The furnace and the forge.
The last Catalan forge
Come along to Ripoll and learn how a Catalan forge worked standing right there inside one. The Farga Palau (Palace Forge) is the last of its kind, the last-remaining vestige of an industry and a way of working.
The Farga Palau
was set up outside the town walls, near the surrounding mountains, to facilitate access to supplies of charcoal, as well as water from the Freser river, and production started in the seventeenth century. We can still see it today virtually as it was when the workers went home after their last batch. Join in one of the guided tours put on by the Ripoll Tourist Office and you will gain an understanding of the complex process behind the forge’s work.
During that tour you will be taken inside the blackened walls of the forge and will be given a close-up view of the glowing reflection of the furnace and the drop hammers now at rest. It is said that the noise in there when the forge was working was unbearable, which explains the deafness of most of the workers.
Water, fire and wind were the three key elements for the process of turning metal from the mine into boilers, jars and dishes. A ditch and a pond stored the water from the river Freser, which was sent along two different channels: one drove the hydraulic wheel bearing the drop hammers to forge and shape the work pieces, while the other flowed into the water-jet pumps that generated the air draught needed to keep the furnace and the forge red-hot at all times, that being the method used in Catalan forges. The furnace was lit once or twice a month to melt down the scrap copper. Forged slabs were produced in each batch, and these were later re-heated to make them ductile again before being worked into the desired shape using the drop hammers.
The forge’s ditch.
The Farga Palau was the only forge in Catalonia, and probably in Spain as well, producing copper pieces down to the second half of the twentieth century. It closed its doors in 1978, and was only recently reclaimed by the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia as an outstanding item in Catalonia’s industrial heritage.