Town on the bank of the Dnepr

At the border of the 19th and 20th centuries Zhlobin turned out to be situated at the crossroads of not only the most railways but waterways as well
Rare travellers, who happened to be on the damp bank of the river Dnepr in the 15th century, just sadly slopped along. The damp spot was called or nicknamed Khlepin. A couple of centuries later, while sailing down the river fugitive convicts settled down on the right bank. Since then Khlepin was notoriously known as a bad place, because in search for food brigands attacked boats, which tried to sail down the river. It is unknown whether the brigands or a dangerous curve of the river gave the name to a castle, which appeared at the spot in the 17th century, but since then the castle and the borough around it was called Zlobin (evil place). The unwelcoming name was later transformed into the Belarusian town of Zhlobin.

…In summer 2001 in Zhlobin the territory of the new Saint Trinity temple, which had been built to replace the former one on the bank of the river, was being accomplished. During excavations workers found a grave stone with a clear inscription, “Here rest the remains of railway engineer’s wife Melitina Fridrikhovna Gaydayenko. She was born in 1873, died in 1912”.

You can imagine how the citizens respected the railway engineer to bury his wife not in the common graveyard but in the church yard, where only clergymen had been buried since times immemorial. You bet! Built in the late 19th century, Libava-Romno railway turned Zhlobin into a station with its own steam engine depot. A small borough in Rogachev district became connected to the most important economic centres of Russia — Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Warsaw and the Baltic ports of Riga and Libava. 500 lucky residents of Zhlobin and the neighbouring villages got enviable jobs. The annual salary of the railway station master was 900 roubles, ticket cashier — 360, track foreman — 480. Even the salary of the switch tender, which totalled 240 roubles annually, was quite decent in the late 19th century—early 20th century in Russia.

Meanwhile, local ethnographer Nikolai Shukanov found out that in 1906 secretary of Zhlobin railway section director was indeed Alexander Alekseyevich Gaydayenko. His spouse was buried in a crypt. Shukanov found witnesses, who told him that the coffin cover had been translucent and the body had ever lied in natural flowers. Candles were always on in the crypt, people often saw Gaydayenko descend in the crypt with a prayer book. In 1917 the coffin disappeared from the crypt and the engineer went abroad, presumably to England.

At the border of the 19th and 20th centuries Zhlobin turned out to be situated at the crossroads of not only the most railways but waterways as well. Flour, herring, dried fish, sugar, salt, wheat, kerosene, building stone, timber — all kinds of goods were transported by Dnepr! Besides, it took a day for non-steam vessels to get to Rogachev!

Do you think craftsmen and traders could fail to grab their chance? Right on the river bank they set up a market, where every year on Holy Protection Day fairs began. Due to some reason they were called Vyazemskiye. Old-timers remember that to become a market trader, one had to present a gift, though the history has no information about the person such gifts were meant for.

“Traders had to wear white clothes only, selling unpackaged goods was disallowed”, specified head guardian of Zhlobin Culture and History Museum Vera Bychkova. “An interesting fact: there were lots of Chinese among the traders!”

Next to the market square there was a church. The street which began with the market square and ran along the river was named Church Street. It was the beginning of the road towards the district centre — Rogachev — and also set direction to the south. Every summer Empress Catherine II used the road to travel to Crimean resorts. It gave the street a second name — Catherine Road — which became more popular with the people than the first one. Traditionally before the empress arrived the borough was cleaned with special eagerness. Street residents had to decorate the street with flowers. Those who did not have gardens, hurried to take flowers from their neighbours and plant them.

…Once a noisy main street along the Dnepr is now covered by the green shade of century-old trees. Karl Marx never was here, but since times immemorial the street bears his name. The road has not been used to go to Crimea and visit the market for a long time. But in the end of the last century a most beautiful temple appeared here just like many centuries before…

by Tamara Zenina
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