German industrial history
180 years of BORSIG
Technology for
a changing world

History BORSIG Group

The long-standing yet chequered history of BORSIG is characterised by steelmaking, huge locomotives and fascinating steam engines. For a better understanding of our passion, know-how and aspirations today, we take a big step back to around 175 years ago.

The beginning

In 1837, August Borsig, who was born in Breslau in 1804, established an iron foundry at the then gates of Berlin. The first successful casting on 22nd July marked the starting point of the company. Nobody anticipated what was to follow. What BORSIG produces is initially easy to understand: screws and railway chairs for the railway and steam engines.

The industrial revolution called for means of transportation and BORSIG built them.

The first steam locomotive

The first steam locomotive left the shop floor in Chausseestraße in 1841: the “Borsig 1”, three axles with a driving axle – a reproduction. It competed in the Chorin race against the hitherto dominant Anglo-Saxon competition – and won. The breakthrough had come and state orders were received. The standard rose. At the Berlin industrial exhibition in 1844, BORSIG presented the first locomotive developed in-house. “Beuth” was followed by 99 more in the next two years.

The locomotive becomes a mass product

Over 1,000 people worked for BORSIG at the end of the 40s in the 19th century and this later increased to around 6,000. BORSIG stood for social achievements and was developing at a high level. Albert Borsig, the son, took over at the helm in 1854. The company grew to become the second largest locomotive manufacturer in the world. Not mass produced: the domes of St Nicholas’ Church in Potsdam and the royal palace in Berlin.


As the century drew to a close, piston compressors, pumps and boilers, pipes and cooling devices were added to the product range. BORSIG was expanding – including in terms of space. The BORSIG works in Berlin-Tegel opened in 1898. Great Britain, the country where the steam locomotive was born, bought from BORSIG: steam locomotives.

In 1914, there was war

Missiles, gun barrels and torpedo tubes also left the production plants. After the end of the war, BORSIG experienced a boom – locomotives sent as reparations had to be replaced. In 1924, the BORSIG tower, the first high-rise building in the city, towered above Berlin and the name of the company was taken all over the world on its products. The company became a GmbH. Then came the rebound.

The locomotive business collapsed. In 1931, AEG became the new owner of BORSIG locomotive production. The Borsig family left the company. Borsig-Betriebs-Gesellschaft mbH remained as a receiving company, a hull, which would soon be nationalised.

Eventful years follow

After nationalisation, the company traded as A. Borsig Maschinenbau AG and later as Rheinmetall-Borsig AG. Conversion to war production – weapons, service obligations, forced labour. Almost complete destruction of the works in Tegel. Finally demolished in 1945 by the Red Army. Nonetheless: former BORSIG employees ventured a brave comeback with scrap parts and the company advanced to become a repair business for Berlin utilities. Occupation by the French military police followed: redundancies, shutdown and again the threat of demolition.

1950: the new beginning

Nonetheless, the staff did not give up. In 1950, Borsig AG was re-established as a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG. The product range included: steam generators, pressure vessels and machines, cooling and chemical plants and later turbo compressors and ball valves. Up to 6,000 staff supplied what industry needed. Borsig gained prominent significance for the Berlin economy.

In 1956, it was sold to Salzgitter AG and a good ten years later converted again into a GmbH.

1970: Privatisation

Deutsche Babcock AG took over BORSIG in 1970 and BORSIG was again in private ownership. Some production areas were cut off and new ones were bought. Within the Babcock group, BORSIG found it increasingly difficult to go its own way.

2002: another new beginning

In 2002, the parent company became insolvent. BORSIG, which was profitable and had full order books, had to follow. Nonetheless, it continued. In the same year, BORSIG GmbH was re-established in Berlin-Tegel, although with fewer staff. Undiminished: self-confidence. After the takeover by its own management and capiton AG, BORSIG started to grow again. It expanded the membrane technology product portfolio, re-entered boiler and power plant technology, and bought the equally long-standing Zwickau engineering works with its piston compressor and fan business.

The present BORSIG group was created in 2006 and two years later taken over by the Malaysian KNM Group Berhad.

In 2009, BORSIG bought a Flensburg manufacturer of compressor valves. At the same time, BORSIG began positioning itself increasingly internationally and established two branches in Malaysia.

2012: A company anniversary that is not quite an everyday occurrence

175 years of BORSIG – few companies can look back on such a long and above all chequered history. Today, BORSIG is back where it started – right at the top and right at the front. We are the international market leaders in the field of pressure vessels and heat exchagners and we are at the cutting edge of technology. Tradition coupled with innovation strength – this is a formula that works now as it has in the past. Also, not least, over 600 members of staff today owe a debt to their history – in everything they do.


175 Years BORSIG

On the eve of the German industrial revolution, the 32-year-old August Borsig had been a foreman at the iron foundry of Franz Anton Egells for over ten years, but had had plans to go under into business under his own name for a long time. in 1836, Borsig invested his savings of 8.000 Prussian thalers and the money of two financiers in two plots of land  in what  wasthen the center of machine-building Berlin, the Chausseestraße.



Egellsstrasse 21, 13507 Berlin

Phone +49 (0) 30-4301 01
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