Former locomotive shed in Bytom turned into an art studio

This is the locomotive shed of the Upper Silesian Narrow Gauge Railway repair workshops. Its interior has been arranged as an atelier by Bytom artist Michal Rejner. The post-industrial space will be open to the public from 21 June.

The locomotive shed is located at 27 Brzezińska Street in Bytom. Its new life begins thanks to the artist Michał Rejner, who was looking for an original place for himself where he could create and present his works.

From the beginning, I wanted it to be a post-industrial space with big old windows. I also didn’t want to leave Bytom, so when the city offered me the lease of a building formerly occupied by a repair shop in Rozbark, I didn’t hesitate,” says Michał Rejner, a Bytom-based painter.

It took him three years to renovate the former locomotive shed (kotlarnia). He began by tidying up the interior and the surrounding area. Inside, he managed to create a separate area for painting. The hard work paid off. The building in its new arrangement is impressive.

With the exception of the underfloor heating and screeding, I did all the work myself or with the help of friends and acquaintances. This is not an example of revitalisation at a cost of millions, which is badly needed, but proof that such buildings can be saved from ruin with much less effort,” explains Michal Rejner.

The opening of the art studio is supposed to be an impulse for change in the entire complex. If it were possible to revitalise all the buildings of the Upper Silesian Narrow-Gauge Railway Repair Workshops in Rozbark, the inhabitants could gain an attractive space for spending their free time.

Construction of the workshops began in 1898, and at its peak 450 people worked here. At the beginning of the 20th century, the complex was the most modern and largest of its kind in Europe. Most of the buildings were built of red clinker bricks. The largest building was the hall, which housed 25 wagons. In addition, the complex included a boiler house, two forges, a foundry, a lathe and numerous smaller rooms.

Eventually, in 2001, the Polish State Railways decided to end the operation of all narrow-gauge railways, and in 2002 the municipality of Bytom took over the assets of the narrow-gauge railway, and in 2016 the facilities on Brzezińska Street. The complex of workshop buildings is listed in the Municipal Register of Historical Monuments.

photo: Hubert Klimek, archives of the Bytom City Hall

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