Forge Gdansk industrial Iron Metalworking Smithy Water wheel

Water smithy – water wheel in operation

The sound of rotation of the water wheel driving the hammer in the water smithy. The recording was realized in the historical water smithy in Gdańsk (Oliwa district) constituting the department of the Museum of Technology in Warsaw.

The first written mention of the water smithy in Oliwa dates back to the year 1597. Preserved sources indicate that in 1830, the smithy had produced nearly 200 tons of various metal products. The facility was in operation until the year 1945, then for several years it was falling into disrepair. In 1978, the smithy was inaugurated as a technological facility of historical value and the department of the Museum of Technology in Warsaw.

Wooden building hosting the smithy consists of two sections situated on the two shores of the Oliwski stream; the facilities are located below the level of the water. In each section there is a hearth and a water hammer driven by a separate water wheel. The water from the stream is gathered in troughs from which it is released on the wheel with the diameter of 4 m, equipped with 44 blades with the capacity of ca. 170 liters each. These overshot wheels are mounted on oak shafts (square section: 0.7 x 0.7 meters) with the length of 8 meters. When the shaft is rotating, the applied lever raises the hammer weighing 250 kg which then falls from the height of 40 cm on the anvil. The pace of the hammer may reach up to 100 strokes per 1 minute.

It is difficult to assess the age of the hammer and of the water wheel as from the 16th to the 20th century the machines in the smithy were in constant use and their parts were frequently replaced. It is estimated that present equipment of the water smithy dates back to the 18th/19th century.

Sound recordist: Monika Widzicka
Photographer: Piotr Leszczyński
Video recordist: Piotr Leszczyński


2.6 MB
14 s
2 (Stereo)
Sample rate:
Bit rate:
Bit depth:
44.1 kHz
1411 kb/s
16 bit

Recorded on January 27, 2015
Water smithy in Gdansk-Oliwa
Gdansk, POLAND
Creative Commons License