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In the summers around 1900 Rydebäck was a meeting place for Danish artists, who spread a lot of activity and cheerfulness around the manor. In the 1970´s Rydebäck changed into a suburb, but active people want to give the area its own identity.

The Old Manor House
If you take a walk in the early part of summer in Rydebäck´s farm there is much to be seen and much food for thought. The buildings and the park have become dilapidated, but you can faintly see that a gentle hand has taken on the task to re-establish the glory of old. First of all the manor house is fantastic. It is a neo-classical building, and in some parts you can see faintly the proportion of the golden section and the plastered, light facade hints that the exterior has been renovated recently. The lonely house has a small sign on the corner; which says that a spa is run here. The yard is empty, the park is still dilapidated and the attached buildings are dressed in scaffolds.
Everything looks deserted but there are signs of life, the olden times, when Rydebäck was filled with energy and life.
Wilhelmina Heise
Wilhelmina Heise, who had bought the manor from the German sea captain Carl Holtfreter, inhabited the manor back then. Holtfreter had built the extravagant manor house in the middle of the 19th century. Before that the building had had many owners. The farm was originally a tile works dating back to the 17th century, when Christian IV had built it to meet the increasing demand for bricks for the castles, which were built at the tie in Denmark.
But in 1880 Wilhelmina Heise bought the farm. She was the widow of the famous Danish composer Peter Heise and she was the daughter of one of the richest merchants in Denmark, the consul A. Hage. Her acquaintances, relatives were all part of the establishment in Copenhagen.
The poet Carl Ploug and the sculptor Vilhelm Bissen, who were married to her sisters, were part of this circle. The actor Emil Poulsen and the much admired opera singer Vilhelm Herold were part the circle too and the musicians Viggo Bielfeldt and Carl Nielsen. And we must not forget the artist Frans Schwartz. Among the younger were Sven Poulsen, which later became the editor of the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende.
A Power Centre for Danish Artists
These figures from the Danish cultural life Wilhelmine Heise brought with her to Rydebäck, where they were regular customers in the summers. The music must have sounded from Peter Heise´s old mahogany piano and the songs must have filled the great halls. Not te mention the discussions in the salons, in the park and on the beach, discussions, which probably was about culture and politics. Frans Schwartz´s reading aloud from the works of Kipling and Dickens also deserves mention. In the wee hours you could hear Wilhelmina ”aunt Ville,” sing her husband´s songs, perhaps most often the favourite ”I skoven er saa stille”. In a side wing lived poor children, who played in the kitchen garden. On the estate you could also see the manager of the agriculture and cattle. Rydebäck was a cultural centre in the cultivation of the land as well and the arts.
After the death of Wilhelmine Heise (1912) the estate was inherited by her nephews and one of the, C.F. Hage, became the manager of the estate. His heirs rented the place to the count Gösta Wachtmeister in 1948, but in 1963 the estate was sold for houses.
The Manor as Seen From the Sea
The Manor as Seen From the Sea

The Projecting of a Large Villa Town
Several building companies were behind the involved in the management of Rydebäcks estate, among them Göran Bengtsson Byggnads AB in Råå and Sulcus in Malmø. Sulcus was a subsidiary company of the then AB Skånska Cementgjuteriet. The area was 2.200.000 square metres. In the project it was stipulated that it must be a very chield-friendly area with littel traffic and large green areas. It also had to be different types of houses in different parts of the area. At the time Rydebäck was part of the Vallåkra municipality, whom the building companies cooperated with in the project. When Vallåkra was joined with Helsingborg in 1970 the works was delayed because the new partner had to study the work.

“The Million Programme”
The projecting and the development of Rydebäck coincided with the so-called “million programme”, which was a Swedish housing political programme, which was launched by the parliament in 1965. The goal was that a million houses was to be built in Sweden in a ten-year period (1965-74). Since the 50´s there had been a tiresome lack of houses in the country and now this was to be swept away effectively. Through a governmental loan system, which demanded huge projects, the housing areas often became monotonous. New building standards also contributed to the standardized impression. Even though Rydebäck was sold for housing before the introduction of the million programme, the governmental building standards and the demand for great scale guided this project. However, in Rydebäck they did not build the number of houses, which was normal in the million programme, but it was villas and apartments, which came to dominate the area.

”What a Ghetto”
The building activities started in 1966 and the building of villas was divided into different stages. The plan was to finish the area in 1975, but it was delayed. In spite of the delay the villa area sprouted up very quickly. It is said that a minister, who visited Rydebäck in the end of the 70´s said: ”What a ghetto”
In 1982, 15 years after Göran Bengtsson had built the first houses, there were almost 1200 villas and 200 apartments in Rydebäck. That meant homes for 1400 families. Twelve years later (1994) Rydebäck had a population of 4.470 of which most lived in one-family houses. In twenty years a large suburb has grown in the place, where a circle of the Danish cultural elite met in the summer.
The suburb characteristic is reinforced by the fact that there is no big employer in the area. However, in 1974 they opened a centre with a school, shops and a library. These buildings were designed quite functionally and not much weight was put on the architectural design. But the addition of the commercial and social service made some local employers establish themselves there. The Rydebäck centre has since then been extended and lately the Kvistofta parish have built a new church.

Rydebäck Today
How is Rydebäck these days? In the residential neighbourhood you notice the street names, which have been named after islands, but not just any islands. Any librarian will inform you that all the islands, which have given names to the streets, have a lighthouse. Evidently a lighthouse-interested person had been given the task to come up with these names.
If you take a walk in the area in the early part of summer there is no ghetto. Where are all the houses? It has been said that this is one of the largest villa areas in northern Europe! After a while you see that the different neighbourhoods are hidden in the landscape and the ghetto experience from the 70´s is entirely gone. The green, the light fields and the Sound strike you. It is more like a nature experience. But all the villas are there, hidden in the trees and bushes. In the green areas and the football fields children play soccer and on the beach children are playing.
It almost feels like a holiday area.
But it is a suburb. Earlier they said that Rydebäck is the largest part of town without a centre. But today the activities around the school, the church and library, the shops and the sports field have generated a sense of community in Rydebäck.
But other things are happening. At the beach there is a small inn. A new railway station has placed the area on the map and further plans for the future are made. They want to renew and extend the centre area and ideas have been inspired by Staffanstorp, but also by Denmark, of how to create a Rydebäck that can become its own and not just a suburb of Helsingborg or Landskrona. Can the dormitory town be awakened to the vigorous life in the manor house a hundred years ago? Can the suburb be transformed into a small town?
Rydebäck Street
Rydebäck Street
The Church
The Church
The Railway Station
The Railway Station
The Building Continues
The Building Continues

©  Øresundstid 2009