Industrimuseet Frederiks Værk
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Macropedia - history of Frederiksværk
|Frederiksværk is located in northern Zealand, on the
narrow stretch of land between Denmark’s largest lake,
Arresø and Roskilde Fjord. In the 1717-19, on what was
just bare land haunted by sandy winds, a canal was dug
to secure sufficient outlet for the Arresø Lake and at
the same time one of the best supplies of water power in
Denmark was created.
Compared with most other Danish towns, which have a recorded history of a thousand years, Frederiksværk is young. Nevertheless, it boasts a remarkable history: along the lines of well-known English factory villages such as Coalbrookdale, New Lanark and Saltaire. It is a planned town with industry as its essence. Once Frederiksværk housed the national armament industry and was the greatest supplier of military equipment to the Royal Danish Marine and Army.
In the 1720’s an agathe polishing mill was built at the eastern part of the canal, close to the lake. In 1751 the French engineer and blacksmith Etienne Peyrembert was summoned to produce cannons from wrought iron, an adventure that proved extremely expensive and left Peyrembert with an enormous debt to the Danish state – and no useful cannons. At that time Frederiksværk was still barely a town, consisting only of a few industrial buildings, workshops and a scattering of dwellings.
The real breakthrough was made by the general J.F. Classen, who first in collaboration with a partner and then on his own created a prosperous industrial society. In the centre was the enormous casting house, Gjethuset and around this a large number of dwellings, often in combination with workshops. A new canal and an extensive powder works with a number of mills and other buildings were built. J.F. Classen created a plan for the whole area, planting trees, constructing roads etc.
Later, Frederiksværk continued as a more traditional industrial town with extensive iron works. In 1868 the iron manufacturer Anker Heegaard enlarged the production complex and produced loco mobiles, steam engines and glazed iron pots and pans in large numbers. The first Danish-built steam engine was constructed in the Frederiksværk workshops in 1828 for use at the relatively new copper-rolling works, which was originally founded by an English engineer, Th. English.
In 1940, The Danish Steel Works – Det danske Stålvalseværk - was built on an artificial island in the Fjord and Frederiksværk became the only Danish town of true modern heavy industry. It was the only steel works in Denmark handling scrap metal and supplying the Danish Industry with rolled steel, especially for shipbuilding. It also had market shares of more than 50% for other products. The old industrial city now has a population of around 15.000 people, and it celebrated 250th anniversary I 2006.
The Creation of a Museum of Industry
The town of Frederiksværk has recently established a new museum, The Frederiks Værk Museum of Industry (Industrimuseet Frederiks Værk). It started in October 2004 and began planning new exhibitions, developing an open-air museum and creating a wide range of activities.
Already in the 1920’s the idea of creating some sort of museum in Frederiksværk was brought forward and in 1935 the old military depot building, The Arsenal, was opened as the town museum. Later on another old building was added to the museum. In 1965 the army’s Powder Works, based on gunpowder works from 1758, was closed and the older parts on both sides of the canal were made into a working museum of powder production. Because of the danger of powder production, the works consisted of many small buildings spread over a large area surrounded by banks of earth to protect the other workers from the blast, which would eventually occur.
The powder works was no longer producing gunpowder, but its machinery was in working order and partly powered by a Poncelet water wheel from the 1850s. The Powder Works Museum is probably the best preserved gunpowder works with intact machinery from the 1800’s anywhere in the world.
Despite of these many museum units, the museum with the name of Museum of the Frederiksværk Area never really dealt with the history of this unique industrial society. Efforts were focused on the archaeological field, and though important, this was hardly the best thing to do in an area like Frederiksværk. The former museum also ran a museum farm outside the town.
Following a time of crises the museum came under close scrutiny from the National Danish Culture Agency, and the museum’s prime supporter, the county of Frederiksværk expressed the need for a change of focus. In 2003 the museum went bankrupt, and the staff was dismissed. A group of experts on industrial history and the history of technology then outlined a new vision for an industrial museum, and new foundations were laid down describing the scope of work for the new museum. In August 2004, state recognition (followed by important annual state founding) was achieved, and The Frederiks Værk Museum of Industry was ready to be launched.
The vision and goals for The Frederiks Værk Museum of Industry
First and foremost we want to make the industrial heritage of Frederiksværk accessible to a larger number of people. We want to make people aware of this fascinating history of early Danish industrialisation, and we also want to show both residents and visitors a coherent history with an international perspective and tell the story of a town whose destiny has been combined with industry and technology – for better and for worse, until today.
The museum staff has an in-depth knowledge of industrial history, and the right connections to other - Danish industrial-historical - museums. In the comming years the museum will create new exhibitions and seek to overcome the barriers between museum exhibitions and the physical spaces of the town.
The idea is to combine modern media with a town that is so rich in the remains of the last 250 years of industrial history: exceptional industrial buildings, workers’ dwellings and the canal that was the basis for establishing the factory village of Frederiksværk.
As part of the project to tie together the museum units and the physical town, we are currently planning the development of activities to attract children and adults alike, and the development of the powder works area just outside the Powder Works Museum. This area consists of a large number of both small and large buildings dating from the 1760s (e.g. the charcoal barn) to the 1950s (one of Europe’s most modern nitrocellulose factories) all originally belonging to the powder works. This area is remnant of the charming and well-known Swedish ‘bruks-environments’, rarely seen in Denmark.
The Frederiks Værk Museum of Industry participates actively in a number of museum forums and in the Danish museums’ collaborative pool for museums dealing with industrial history and handicraft. The museum director is the chairman of The Society for the History of Technology and editor of the only Nordic periodical on the industrial heritage, Fabrik & Bolig (Factory and Dwelling).
It is our goal to be known as a modern and lively museum, which has created an environment that makes it worthwhile spending a whole day exploring the industrial past of Frederiksværk and its surroundings. The region is one of the most beautiful in Denmark, and it has a very large area with summer dwellings that attracts thousands of guests and tourists every summer.
Industrimuseet Frederiks Værk | Torvet 18 - 20 | 3300 Frederiksværk | Tlf. 47720605 | email@example.com