Industrial buildings

Caption 2: Drammen ca. 1900, with Bragernes square in the centre of the picture. Photo: Drammens Museum.
Caption 2: Drammen ca. 1900, with Bragernes square in the centre of the picture. Photo: Drammens Museum.

The Norwegian coast exhibits different types of concentrated nonagricultural settlement: Agder county along the southern coast has its outports and small sailing-ship towns. In the wider skerries of Western Norway lots of inns and trade landings gave way to small shore settlements with a steam-ship agency, shops, a post and telegraph office, and fish-landing facilities if far enough out on the coast. As well, there were some typical fishing villages, such as Røvær, Espevær, Fedje, Kalvåg, and Måløy. The core area for fishing villages was the stretch between Nordmøre and Trondheimsfjord, and then especially the coastline from Lofoten northwards.

Fishing villages are usually divided between those with permanent occupation and those with seasonal fishing shacks. In a seasonal village such as Skrova in Lofoten, there were in 1880 as many as 214 shacks and 16 lodging houses, with space for 2400 men. In addition came all the buildings and quays for landing and processing the catch, as well as the houses of the landowner and the few other permanent residents. For a long time most of the products from the northern Norwegian cod fisheries were exported via towns such as Trondheim, Kristiansund, Ålesund, and Bergen.

Up till at least 1900 rows of large wooden packing sheds were the dominant feature of the oceanfront of these towns. Wharfside warehouses also characterized the sea frontage in towns like Stavanger, Bodø, and Tromsø, as well as several smaller towns with staple rights. There were also groups of large warehouses in fishing villages in Western Norway and in the good herring fjords in Nordland county.

Even though the design may vary from district to district, most of the warehouses were made of logs with cogged joints and had a hallway or gallery. The exception was Stavanger, where most of the warehouses were constructed during the herring boom in 1808–60. Here a timber framework was used, which was a cheaper and more flexible method of construction. When merchants in both Stavanger and Bergen erected new warehouses out in rural districts, following the herring as it moved north, they used the same technique.

A number of these buildings were even moved from place to place: “the coast’s construction barracks”. In Agder there were far fewer large warehouses than in the west and north. In the large timber-exporting towns there and along Oslofjord one found instead the level lots used for outdoor storage of timber ready for shipping. (Click to see picture)

Picture: Drammen ca. 1900, with Bragernes square in the centre of the picture. Whereas the sections of the city centre that burned down in 1861 in Stavanger, a herring and seafaring town, were rebuilt in wood with narrow streets, two conflagrations in one decade in the similarly sized timber and seafaring town of Drammen resulted in reconstruction in brick with wide streets and the laying out of one of the country’s biggest and most monumental squares.
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