From our history

Frantisek Maxmilian Mannsfeld the owner of Dobris probably established the local foundry in 1674. The iron works were gradually expanded and reached their peak towards the end of the 19th century. The industrial crisis of the 1920s brought an end to its prosperity. In 1926 after more than 250 years production ceased. At that point Josef Svojika one of the workers, bought part of the equipment and opened his own workshop in 1930. He worked hard and when he retired after World War II, he handed over the workshop with 30 employees to his son.

The foundry was later nationalised which brought an end to its development. In 1990 it was given back neglected, almost without machinery, commissions or workers to its original owner.  Despite that it survived and continued in production until 2004 when the youngest grandson of the founder, Ales Svojitka, took over the responsibility of continuing the family tradition. He has begun to reconstruct the buildings and improve the technology in order to keep the craft of metal founding alive. This is a difficult task in these days of a general decline of craftsmanship.

Ales Svoijtka grew up in the foundry and later he was apprenticed to the Craft School in Prague. He made an unsuccessful application to enrol in the sculpture department of the Art Academy. By 1986 he already had his own work casting statues in bronze. Nowadays he employs 15 people. More and more demands for work in cast iron demonstrate the nearly forgotten potential and artistic possibilities of this material. The foundry participates in restoration work, co-operates with heritage projects and with architects and many galleries, including the National Gallery in Prague.

His work with students brings good results and it is to be hoped there will be many future craft seminars. The aim of all this is to revive cast iron work as an art form and preserve nearly 350 years of local tradition.