History of the Wannieck Gallery
On 21 March 1865 the City Council and the Public Prosecutor's Office granted a permit to Wannieck and Phil. Jellinek to build an engineering works at No. 19 and 21 Trnitá Street, consisting of a foundry, a cupola furnace, a driving steam engine, a boiler plant and assembly shops, excluding boiler production operations. At the beginning of 1867, the lot production of diffusers and their export abroad (in particular, in the version adapted for sugar cane) was initiated. In the same year, the new diffusion method was introduced in 27 sugar refineries in Europe. After Philip Jellinek had left for Russia on 20 December 1868, Friedrich Wannieck became the sole owner of the whole factory. Under his management, the production programme as well as the premises themselves continued to expand for the next 20 years. In 1887 the number of manual labourers increased to 250.
In March 1888 the new technical director, Edmund Gams, was hired, who had until then been employed by the Swiss company of the Sulzer brothers in Winterthur. An agreement was signed between both the companies within two months, under which Wannieck acquired the right to produce steam engines of the Sulzer type, which from then on were manufactured both in Winterthur and in Brno. Between 1888 and 1889 the administrative building near Zvona°ka Street, a warehouse and a new factory chimney 36 m tall (at that time the tallest in Brno) were built and the construction of a new boiler plant was commenced. In November 1889 neighbouring land to construct a railway spur track was purchased. In 1890 a limited partnership company was established with the Sulzer brothers.
The obtained funds were used to build an assembly hall, a new foundry and the railway spur track. On 22 April 1890 the foundation stone of both the halls was laid and in June 1891 the construction was completed. In 1896 the foundry was enlarged through its northern extension. From 1896 steam engines of the Sulzer type were manufactured in Wannieck's factory only. They were supplied mainly to the countries of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy and to Germany. In 1897 Edmund Gams, technical director, resigned for health reasons and asked to be dismissed from the limited partnership company. The technical management of the company was taken over by Kliment, senior engineer. The sixty-two-year-old Friedrich Wannieck did not want to run the expanding company further and neither did his son, Friedrich Oskar, dare to take over.
On 18 April 1901 the merger of Va˛kovka with První brnýnská strojírna (PBS, First Brno Engineering Works) was initiated, and was finalised on 11 January 1902. The loss of independence was compensated by a very promising manufacturing programme. The directors of PBS, Ludwig Augustin Lohnstein and Augustin Hnevkovsky, decided to expand Va˛kovka, both in terms of manufacturing space and technology, and to launch here the manufacture of steam turbines under the just obtained licence from the English company Parsons. Between 1903 and 1929 a total of 722 turbines were manufactured in Va˛kovka with a total output of 1,135 MW, more than a half of which were exported to several countries in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans. Between 1929 and 1930 the manufacturing equipment, employees and work in progress are transferred from Va˛kovka to the PBS premises in Olomoucká Street; in 1930 the Va˛kovka premises are shut down and in 1936 sold to ╚eská zbrojovka Brno (armament factory). Between 1930 and 1936 Va˛kovka remains closed, only guarded by the night service of První brnýnská strojírna. Between 1936 and 1939 it operates as Zbrojovka a.s. Brno (armament factory) – Va˛kovka plant. Between 1939 and 1941 Va˛kovka becomes part of the Herman Göring plants (Wannieckwerk) and between 1942 and 1944 Wannieckwerk – Waffen Union Skoda Brűnn. After the war, Va˛kovka was used as an independent plant first by Spojené továrny na obrábýcí stroje n. p. (machine tools factory, state-owned), Zbrojovka Brno n.p. (armament factory, state-owned), Závody Jana Švermy n.p. (previously named Zbrojovka Brno) and Zetor Brno n. p. (tractor manufacturer). From 1989 it was used by the state-owned company Zetor. Between 1996 and 2000 Va˛kovka was owned by the Fund of National Property.