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DRU History

The DRU in Ulft is a symbol for the Achterhoek iron industry, which blossomed from the 18th century onwards. For years, the DRU was the area’s main employer. Industrial activity no longer permeates the area. New life has been breathed into almost all of the old factory buildings as historic industrial monuments.

IRON INDUSTRY

The Oude IJssel area is also known as the birthplace of the Dutch cast iron industry. In the 17th century, locally mined bog iron was melted in small blast furnaces. Along with the bordering German Isselgebiet and Aa tributary, the area used to have around ten iron foundries. In these particular initiatives, wealthy citizens served as investors and collaborated with the local nobility. In 1754, the count of Bergh was a financial backer and a land owner in the founding of the ‘Ysermoelen’ at Huis Ulft, for example.

Ulftsche IJserhut

The water-powered blast furnace/iron foundry didn’t become the fully functional Ulftsche IJserhut until Bernard Diepenbrock and his cousins Theodor and Bernard Reigers gained control of the business as tenants. They lived in the German city of Bocholt, where they also already owned an iron foundry. In 1811, the two families came to own the factory, which is when it was given the name Diepenbrock and Reigers Ulft (DRU).

DRU

In the 18th century, the factory mainly made fireplace firebacks, cannonballs, pots and basic heaters. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the product range was expanded to include bathtubs, enamel, sheet metal, machinery parts, car parts and gas heaters. Around 1900, a new factory was built, the Oude IJssel River was repositioned and the factory grounds regularly expanded from then on. Many of the buildings from that time are now industrial heritage sites. In the mid-1960s, they still employed around 1500 people and exported to 23 countries.

REALLOCATION

The ‘70s and ‘80s were tough years for the business, including mergers, lay-offs, takeovers, branching off within the company, and the business stopping cast iron and enamel production. In 1999, DRU Heating left Ulft; DRU IP&S, the former stamping shop, moved to the new industrial park under the name Exerion. The industrial buildings became official heritage sites and a large-scale reallocation plan was made. While DRU used to symbolise the iron industry, it is now one of the Netherlands’ most successful examples of reallocation of industrial heritage sites.

NEW STRUCTURE

DRU Cultuurfabriek is located in the Portiersgebouw with a theatre, library, restaurants, conference areas and a concert hall. The Badkuipenfabriek contains homes and the Beltmancomplex, former enamel factory, contains rental properties and a council housing office, the SSP-HAL has been transformed into an event hall and the Afbramerij is home to the ICER Innovation Centre. ICER is a public attraction, a breeding ground for creativity and innovation as well as a display of modern industry, intertwined with the experience of 250 years of iron history. The Dutch Iron Museum, Breekijzer artist collective and the Oude IJssel area tourist information office are located here as well.

Badkuipenfabriek

Badkuipenfabriek

Building owner BOEi created 16 living/working lofts in the Badkuipenfabriek. Many of those lofts are now occupied.

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Beltmancomplex – Wonion

Beltmancomplex – Wonion

The Beltmancomplex was also called the enamel factory. The building is home to Wonion housing corporation which has also created 15 rental homes in the building.

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Afbramerij – ICER

Afbramerij – ICER

The Afbramerij is where they used to deburr the raw cast metal products. ICER Innovation Centre was opened here in 2014.

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Loonbureau – Optimaal FM

Loonbureau – Optimaal FM

The Loonbureau was designed by Gerrit Beltman in 1902-1903. The Loonbureau was home to the salary office, the metal forgeries, the loam factory, the plate shaping area and the workbenches with lathes.

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Ketelhuis

Ketelhuis

Construction of the Ketelhuis and the Pomphuis started in 1895, part of the buildings being designed by Gerrit Beltman.

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Portiersgebouw – DRU Cultuurfabriek

Portiersgebouw – DRU Cultuurfabriek

Het Portiersgebouw is one of the oldest parts of DRU Industry Park.

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SSP-HAL

SSP-HAL

The SSP-HAL has a nostalgic, industrial look and feel and a (divisible) surface area of 5,500m2.

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