Two trea­sures wit­ness the start of Wuhan's mod­ern in­dus­try

Changjiang Weekly - - FOCUS -

The bound­ary stone and the memo­rial tablet of the Hanyang Iron­works are two ma­jor trea­sures of the mu­seum. They serve as the key pieces of ev­i­dence for the start and growth of Hanyang Iron­works, the ear­li­est iron­works in China.

Ac­cord­ing to Gu Bi­jie, the cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum, the bound­ary stone is 120 years old, mak­ing it one of the ear­li­est bound­ary mark­ers made by the Hanyang Iron­works. Orig­i­nally, the stone had only three char­ac­ters, Tie Chang Jie, which means the “bound­ary of iron­works." With the es­tab­lish­ment of the Daye Iron­works later, two more char­ac­ters were added to the stone so that it read, "Han Yang Tie Chang Jie" ( bound­ary of Hanyang Iron­works).

Up to now, only two 3-char­ac­ter bound­ary stones have been found. The one on dis­play at the mu­seum was dis­cov­ered near the Qingchuan Ho­tel in 2004, where it was be­ing used as a step­ping stone.

There is a group photo of 14 en­gi­neers from Lux­em­bourg that was taken in front of the Hanyang Iron­works’s of­fice in 1911. A square memo­rial tablet is seen in the mid­dle of the photo. Gu and his col­leagues had been search­ing for this tablet for years when it turned up in 2012, the year when the First Na­tional Cot­ton Fac­tory built on the for­mer site of the Hanyang Iron­works was re­lo­cated. The clear in­scrip­tion of “Lux­em­bourg” in­di­cates that the coun­try’s en­gi­neers had pro­vided tech­ni­cal guid­ance for the Hanyang Iron­works. The year 1894 marked the time when the iron­works were put into op­er­a­tion. The pointed ham­mer for ex­plor­ing mines and the butt ham­mer for rolling steel sym­bol­ize the iron and steel joint en­ter­prises. The olive branch rep­re­sents the achieve­ments of hu­man en­deavor and the friend­ship be­tween China and Europe.

The tablet is made of cast iron and has a side length of about 68 cm. Al­though the lower part is miss­ing, the up­per part is clearly marked with pat­terns and char­ac­ters that are al­most iden­ti­cal with those in the pho­to­graph. As the only ex­tant memo­rial tablet of the Hanyang Iron­works, it records the birth of the first iron and steel com­pany in China as well as in Asia in mod­ern times.

Vis­i­tors of the mu­seum

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