on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg

Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 2 – Izhorsky Plant

Kolpino

Once we’ve dealt with Dvorets Kultury, let’s visit Kolpino again in this second part of the architectural walks around Kolpino. This time we’ll investigate into the 19th century heritage still visible in Kolpino, a city that counts 292 years this September. The most obvious choice will be to talk about Kolpino’s ‘foundation stone’ – Izhorsky Pipe Plant, once famous all around the country and now been torn into several private companies.

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One of the oldest buildings in Kolpino is the Izhorsky Plant 19th century main building (eary 19th century), the one in the first picture and below. It is being renovated now. The clock tower is Kolpino’s famous symbol that has been representing the city throughout many years. Unfortunately it’s been showing 12.05 for many years too…

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I guess this Soviet thingy on top of the gates used to show time? Also, look at the blue truck – the legendary ZiL-130 model that used to serve people in all corners of the USSR long after they stopped to produce it in 1994. This entrance to the plant where you have to show your pass is called prokhodnaya in Russian. It used to be a reference point when speaking about something being located this close or that far from prokhodnaya (moreover, there are more prokhodnayas to Izhorsky). Now this reference’s getting obsolete with all the new companies operating on the plant’s territory and some of the previously closed parts of the plant being open to public access.

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Soviet heritage. Used to be a place for the feats and achievements of the plant workers or other great news. Now there’s an empty beer (if not of some well-known pure spirit drink) bottle every 10 cm. I remember my Grandfather’s photo used to be displayed on this wall of fame among the plant’s best workers. As almost the majority of Kolpino citizens during the Soviet times my Granddad used to work at the plant, designing rolling mills for USSR and even some African countries.

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It smells like USSR there 🙂 And if it does, just put a sticker over USSR letters and make it Post of Russia instead:

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More Soviet symbolism around the main building, the Ministry of Communications of USSR:

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Haha, just now noticed the lamp which used to signal the next visitor to come in! This is the plant’s ex-staff department, otdel kadrov in Russia. Ahaha, you can learn the history of the Soviet life all in one photo… Look at the three-piece holder for the flags – an obligatory thing for almost each building in USSR, especially such an important one. Every holiday there were red flags soaring all over the place. The letters IZ in a very early Soviet-style t represent Izhorsky Zavod.

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If you look at Kolpino map you’ll realize that Izhorsky Plant actually occupies a huge territory, comparable to the city’s surface! Well, they call such factories ‘city-forming’ enterprise and that’s true. Peter the Great ordered to build the factory to supply the navy on river Izhora and that’s how Kolpino began. How it then evolved is another story : )

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Some of the old buildings at the plant territory which a regular mortal being will never see apart from looking down in between the fence railings. The dam on Izhora blocks the water and that explains how come the plant is situated 3 meters beneath the river’s and the rest of the city’s level. Right behind this wall is water power station. The waterfall was originally used to power the workshops.

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The plant is a city within the city. They have buses there, they have their own part of Izhora and their bridges, inaccessible for the rest of the citizens. I’ve always dreamed of going there but I never had the chance. To get inside you need to have a propusk, a pass.

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The Plant has a glorious history – if we forget about its rather infamous privatization and grab-steal-and-sell attitude of its owners during the rakish 90s. This is the local ‘eternal flame’ built here to commemorate the brave defenders of St Petersburg who fought or worked at the plant during the Second World War. Kolpino was at the forefront, massively bombarded and almost raised off – and this dam unites two parts of the city was a real firing point. They light the fire every May 9th when Russia celebrates the end of the War.

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I always thought there should be something inside this monument but I guess there’s nothing actually : )  Next photo: One of the urban legends of Kolpino says the fence of the plant was constructed with faulty cannons in the 19th century! And they say it’s true – this is how you recycle things…

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This is to commemorate the year when both Izhorsky plant and Kolpino were founded. Not the best design but it’s duly painted over from time to time.

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Judging from the year on the last bas-relief each representing a point in Kolpino’s history, the thing was created somewhere in 1985. The first date is 1240, the year of the famous Neva battle in Ust-Izhora. Then comes the building of the plant and the city around it, the construction of the railway uniting Moscow and St Petersburg, the year Kolpino officially became the city, then the magical 1931 when the first armoured car was created at the plant, the tragic 1941 and the triumphant 1985 when the ‘5000’ rolling mill was launched (the first of the kind in the country at that time).

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Paint or no fresh paint, it just looks ugly : ( The letters above say Kolpinsky rayon, Kolpino district of St Petersburg. And right here at the wall of Izhorsky Plant let’s put our walk around Kolpino on hold for some time. Next – a post on the early 20th century heritage and then more on the Stalinist era architecture.

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By the way, I’ve found a post with more photos of Izhorsky Plant, here.

 G.

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