Iron Works Gästrikland

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There are innumerable iron works near us, and they can be interesting to visit, soak in the atmosphere, and read about on the way-signs describing the history. Here are a few:

Wij Gardens: once had an iron works and a mill-race to provide energy. The works building is now a shop selling a wide range of local products. This page (only in Swedish) provides historical material, including The Iron Lady of Sweden):

Mobydalen: Has its own website (click on language to change to English). It is worth watching the photographs as they come up. You can see the dam which produces the water power to drive the trip hammer.

Högbo: The Bessemer Process was invented by Henry Bessemer in England, but the first to successfully use the process to make steel was a  Swede, Göran Göransson.  The Iron Lady was active here too in her time.

“Bessemer licensed the patent for his process to five iron-masters, but from the outset, the companies had great difficulty producing good quality steel.[9] Mr Göran Fredrik Göransson, a Swedish ironmaster, using the purer charcoal pig iron of that country, was the first to make good steel by the process, but only after many attempts.” ( Initially Göransson was based at Högbo Bruk which is now a leisure park with walks, skiing, canoeing, and a range of accommodation alternatives. But he moved his operation to the town of Sandviken, where he founded the company Sandvik, now a multinational corporation:

There is a further British link in Sandviken, the architect Ralph Erskine, who was responsible for a considerable amount of its architecture. Sandviken Municipality has a website devoted to Erskine’s work.

Some mill towns, like Mobydalen did not grow, others declined into ruins. Yet others became recreation areas like Wij and Högbo. A few, like Sandviken with 37,000 inhabitants, became large towns. More information on Sandvik and the Bessemer process – in English – is found here.

Other aspects to Swedish Mill Towns: Many were founded by Walloon entrepreneurs. See Quality weapon making was the reason for their being sought after during Sweden’s Great Power era. At least one Mill Town had learned the secret of making damascened swords: Wira Bruk, near Stockholm.

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