Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 140,005 pages of information and 227,378 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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1834 The company was established when the governor of the county of Karelia approves the construction of a sawmill by a rapids in the municipality of Tohmajärvi.

Some years later the sawmill became the property of N. L. Arppe.

1898 The sawmill and iron works company was renamed Wärtsilä Ab.

1907 Company renamed Ab Wärtsilä Oy.

1935 Wärtsilä acquired a majority holding in Kone-ja Siltarakennus Oy (Machine and Bridge Construction Ltd), thereby also gaining control of the Hietalahti shipyard (est’d 1865) in Helsinki and the Crichton-Vulcan shipyard (est’d 1741) in Turku. Kone-ja Siltarakennus Oy manufactured, for example, paper machines and Abloy locks.

Wärtsilä's headquarters moved from Karelia to Helsinki.

1938 The Machine and Bridge group was merged with Wärtsilä, along with the iron mill Taalintehdas (est’d 1686 and just acquired), and the Turku, Pietarsaari and Vaasa subsidiaries.

After that Wärtsilä-Yhtymä O/Y (Wärtsilä Group Ltd) was established.

c1942 Wärtsilä signed a licence agreement with Friedrich Krupp Germania Werft AG in Germany. The first diesel engine was produced in November 1942.

1954 Began to design its own diesel engines. Wilmer Wahlstedt, a young civil engineer, working then at the Wärtsilä Turku shipyard, was called to Vaasa to lead the design work for that future engine.

1959 the first Wärtsilä-designed diesel engine, the Wärtsilä Vasa 14 (with only three cylinders), was started for the first time.

The first commercial engines (six cylinders) were sold to Silja Line’s m/s Skandia, sailing between Finland and Sweden.

1974 Wärtsilä began to build a new shipyard at Perno, Turku

1978 Acquired 51 percent of the NOHAB diesel business from Bofors in Sweden. The remaining shares were acquired in 1984.

1983 The whole Turku Shipyard moved to Perno.

1986 A crisis in the global marine industry led Wärtsilä to pool its marine resources with Valmet, resulting in the establishment of Wärtsilä Marine Oy. Valmet’s shipbuilding activities were joined with Wärtsilä’s; Wärtsilä’s paper machines were transferred to Valmet.

1990 Wärtsilä merged with Lohja; new name, Metra Oy Ab, was given to this “international industrial corporation whose key areas of focus are building-related activities and the diesel engine business.”

1997 Metra and Fincantieri merged the Wärtsilä Diesel, New Sulzer Diesel and Diesel Ricerche businesses as Wärtsilä NSD Corporation. This made Fincantieri a minority (15%) shareholder in Metra’s largest division.

c1998 Metra planned to demerg into three listed companies: a diesel and gas engine company, a bathroom products company and an investment company. The decision on demerger was postponed by the divisions became more independent.

2000 Metra renamed Wärtsilä.

2001 Wärtsilä expanded into biopower and acquired Finnish company Sermet Oy, which specialised in small and medium-sized boiler plants running on biofuels, oil and gas.

2008 Joint venture formed with Metso combining Metso’s Heat & Power business and Wärtsilä’s Biopower business. Metso owned 60% and Wärtsilä 40% of the joint venture.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Wartsila website [1]