Due to rapid development in the early 20th century Nádorkert in District 11 became one of the biggest industrial areas in Budapest. Together with several other factories the Roller Mill of Buda also opened.
Large fertile farms of the Plain produced ample yield of good quality cereals. Hungary was internationally renowned for its hard wheat and bread. Besides ideal circumstances for production infrastructural developments also contributed to the incline of Hungarian milling industry. Transportation to mills in Budapest was facilitated by the development of river and rail transport. These changes made milling industry one of the biggest and most profitable areas of the Hungarian economy.
Over the centuries cereal was ground in mills powered by water, wind and animals. István Széchenyi envisioned a mill powered by steam engine with rollers instead of millstones. The spread of steam engines had brought a breakthrough and the first steam mill was established in 1836 in Sopron where revolving grooved rollers replaced millstones.
Rapid wear of metal rollers posed a considerable challenge so further development was necessary. The first greater step ahead was Swiss engineer Friedrich Wegmann’s porcelain roller mill. Its patent was acquired by Hungarian engineer András Mechwart who further developed the mechanism. He replaced the porcelain rollers with wear resistant chilled cast grinding rolls and used springs and rings to clamp rollers. He also covered the roller mill and applied some other changes to structural elements. By the end of the 19th century rollers had replaced millstones in most of the mills in Budapest.
In 1887, Károly Haggenmacher patented his plan sifter and combining it with Mechwart’s innovations triggered a revolutionary change in the grinding process. Thanks to the new technology Budapest became the second biggest milling industrial player in Europe. Barges transported cereal on the Danube to Budapest mills from the Plain, primarily from Bácska and Bánát (southern Hungary), however, developed infrastructure allowed for transportation from the west as well.
Chilled casting and the plan sifter had an international impact on the development of milling industry. At the time foreign specialists frequently visited Hungarian mills to study these innovations.
Most mills were built along Soroksári Street (District 9) but possible sites had run out by the second half of the 19th century. The Roller Mill Company of Pest founded on Earl Istvány Széchenyi’s initiative in 1838 chose Újbuda as the site for the new mill as this port of the city was not permanently inhabited and had appropriate location and transportation facilities. After a quick construction process the first roller mill was installed in 1909. This is where the name of Hengermalom (Roller Mill) Street comes from. Grain was stored in huge silos equipped with elevators.
The site with an area of around 10,000 sqm was continuously modernized. In 1928, it was taken over by the First Steam Mill Company of Budapest. In 1948, together with other factories it was nationalized and renamed to Mill of Buda. After the political changes it was privatized in the 1990s, however, year by year the company made loss and ran up huge debt. Finally, it was closed in the mid-2000s. Liquidation started more than ten years ago still without an end.
The building of the Roller Mill of Buda is a listed building today.
An architecture tour in Újbuda This route helps to discover a selection of 20th century architectural attractions of the district, especially those that reopened with a new function after having lost their old one: bus station transformed into a restaurant and café, or a gearbox factory turned into a supermarket.