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The Ferries

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In the 1950´s the compulsory presentation of passports was abolished in Scandinavia. Enterprising businessmen created a new and popular entertainment in the Sound region. Pleasure trips between Scania and Zealand.

No Passports
At midnight in July 12th 1952 the passport free conditions were introduced between the Nordic countries and the following day there was a lot a activity in the Sound, when 55.000 passengers and almost 4000 cars crossed the Sound on the ferries. The passport free conditions and the increasing motoring resulted in a further need of ferries. Gradually the ferry traffic developed into pleasure traffic parallel to the business traffic.
Routes
Routes
Helsingborg´s Dagblad, July 13th 1952
Helsingborg´s Dagblad, July 13th 1952

Pleasure Boats
In the 50´s the Copenhagen boats became a clear element in the Scanian harbours. The little white boat ”Saint Ibb” had taken ”moonlight trips” from Copenhagen to Ven, Helsingborg and Mölle. ”Stadt Kiel sailed Helsingborg/Landskrona and Copenhagen for many years, but the shipping company, who really picked up speed was the Viking Boats. Their boats sailed the Sound from 1955 to 1968. They mainly sailed from Copenhagen to Landskrona and Helsingborg, but sometimes also to Malmo and Ven. Above all they were used for pleasure traffic. The ferry ticket wasn’t always that important and they gave out free tickets everywhere. Many had so many free tickets that they were impossible to use. It was evident that that it was the food and the drink, which provided income for the shipping company.
Saint Ibb
Saint Ibb
Knut Viking
Knut Viking

The Scarlett-Boats
At this time the so-called Scarlett-boats sailed between Landskrona and Copenhagen. Their history is special. In Denmark after the war there was a lack of American dollars, which made i impossible to get American goods and American films. Thus the Danes missed the Hollywood film ”Gone With the Wind”, which was shown in Swedish cinemas in 1939. A Danish ship owner, Jørgen Jensen, had the brilliant idea of starting a cinema line. Ships were provided in 1949 for this cinema transport, which sometimes was combined with a Bakken (Danish amusement park) transport. They sailed the Swedes to Bellevue, so they could go to Bakken. And then they sailed to Copenhagen to collect Danes to cinemas in Sweden.
To begin with they went to Palladium in Malmo, where ”Gone With the Wind” was shown, but form the summer of 1949 the cinema trips went to Landskrona. While the films were showed the Swedes were taken home from Bellevue and when the Swedes were taken home the film had ended and the Danes was sailed to Copenhagen. On the way food and drink were served at low costs and there was life music and dancing.
This traffic was the background for the so-called Scarlett boats, which trafficked Landskrona and Tuborg until 1980. Scarlett O´Hara in the film ”Gone with the Wind” gave names to the boats, for instance Hanne Scarlett, Lilli Scarlett and Dana Scarlett.

The Sound Law
Many boats were floating restaurants and there was a lot of drinking. The restaurant owners in the Sound towns protested against the unfair competition as the boats could serve tax-free alcohol. In addition it was known to be quite lively onboard and the Danish and Swedish governments decided in 1961 to lessen the attraction of these pleasure trips. The Sound law, limitations in the alcohol sale were introduced and in the performing of live music. The amount of alcohol and the amount of cigarettes had to be in proportion with the number of passengers. After that the customs authorities often thought that the number of passengers did not correspond to the amount of alcohol that was sold and the number of Copenhagen boats diminished considerably.

Form Monopoly to Competition in the H-H-Line
Even Adam of Bremen established that the shortest distance between Scania and Zealand is at Helsingborg and it was not strange that the most intensive traffic landed there.
The traffic on the H-H-Line in the beginning of the 50´s was run entirely by the DSB (Danish State Railways), but in 1955 there was competition. It was the Swedish company Linjebuss (LB), who with its first ferry, Betula, began its epoch on the Sound. Betula was owned by the Swedish Sugar Factories Ltd. and sailed sugar beet cargoes between Mörbylånga in Öland and Begkvara at the Småland coast. This transport was seasonally adjusted to say the least and at other times the boat could be sued at the H-H- Line as a car ferry. Primula, Carola, Betula II, Regula and Ursula followed up Betula. The LB boats became popular and the concept of ”touring” was introduced as the name for a passage with the serving of food.
The LB-ferries was for a long time considered more cosy with their high salons, who had a nice view of the Sound, in comparison to DSB´s ”basement ferries”, where you had to sit below the car deck. On the LB you glided, but on the DSB you glided. In Helsingborg the basement ferries were called ”the U-boats”. DSB did not build a boat with salons above the car deck until 1967. It was ”Najaden”, and later the sister-ferry ”Kärnan”, ”Kronborg” and ”Holger Danske”. With this the DSB had seriously entered the competition. Another company would enter the H-H-traffic, and that was the so-called Sundbusserne”, which started traffic in March 1958. They solely aimed at the passenger traffic.
Elsinore Harbour 1955
Elsinore Harbour 1955
Primula
Primula
Najaden
Najaden
Sundbusserne
Sundbusserne

Enormous Traffic all Over the Sound
The Sound traffic increased and the harbours in the Sound had really become lively by the end of the 1950´s.
In the 1960´s the DSB ferries Dan, Helsingør, Helsingborg, Svea, Kronborg and Kärnan sailed the Sound. The LB ferries were at that time Betula and Primula and the Sundbusserne Henrik I, Jeppe, Pendula and Pernille. In addition the route to Snekkersten was trafficked by Freia and Mols. Helsingborg-Copenhagen was trafficked by Gay Viking, Rolf Viking, Laboe, Lucullus, Stadt Kiel and Sankt Ibb.
At this time 20 ships sailed between Helsingborg and harbours on the other side of the Sound. The number of boats, lines and travellers were impressing at the end of the 50´s and the beginning of the 60´s. In the H-H-line approximately 8 millions passenger were transported in 1961. In 1962 after the introduction of the Sound law, the passenger number in the H-H-line increased to 8,5 millions, but the traffic in Copenhagen diminished, i.e. the traffic that was entirely pleasure trips.
Between Malmø and Copenhagen the train ferry Malmøhus sailed, the most elegant boat in the Sound, and the Sound company´s Absalon, Gripen and Ørnen. These three were called ”the big boats”. From 1957 the Centrum Line or, as it was called initially, the New Copenhagen Line, sailed between Malmø and Copenhagen with more boats, among them the old Kalmarsund I, which had renamed Kirsten Piil and had been used on the line Helsingborg-Copenhagen, Sundpilen and MS Alte Liebe, renamed Ørestad. That same year ”Limhamn” and ”Dragør” trafficked the line Limhamn-Dragør and the route Landskrona-Tuborg was trafficked by the Scarlett-lines. This description of the traffic around 1960 does not cover all the facts, but the question is if the 1955-60 was not the most intensive, when it comes to the number of boats on the Sound.
Snekkersten Harbour
Snekkersten Harbour
The Train Ferry Malmøhus
The Train Ferry Malmøhus
Absalon
Absalon

Concentration in the H-H-line
Gradually as the motoring gained more importance the ferry traffic was concentrated more and more to the north Sound, where the distance across the water was the shortest. As the great Europe roads from Gothenburg and Stockholm met in Helsingborg, it became natural to take the closest way to Denmark. When the train ferry Malmøhus was closed down in the middle of the 80´s, there were only ferries left between Limhamn and Dragør in the south Sound parallel to the hydrofoil boats between Malmø and Copenhagen.
In 1972 more than 11 millions passenger sailed between Helsingborg and Elsinore and in 1998 more than 13 millions passengers sailed the H-H-line. It was like transporting the whole Danish and Swedish population in just one year!
The following conversation between a man from Helsingborg and a man from Elsinore took place in the middle of the 70´s.
- I think that Helsingborg is the largest passenger harbour in the world.
- I see!
- Do you know which is the second largest?
- Could that be New York?
- No!
- Could it be London?
- No!
- Could it be Dover or Calais?
- No!
- I give up, which is it?
-Elsinore!
- But then Elsinore is as big as Helsingborg!
- No... We have boats for Snekkersten!

The Future
Today (2003) the H-H-Line is trafficked by three companies. The number of boats is small in comparison with the golden days around 1960, but the number of passengers is still impressive, in spite of the emergence of the Sound Bridge. In 2002 12 millions persons travelled with the ferries between Elsinore and Helsingborg and these cities are the only ones that still have boat traffic across the Sound. The large ferries Tycho Brahe, Aurora and Hamlet have a whole different capacity than the boats in the 50´s and 60´s.
But there are those, who plan for a tunnel between Helsingborg and Elsinore.
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe

©  Øresundstid 2009