Bernard Ludwik Hantke initiates the construction of an ironworks in the Rakow area near Czestochowa.
The steelworks had two blast furnaces, at that time the most modern in the Kingdom of Poland, as well as a steelworks and a rolling mill.
Start of construction of a housing estate for the steelworks’ workers in the Rakov area.
The mill produced 114,000 tonnes of pig iron, 87,000 tonnes of steel and 81,000 tonnes of rolled products.
Raków and the steelworks, so far located in the Huta Stara municipality, are now incorporated into the city of Częstochowa.
The steelworks are expanded: blast furnaces, a so-called workshop quarter and a coking plant are built in Mirów; and a steelworks and pipe rolling plant are built in Raków.
The heavy plate mill at Kucelina begins operation.
Construction of a new steel plant with ladle furnace, electric converter and continuous steel casting line.
Shutdown of the blast furnace.
LIBERTY Częstochowa Sp. z o.o. becomes the new owner of Huta Częstochowa.
The construction of an ironworks near Częstochowa began in 1896. The initiator of the investment was a Warsaw industrialist Bernard Ludwik Hantke (1826-1900), who in 1882 established a joint-stock company Towarzystwo Zakładów Metalowych B. Hantke, and then purchased 64 hectares of land in the area of Rakowo near Częstochowa.
Between 1899 and 1901 two blast furnaces were put into operation, which at that time were the most modern in the Kingdom of Poland. Construction of the steelworks, in its basic form, was completed in 1902, when the plant already had a blast-furnace department, a steelworks and a rolling mill. Soon a workers’ housing estate in Raków and the so-called Hantke Palace (today the Municipal House of Culture) were also built.
In 1907, the steelworks passed into the hands of the Oberesien group from Gliwice, and then from1923 it was owned by Modrzejowskie Zjednoczone Zakłady Górniczo-Hutnicze SA. Between 1928 and 1930 the first major modernisation of the company took place. In 1928, the village of Raków and the steelworks, so far belonging to the municipality of Huta Stara, were incorporated into the city of Częstochowa.
With the outbreak of World War II, Huta Częstochowa was immobilised and its equipment was secured. The Nazis launched the plant, whose production was used for military purposes. During the occupation, control over the plant was taken by the Hugo Schneider A.G. armaments concern (HASAG) from Leipzig. It used the work of, among others, Jews from the Częstochowa ghetto.
The production equipment was not destroyed during the war, which made it possible, after the war ended, to quickly resume production by a group of workers headed by the last pre-war director, Tomasz Szwejkowski. Soon the plant, managed by the Provisional State Board, was subordinated to the Central Board of the Steel Industry and in 1946, Częstochowa Steelworks was finally taken over by the state.
At the beginning of the 1950s, as part of the so-called Six-Year Plan, there was a great expansion of the steelworks, which took over the area in Mirów. Among other things, blast furnaces were built there, while in 1951 a new steelworks was opened in Raków, and a year later a pipe rolling mill. In 1952 the name was changed to Bolesław Bierut Steelworks (Huta Częstochowa), which was established in Częstochowa, and in 1946 Huta Częstochowa became the property of the state.
At the beginning of the 1950s, as part of the so-called Six-Year Plan, there was a great expansion of the steelworks, which took over the area in Mirów. Among other things, blast furnaces were built there, while in 1951 a new steelworks was opened in Raków, and a year later a pipe rolling mill. In 1952 the name was changed to Bolesław Bierut Steelworks (which remained in force until 19 April 1989 when the original name Huta Częstochowa was restored).
At the end of the 1950s a coking plant was built and on 8 March 1959, the first Częstochowa tram line was opened for the benefit of the plant’s employees. The plant also had a vocational school, a clinic, a community centre, the “Raków” Workers’ Sports Club and, from the 1970s, recreation centres in Jastrzębie near Poraj, Łeba and Sianożety.
The expansion of the plant continued in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1972 the largest department, the heavy plate mill, was commissioned. Its construction in the years 1969-72 was one of the most important investments in the country and the decision to build it was influenced by the huge demand for plates from the shipbuilding industry and large export prospects, as well as efforts to reduce imports of plates.
In the 1980s Huta Częstochowa was the third largest steelworks in Poland (after Huta Lenina in Kraków and Huta Katowice in Dąbrowa Górnicza), employing more than 13,000 people, with a modern, for the time, rolling mill for plates. However, the blast furnaces, steelworks and pipe rolling mill built a quarter of a century earlier were already technically outdated. A plan was drawn up to gradually modernise the plant. Production was reduced, especially in the raw materials section, and some departments were closed down. At the same time, investments were made to modernise the company. In the 1990s a modern steelworks with ladle furnace, electrical converter and continuous steel casting line was put into operation.
1 May 1998. Huta Częstochowa became a joint stock company with the State Treasury as the sole shareholder. After commercialisation, the process of separating individual divisions and departments from the smelter as independent companies accelerated. This process of change was accompanied by restructuring of employment in the steelworks itself. In 2001 the blast furnace was finally shut down. As part of property restructuring, the steelworks disposed of many sites and facilities (e.g. cultural centre in Łukasińskiego Street, stadium in Limanowskiego Street, residential buildings in Raków) which were unnecessary for production activities. The medical clinic and leisure centres were taken over by separate companies.
The most difficult part of the process of change at the steelworks turned out to be financial restructuring. It was necessary because the modernisation programme consumed funds from bank loans and their repayment did not proceed as planned. The plan to incorporate Huta Częstochowa SA into Polskie Huty Stali also fell through. In this situation, in 2002, the management of Huta, whose debts exceeded PLN 1.2 billion, filed for bankruptcy. This step was preceded by the takeover of more than 2,000 employees and the leasing of the production facilities of the plate mill and the steel mill to a new entity – Huta Stali Częstochowa Sp. z o.o. During the three years of operation under this brand, Huta Stali regained its market position and earned profits.
New statutory regulations, designed to protect jobs, enabled the Management Board of Huta Częstochowa SA to apply for restructuring proceedings (thus bankruptcy proceedings were suspended). The restructuring plan was approved in August 2003 and resulted in the cancellation of most of the company’s civil liabilities and the transformation of Huta Częstochowa S.A. – without production assets – into Regionalny Fundusz Gospodarczy S.A., which owns part of the company’s real estate and service companies. Public creditors, agreeing to reduce debts, were repaid from the sale of the remaining assets and the Elsen company, i.e. the former electrical, energy and power plant divisions. They were transferred to the company Operator ARP. The part of the steelworks directly related to production, operated by Huta Stali Częstochowa, together with it and 12 subsidiaries, was sold in 2005 to a strategic investor, which became the Industrial Union of Donbass (ISD); since then the full name of the company has been ISD Huta Częstochowa Sp. z o.o. The new owner carried out a reorganisation. In 2009, it sold the separate Coking Plant Częstochowa Nowa to the Zarmen Group and, in 2011, Rurexpol to the Alchemia Group. The global economic crisis and liquidation of large shipyards in Poland, worsened the economic situation of the steelworks. As a result of the restructuring carried out since 2013, employment dropped to around 1,000 people and many production halls were leased to new entities.
During more than 120 years of operation, the Częstochowa steelworks has produced a total of more than 45 million tonnes of steel. Its main products are heavy plates for the engineering industry, shipbuilding, construction (structural sheets) and mining and energy sectors (e.g. sheets for pipelines and gas pipelines). Most of it is sold in Poland. Export directions are mainly German and Czech, as well as Slovak, British, Estonian, Belgian, Russian and Turkish markets. Additional products are prefabricated sheet metal products, including wind tower components, construction machinery and cargos, i.e. large tank casings. A number of new companies have sprung up on the former metallurgical sites in recent years with a variety of business activities.
In 2015, the land in Kucelin, acquired by the “Operator” company of the ARP, became part of the Special Economic Zone Euro-Park Mielec. Thanks to the investors and the road infrastructure improved by the city authorities, an attractive industrial area was created around the steelworks, where thousands of Częstochowa residents find employment.
In June 2019, due to the Huta’s high debt and lack of working capital, the owner of the company stopped production and filed for bankruptcy of ISD Huta Częstochowa Sp. z o.o. On 4 September, the court declared bankruptcy and appointed a receiver, who on 19 September leased the company and started the procedure for selecting a new owner. From September 2019 to December 2020, the lessee was Sunningwell International Polska.
On 23 December 2020, the trustee signed a lease agreement with Corween Investments Sp. z o.o., part of LIBERTY Steel Group, and as of 1 January 2021. Huta Częstochowa employed 1148 people.