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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Post-Communism Industrial Bleakness - Where/What?

Updated: May 20, 2022

KesterTester73 - This scene of desolation, perhaps surprisingly, sits in an area of natural beauty. UPDATED

Photo: A pic from, I think, winter 1992-93. It is probably testament to Communist-era economic policies, according to which energy prices were capped below cost to calm potential public discontent. The result? Limited investment and inefficiency over time. Sound familiar? Well, as the saying goes, we humans (mostly) never seem to learn from history.

I know at least one occasional reader who could well dislike this photo, and I might get an email along the lines of "Please publish more upbeat photos!".

But I find this has its own, perhaps strange beauty - and it certainly tells a story.

This Tester is likely to prove a toughie, but I'll add some more clues in the coming days, if so.

But where or what is it? Answers please via an email or the messaging system. I'll post the results of Bakos the Carpenter on Tuesday - so you still have time to get some entries in

I wish all a pleasant weekend.

UPDATE: Additional clue(s) / Clarification

1) I perhaps ought to clarify that the area of natural beauty around this scene is a kilometre or five distant, it's not immediately abutting the scene! Sorry if that's sent anyone astray.

Indeed, I was told in about 1993-4 that this particular area was the most polluted in Hungary. I remember that the Japanese government donated some money to help clean it up. (And, again to clarify, I don't think the facility in this photo was the main cause of this pollution. There are other industrial units nearby.)

2) As far as I know, this site was the location of the first commercial wind turbine in Hungary. Indeed, I saw it was still in situ last year, but it didn't appear to be in service at the time.

Sorry if these clues are a bit technical - it's one of the problems I always face, how to give some more hints without making things too easy, but I hope these may help. Ah, I've just realised I've given it away that this pic is in Hungary, as opposed to somewhere in the region. At least THAT narrows it down somewhat.

UPDATE2: Gosh, this is not proving easy, but how to add another clue without giving all away? OK, here's one idea, even if a wee bit cryptic. As this facility was built after WW2, first going into production in 1951, it was naturally celebrated in true revolutionary terms - and what truer such term could it possibly be associated with other than the Great October Socialist Revolution?

It's turbines last whirred at the end of 2001, although it seems someone had the bright idea of using the space, and presumably the technical infrastructure, to house an array of solar cells.

UPDATE3 - Results: Although a fair few had a try, this industrial scene proved very difficult, and I have a feeling those who sent in accurate answers were utilising the internet to nail it down.

Always one to have a stab, Jerry Taylor was first in: “Hi Kester,

The closest I’m likely to get is that it’s a shot of the old power station opposite Kopaszi Gát [in Budapest XI], but I, probably miles out, Cheers, Jerry.”

'Fraid you're correct, Jerry – probably about 60 miles at a guess :)

He was quickly followed by Sanyi Németh: “It looks a bit like the power plant that you can see on the right when you're nearing Kazincbarcika [north-east Hungary] on road 26.”

Alan Sutton is another always happy to have a crack, and he thought similarly to Sanyi, though adding in some vintage tourist intelligence.

“Dear Kester

I had to choose between two:

My initial thought was that it was my first client in Hungary BVK (Borsodi Vegyi Kombinát) a chemical works at Kazincbarcika which itself is in a lovely area but was a vile place with brown smoke coming out of the chimneys. [Known today as BorsodChem – ed] Anyone else who ever went there will not forget the Hotel Polymer in a hurry. It didn't have any food in the evenings, and just a lukewarm virsli for breakfast."

Lukewarm virsli? Luxury, Alan!

You were lucky to get even half a virsli, and still frozen on the plate in those days!

Alan continued: "2. The Aluminium works near Várpalota. I cycled past this once. The pollution was so bad that the trees planted near the works were all stunted and just grew a few feet high. However I don't remember this being a beauty spot

"The later clues though would suggest the aluminium works, especially as the egg cups in the picture don't stack up with the ones in the images I can find for BVK, so I will go for that one.”

Alright - entry noted, Alan. Writing in from Florida, Steve Soley proffered: “Guardian float glass plant ? Where my friend Sapi Lajos became GM? bst steve.”

Naturally, Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann was not going to sit on the sidelines, first suggesting Ajka in western Hungary, before changing his bid: “After the first set of clues, I'll change my entry to the Inota Thermal Power Plant. Can't take the picture any longer as the chimneys have been demolished since the closure of the plant in the early 2000s. Ajka still runs after a conversion to biomass.”

Tom Chilton was short and to the point: “Hi KJ, the answer to the latest KT is: Inota power station.


The final entry was from Zsolt Maroti, who, after indicating he had “no idea”, was even more succinct: “Inota”, he wrote.

Indeed, the correct answer is Inota power station, a relic of the early communist-era industrialisation plans, originally named November 7 Power Station (The Great October Revolultion having taken place on November 7, you understand :) )

This sits next door to the Várpalota aluminium complex, but isn't it (sorry, Alan).

For those that don't know it, next time you drive or catch the train to Veszprém, you can see what remains of this power unit on your right, about 25 km south-west of Székesfehérvár.

Now for the news that you are all waiting for - this week's winner - about to feel the full heat of global celebrity status – is number 3, Zsolt Maroti!

Congratulations to Zsolt and all who had a go! I'll aim to post another Tester tomorrow, Saturday.

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