Linked with history

Historical background

Up until 1918 twin city Bielsko-Biała and the surrounding area, which lay on the border of Silesia and Galicia, was the third largest centre for the woollen industry in Austria-Hungary, and later the second largest textile centre in Poland after Łódź. In addition to the woollen industry which predominated here, there were also flax, jute and hemp spinning mills.

Old factories located where SFERA 1 stands

The SFERA I complex stands on the former premises of the Albert Neumann flax spinning mill, built around 1863, which was acquired in 1875 by Carl Benjamin Schneider and converted into a jute spinning mill. In 1903 the factory was taken over by the Jute Industries jointstock company “Union” with head office in Vienna.

Among the many factories operating within the industry, three were located on the banks of the River Biała where SFERA II now stands.

  • Situated in the northern part of today’s Shopping Centre were the premises of the Adolf Brüll & Sons forwarding company, dating from the middle of the 19th century, which closed down after 1930 (ul. Mostowa 2).
  • The Edward Scholz wool and broadcloth dyeing mill, which was established around 1835, and owned from 1854-1886 by Ernst Arndt, was acquired in 1886 by Gustav Molenda and significantly extended (ul. Cechowa 16-18; today’s DH* Wokulski building also belonged to the factory).
  • The Leopold Popper & Co. broadcloth factory began operating around 1860. In 1901 it came under the ownership of Karl Riesenfeld, and in 1919, under that of his sons Felix and Paul. During the interwar period the brand name KA-RI-BI (Karl Riesenfeld Bielsko) was used.
  • The Samuel Brüll cloth-finishing mill, which began operating in the 1840s, was converted in 1882 by Emil Schorr into a broadcloth factory with fully integrated departments. From 1912 up until World War II the Landesmann & Kornhaber company functioned here (ul. Cechowa 22).
  • After 1945, the complex of nationalised textile factories on the banks of the River Biała were made part of the Paweł Finder Woollen Industry Factories, which from 1970 onwards were known by the trademark FINEX.



Designs for the construction of a gas plant at the Albert Neumann flax


Workers at the C.B. Schneider jute spinning mil


The C.B. Schneider jute spinning mill following a major fire


A commission assessing damage following a major fire


The villa of Herman Schneider, a shareholder in “Union”, at 27 Mickiewicza Street

The twenties of XX century

1920s: A sack sewing room in the “Union” factory complex

The twenties of XX century

1920s: A spinning mill in the “Union” factory complex


Design for a distribution substation

The thirties of XX century

1930s: An advertising for “Union”


Opening of Galeria SFERA


The west facade of SFERA I with architectural features alluding to the boiler-house that formerly stood here


Galeria SFERA today

Galeria SFERA 2


Portrait of Gustav Adolf Molenda by Kazimierz Pochwalski

The twenties of XX century

1920s: Catalogue for the Gustav Molenda & Son company


Factories on the River Biała with a view of the Town Hall Tower, fragment from a picture postcard


Yarn samples in advertising material for the Ka-Ra-Bi company


Design for a Persian rug by Ka-Ra-Bi


Advertisement for the Paweł Finder Woollen Industry Factories


Władysław Zakrzewski, Factories on the Biała River, engraving on copper


Sfera II Shopping Centre with a view of the Biała River


Galeria Sfera II today

This material was produced in collaboration with the Historical Museum in Bielsko-Biała.
Illustrations are taken from the Historical Museum’s own collections.