The influence of the coal-mining industry to the development of the village of Weißstein from the XVI to the XIX century

The old village Weissstein is presently a part of the city of Walbrzych (Waldenburg), located in the southwest of Poland. Documentary evidence of coal excavating on the area of the village dates from the XVI century. The coalmines were common property of peasants and a squire. The shares in the mines were connected with the peasants' farms and peasants could only rent them for life (sort of tenancy in common combined with a life estate). Until the middle of the XVIII century 3000 tons of coal were excavated annually. For the sold coal 1000 thalers were obtained. The principals of functioning of the mining business were set through coal-mining regulations issued by each of the following owners of the village (feudal system).

In 1769 the new Silesian Mining Law was introduced by the Prussians. Only the communal mine of Weissstein obtained the status of a miners' guild named Fuchs. The membership was granted exclusively to the hitherto existing shareholders. The so-called "kux" remained connected with the peasants' farms as before. In 1850 the output exceeded to 70,000 tons and every peasant's farm obtained profits of 1267 thalers from the mine. After having abrogated the directorial principal in 1865 a considerable progress in coal excavating took place. In 1883 each farm received 29,788 marks. In 1883 the miners' guild was transformed into a joint stock company and the shares could be freely disposed of. Thanks to the abundance of coal in the XIX century the ceramic industry could be developed. Having got the money from the mines the farmers built new houses but they did not invest in other branches of the industry. The village was tranformed into a labourers housing estate which was equipped with all modern facilities of that time. Except coal there was no other minerals; the geographical location was unfavourable, and therefore the specific conjunction of farms and kux was maintained for a long period. Weissstein was not transformed into a big industrial center but remained a miners' housing estate. In 1900 the number of inhabitants amounted to 8794, and about 3000 of them worked at coal-mining and coke production.

Eufrozyna Maria PIATEK, "Zum Einfluß des Kohlenbergbaus auf die Entwicklung des Dorfes Weißstein (Bialy Kamien) bei Waldenburg (Walbrzych) vom 16. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert", in: Ekkehard WESTERMANN (Hg.), Vom Bergbau- zum Industrierevier (VSWG Beiheft 115), Stuttgart 1995, S. 257

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