Flekkefjord – the Dutch city in Norway
It has been a few years since I took care of student groups in Norway as part of a SMD holiday program. A trip to the Norwegian dutch city Flekkefjord was on the program. No trace of boredom among the youngsters, rather curious discovery and amazement about their very own attitude towards life, which has quickly spread to us.
With this memory we are back here, before the actual season and curious how this snow-white Norwegian Dutch town Flekkefjord receives us this time.
Inspired by sailors – a home for sailors
About 9050 people are living here in Flekkefjord, already in Viking times came the first settlers. Strategically Flekkefjord ideally located inland huge forests and to the south the open sea. And it had large granite deposits. Already in the 15th century, the first export port was established, from the beginning there were good connections to the Netherlands.
Lumber and granite were the export hits to Holland, which has neither large forest reserves nor rock massifs. And so, above all, the granite was needed for the beginning of road construction, but also for use within the port facilities.
When Flekkefjord was granted the timber trade privilege in 1660, the first permanent settlement was built here. You can find it today as the oldest district with the name Hollenderbyen
The timber trade privilege was something of a simple city right, but Flekkefjord continued to be led by Kristiansand.
The people were given nothing in the dreamland of Norway. Seafaring provided early trading links with Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and many residents of the Flekkefjord region were inspired by seafarers’ stories of emigrating to Holland.
Flekkefjord experienced a real upswing with the herring fishery from 1826 onwards. However, the wealth of fish was of quite short duration, and from 1838 it lost its importance again. The people who remained invented themselves again and again. As a reward of much effort Flekkefjord was awarded on 8 August 1842, the city rights and, consequently, the market rights. This gave Flekkefjord its independence. The traditional experience as a port city had long established a shipyard industry
Here developed a large leather processing, but as we know today, the tanneries have had and have had a significant negative impact on the health of the workers and the waters. These were formally poisoned. And yet this branch of industry should successfully process leather for about 100 years.
In 1851, for the first time, Agdeidens Budstikke was published in Flekkefjord, the first weekly newspaper. From 1872 followed the Agder Flekkefjords Tidende, this newspaper is still published today as the second largest newspaper in the region in a circulation of over 8,000 copies. In the time of the occupation by the German Wehrmacht but rested their operation.
Burned and risen
Flekkefjord also shares a fate with many other cities, including Norway. A fire broke out in 1878 in the Brogatan (bridge road) and grabbed around. The thick wood buildings provided enough food for the flames, Flekkefjord was largely destroyed.
In the course of the reconstruction, also unaffected houses were torn and the city was restructured. From the narrow Brogatan a main road and thus also a firebreak developed.
When the steamboats entered Flekkefjord
In the second half of the 19th century, more and more steamships displaced the classic sailing ships. This had an impact on shipbuilding in Flekkefjord, but also on the connections to the south and Norway. Goods could now be exchanged much faster and travel also began. Beginning in 1870, solid shipping routes to today’s Kristiansund, to Bergen and Trondheim. Hamburg also became an increasingly important port, especially with colonial goods from overseas. For example, Flekkefjord also used this as an import port for tea, coffee and sugar, for example.
From returnees and industrialists
From about 19oo, several descendants of Norwegians who had emigrated to Holland remembered their origins and decided to return to the homeland of their ancestors. Presumably there were also many seafaring families, who were encouraged by the situation of Flekkefjord, which is now quite prosperous, to come here.
Of course, they also brought along their new Dutch lifestyle, including Dutch furniture and cheese or architecture. Also in terms of hygiene there was a quite considerable momentum for Norway by the returnees.
Much of Holland has characterized Flekkefjord and made the small town in southern Norway what it is today – the small Dutch town in Norway.
In 1901 Flekkefjord was the first power station in operation and 1904, the railway to Egersund was completed. It went into operation in the same year and was in operation until 1990. Today we have the opportunity to rent a draisine on these tracks and discover the surroundings from a very personal perspective.
Flekkefjord around eight corners
The small Dutch town in Norway is easy to explore on foot. Relaxed, it strolls through the beautiful streets. And if you look closely, you will see small turrets everywhere, as well as bay windows, the unique church tower, the fountain and the bandstand. What all these buildings have in common are the octagonal shapes. Incidentally, this octagonal shape, the octagon also adorns the classic Norwegian pullover by Dale in his Flekkefjord model.