Balkhauser Kotten

In the Balkhauser Kotten in the Wupper valley you can still peer over the shoulders of a grinder. The old workshop has been turned into a museum which preserves the traditional Solingen craft techniques. But the “Kotten” is not only a museum. A married couple lives and works here, as well as being responsible for the work of the friends of the museum.

The original twin “Kotten” still shows the mechanics of the old water-driven system. First a weir dams up the river in order to guarantee sufficient supplies of water. The water then flows from the upper pond to the water wheel below which has a diameter of four metres and thirty-two blades, each of which is one metre wide. Depending on the level of the water the wheel turns at the rate of six times a minute and drives the grindstones and discs. It used to revolve eighteen times a minute and reached a 30 horse power performance. 

Today there are information boards in the “Kotten Forum” telling you about the history, the working techniques and the everyday life of the grinders. The grinding room looks just as it always did. Scratching tools hang on the wall alongside other equipment necessary to hold the blades whilst grinding. The large grindstone has a protective surrounding to prevent the grinders being injured at work. The stone is continually cooled by water. In order to stay as dry as possible the workers wore an apron and special wooden shoes.

There have been twin “Kotten” on the banks of the Wupper since the 16th century. They were built like corn mills. The half-timbered building which is today’s Balkhauser Kotten dates back to the 18th century. The outer “Kotten” however, had to give way to a new road in 1950.



Schleifermuseum Balkhauser Kotten
Balkhauser Kotten 2
42659 Solingen

Phone: +49 (0) 212 / 3 83 54 53
Mobil: +49 (0) 179 / 212 42 32

Opening hours

Tuesdays to Sundays: