THE STARGARD ECONOMY
Until modern times, the principal sources of income for Stargard residents were trade, crafts and estates. Crafts were centred around the suburbium on the island, and trade in the settlement on the left bank of the western branch of the Ina. When Stargard officially became a town, it also gained land ownership rights, maritime shipping rights, exemption from customs duties in Pomerania and the right to establish guilds, with the result that shortly afterwards, the town had become a major craft centre, with over 30 trade associations and guilds, whose representatives sat on the town council. The guilds enjoyed a high level of autonomy, while they were well-organised, with their own hierarchies. Any citizen of Stargard from the right bank could become a craftsman. Marriage to a craftsman’s widow or his daughter also conferred this status. In addition to privileges (often ducal), guild members were required to defend the city, put out fires, and carry out work on behalf of the town. Many organisations united with the guilds from larger towns, for example weavers in Königsberg, Torun and Rostock. Even today, there is still evidence of the exceptional quality of Stargard artisanship, in the form of the great Bell in St John the Baptist’s church, and the organ at the cathedral in Kamien Pomorski. The leading guilds in Stargard were the bakers, shoemakers, brewers, pewtersmiths, metalsmiths and goldsmiths. Thus trade became the main source of Stargard’s (or rather the Hansa’s) wealth. Municipal income also came from customs houses, mints and taxes tolls and levies, along with the profits from chemists’, public baths, weigh stations, mills and estates. At that time, 11 entire villages and four part villages, with the forests along the Ina, belonged to Stargard. The inhabitants lived off the land and its produce destined for the local market, while its economy was boosted by the fact that Stargard was the local capital, and also had a large community of highly-skilled French craftsmen at its disposal. The town became a major weaving centre, and in the 18th century, due to its position at an important road intersection, became a courier post sorting office. At the end of the 18th century, the first factories opened, alongside breweries and soap manufacturers. In the second half of the 19th century, the railway came to Stargard, from henceforth playing the leading role in shaping the city’s future, since the town lay at the largest junction in the entire region. The repair sheds constructed at the turn of the 20th century were only the second of their kind in the whole of Pomerania. At this point in time, Stargard was an important industrial centre, with factories producing agricultural equipment, roofing felt, soap, felt, snuff, oils and a range of spirits produced by F. J. Mampe and H. A. Winkelhausen which were known throughout Europe. In the period following the Second World War to the 1990s, the railway was still the leading employer, with over 6,000 working for it, thus earning Stargard a reputation as a railway town. However, several thousand were also employed in the process of rebuilding the local industries. By the turn of the century, political and economic changes in Poland had brought about revolutions in hiring practices and industry, with increasing numbers making a living from non-manufacturing sectors of the economy, while two industrial parks have grown up on the outskirts of Stargard.