Verla Cardboard Factory (World Heritage)

The mill complex, about 150 km northeast of Helsinki, is one of the most important monuments in Finnish industrial history. The paper mill and cardboard factory, built in 1872, together represent a unique, uniform plant from the early years of the Finnish woodworking industry.

Verla Cardboard Factory: Facts

Official title: Verla’s historic cardboard factory
Cultural monument: the cardboard and paper mill designed by Eduard Dippell and built in red brick
Continent: Europe
Country: Finland
Location: Verla, north of Kuusankoski, east of Jaala
Appointment: 1996
Meaning: exceptional example of rural small-scale industry for the manufacture of paper and cardboard and for northern European industrial architecture

Verla’s cardboard factory: history

1872 Foundation of the first sawmill by the Finnish engineer Hugo Neumann
1876 Destruction by fire
1882 Reconstruction of the mill and extension of a paper mill
1885-95 Construction of the paper and cardboard mill buildings that are still preserved today
1892 Fire in the wood warehouses
1922 Transfer to the Kymmene company
1964 Cessation of production
1972 Finland’s first sawmill museum opens
1974 Discovery of 6000 year old prehistoric rock carvings not far from the mill

A mill by the rushing brook?

If there is – besides the estimated 200,000 lakes and the Finnish sauna – anything typical of the country in the far north, then it has always been the abundance of wood.

According to neovideogames, woodworking was a specialty of the Verla sawmill in southeastern Finland. Finding this monument of industrial culture, which is still slumbering a little bit hidden, is not that easy, as no common travel guide shows the way to it. In the Kymi Valley near Jaala, wood has always been brought in and processed. The wood grinding business in Verla began in modest circumstances in the second half of the 19th century. The founder was the young engineer Hugo Neumann, who began to work industrially with large steam saw mills.

Fires were a constant threat in this trade and in the wooden buildings and were almost part of everyday life at that time; Verla was not spared this fate either. Just four years after it was built, the wood mill burned to the ground for the first time. During the reconstruction, the distances between the actual grinding shop and the other inhabited buildings were increased, but the entire facility – which now also includes a new cardboard factory – was nevertheless rebuilt in the traditional Finnish timber construction.

In Verla, as in other industrial settlements of the 19th century, work and life were united: next to the workshop there were the warehouses for the wood, the accommodation for unmarried workers as well as smaller houses for married couples and last but not least the residence of the mill owner. His name was now Gottlieb Kreidl, a paper master from Austria who was the factory owner in Verla for almost three decades.

When the large hall, in which the wood was stored to dry before processing, burned down again in 1892, the decision was made to build a brick building that now offered plenty of space on four floors, a brick architecture designed by the Viborg architect Eduard Dippell with few decorative elements. which has been spared from demolition as well as unsuitable additions to this day.

At that time, a wood processing company was inconceivable without a surrounding area rich in rivers and forests with sufficient wood for felling. The Kimola raft canal was the main transport route for the felled trunks. It was built between two raging rivers, whose rapids made the work of the raftsmen difficult. Even today you can watch the bundle rafting on the quiet fishing canal and be transported back centuries. As a factory, Verla was the epitome of the Finnish timber industry, and as a cardboard factory, Verla met the demand for hand-made cardboard, which was never overwhelming, but was satisfactory enough that the old process could continue to operate until July 1964.

In the mill complex, which is now a museum, the facilities and machinery of the factory can be seen in their original state as well as work samples from the different production phases and can be understood in the truest sense of the word. Café Väentupa is located on the »Industriehof« in a building that, as history shows, could not be missing: the old fire station, which was right next to the factory for good reasons. But today you can only quench your thirst here. In addition to the former fire station, the wooden patron’s house is also part of the ensemble that has been preserved, which has sometimes served as a picturesque holiday village for the company’s employees. Probably only the wealth from the sawmill and cardboard factory of the place made possible the construction of the neo-Gothic wooden church of Jaala in 1878.

Verla Cardboard Factory (World Heritage)