K. Rudzki i S-ka

K. Rudzki i S-ka (Konstanty Rudzki & Co. Ltd.) was a Polish engineering and machinery company. Founded in Warsaw in 1858 as an iron foundry by a shipbuilding magnate Andrzej Artur Zamoyski and led by Konstanty Rudzki, it soon expanded into machinery, steel and engineering. By the end of the 19th century the company, with its seat in Warsaw and a large factory in Mińsk Mazowiecki, had become one of the largest and most experienced bridge construction contractors in Central and Eastern Europe,[3][2] with roughly 20% of bridges constructed in the Russian Empire bearing the logo of K. Rudzki. After World War I the company declined and ceased its machinery production arm, but continued on as an engineering and construction business. It was nationalised and liquidated after World War II.

K. Rudzki i S-ka

Commemorative plaque at Poniatowski Bridge in Warsaw, listing K. Rudzki i S-ka as the contractor
Founded Warsaw, Poland (1858 (1858))
Founder Konstanty Rudzki
Defunct 1948 (1948)
Fate nationalised and dissolved after 1945
Successor Fabryka Urządzeń Dźwigowych
Headquarters

,

Poland
Number of locations
2
Owner Konstanty Rudzki
Number of employees
100 in 1860
221 in 1879
over 1000 in 1914[1][2]

Throughout its existence the company was responsible for some of the most innovative bridge undertakings in the world, including the 1914 Poniatowski Bridge, the 1916 Khabarovsk Bridge (for decades the longest bridge in Eurasia at over 2,500 metres in length) and the 1927 Maurzyce Bridge, the first welded road bridge in the world.

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Share of the K. Rudzki i S-ka, issued 1926

The original foundry that formed the core of the future company was named simply “K. Rudzki i S-ka” – “K. Rudzki and Co.” (S-ka being a contemporary abbreviation of the word “Spółka”, meaning “Company”).[4] When the firm expanded into engineering, machinery construction and other areas, its name was changed and until 1932 it was “Towarzystwo Akcyjne Fabryki Machin i Odlewów “K. Rudzki i Ska””, which could roughly be translated as “‘K. Rudzki and Co.’ Factory of Machinery and Casts, Joint-stock Association”.[4] The official name was then changed to “Towarzystwo Przemysłu Metalowego “K. Rudzki i Spółka” SA” – “Metal Industry Company ‘K. Rudzki & Co. Ltd.'”.[4] Regardless of the official name of the company, the surname of its founder became almost synonymous with the company itself, especially once Konstanty Rudzki died in 1899, at the height of the company’s expansion.

In 1858, Konstanty Rudzki, a Polish engineer with experience in Western European steel and mining industries, was tasked by Count Zamoyski with creating a foundry in Warsaw.[4] Zamoyski needed a specialised local firm to cooperate with his expanding shipbuilding business, so he financed the creation of the foundry, named K. Rudzki and Company.[4] Initially, the company was in fact a joint-venture of three parties. Zamoyski was the financial backer and principal client.[5] The second party was a partnership of Jakub Baird and Samuel Hirsz Mühlrad, both managers of steel and iron mills in the Old-Polish Industrial Region.[6] The third party was Rudzki himself, who provided the necessary know-how and whose share was to be repaid with future profits of the new company as he brought no money into the company.[5]

K. Rudzki i S-ka was the only firm in the entire Russian Empire to both design bridges, produce them, transport their parts to the construction site and build them, complete with caisson works, pylons and bridgeheads. Pictured construction of bridge over Niemen, 1899

The new factory, initially located at the intersection of Czerniakowska and Rozbrat Streets in Warsaw’s borough of Czerniaków, in what was to become the Czerniaków Port, was among the most modern foundries in the Kingdom of Poland.[4] The area was chosen both for its proximity to the port and the principal client, and for easy availability of workers, many of whom lived in nearby areas of Warsaw.[7] The factory was equipped with a modern steam engine powering the fans of two cupola furnaces, while the steam in the engine was heated by the furnaces themselves.[4] In addition, the steam engine also powered a turnery and several other mechanisms.[4] The fuel was provided by six coke furnaces installed on the premises.[4] In 1860 the factory had a crew of roughly 100 workers and produced all types of cast iron, copper and brass products, from agricultural machinery, through iron piping and weights, to machinery for wood, food and paper industries.[4]

In March 1860, Jakub Baird died and his assets in the company were taken over by Count Zamoyski.[8][9] In 1862 he planned to unify the K. Rudzki steel works with his riverine shipyard and extend the company’s existence for another 20 years, but the outbreak of the January Uprising prevented his plans from coming to life.[8] In the aftermath of the Uprising, Zamoyski was exiled to France, and his riverine flotilla and the river shipyard were taken over by other companies.[8][9] Although he remained a de jure owner of most shares of the company for a couple more years, already on 29 January 1863 both Zamoyski and Mühlrad were banned from any effective control over the company.[8] This left Rudzki as de facto sole shareholder and the only member of the board to still have a vote.[8]

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