Factory cities of the Urals: history, landscape and heritage
Author: Elena Alekseeva
The Urals have been among Russia’s most developed industrial regions since the 18th century, with more than 180 metalworking plants springing up across the territory. These were owned both by the state and by private individuals.
By the end of the 18th century these plants were producing all of Russia’s copper, and practically all its iron and cast iron. What is more, for a period Russia was the world’s leading producer of cast iron. Historiography now shows us that metal from the Urals provided the basis for the British industrial revolution. Over the course of the last three centuries, more than 300 metalworking companies grew up in the Urals, with some of them still in operation today.
The notion of “factory towns” serves to describe the workers’ settlements which initially sprang up around the plants in the Urals connected with the mining industry. In order to show how the industrial towns of the Urals evolved over time and space, one needs to consider the types of workers’ settlement, their specific organisational characteristics, the features of the social structure and modern trends in the development of former metalworking centres, while also understanding certain examples of how they have been preserved as industrial heritage.
The presentation made at the International Congress on Worker Settlements and Factory Towns held in October 2018 may be found here