The Daugavpils lead shot factory dates back to the 19th century and still works today (this is the last one in Europe). In this factory are made lead bullets for firearms. I never thought it was possible to visit such a place, so I visited it just for curiosity and I had a lot of fun!
Getting to the lead tower of Daugavpils
In order to get to the Daugavpils (second city of Latvia) lead tower, from Riga you have to take a train or a bus. The price is reasonable ~9 Euros and the journey lasts 4 hours 30. Once in Daugavpils, the museum factory is 10 minutes walk from the train station or bus station
Photos of the railway station of Riga then the journey in Riga and Daugavpils:
Principle of production
The principle to get balls of lead is the same as for rain! Molten lead is “poured” from the top of a large 37 meters tower and then passed through a colander. During its fall, it cools down and takes a rounded form.
Photos: the tower of Daugavpils, the holes in the floor of the tower allowing to pass the molten metal and finally, the well where it finishes its race to be cooled and recovered:
Manufacturing in action!
First step: melting lead
The lead that is abundant in the area is heated with other chemicals in order to purify it in large “cauldrons.” But this process produces harmful vapors, so protections are needed as you can see !
In the 37 meters tower!
Then, at the top of the tower, the purified lead is reheated again and then poured through a sieve. The liquefied lead then drops 37 meters to land in a well at 15 meters depth (which makes a fall of more than 50 meters!). During its fall the lead takes a rounded shape and solidifies.
Photo of the tower: the climb is sporty! Before last photo: the hole in the ground from which is fixed a sieve and where is poured the liquid lead:
The other advantage of climbing up the tower is the view over Daugavpils which is beautiful! I highly recommend to view it, it worth the effort! (Last picture from left to right: view of the old believers church, Catholic and Protestant Lutheran):
Calibration of lead shot
Once it has fallen into the well, the lead is recovered and calibrated to separate it from those that are not correct. The waste is recycled.
Example of lead shot production
After the visit: the shooting range!
I had the chance to try the production of the factory! For few euros more I have been given access to the shooting range !