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Today I will share a series of photos taken just over a year ago, when I went to Forno on my bike. What I will share is a series of photos that do not concern the country but a specific point and today in disuse that I had already talked about months and months ago in another post, the former ex spinning mill or cotton mill of Forno.
Let's start this post by making some history I learned during my travels, some stories of family members who lived there, and some research on the internet. There are probably much more detailed documentary texts at the local level, but for this time let's be content with a broad overview.
The Spinning Mill of Forno is not only an ancient headquarters of the local industry of the last century, but a complex of structures with different functions, at the time when the fumes derived from the processes still came out of the chimney that we notice protruding towards the sky.
We take Wikipedia as a source - although I underline how much local sources can deepen its history - and we discover that the structure was born from the ideas and project of the Engineer Frimi.
Its history unfolds in alternating phases and lasts for almost a century, even if the actual opening covers only half of it. The initial project involved 3 blocks that moved following the slopes of the land moving upstream. Furthermore, the spinning mill was a real complex: alongside the depositary structure of manual labor, buildings used as accommodation and sets of apartments, useful for the workforce, had to be built.
It was built between 1880 and 1890 and was announced to open in 1889. Before the functional departure of the complex at full capacity, which took place in 1891, the structure passed from hand to hand between different owners, arriving at the Figari and Bixio company of Genoa. A specific association was formed known as Cotonificio Italiano, which was abandoned in 1894 to move to the title that still distinguishes the structure today: Cotonificio Ligure.
The spinning mill, as the name implies, had the clear objective of spinning. For this purpose, which obviously included a wide range of additional or intermediate services, some specific machines were used. The main "engine" of the structure was a hydraulic turbine that took water from the waters of the Frigido River, channeled in a conduit at the exit of the source from the underground path. Specifically, it appears that it was a Girard system turbine, a J.J. Rieter.
The system aimed to operate a complex of 20,000 cotton spindles through the delivery of energy varying between 270 and 750 HP, a unit of measurement that stands for horsepower (HP). Translating into the current recognized measurement system, we are talking about a range between 200 000 and 550 000 Watts. In the second half of the 1920s, a Pelton took over, reaching up to 1500 HP (well over 1 000 000 Watts).
Through major and minor shafts and a belt system, the power was transmitted to the various machines. To assist, a system of coal boilers, then modified to electric and finally to diesel.
The processing of cotton took place in different phases whose chronological order followed the spatial succession of the environments in which it took place: moving from the back to the front, first, the bales arrived at the warehouse, then they were untangled and remixed in the Scrum, the point from which the fiber were born.
Then, in the Beaters, the fiber formed by 3 threads was untangled obtaining single threads; the yarns were prepared for spinning in the central part, through Carding machine, ironers and large, medium and fine banks; the spinning took place thanks to the spindles located on the first floor of the central part of the structure, from where the skeins were then taken to the first basement floor for preparation for shipment.
The norms were very strict for the current criteria, but the number of workers has a notable inclination in favor of the girls: the proportion between men and women leaned markedly towards women; not only that. The highest ratio between men and women in the various years reached 1 man every 2 women employed; the ratio dropped considerably in the other counts, touching on several occasions - and at least once exceeding it - the ratio 1:6.
The population of the village of Forno doubled in the first ten years from the opening of the factory which unfortunately faced the first hard moment represented by the First World War successfully overcoming it, but which saw a second and much more painful wave at the outbreak of the Second World War, that the local town, together with many other towns in the Apuan, Lunigiana and Versilia districts - but also on the Ligurian, Tuscan, and Emilian Apennines - lived as a protagonist in the resistance to the aggressors.
In 1442, the Cotton Mill was closed and used by the Royal Navy as a deposit, before being sacked during the war and being irremediably compromised following firebombs that caused the wooden parts to collapse. Part of the machinery was dismantled at the end of the war, others remained intact. An example is the turbine, which was put back into operation to sell electricity to third-party companies, an activity that lasted until about 1970.
Everything was then abandoned and in 1983 it was bought by the Municipality of Massa. Today it is a structure open by reservation as a museum of industrial architecture, but only for the front. The rear part, in reality, has been left in disuse and - unfortunately or fortunately - today it is almost completely invaded by climbing plants.
Below and a little above you can see some photos I took that give a good idea of the part that was destroyed after the war aggression of the last century.
Also, part of the factory was a particularly voluminous flue that I portrayed from below. Although it is not clearly visible from the front of the spinning mill, it stands out as soon as you follow the road back towards Forno or proceeding towards Canal Secco.
And so I leave you, branding this new #picsonbike adventure and asking for help from the @stemgeeks #architecture-design and @haveyoubeenhere communities. I think that parts of the article can closely concern the issues that their spirit of sharing deals with. I greet you and look forward to seeing you in a next - perhaps not too close – post.
- Angela Maria Fruzzetti, “Le donne della memoria - La memoria delle donne”
- Massimo Michelucci, Note storiche sulla Filanda di Forno, Massa, Ceccotti, 1992.