development. Regeneration of degraded areas. Revitalization - small towns'', under which Czeladź received over PLN 10 million from the EU funds.

On September 2 2012, the Municipal Buildings Establishment headed by Lena Wardenga - as a substitute investor, signed an agreement with the Contractor for the implementation of  the "Adaptation and reconstruction of the ELEKTROWNIA Modern Art Gallery building in Czeladź" investement, based on the prepared functional program and tendering procedure in the "design and build" mode. Thanks to the acquired EU funds, the building was adapted to modern standards and now it can serve various purposes: exhibition - space for visitors in the Main Hall with the historic machines, conference - for conferences and meetings in the conference and multimedia room and workshop - art workshop room with back-up facilities for children and adults. The revitalisation activities have resulted in the creation of rich cultural offer in an extraordinary scenery of the former "Elektrownia", e.g. exhibitions of paintings, graphic art, sculptures, photographs, music events, dance workshops , small theatrical forms, etc.

Next to the "Elektrownia" gallery one built two parking lots with a total of 83 parking stalls and a passage with a theme park, covering a permanent exhibition, presented on 12 information panels devoted to industrial heritage and history of the "Saturn" mine. This investment entitled "Land development and construction of visitor infrastructure of the Saturn Mine in Czeladź" was also co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund under the Regional Operational Programme of the Silesian Province for the years 2007-2013.