The Zelów Commune is located in the central- southern part of the Łódzkie Region. According to the administrative structure, it is situated in the north-western part of the Bełchatów District. The Dłutów Commune is its northern neighbour, the Drużbice and Bełchatów Communes border with Zelów in the East, Kluki and Szczerców in the South, and Widawa, Sędziejowice and Buczek in the West.
THE OLDEST HISTORY OF ZELÓW
The Zelów Commune has a space of 16698.5 ha. It is one of the biggest communes in the Łódzkie Region and it covers 35 villages and 63 towns. 15427 persons live in the Zelów Commune, with a majority of 8161 living in the city.
The Zelów Commune is on the route of the inter-regional highway [No 44] leading via Łask - Piotrków Tryb. - Radom, the national highway [No 483] linking the cities of Łask - Szczerców - Częstochowa, and the national highway [No 484] leading via (Łask) - Buczek - Zelów - Bełchatów - Kamieńsk, which runs through the centre of the City of Zelów.
The Commune has a good communication network, with nearby cities in particular: Łódź (distance of 50 km), Łask (distance of 16 km) Bełchatów (distance of 16 km), and Warsaw (fairly convenient distance of 160 km). Public transport buses provided by the PKS (nationwide operator) ensure direct transport from Łódź to the centre of Zelów, and the MZK (local operator) travel between Bełchatów and Łask.
The settlement of Zelów was founded in the 13th century. Originally it was called Szelyów, and then Zeliów. The first historical mention of it was found in the book by Jan Łaski titled "Liber Beneficiorum", and it dates back to 1402. By the end of the 18th century, Zelów was a typical yeomen's village, whose inhabitants earned their living by farming and breeding cattle.
DIVERSITY OF SETTLERS IS A CHARACTERISTICS OF ZELÓW
According to the historical sources, the estate in Zelów owned then by Józef Świdziński, was purchased by Czechs, who arrived in Poland.
They introduced textile industry, which has functioned in this region until the present times. The Czechs mainly dealt with manual weaving. The Zelów's workshops became specialised in manufacturing satin, cretonne, and decorative plushes made of cotton warp and wool weft.
For quite a while "Zelów's" Czechs had a dominant position, however after the World War I and establishment of Czechoslovakia, they started leaving Poland and returning to their fatherland. Following the intensive migration of the Czechs, which took place between the two world wars, Poles, Germans and Jews started arriving in Zelów. One of the characteristic features of Zelów, especially at that time, was development of various religions. Each nation cultivated their own religion, and the Evangelical and Reformed Parish had the biggest congregation.
WORTH SEEING- HISTORICAL MONUMENTS
In the period between the two wars the City's economic potential increased significantly. Many textile factories, such as K. Rajchert's manufacture in Herbertów, were established.
After World War II, the number of Czechs decreased significantly. Many Germans also left. Their place and the place of Jews murdered by the occupants were taken by Poles from the neighbouring villages. The Free Evangelical and Reformed Church, Methodists, Czech Brothers and Judaic church ceased existing. Until the present times, four religions are practised in Zelów: Roman - Catholic, Evangelical - Reformed, Christian Baptistm, and Evangelical - Augsburg.
After the war, the City's economic situation also changed. In June 1949, the "Fanar" - Zelów's Cotton Plant - Zelów largest manufacturing enterprise, was set up on the basis of the former private textile manufacturers. However, it could not meet the rules of the market economy, which was developing in the early 90ies, and after it had announced its insolvency it was liquidated. The property of the liquidated plant was acquired by private investors, who developed such activity as production of cotton fabric and medical (dressing) materials.
In 1954, Zelów received the rights of the settlement, and three years later (1957) the city rights. In 1976, the City and Commune merged into a single administrative unit, and since 1990 they have become a single self-governing community.
The Parish Church of Saint Theodor Martyr in Kociszew
The church is built of logs and its framework construction comes probably from 1765. It was consecrated in 1783. It was founded by Zygmunt Dobek- a sword-bearer of Sieradz who, on the order of the Archbishop of Gniezno, Earl of Małoszyn and Raczyn Raczyński built it in place of a burnt wooden chapel of St. Mary of the Assumption, consecrated in 1661. Similarly to the former chapel, it was a branch church of Łobudzice parish. It was not until 1789 that the Consistory of Gniezno constituted it a church of a newly established Kociszew parish.
Inside one can see the preserved relics of St. Theodor Martyr introduced to the church on 9th Novemeber 1663.
The Parish Church of Saint Wawrzyniec and Tomasz in Łobudzice
The larch church coming from 1795, built in the late Baroque style. The Parish of Łobudzice is the oldest one in the commune. It was erogated in 1488 by the Archbishop of Gniezno, Zbigniew Olesnicki. At the same time the first wooden church of St. Wawrzyniec was created. In 1751 it was pulled into pieces and the new owner of the Łobudzice village, Żeleniew foreman, Władysław Jeżewski built a new temple there. The third church in Łobudzice was created after the fire in 1795, its founder was the next owner of the village Kazimierz Krzycki, the general of the Polish Army. Thanks to its painting of Saint Mary of Comfort and The Heavenly Healer from the turn of 17th and 18th centuries, the church in Łobudzice is on the list of Polish Saint Mary's sanctuaries.
The Parish Church of Saint Kazimierz and Saint Barbara in Pożdżenice
The wooden church originating from the turn of 18th and 19th century was built on a frame of a rectangular outline. The first record of the church comes from 1622, when the parish in Pożdżenice was erogated by Wojciech and Barbara Wężykowie Gmolińscy. It was consecrated by the parson Mikołaj Starzyński, the mitre's man of Łask, the canon of Gniezno. The current church was built on the place of the old one. There are two hypotheses concerning the new temple. One of them says that it was founded in the 18th century by the castellan of Sieradz Henryk Miączyński, the landlord of Pożdżenice. Other sources give the account of its being founded in the middle of the 19th century. It is certain that around 1867 the temple in Pożdżenice became a branch church of the parish in Wygiełzów. The parish was reestablished in 1958 and it still exists.
The Parish Church of Saint Mary's Visitation in Wygiełzów
The church in Wygiełzów comes from the first half of the 15th century. Unfortunately, the old building burnt and in 1796, on its place, there appeared a big wooden chapel founded by Celestyn Gorczycki, the land magistrate of Sieradz, the heir of Wygiełzów. The temple was renovated and enlarged in 1932. Undoubtedly, an interesting thing is the fact that in 1990, during tearing off the old floor a double-arched tomb with a section wall.
The Evangelic Reformed Church in Zelów
It is the first monumental building in Zelów, coming from 1825. The brick church was built on the basis of the architect Zille's project. It was built on a frame of a rectangular outline with a square tower. From the west it is a dominant view closing Sienkiewicz Street. The exterior of the church was based on the model of provincial classicism. Inside there are Czech inscriptions and among them plaques in memory of Jan Hus and Jan Kalwin. Nearby there is a cemetery where one can find graves and monuments with inscriptions in Czech.
The Manor in Krześlów
The first record of the manor comes form 1670. Undoubtedly, it was the fortified manor built on a mound, probably in 16th - 17th centuries. It was destroyed in the first half of the 17th century. The next manor was built in 1758 under Siemiński's rule and the cellar door and decorative inlay cupboard come from that time. In its present classicistic form the manor was probably built in 1846 on Wincenty Węsierski's initiative. Nearby there is also a distillery from 1880.
The Summer Festival Concerts are the main event of the commune. Organized since 1995 the events accompany The International Festival of Organ and Chamber Music Radom-Oronsko. The aim of the concerts is to give the inhabitants of the commune an opportunity to listen to classical music performed on a high level with its various artistic, instrumental, vocal as well as theatrical values. Our guests were such artists as: Teresa Żylis - Gara, professor Stefan Stuligrosz and "Poznańskie Słowiki" (Poznań Nightingales), Wiesław Ochman, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Robert Grudzień, Georgij Agratina, Zbigniew Macias, Józef Skrzek, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk and Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, Krzysztof Kolberger and Jerzy Zelnik. The concerts take place in The Church Of Saint Mary of Częstochowa in Zelów. They are under the patronage of the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Łódz, Władysław Ziółek.
The New Year Concert and the Day of Education are other musical events organized by the Culture House. Among other big stage artists who have visited us in the last years were Michał Bajor, Elżbieta Dzikowska, Tony Halik, Jacek Kaczmarski, Mieczysław Szcześniak, Edyta Geppert, Jacek Borkowski and Krystyna Prońko.
Zelów can pride itself on the only Polish music group 'Zelów Bells' ('Zelowskie Dzwonki') who play the American handbells. They give concerts both in the country and abroad.
Zelów has been a place of autumn literary meetings of world writers and poets for a few years. They meet to exchange experience at The Polish Literary Confrontations. So far our guests have been Ernest Bryll, Henryk Cyganik, Adam Szyper, Józef Baran, Tadeusz Czerniawski.
The Settlement Days
The Settlement Days have become the tradition in Zelów and they are connected with Zelów origins . The inhabitants of the commune meet and spend their time together under the motto 'One Zelów, Four Nations, Seven Religions' Thanks to games, exhibitions and contests, they prove the significance of historical bonds and build relationships in order to create a strong community of Zelów. Knight Fight Shows, art exhibitions, entertainment in the open air accompanied by the music of local music groups as well as performances of Polish stars such as Małgorzata Ostrowska, Krzysztof Piasecki or Made in China Cabaret have been adding splendor to the event for 5 years.
The cultural centres in the town are the Collage Gallery in the Community Centre and the Gallery at The Chapel House of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Zelów. They give local artists an opportunity of creating, inspire them and promote their art by organizing exhibitions. If one is interested in the history of the town, they should visit the museum - the Centre of Czech Brethren's Documentation at the Evangelical Reformed Parish in Zelów organizing periodical and permanent exhibitions and conducting educational museum lessons.
The commune is involved in publishing. At present there are two monthly magazines 'Gazeta Kulturalna', which has been edited since 1996 by the Community Centre in Zelów, and 'Informator Zelowski', edited since 1998 by the Local Authorities in Zelów. There have also been many book publications about Zelów and its history.
The Zelów Commune takes care about the young. The youngest inhabitants can go to two local kindergartens and the kindergarten led by the Evangelical Reformed Parish in Zelów. Its school network consists of two town and three country primary schools as well as lower secondary schools and two secondary schools. The comprehensive schools complex offers such faculties as social and humanistic, ecological and touristic or mathematical and technological while the secondary vocational school complex teaches such professions as mechanics and operators of farm machines, car mechanics, locksmiths, tailors, carpenters, bricklayers, bakers and confectioners, butchers, sanitation facilities fitters, mechanical technicians, teletechnicians, logistics technicians, trade technicians, landscape architecture technicians and garment technicians. These institutions provide a highly qualified personnel.
SPORT IN ZELÓW
Young people's education in Zelów is supported by the Zelów Scholarship Fund, established in 1998 and led by the charity association "Razem", as well as founded in 2005 the Scholarship Fund of John Paul II. The programmes aim at helping young and talented people who, despite difficult financial or family situation, or health problems achieve high results in their education. Moreover, there is a special programme of school scholarships helping the young in difficult financial situation.
In the Zelów Commune there are eight sports clubs. The main disciplines are volleyball, table tennis, football, chess and checkers, archery and running.The most important club with a long tradition is Zelów Sports Club "Włókniarz" dealing with football. At present it is taking part in regional championship matches. Its alumni took part in Polish Premier League championships and played for foreign football clubs. Undoubtedly,among the most famous we should list Wiesław Surlit (goalkeeper of Legia FC) and Krzysztof Surlit (representative of Poland, who played in the memorable Widzewa - Juventus Turin match). Both, owing to their achievements have gone down in the history of Polish football. Moreover, there are many youth sports clubs and the numerous cups and medals won by them prove the high level of our sportsmen.
The Independent Public Health Care Centre in Zelów provides specialists' services in orthopedics, surgery, gynaecology. laryngology, oncology. work medicine or rehabilitation. It has modern medical equipment USG and ECG. There are also doctors of rare specializations who come to the institutions as well as some free screening tests. One of such actions was 'White Sunday' when there was an opportunity to do such tests as mammography, densitometry (bone density tests), spirometrics (lung ability tests), vain failure tests as well as surgery, orthopedics and neurology related tests.
THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
There is also a lift for the disabled. The centre has two country institutions in Bujny Szlacheckie and Wygiełzów.
The lie of the land
The Zelów Commune is situated on the point of junction of the Łask Height, the Bełchatów Plain and the Szczerców Valley. The Ostoja village, located in the eastern part of the commune, is the highest region (213m above the sea level), whereas the valley of the Chrząstawka village in the south west of the commune is the lowest region (155m above the sea level).
Reservoirs and rivers
Most of the commune is characterized by flatlands with wide valleys with long, gentle hill-sides and flat bottoms. The landscape is varied by sand dunes in the valleys of such rivers as Pilsia, Chrząstawka, Kiełbaska and Grabia, whose depth may reach up to 15 metres.
The Zelów Commune is entirely located in the basin of the Widawka River and is drained through its inflows: Grabia, Pilsia, Chrząstawka and their inflows. The Grabia flows through the north-west edge of the commune and the administrative border is based on it. The Pilsia flows out on the outskirts of Zelów, in the Drużbice commune. It flows to Bujny through its wide, flat parallel valley. The bed of the river is narrow and regulated. Out of Bujny the river turns south- west. In the region there is a retaining reservoir "Patyki" (area: 5.5 ha). The Chrząstawka River flows out in the region of the village Ignaców and just near the border with the former the Sieradz voivodeship it takes its biggest inflow the Kiełbaska River which flows along the western border of the commune.
Tourism and recreation
The environmental values, which are beneficial for leisure and recreational activities, are the strength of this region. Woodland, which covers ? of the Commune's territory and provides beneficial bio-climatic conditions, is one of the most important features. Particularly large wood complexes are found in the eastern-southern part of the Zelów Commune. The northern part of the Commune, which houses a fragment of the "Tuszyńsko - Dłutowski" Protected Landscape Area, has also a very attractive landscape. This is the area of high natural values, with the valley of the Grabia being most valuable. The southern regions of the Zelów Commune are equally interesting. They house a fragment of the "Szczercowski" Protected Landscape Area, which includes bordering woods of the Commune and the enclaves of fields and river valleys. Beside the picturesque north and south region of the Zelów commune, there is also the reservoir "Patyki" with its big sandy beach on the river Pilsia. There is a scout riverside hostel, sports fields (football, volleyball, badminton), a children's playground as well as a table tennis equipment. Closeness of the dune-like complex overgrown with pine forests emphasises attractiveness of this region, and touristic and recreational purpose of the "Patyki" reservoir encourage the communities of the neighbouring towns to relax here. Moreover, the management of the District State Forests in Wola Pszczółecka located its Summer Centre run by Karitas (charity organisation) in its forests. Unusually beautiful and quiet areas are also situated in Kolonia Karczmy - Jamborek. This is where a district of summer houses is found. Near there flows a picturesque river Grabia. One can fish in fish-breeding ponds where one can eat delicious fish in the old mill.
Therefore the beneficial environmental condition, significant woodiness, good bio-climatic conditions in the region of large wood complexes, recreation and leisure areas, and vicinity of the Łódzka Agglomeration provide an excellent base for developing weekend tourism for inhabitants of Łódź, Pabianice, Bełchatów and Łask.
The economy of the Zelów Commune specialises in producing and servicing. Light industry plays a leading role in the region. Companies of this branch are the biggest transactors. Their production has enlivened the buildings of non-existing state textile plants. The textile firms employ 1000 people, the biggest of them being the "Torun Dressing Materials Plant", "Cosmetic Cotton Products", "Mag-Rys" or "Han-Met". The great advantage of the Zelów commune is its location in the neighborhood of the fuel-energetic complex in Bełchatów which concentrates a big economic potential. In the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of small firms that created new work places, and diversified employment in the commune. There are 723 transactors among whom there are numerous trade institutions, service institutions and firms dealing with building industry. A potential investor can find benevolence of the local authorities and the Zelów Development Foundation whose mission is to create good conditions for economic and social development in the region of Łódz. The Foundation is registered in the State System of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises as for the operating rage connected with advice service, financial support, educational and informative roles and it is an affiliated centre of the Agro-Info Network. It has a launched system of quality management in accordance with the norm PN-EN ISO 9001:200, certified for its quality (certificate number 81/SZJ/2004, issued on 16.06.2004 by Zetom-Cert Ltd). The support in the field of economic development is implemented by the Advisor- Education Centre, Zelów Enterprise Foundation, Zelów Enterprise Incubator. These institutions deal with consulting, training, loan surety, loans for those who start their economic activity as well as renting office and production space on preferential terms for newly created firms, which creates a friendly atmosphere for further development of the Zelów commune.
The services are implemented within the confines of assistant programmes financed by EU funds (including PHARE funds), the World Bank, The Ministry of Economy and Work as well as other institutions.
The main challenges facing the Zelów Commune were further development of technical infrastructure and care about the natural environment. The number of water conduits, sewage system, a good quality of roads, access to electricity, telephone line and the broadband Internet combined with modern schools, kindergartens and other public institutions not only improve living conditions but also add to Zelów's attractiveness in the eyes of prospective investors, and that is why these tasks are regarded as priorities in the functioning and development of the Commune.
There has been a significant increase in technical infrastructure expenses in the last few years. The fast development of infrastructure was possible thanks to external funds such as the National Fund of Environmental Protection and Hydroeconomy in Warsaw, the Voivodeship Fund of Environmental Protection and Hydroeconomy in Piotrków Trybunalski and Łódź,
Łódź Voivodeship Office, Phare Rapid,Strudel, state budget, Polish- German Cooperation Fund, the Office of the District Authorities in Bełchatów, the Agency for Restructurisation and Modernisation of Agriculture in Warsaw, the Assistance Programmes for Agriculture FAPA, the Regional Centre in Kielce, the District Fund of Environmental Protection and Hydroeconomy in Bełchatów.
Large support for the investments was gained thanks to the programme SAPARD that subsidized the Zelów project of Bocianicha-Karczmy road modernization that cost 546 thousand zlotys. The whole investment cost 1.3 million zlotys and the money gained from SAPARD helped to do it faster and more effectively. Another big success of Our Commune was getting subsidiaries for the project "Reconstruction of the sewage treatment plant and construction of water supply systems with road lanes in Zelów". This venture was subsidized by the European Union and its Regional Development Department funds within the confines of the Integrated Operational Programme of Regional Development (12.269.674.23 zlotys) whereas the cost of the whole investment was 16.359.565.00 Polish zlotys). These achievements have motivated us to work more on projects which could be subsidized and which implementation would enhance the inhabitants' life standard.
Thanks to the above mentioned investments the Zelów Local Authorities mananged to perform the following tasks:
Water protection tasks:
Air protection tasks:
- 131.6 km of conduit network
- 26.4 km of sanitary sewage network
- 2 sewage treatment plants
The investment in progress:
- Modernisation of 7 boiler houses and thermal modernisation of 7 schools in the City and Commune
- Modernisation of the municipal boiler house - in the past it used coal as the fuel, whereas now it is oil
- Modernisation of the boiler house and thermal modernisation of the Zelów Youth Centre building
- Construction of sanitary, rain, conduit water systems as well as reconstruction of road lanes
- Modernization and development of sewage treatment plant
- Implementation of electronic document circuit - e-office in The Local Authorities Office in Zelów (value of the whole project was 238.394.10 Polish zlotys out of which the sum of 178.795.58 zlotys was subsidized by the Integrated Operational Programme of Regional Development).
OUR EUROPEAN PARTNERS
Zelów has had an almost 20-year tradition of partnership contacts with the Association of German Neuenhaus Communes, which in 1993 resulted in signing an Agreement of Cooperation. During this period, both the communes have been strongly involved in the transfer of experiences in all spheres of the social life. The communities of our communes have also initiated numerous individual contacts. As a sign of friendship built "Bridge Zelowski" on the Dinkel river in Neuenhaus.
HONORATY CITIZENS OF ZELÓW
The highly developed system of support for enterprises implemented by the Zelów Development Foundation has encouraged representatives of countries from all over the world to visit our region. Zelów is a partner in the projects of the governments of Japan and Denmark. Many delegations from Central Europe and former Soviet Union states come here to find new solutions and tested examples. Representatives from Kazachstan, Croatia, Albania, Romania, and other countries visited Zelów last year.
Our international contacts also include cooperation with the Dutch Communes of Beilen and Zaandam. It mainly takes the form of charity assistance offered to the poorest people in Zelów by the "NEPO" Foundation from Beilen, assistance for schools delivered by the "Stichting hulpactie Polen" Foundation from Zaandam, and assistance in organising summer vacations for children provided by the Be Bosvelda Foundation from New Amsterdam. The British city of Norfolk is our partner in the field of fire-fighting.
Zelów also remembers those who need help. Within the recent years, together with the Łódź branch of the "Polish Community" Association and the Roman-Catholic Parish in Kociszew, we have organised summer vacations in our region for children from Drohobycz and Żydaczow, Ukraine. We also organised charity help for a Polish school in Gródek on Ukrain.
The Town Council awarded 16 honorary citizenships:
- 1991 - Riet and Hans Keller from Holland for the help for the Zelów Commune,
- 1992 - Tina and Be Bosfeld from Holland for helping to organize summer camps for children of our commune,
- 1993 - Carla and Arie Bosman from Holand for helping the Zelów environment,
- 1996 - Franciscan Piotr Tadeusz Mielczarek for cocreating Polish church on western and northern lands,
- 1998 - Bary Harwood from Norwich in Norfolk County for helping both personally and financially to develop Zelów Fire Brigade
- 1999 - Robert Grudzień from radom for popularizing culture and promoting the Zelów Commune,
- 2000 - Sinus Lefers from Neuenhaus, Sinus Hoppen form Osterwald, Max Hoppe from Neuenhaus for implementation of agreement between the Zelów Commune and Neuenhaus Commune Association,
- 2001 - Jan Albert Schippers from Neuenhaus and Karl-Heinz Meyer from Neuenhaus for implementation of agreement between the Zelów Commune and Neuenhaus Commune Association and Priest Józef Stanek from his long-term priestly work in the commune and especially for his heroic posture in 1957 thanks to which many human beings were saved,
- 2002 - Wiesław Ochman for popularizing culture and promoting the Zelów Commune.
- 2007 - Zdzisław Tranda