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The Consuls

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In the course of the 19th century Helsingborg developed from a coastal situated city to an important – according to Swedish conditions – industrial and trade city.

Helsingborg – swiftly
„For my part I am inclined to follow those, who put Helsingborg before all else. Not because it is not possible to find landscapes more grand, just as scenic and striking at first view, but because this one interests me more in the long run. The other Swedish landscapes have grandeur, are pleasant and what not; But they have no life, they have this primeval silence, this sacrosanct solemnity, which seems pathetic in the moment, but becomes suppressive at length; here you have a painting with figures, a moving, constant varied and renewed scene; it is a nature, which is not tiresome, but you can associate with it instead of just admiring it. Get up early one spring morning, when the sun is upon the Danish coast, in these gardens, boldly situated here and there in the changeable cut cliffs, under whose shadows Helsingborg is laid out; get up, if you will, and view the Sound! This ocean, which is but a river here! But a river with hundreds of ships, East- and West Indian Sea faring ships, Americans, Britons, line ships from Archangel, fruit ships from the Mediterranean! View this blackboard, so alone in kind, so full of colour and emotion, and so dramatic.”
Thus Patrik Sturzen-Becker depicted the small town of Helsingborg in 1851, a town, which then had around 4000 inhabitants.
Helsingborg 1880
Helsingborg 1880
1860
1860
1900
1900

Consul Olsson
At this time a young man from Fleninge worked as a shop assistant in town. This young, deeply religious man’s name was Petter Olsson and he once asked the vicar, Peter Wieselgren, if he could become a priest. Since this was an expensive education and Petter Olsson was poor, Wieselgren advised him to become a teacher instead. But Petter Olsson went another way. In 1853, the year the Crimean War broke out, he dared to start his own business in corn.
England, who was in the war on the side of the Turks against the Russians, did not get enough corn during the war and a great deal of Olsson’s corn stock went to London, where the horses needed power in order to pull trams, among other things. The profit was good, of course, and with the optimism of the future, which was a mark of the 19th century, Olsson began to build an empire. He also realized the need for good communications in order to transport corn to the storehouse in Kullagatan, where he also lived and he also realized that a good harbour in order to carry the oats to the horses in London. (He did not only have his home in the storehouse, but it was also used as church service hall for the revivalist meetings he held.)
Petter Olsson
Petter Olsson
Workers
Workers
he Harbour 1893-94
he Harbour 1893-94
Consul Olsson´s Granary
Consul Olsson´s Granary

The Infrastructure
Through his municipal activities Consul Olsson could press the questions concerning improved communications. In the period 1865-85 he contributed to making it possible for Helsingborg to have railway lines in every direction. At first to Billeberga-Esløv, then to Hässleholm and to Åstorp and Värnamo. Thus the city was connected with the big railways and had railway lines to Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. At the same time the harbour was enlarged and made deeper with more new basins and Sweden´s first train ferry connection to abroad was opened on the H-H- fairway in 1892.
The enlargement of the harbour had en effect on the Helsingborg shipping business and at the end of the century the city had the third largest merchant navy. Petter Olsson started more industries, among them tileworks, the steam mill and the rubber factory, where Henry Dunker later would start the rubber shoe fabrication. He was enthusiastic about the development of the city, but also about Evangelical religion. The mission building on Kullagatan was built thanks to Petter Olsson. He was throughout his life faithful to his religious beliefs and said that he would make Helsingborg to “a city, which honoured God”. His large family spent the summers in the leisure villa “Öresundslyst” on the Danish side of the Sound.

Consul Persson
Another young man came from Allerum into town and also started to work in a shop. His name was Nils Persson and he was outgoing and sociable man. Even he dared to open his own business and started to import fertilizer, which he sold to the farmers. He started to speculate about the opportunities to manufacture on his own and soon founded “Fosfaten”, a fertilizer factory on the south side of town.
The profits were of course good and he expanded his empire, adding the copper works, where he used and processed by-products from the phosphate factory. He also started the team tile works, which was a lucky venture, since Helsingborg and Copenhagen were to build heavily in the latter part of the 19th century. (He manufactured red tile unlike Olsson´s yellow and in town they often discussed which areas the two gentlemen occupied, and yes, they could see it on the tile.) Persson donated an area on Södergatan next to the churchyard to the city, and this was to be used as graveyard, and the profits were to go to “pauvre honteux”, the needy in Helsingborg.
Nils Persson
Nils Persson
The Phosphate Factory
The Phosphate Factory
The Industrial Area
The Industrial Area

The Town of the Consuls
Olsson and Persson ruled the city. They had large industries, participated in the management of the city and also sat in the parliament. Important persons were often given consul titles and this title was given to Olsson as well as Persson. At the turn of the century Helsingborg was called “the city of consuls”. These two men were very similar, when it came to initiative and business, but privately they were opposites. While Olsson lived a simple life in his apartment next to his storehouse on Kullagatan, Persson led a dissipated life in the luxurious villa near the hospital. Olsson spent his leisure time studying the bible, while Persson visited Ramlösa. Olsson was a teetotaller, Persson was not.

Moving to Helsingborg
The two consuls´ businesses speeded up Helsingborg. Between 1860 and 1900 the population was increased five times and no other city in Sweden could show a population increase like that. In the years 1850-1920 the population of Helsingborg increased with 1149%, while the neighbouring city, Landskrona had an 493% increase and Lund a 346% increase. Malmo was close by with an increase of 867%. (The banishment of the Sound duty in 1857 also benefited Helsingborg on the expense of the nearest neighbouring city, Elsinore.)
It is said that the flow of people to Helsingborg at times was so heavy that the city´s registration office could not keep up. The vicar sometimes was so exhausted that he had to leave the pen. It is evident that the appearance of the city changed because of the active building activity. The trend of architecture at the end of the 19th century was richly represented in the city. The neo-classicism and the neo-renaissance are evident along Järnvägsgatan, Trädgårdsgatan and Drottninggatan, and the neo-Gothic style is exemplified in the Town Hall, the GA Church and the Nicolai School. The large influx of workers resulted in the building of a great deal of workmen’s houses, especially in the south part of town, where the industry was located.
A Clash of Style
A Clash of Style
The Town Hall in Helsingborg
The Town Hall in Helsingborg
The Gustav Adolf Church.
The Gustav Adolf Church.

Consul Trapp
Another man with a consul’s title deserves mention as he was engaged in preserving the old Helsingborg in the transformation process, which was taking place. Oscar Trapp, who lived in Frederiksdal, was interested in history and this interest combined with a municipal involvement resulted in the renovation and restoration of Kärnan, the Maria Church was renovated and excavations at some of the old middle age churches were carried out. He was also instrumental in the preservation of Jakob Hansen´s house from the 17th century. He was also the man behind Sweden´s flag. As a member of parliament he proposed that the flag should have certain nuances and not nuances of yellow and blue varying from flag to flag. His motion was carried and thus the Swedish flag in the 1906 law on the flag of the realm, got the colours it has today.
Oscar Trapp 1847-1916
Oscar Trapp 1847-1916
Fredriksdal
Fredriksdal
Oversæt
Oversæt

©  Øresundstid 2009