John Baildon

1772 - 1846

Iron-founder. Born in Larbert (Falkirk), Baildon was the son of a Yorkshireman who had come north to work in the Carron Ironworks. The younger Baildon trained at Carron before being invited to Silesia, now part of Poland but then a Prussian possession, in 1793. Here he set up the first coke-fired blast furnaces in Continental Europe in Gliwice (Gleiwitz) in 1796. He was also responsible for designing the Klodnica (Klodnitz) Canal to transport coal and iron ore into the smelters and export finished iron. In 1796, Baildon built the Lazany (Laasan) Bridge over the Strzegomka river near Breslau, which was the first iron bridge in continental Europe. He was also responsible for the first steam engine in Prussia, for which he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Prussian Academy of Science. He built other ironworks in Silesia, Prussia and Moravia, and was involved in arms production during the Napoleonic Wars.

Baildon accumulated great wealth through his work and bought an estate at Lubie, where he built a grand mansion, Palace i Pogrzebien. He died in Gliwice and lies buried there. A major steel works in Katowice, which operated from 1823 until 2001, was named Huta Baildon in his honour.

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