Two treasures witness the start of Wuhan's modern industry
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