160 Years of Leningrad Metal Plant

The History of one of Russia's First Machine-Building Enterprises

The last one hundred and sixty years of the history of the Russian state have been full of dramatic events: the country has changed, and wars and political upheavals have taken place. Hand in hand with the country, a machine-building enterprise has developed over the course of 160 years - Leningrad Metal Plant  (Leningradsky Metallichesky Zavod, LMZ) which can be considered as the worthiest example of serving the Motherland.

Sergei Rasteryayev

The founder of the Saint Petersburg Metal Plant, a Saint Petersburg merchant in the First Guild and hereditary citizen of honor, and the head of the firm Sergei Rasteryayev and Son, established in 1825. The owner of land, several factories, houses, retail outlets, a representative of the Russian bourgeoisie in the making.

The founding of Metal Plant

Merchant Sergei Rasteryayev's Business. The Saint Petersburg Metal Plant Company

The present-day enterprise was built on the basis of the Saint Petersburg Metal Plant, established by merchant Sergei Nefedyevich Rasteryayev in 1857.

At first, the plant produced small boilers and heating appliances, and performed various metalwork. At first, the plant was an artisan workshop, but soon it turned into a joint-stock enterprise under the official name, the Saint Petersburg Metal Plant Company (its charter was approved by the Emperor on December 20, 1857) , which hired skilled engineers from Germany.

In 1886, the plant made Russia's first barbette mount for the Chesma battleship. Later, it started production of electrically driven turret mounts.  Starting from small-scale production of nails, carriage springs, German silver utensils and tableware, the plant was the first in Russia to start production of "telegraphic wire", and fifteen years after the moment of its founding, it was at the forefront of Russian bridge building. By the beginning of the 20th century, the plant was one of the largest enterprises in the Russian Empire.

From Space to the Bowels of the Earth

In its modern history, LMZ became a pioneer and a founder of one of the most complicated engineering industries: turbine-building. After the establishment of Soviet Power, the plant produced the first hydraulic and gas turbines, ensuring the fulfillment of nearly one third of the GOELRO plan.

At all times, Metal Plant hired top-class specialists, engineers and designers; true enthusiasts in their profession. The most important achievements of engineering thinking, which laid the foundation for the establishment and subsequent development of the Russian industry, are connected with their names.

Thus, Metal Plant made a significant contribution to the development of Russian bridge-building, military shipbuilding, the improvement and manufacture of cutting-edge heavy artillery systems, turbine-building, high-pressure physics, physical metallurgy, and many other fields of science and industry.

The Start: Early Stages of Development

December 20, 1857

The Charter of the Saint Petersburg Metal Company was approved by Imperial ordnance. At first, it produced primitive metal articles: nails, carriage springs, and household utensils. The plant was the first in Russia to start the production of copper wire for telegraphic communication, and it also produced space heaters and ventilation devices based on proprietary drawings. The principal theaters, palaces, museums, places of worship, and plants of Saint Petersburg became users of these sought-after products. Gradually, the plant became a monopolist in this sphere and a Supplier to His Imperial Majesty's Court.


New production of lifting mechanisms and structures was started at the plant. Those were passenger and cargo elevators, cranes of various capacities and purposes, and floating dock-bridges for ports. The plant became a monopolist in this area as well, manufacturing self-engineered products.


An important new line of business was organized - bridge-building. During the 30 years that remained until the beginning of the 20th century, the plant produced more than 1350 bridges. Technical innovations were developed at the plant: it was the first in Russia to master the production of one-piece riveted beams, and to use soft cast iron instead of wrought iron. The plant specialists started working in deep caissons before many others.


New production was started of the manufacture of large metal structures. The plant produced self-engineered roof structures for the main halls of the Winter Palace and Mariinsky Palace, the Russian Museum, the Suvorov Museum, the Conservatory, the spires and domes of the Church of Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood, and the dome of the Circus Ciniselli on the Fontanka Embankment. More than 400 high-grade works from the Metal Plant became examples of precise engineering calculation and impeccable implementation.


 A new production that was to become one of the principal ones for a long period of time was boiler-building. The plant mastered the production of steam boilers of various systems and characteristics for the needs of the Russian Navy. Boiler production continued until the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.


One of the first Russian submarines was built at the Metal Plant. It went down in the history of world submarine shipbuilding as the only successful type of submarine that used a single internal combustion engine for both surface and submarine navigation.


The plant started building ships for the Russian Navy at the specially built Ust-Izhora Shipyard (nowadays, the Sredne-Nevsky Shipyard is located at its place). Jointly, with the Putilov Plant, Nevsky Plant and Widon's plant in Kherson, it built eight destroyers for the Baltic Fleet, and two for the Black Sea Fleet.  The Metal Plant fitted out the ships with boilers, turbine equipment and artillery.


A steam turbine design bureau was established, and the design and manufacture of steam turbines and generators, turbopumps and turboventilators started. Between 1907 and 1917, 26 stationary turbine units for various enterprises and 28 ship turbines were made.

The Metal Plant became one of Russia's leading enterprises. It played an active part in various Russian exhibitions, and was awarded the right to mark its products with the state coat of arms many times. The plant received worldwide recognition for its products which were exhibited at the most prestigious international exhibitions, including the Columbus Exhibition in Chicago and the Paris Exhibition.

Implementing the GOELRO Plan

The 1920s - 1930s

On December 20, 1920, a program of electrification in Russia (the GOELRO Plan) was adopted at the VIII All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The Metal Plant played a key role in its implementation. In 1923, the Soviet government decided to concentrate all steam and water turbine production work at the Metal Plant - that is how the plant's specialization was determined. In 1924, the first 2 MW steam turbine and 370 kW hydraulic turbine (both self-engineered) were made.


The plant's trade mark came into being, authored by D.P. Pobedimov, a design engineer who worked at the steam turbine design bureau. The triangle with the three letters “LMZ” inscribed in it, became a trade mark of world renown back before World War II.


The first export order was executed: the plant produced a 1500 kW steam turbine for a textile factory in Kaisari (Turkey). From the 1950s, the manufacture of turbines for export became a permanent line of business. Thanks to the development of turbine-building at the LMZ, the country was freed from dependence on imported power generating equipment.


Europe's most powerful high-speed steam turbine, with a capacity of 100 MW, was produced for the Stalinogorsk State Regional Power Plant (in the vicinity of Moscow). During the war, the turbine was evacuated to Chelyabinsk. The LMZ became the second largest producer of steam turbines in Europe.


The first world record was set: the largest and the most powerful 55 MW hydraulic turbines for the Uglich and the Rybinsk hydraulic power plants of the Volga-Kama chain were made.

The production upsurge of the LMZ was interrupted by the war. The plant's operation from 1941 to 1945 is  presented on the exhibition stands located at the hydroturbine complex facade.

Postwar Years

The postwar history of LMZ can be called a chronicle of technical breakthroughs. The plant developed and produced equipment, mastering ever higher parameters and characteristics. Hydroturbines were made for the reborn Dnieper Hydraulic Power Plant. This was the first important postwar order, as LMZ had not produced 75 MW turbines before. A unique series of 41 adjustable-blade propeller turbines with a capacity of 126 MW each, was made for the Kuibyshev (now Zhiguli) and the Stalingrad (now Volga) HPPS, setting another capacity record. In 1958, a model of this hydroturbine was awarded the Grand Prix at the Brussels International Exhibition.

The legendary PVK-200 steam turbine, with a capacity of 200 MW, was designed and manufactured. It opened the way for the largest series of machines of such class in the world, and entered the Guinness Book of Records. For the excellence of its design, it was awarded the Grand Prix at the Brussels International Exhibition. The creation of 200, 300, 500 and 800 MW turbines opened the way for the plant to the manufacture of even more powerful turbines, designed for supercritical steam conditions.

The 1960s
The plant provided Siberia's largest hydraulic power plant with powerful equipment. 18 hydraulic power units, each with a capacity of 230 MW, were manufactured for the Bratsk HPP on the Angara. This turbine model was also awarded the Grand Prix at the Brussels Exhibition. The plant prepared another record-breaking series of 12 508 MW centrifugal turbines, the most powerful ones in the world, for the Krasnoyarsk HPP on the Yenisei. A quay built at the plant could take a vessel for loading turbine wheels with an unprecedented mass - 250 tons, and transporting them over the Northern Sea Route.

The first Soviet gas turbine GT-12-3, with a capacity of 12 MW, was manufactured by the plant and put into operation at the Shatsk underground coal gasification plant. In 1967, a GT-100-750 gas turbine unit that was the largest in the world at that time was manufactured for the Krasnodar CHPP. It was unique in respect of both its engineering concept and the ratio between the capacity and the dimensions of the turbine itself. It was a real breakthrough, not only in Soviet but also in worldwide gas turbine building.

The pilot specimen of a 180 MW centrifugal power unit was produced for the Aswan HPP in Egypt, the largest one on the African continent. The plant manufactured 12 hydraulic power units for that hydropower plant. That was another export order for the plant: from 1952 to the 1970s, turbines bearing the LMZ trade mark were delivered to China, India, Poland and Brazil.

Flagship of the Soviet Turbine-Building

The 1970s - 1980s

In 1977, the first centrifugal hydroturbine was manufactured for a hydraulic power plant on the Yenisei, which was the largest at that time. 10 turbines, with a maximum capacity of 650 MW and two replaceable turbine wheels, were delivered to the power plant , which allowed the generation of electric power even before it was finished.

The 1200 MW steam turbine, the best one in respect of a whole number of indicators and design concepts, became the pinnacle of development of design and engineering thought at the LMZ at that time. Unique last-stage titanium alloy blades, 1200 mm in length, were developed and applied. The turbine was put into operation on Kostromskaya TPP in 1978. It concentrates the capacity of nearly all power plants built under the GOELRO plan into a single shaft!

The production of powerful high-speed turbine units for the nuclear power industry was started. The plant manufactured the first saturated steam supplied turbine, with a capacity of 1000 MW, for the Rovnenskaya NPP in Ukraine. Between 1980 and 1990, the South-Ukrainskaya, Khmelnitskaya and Kalininskaya NPPs were fitted out with such turbines.

The manufacture of powerful 330 MW hydroturbines for the Bureya and the Boguchany HPPs in the Far East were the principal projects of the first decade of the 21st century. Heavy cargo air transport was used for the transportation of large-size units.. Four hydroturbines, each with a capacity of 80 MW, were delivered to the Lower Bureya HPP. They can operate in a wide range of situations, and prevent oil leaks into water.


Another success in the foreign market: turbines for the Finnish Alholma and Raahe thermal power plants. The equipment was designed and manufactured using cutting-edge design concepts and developments, and state-of-the art technologies. It is an entirely new progressive trend in the manufacture of steam turbines for thermal power plants with higher steam temperature and pressure parameters, which increase the capacity, reliability and efficiency of the equipment.

Large-scale Russian and export deliveries of K-1000 powerful high-speed nuclear turbines for China, India  took place. Power units No. 1 and No. 2 of the Kudankulam NPP, were subsequently awarded the 2014 Year Projects prize, as facilities that demonstrate the world power industry development trend: state-of-the-art technologies allowing for the creation the most eco-friendly and effective power sources.


A new type of K-800-130 turbine was developed for the world's largest BN-800 power unit, with a fast-neutron reactor installed at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. The unique design of the steam turbine is based on cutting-edge technologies. A technical design of a steam turbine unit with a capacity of 1220 MW with a BN-1200 reactor plant was developed.


The company implemented an important innovative project: new equipment was manufactured for the restoration of the Sayano–Shushenskaya hydraulic power plant. The ten new hydroturbines demonstrate a high quality standard and modern production technologies. The useful life of the equipment was increased significantly - to 40 years, and a new hydraulic power unit control system was created. This system allows safe control the power unit in all operational modes, including off-design ones.  "This tremendous effort accomplished has taken the station to a completely new level." (V.V. Putin).

A wide range of equipment for nuclear power plants was developed. The most high-speed turbines were made: K-1200 having a capacity of 1200 MW for the Belorussian, Novovoronezh and Leningrad nuclear power plants.


The first Russian turnkey project of the Power Machines Company: a new power unit of the Blagoveshchensk CHPP in the Far East.