AIA Spring Tour
May 16th - 22nd 2022
This tour has been cancelled
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres making it the 6th largest EU nation by area and with a population of nearly 38.5 million people also the 6th most populous in the EU. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west.

Industrialisation within the territory of today’s Poland was extremely disparate as repeated partitioning of the nation occurred during the decisive 150 years in which Europe’s first textile works, coal mines and railways were built. During those years, parts of today’s Poland belonged to the neighbouring powers, and their development varied correspondingly. The impact of the two World Wars followed by the communist era and the subsequent transition to a western-style economy further complicates the picture (to put it mildly!). There is no room here for a dissertation on Polish industrialisation, fascinating though that would be, but we hope this tour will shed some light on the matter based on what can still be seen today.

The tour is all-inclusive: Dinners, lunches, bed & breakfast.

The tour starts at our hotel in Gdańsk and ends at our hotel in Katowice. Optional coach transfers will be provided between Gdańsk airport and our hotel at the start and between our hotel and Krakow or Katowice airport at the end of the tour (depending on group members' travel arrangements).

Non-AIA members are most welcome. Paid-up members of the AIA at the time of the tour enjoy a £20 discount per booking, one of the many benefits of becoming a member.

Thanks are due to Dr Piotr Gerber who has assisted in the creation of this itinerary. Piotr is assistant professor in the Department of History of Architecture, Art, and Technology at Wrocław University of Science and Technology and founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Industrial Heritage of Silesia. He is the author of over 70 Polish and international scientific publications which include papers on the history of technology and the protection of industrial heritage.

The AIA last visited Poland in 1996, led at that time by Ray Riley who sadly passed away in 2019. This return trip to a much changed country is dedicated to his memory.
All prices are quoted in Pounds Sterling (GBP) whilst most of the costs are in Polish Złoty (PLN) or Euros (EUR). In these politically turbulent times changes to exchange rates, accommodation, transport costs or taxes may necessitate a price change.
Members of the group make their own way to our hotel in Gdańsk.

Optional coach transfer from Gdańsk Airport. Time to be confirmed when group members’ flight times are known

19:00 Dinner at the hotel

20:00 Talk by Tomasz Błyskosz, head of the National Heritage Institute, Regional Branch in Gdańsk, about Gdańsk’s Industrial Heritage.
  In the morning we will be led by Tomasz Błyskosz head of the National Heritage Institute, Regional Branch in Gdańsk on a guided (mostly walking) tour of the area of the former Lenin Shipyard, where Lech Wałęsa led workers' strikes in 1980. Currently, this area is nominated for entry on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The history of the shipyards can be seen in the preserved historic buildings where there are small companies producing small ships.
In addition to the production halls, there are also elements of historical infrastructure - cranes, track installations, ramps and docks. We will see the historic health and safety hall, in which workers signed the agreement with the (communist) Polish government in 1980. The European Solidarity Centre, also located in this area, has an exhibition showing the decade-long process of regaining democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and includes mock-ups of what the Gdańsk shipyard used to look like and this is also our lunch stop.
After lunch (included) we will travel to the Elbląg Canal. Working from a commission given by the King of Prussia, construction began in 1844. The canal is 80.5 km in length and is the longest navigable canal still in use in Poland. It runs southward from Lake Drużno to Lake Jeziorak.

The 100m difference in height over a 9.5 kilometre section of the route between the lakes was too great for building traditional locks so an ingenious system of inclined planes was employed instead. There were originally four inclined planes, with a fifth added later. We will have exclusive use of a cruise boat to negotiate this section.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Gdańsk.
In the morning we will have a longish drive south to the Salt Works at Ciechocinek.

Exploration drilling for brine springs in Ciechocinek was initiated at the end of the First Polish Republic (1569–1795) but construction of buildings and equipment for the salt works, including brine intakes and graduation towers, did not begin until 1824. Industrial-scale evaporation of cooking salt began in 1832 accompanied by creation of a spa based on the healing qualities of by-products of brine evaporation.

We will have time to view the graduation towers and climb to the top to see the remains of the wind pumps.
After lunch (included) we continue our drive south to the former textile town of Łódź.

Textiles were produced in the region entirely on a domestic basis until the 1820s when the Government of the Kingdom of Poland encouraged the building of factories, particularly for the production of woollens and linen. Cotton factories were built from the 1850s, many of them with capital from France and Germany. Several of the notable mills remain today (reused for other purposes) together with the mansions once occupied by mill owners and some districts of 19th century working class housing.
At the end of the afternoon there is time for a visit to the Central Museum of Textiles which includes sections concerned with the history, technology and production as well as collections of manufactured products, fashion items and folk textiles.

The museum is housed in the ‘White Factory’ built by Ludwig Geyer (1805-69) who is considered a pioneer of the development of the textile industry in Łódź. He also built the first factory chimney in Łódź as part of providing steam power for his looms. A functioning steam engine, jacquards and mules, "given life thanks to modern technology", are also on display.

Dinner and overnight at our hotel in a reused former textile mill in the Manufaktura area.
  In the morning there will be time to view and photograph some of the remaining mill buildings and visit the Museum of the Factory adjacent to our hotel (self-guided, entry fee may be required).

Also right next door to the hotel you can view Izrael Poznański’s Palace. The history of the palace goes back to the 1860s when Kalman Poznański arrived and started an (unsuccessful) cotton business. But at the time when the business was taken over by his son Izrael Poznański (1833–1900), there was a phenomenal rise in the price of cotton around the world.
Izrael made a fortune and spent a large part of his earnings on the palace marked for its lavishness and grand size, a sharp contrast with the neighbouring simple residences.
Departing Łódź we drive south east. After a lunch stop (included) we will visit the historic metallurgical plant at Maleniec.

This complex with its stock of machinery set in a countryside landscape dates back to 1836. At that time it included rolling mills and machines for the production of nails cut from steel sheets. Later the plant was equipped with machines for the production of spades and shovels. We may see how a black powder cannon and a Polish battle scythe were made and the largest wooden water wheel in Poland.
Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Katowice.
In the morning we will visit the Guido Mine at Zabrze, descending into the deepest mine in Europe open to the public. The tours underground are available to, and have been made suitable for, regular members of the public but what we will see is the genuine mine as it was worked towards the end of its life in the second half of the 20th Century. The group will need to be split into 3 parts:
  • Two groups will follow the “Sightseeing” route maximum 24 people per group
  • The other will take the “Dark of the Mine” route maximum 15 people
The “Sightseeing” groups will see two well preserved mining levels at 170 and 320 metres below the surface accessed via the same cages once used by the miners. The tour includes the oldest available regions of Guido Mine at the 170 level, the original preserved horse stables and St. Barbara’s chapel. The temperature is 13 – 16 deg C.

Descending to the 320 level we will see the large scale mining machines presented in operation: a roadheader and a longwall coal-cutter and take a ride on the suspended electric railway. We will go through a maze of mining excavations – at some points it will be steep and dark!
The sightseeing route ends in the Pump Hall the deepest located pub in Europe where “Guido” beer (lager and stout) may be had, coffee is also available.
The “Dark of the Mine” group will see the deepest and rawest regions of Guido Coal Mine. The tour goes to the 355 level where the last active longwall was mined in the second half of the 20th century.

For the Dark of the Mine tour you must be physically fit. The website states that the degree of difficulty is similar to traversing mountain ranges outside! You must have trekking shoes and sensible clothing and you may get dirty. The temperature on the route is about 20 deg C.
After riding down in the cage there is a 1.5km walk through mining galleries with steep dips, rises and tight passages accompanied by chain conveyors, pipelines and a mass of mining steel. Then you reach a tight passage through a very steep and over 100m longwall. After leaving the longwall your condition will be tested by a steep dip-heading leading towards shallower regions of the mine. From the 355 level you will go to a station on the suspended railway, returning at the end to the Pump Hall, as above.

Please choose on the booking form which underground tour you would like to do noting the requirements for fitness.
After lunch in a re-used winding engine building (included) we plan to visit the Museum of match production at Częstochwa which is located in a factory built in 1882 originally consisting of wooden buildings which were destroyed in a fire in 1913. The fire was recorded on film, and a three-minute movie of the event, one of the first made in Poland, can be viewed at the museum. Subsequently the factory was rebuilt and production resumed. The museum was established as part of the factory in 2002. We can see how matches continue to be manufactured using technology from the 1930s.

Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Katowice.
To start our day we plan to visit the Nikiszowiec Settlement le by a local guide. One of the most notable workers’ communities in Europe, it was built in two stages, 1908-15 and 1920-24 to provide homes for miners employed by George von Giesches Erben, a Silesian mining corporation that originated in the early eighteenth century at the Nickisch mine, one of 14 in the Giesche colliery complex. The housing was designed by the architects Georg and Emil Zillmann from Charlottenburg. The familoks (family dwellings) are arranged in nine blocks each with its own courtyard. The buildings are of three or four storeys, and some have attics or cellars. The community was intended to be self-sufficient, and had shops, bakeries, a hospital, a pharmacy, public baths, a public laundry, playgrounds and a hostel for unmarried workers.
Then we will visit the Walcownia Zinc Rolling Mill led by Piotr Gerber. In the main hall of the rolling mill machines are located that ensured the correct technological process of sheet metal production.

The technological line consists of: two melting furnaces with a capacity of 50 tons, heating plate furnace, casting carousel with 24 water-cooled forms, pre-rolling mill, 3 finishing rolling mills, 2 preliminary shears for cutting sheet metal, 2 finishing shears for sheet metal.

The rolling mill assembly was powered by four steam machines. We hope to see the machinery in operation.
After lunch at Walcownia we will visit the closed down zinc mill SILESIA in Świetochłowice, dating from the mid-19th century (left, in earlier times). This mill is not open to the public and has been empty since the end of production in 2020.

At the end of our visit we will be served tea and cookies on the premises and at the same time Piotr hopes to lead an expert discussion on a possible new function for this monument.
Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Katowice.
The tour ends after breakfast at our hotel.

Optional coach transfer to Krakow or Katowice airport.
The time and destination of this transfer remains to be confirmed based on which flights people are using. There are a number of flights to UK airports from Krakow and Katowice so we will do our best to meet the largest demand. When we are there we may be able to help with arranging taxis, perhaps shared, for those who can’t use the coach transfer.
All the hotels are very modern. The first two nights are in Gdańsk :
The Holiday Inn, Chmielna 1, 80-750 Gdańsk. All rooms are en suite and have air-conditioning, TV and free Wi-Fi. Tel: + 48 58 733 4000 Email: The hotel is in the heart of the old town 2km, about 7 min by taxi, from the railway station.

The third night is in Łódź : Vienna House Andel’s, Ogrodowa 17, 91-065 Łódź. All rooms feature free high-speed Wi-Fi, air conditioning, en suite shower/bathtub, TV, coffee & tea making facilities. Tel: +48 42 279 1000 Email:

The final 3 nights are in Katowice : Vienna House Easy, Ulica Sokolska 24, 40086 Katowice. All rooms feature free high-speed Wi-Fi, air conditioning, en suite shower/bathtub, TV, coffee & tea making facilities Tel: +48 32 783 81 00 Email: The hotel is about 850m, 10 minutes’ walk, from the railway station.
The tour starts at the Gdansk hotel on the Monday evening and ends after breakfast on the Sunday morning in Katowice.

We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to Gdańsk and from Katowice to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points. I will be flying to Gdańsk on Monday 16th May and I will let you know which flight I am using in case you would like to travel on the same flight.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned coach.

Detailed joining instructions will be supplied about two weeks before the start of the tour.

All site visits will include some walking which may include stairs. Note particularly the description of the underground visits at the Guido mine on Friday.
All participants must carry a valid passport for travel in the European Union.

You are reminded that the tour starts and ends in Poland and it is your responsibility to make all your travel arrangements to the start point and away at the end of the tour. This includes ensuring that you meet all the requirements for entry into Poland and entry to your home country on return. This includes all the necessary documentation and tests to meet the Polish and your government’s Covid-19 regulations.

More information about Covid-19 and Poland can be found at

These regulations may change at any time so it is advisable to keep yourself updated with the latest information by consulting that page.
The cost of the trip is £725 per person sharing with a single supplement £190. The supplement represents the additional cost applied by the hotel for single occupation of a double room. The cost includes:
  • 6 nights dinner, bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Lunch on 5 days
  • Entrance fees at all sites, private boat trip and local guiding fees
  • Luxury air conditioned coach transport throughout including driver tip
  • Local guides and an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visits and professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Drinks and any other expenses at the hotel
Additional cost options:
  • Monday 16th : Transfer from Gdańsk airport to the hotel, £12 per person
  • Sunday 22nd : Transfer from hotel to Krakow airport / Katowice airport, £12 per person
All prices are quoted in Pounds Sterling (GBP) whilst most of the costs are in Polish Złoty (PLN) or Euros (EUR). In these turbulent times changes to exchange rates, accommodation, transport costs or taxes may necessitate a price change.

For this unique itinerary we believe the price represents excellent value for money.

Paid-up members of the AIA at the time of the tour enjoy a £20 discount per booking. (So you can book now and claim the discount as long as you join before the tour). The discount will be calculated on your invoice when it is issued.

Apart from the discount available on Heritage of Industry tours AIA members enjoy a range of benefits which are shown on the Membership page of the AIA website where you can also find full details of how to join:

An AIA member joining this tour will already have recouped more than 50% of the AIA membership fee but, more importantly, the support members give enables the AIA to continue its work.
Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 21st March 2022 and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel and to cover medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc.

Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities. 

It is a condition of booking that all persons named on the booking form must have been fully vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus, including the booster, at least 3 weeks prior to the start of the tour.
Booking and management of this tour has been entrusted to Heritage of Industry Ltd which is run by Bill Barksfield. Bill is Overseas Tour organiser on the AIA Council and will accompany the tour.

If you have access to an internet connected computer and use email please make your booking online. In the event that you are unable to use a computer then please fill in the attached form and post it to us at the address below. If you give an email address on your application then confirmation and all subsequent communications with you will be by email.

Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 32 and a maximum of 48 people. Book as soon as possible and by 21st March 2022  to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price. Invoices for the balance of the price will be issued about 8 weeks before the tour starts. You are advised not to make contingent travel arrangements until we have confirmed that the minimum number of people required to operate the tour has been reached. We will inform you as soon as the minimum is reached.

A non-refundable deposit of £70 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

Payment should be made via your bank’s online banking facilities, the necessary details are shown on the confirmation of booking. Please send an email note when you have made payment.

If you are unable to use electronic banking please send a sterling cheque drawn on a UK bank made payable to Heritage of Industry Ltd. There is no extra charge for using cheques at present.

We are sorry that we are unable to accept payment by credit/debit card or PayPal.

This tour has been cancelled

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)