Johan Theofron Munktell

Johan Theofron Munktell was born on March 20, 1805. His father was at that time a priest in Kärrbo parish in Västmanland and later became parish priest in Irsta. He kept accurate diaries, which were later published. Through the diaries, one has gained an insight into the son Johan’s upbringing. The family had a meritorious past in rock management related to Stora Kopparberg.

Johan Theofron, who showed technical aptitudes at an early age, came to Stockholm at the age of 18. There he became a student of the mountain councilor Gustaf Broling. To make ends meet, he made and sold boxwood sticks and steel pens. After a few years’ internship, he became foreman at Kongl in 1826. The Mint, where he – often with his own efforts – modernized the entire coin machinery. In his spare time, he also made Sweden’s first printing press for Lars Johan Hierta at Aftonbladet.

Johan Theofron Munktell was born on March 20, 1805. His father was at that time a priest in Kärrbo parish in Västmanland and later became parish priest in Irsta. He kept accurate diaries, which were later published. Through the diaries, one has gained an insight into the son Johan’s upbringing. The family had a meritorious past in rock management related to Stora Kopparberg. Eskilstuna sanctuary gave him the assignment in 1832 to build a mechanical workshop, “where he would like to use several machines”. The workshop started in October of the same year with only a few employees in rented premises on the corner of the current Drottning- and Rademachergatan. As early as 1839, he moved the business to his own premises on the other side of the river. At the same time, he had to train machine workers because the workforce consisted mainly of craftsmen. In the evenings and on Sundays, he began teaching “gifted youths in linear drawing and geometry.” Thus, he laid the foundation for the regional technical education which was then developed from the Sunday and Evening Schools via the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Technical High School to today’s engineering education at the university level.

In 1835 he made a study trip to England where he met John Ericson and also George and Robert Stephenson, all famous technicians and engineers. It piqued his interest in making locomotives. Upon returning home, however, a large project awaited that took all his time and required greatly increased resources, namely to modernize the entire machine park at Carl Gustaf’s City Rifle Factory. Thus, the company became a major manufacturer of machine tools, such as lathes, drills, forging presses and grinding machines. He could also sell these to other customers, which contributed to the building up of the Swedish mechanical engineering industry. As steam engine, locomotive and locomotive manufacturing began in the mid-19th century, a completely new organization and equipment was required in production. Even though the machines were used to an increasing extent, a large part of the work was still done by hand in the form of forging, filing and grinding. The own foundry was not built until 1860. Eskilstuna sanctuary gave him the assignment in 1832 to build a mechanical workshop, “where he would like to use several machines”. The workshop started in October of the same year with only a few employees in rented premises on the corner of the current Drottning- and Rademachergatan. As early as 1839, he moved the business to his own premises on the other side of the river. At the same time, he had to train machine workers because the workforce consisted mainly of craftsmen. In the evenings and on Sundays, he began teaching “gifted youths in linear drawing and geometry.” Thus, he laid the foundation for the regional technical education which was then developed from the Sunday and Evening Schools via the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Technical High School to today’s engineering education at the university level.

Another thing that caused concern when the products became larger and heavier was the transports to the customer. The Eskilstuna River had long ago ceased to be navigable for boat traffic. Johan Munktell then had the canal restored from Torshälla to Eskilstuna and at the same time had new locks built that allowed, by the standards of the time, large cargo ships to get from Lake Mälaren up to the workshop’s own quay. The Riksdag allocated 100,000 riksdaler for the construction, but Munktell had to shell out more than that sum out of his own pocket to get the work completed. Johan Theofron Munktell was a man of cleanliness who strongly disliked the blacksmiths’ unbridled habit of getting drunk, both at work and in their free time. To prevent the misuse of alcohol, he set up a brewery following the Bavarian pattern for the production and serving of strong beer. Thus, he is said to be one of the few people in the country who has increased sobriety by generously serving strong beer. He was a warm man who cared about his employees even though he managed his company firmly in a patriarchal way. Even though the machines were used to an increasing extent, a large part of the work was still done by hand in the form of forging, filing and grinding. The own foundry was not built until 1860. Eskilstuna sanctuary gave him the assignment in 1832 to build a mechanical workshop, “where he would like to use several machines”. The workshop started in October of the same year with only a few employees in rented premises on the corner of the current Drottning- and Rademachergatan. As early as 1839, he moved the business to his own premises on the other side of the river. At the same time, he had to train machine workers because the workforce consisted mainly of craftsmen. In the evenings and on Sundays, he began teaching “gifted youths in linear drawing and geometry.” Thus, he laid the foundation for the regional technical education which was then developed from the Sunday and Evening Schools via the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Technical High School to today’s engineering education at the university level.

During his time, the “Workers’ Sickness & Funeral Fund” started, which is probably the oldest still active health insurance fund in the country. Munktell developed his company into one of the country’s largest and he ran it well into the autumn of his age. The business was transformed into a limited company in 1879 when the son took over the position as company manager and the nephew became workshop manager. Johan Theofron, however, was active daily in the factory until his death on July 4, 1887.

 

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