|Industry||Cable Car, Automotive Industry, Arms Industry|
|Max von Bleichert / CEO, Paul von Bleichert / CFO|
Number of employees
169 (1932)4.000 (1950)
Bleichert, short for Adolf Bleichert & Co., was a German engineering firm founded in 1874 by Adolf Bleichert. The company dominated the aerial wire ropeway industry during the first half of the 20th century, and its portfolio included cranes, electric cars, elevators, and mining and ship-loading equipment.
In 1872 Adolf Bleichert started the design and manufacture of the first wire ropeway, also known as the aerial lift, in Teutschenthal (Saxony, Germany). With the successful start-up of this installation, Adolf Bleichert and Theodor Otto founded a company for the manufacture of wire ropeways in 1874 near Leipzig. This was the beginning of Adolf Bleichert & Co. which in 50 years, from 1874 until the middle of the 20th century, developed into a world-renowned company of the highest standing. In 1881 Bleichert moved its offices to Leipzig-Gholis, which became the main factory facility located in a much bigger plant and was also the company headquarters.
Starting in 1888, Bleichert also expanded into the North American market by concluding a license agreement with the American company Cooper, Hewitt & Co., the parent company of Trenton Iron Inc., which constructed and sold many material wire ropeways based on the Bleichert system.
During World War I the Bleichert company developed a specific field cable car used by German military forces in mountain warfare in the Vosges Mountains, the Alps, and Balkan areas.
Until World War I the Bleichert company manufactured many aerial cable cars especially for material carriage, but also for passenger transportation. Among them are the following:
Bleichert mainly built material-carrying wire ropeways, but then diversified into passenger cable cars as well, such as the famous Predigtstuhl Aerial Tramway in the Alps, the Tyrolean Zugspitze Cable Car, Krossobanen in Norway, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway in South Africa, Burgberg Cable Car in Germany, Aeri de Montserrat in Catalunya and the Port Vell Aerial Tramway crossing the Port of Barcelona from Torre Sant Sebastia via Torre Jaume I to Montjuïc.
By the company’s 50th anniversary in 1924, Adolf Bleichert & Co. had designed and built the world's record-holding wire ropeways: longest and highest elevation (Argentina), length of system over water (New Caledonia), steepest (Tanzania), highest capacity (France), northernmost (Norway), and southernmost (Chile).
In 1926, the company went public, though it was controlled by Bleichert’s two sons, Max and Paul von Bleichert. Due to the Great Depression and the collapse of the German banking system, on April 4, 1932, Adolf Bleichert & Co. filed for bankruptcy. Its successor, Bleichert-Transportanlagen GmbH, was incorporated on June 28, 1932 to carry on the firm's work. Bleichert-Transportanlagen GmbH also became sole shareholder of Adolf Bleichert & Co. Drahtseilbahn GmbH, the people-mover manufacturing entity. Bleichert-Kabelbagger GmbH—the wire rope crane division—became an independent entity, though also declared bankruptcy on July 4, 1932.
No longer under Bleichert family control, the Bleichert-Transportanlagen GmbH factory continued to produce during the Second World War.
With the defeat of Nazi Germany, Leipzig—the Saxon city where much of the company's factories were centered—fell on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain and Bleichert-Transportanlagen GmbH was taken over by the occupying power, the Soviet Union, and renamed SAG Bleichert. In 1954, SAG Bleichert was transferred to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and was renamed VEB Bleichert. Soon thereafter, the firm was continued under the name VEB Transportanlagenfabrik Bleichert Leipzig. In 1955, the company name changed again to VEB Schwermaschinenbau Verlade- und Transportanlagen Leipzig vorm.Bleichert. By 1959, the last reference to the original family business disappeared, as vorm.Bleichert was dropped from the firm’s name. Between 1962 and 1985, this entity went through several iterations. However, by 1991, the company had been privatized and entered liquidation, halting production of cranes, conveyance, and pit mining equipment — thus concluding the history of the oldest and largest wire ropeway manufacturer of the world.