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Expanding towns

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The 18th century became a heyday for especially Elsinore and Landskrona. In both towns magnificent buildings in the rococo style were constructed.

In Elsinore it was the Custom House building at the then Custom House Square (the present Wibroe Square) which was the life-blood of the financial life of the town.

Elsinore – an Enterprising Market Town

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Elsinore painted from the balustrade in Marienlyst Castle. In the background Hven is clear and in the foreground the large ropemaker company, which spread from the inner city all the way to Marienlyst. It is an example of the great business activity, which marked the town in the second half of the 18th century.
Increased thoroughfare in the Sound and increased income from this was an important basis for the prosperity in the so-called Florissant period from 1750-1850.

The Florissant Period
Elsinore was markedly debilitated by the war and the plague in the beginning of the 18th century and in 1735 there were only around 3400 inhabitants. But henceforth it entered, like the country as a whole, a time of prosperity, which lasted the rest of the century. The time is known as the Florissant Period and refers to a flowering in connection with a rise in the foreign trade and to a lesser extent a development of the economic life.
In the case of Elsinore it was primarily a question of increased earnings and trade as a consequence of an increase of the thoroughfare in the Sound. This may be illustrated with a number of key numbers. In the 16th century no more than 300 ships passed through, in the 17th century the number was 1500, and in 1750 the number is approximately 5000 ships yearly, in the 1790´s approximately 10.000. During the Napoleonic Wars the number drops catastrophically, but in the 1840´s the number is 20.000 ships yearly. The income from the Sound duty, which until 1771 went directly into the king´s private chest was in the 1730´s around 200.000 rix dollars, in 1780-1790´s around 500-600.000 rix dollars.
Elsinore
Elsinore
Profile of Elsinore, 1754
Profile of Elsinore, 1754
Prospectus from 1763
Prospectus from 1763
Map From 1778
Map From 1778

The Supply Situation
In a regulation of June 25th 1735 all prefects were instructed to send in surveys of the economical situation in the provinces and the towns. The interest was concentrated around “Wherein any town and district´s trade and business consist”. In a general report, written by the aldermen Andreas Becker and G. Hvid, the state of the town was briefly described, for instance that the surrounding agricultural areas produced corn to the extent of approximately 500 barrels of seed, that meat was imported from Scania and foods in general from other provinces. Thus the town was not able to live on the valleys of the surrounding areas.
Only a few larger companies were mentioned, a tannery and a tobacco spinning mill. The guild organized trades were enumerated and a big problem was evidently “...the intervention from moonlighters and soldiers and the garrison, which easier can give their work for sale, than taxes, which are prescribed and commanded”.
Six merchants in the town complained that brewers, workmen and ferrymen, besides doing their job also traded uncontrollably and they suggested a tightening of the regulations for business practices in the town. Perhaps that was also contributory to the fact that the establishing of a merchants´ guild. At first only with Danish members

The Commercial Thinking
Another report is interesting because it held improvement suggestions in harmony with the commercial thinking of the age, where they tried to achieve a positive trade balance through aiming at private production and self-sufficiency, most often in the form of monopolies on foreign trade and production enterprises. This view point is expressed in the paragraph 12 of the report:
“All over we should try not only to preserve the money in the country, but channel them, so we can earn something of the foreigners, which is the gains and the advantage, of which there is no doubt the country will prosper the most”.
Self-sufficiency was thus the leading theme, but in paragraph 6 the significant coupling of business and social politics is evident:
“The poor, which are found in great numbers in the streets, could be provided for in this manner, when they were employed for the work, which they do best, where manufacturers are established and continued, here the old and the disabled earn their support and earn their bread, by spinning, by carding wool and other work, which is to be found, and perhaps at first it will seem difficult and unaccustomed, it will be best in time, when the poor provide for themselves by working instead of finding their living by begging.”
Such a policy had been practised since the time of Christian IV in the state businesses, which produced luxury textiles. One single attempt was done, when a number of orphans were referred to the rifle factory in Hellebæk. Moreover the mayor Tevis Wilde suggested in 1770 to establish a cotton-spinning mill with the poor as labour, but it did not come off.

The English Merchants
A reference to foreign inhabitants in paragraph 8 is relevant, because the town mistrusted the growing number of foreigners, primarily English merchants, who profited from the increasing thoroughfare and trade of the time. The took over most of the trade with English ships, refused under the cover of consular status to pay taxes and had problems with the established merchants´ guild of 1744.
One interesting example was the sea captain John Daniel Belfour, who wanted to establish himself as a merchant in the town in 1786 and seeks membership in the merchants´ guild. He was refused, but then he applied the chancellery for the right to run a business outside the guild. He was refused, but the central power ordered that he be admitted in the guild after he had taken a trade licence.
Belfour was an interesting figure because he did not only stick to the trade, but also invested productively in a Dutch gin Brewery and a tannery. Brewery was a freebooter area, because many, who were organized in other guilds, performed this function. Belfour was thorough, called in Dutch specialists and obtained a loan from the state. The business was good, in one single month he was able to sell 21.536 quarts and the success continued, in spite the fact that the spirit brewers in Elsinore complained about him in 1799.
Belfour was an active gentleman, who did not let himself be stopped by the resistance of the guilds in this and other areas.

Jean Jacob Claessen
Another figure deserves mentioning. The merchant Jean Jacob Claessen came from a rich family, his father was mentioned in 1756 as the only one in town, who owned ships for foreign trade, and like him he married into another prominent family in town, the van Deurs family. In 1784 he applied for the laying out of a shipyard with a matching anchor smithy and ropewalk.
The shipyard did not come off, but it is interesting that Claessen attains a special position in relation to the smithy and ropewalker guilds, which at the time did not exist in Elsinore. Claessen also had plans for a bigger harbour, which could promote the foreign trade, but the state did not wish to support this activity. In 1764-67 the first real harbour was built, the existing ships´ bridge was extended, added an arm and in addition built a northern arm. An extension did not take place until 1824.
The Harbour
The Harbour

Other Industrial Businesses
Other early industrial businesses in the century were lacquer factories, a hard cloth and cotton wool factory, a starch and powder factory (1785), a soap factory, a vinegar factory and a tobacco factory. None of these had a lasting importance in contrast to a couple of sugar refineries, which were built form 1760-70, and Adam Späth´s beautiful rococo building at Svingelport still exists, as an example of early trade building.
Sugar Refinery
Sugar Refinery

New Buildings
The rising activity and trade towards the middle of the 18th century marked the town in different ways. In the years 1740-42 the customs building was built, designed by the architect N. Basse in a baroque-rokoko style, which also marks other contemporary buildings in town. The increased wealth can also be seen in the extensive building of new, large private houses around the town.
Rasmussens Yard 1780
Rasmussens Yard 1780
Det Claessenske Palæ 1791
Det Claessenske Palæ 1791
Stephan Hansen´s Palæ 1760
Stephan Hansen´s Palæ 1760
Oversæt
Oversæt
The Custom House 1742
The Custom House 1742
Painting of the Custom House
Painting of the Custom House

Ferrymen and Public Houses
The Flourishing period made the many ferrymen and pub landlords in Elsinore prosper. In Elsinore´s ”new” street south part you can still see a number of these solid built half-timbering houses. In the 1970´s there was an interest in keeping and restoring these historical houses. For example the public house "Ankeret" i Strandgade 27 and the public house "Norske Løve" in Strandgade 19-21.
The Anchor
The Anchor
Strandgade 19 restoration 1
Strandgade 19 restoration 1
Strandgade 19 restauration 2
Strandgade 19 restauration 2
Strandgade 19 restauretaion 3
Strandgade 19 restauretaion 3

The State of the Towns - Landskrona

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King Fredrik I allowed the new town plan of Landskrona in 1749. A town plan, whose starting point was a new military fortification. This involved the demolition of a church, which was almost as big as the impressive cathedral in Lund. However, the total vision was never realized – for financial reasons.

The Towns - Landskrona
Not only the Scanian country had fallen behind in the development. It was also the case with the Scanian towns. You get a hint of the mutual importance of the towns as market towns, because Linné mentions the number of citizens (grocers) in every town. Malmo had 350, Lund196, Landskrona 150, Helsingborg 130 and Ängelholm 70-80. In the 1750´s Malmo was the only town, that Linné considered important.

The Development of Landskrona
In Landskrona Linné admired the big and beautiful church, “which should be reduced in favour of the new fortification”. At this time they had renewed the idea of further development of Landskrona. Linné described this endeavour in his Journey in Scania:
“...now stone streets are built into the ocean on the southern and western side. Between these the neighbourhoods are to be filled and the town founded, so the ships can moor along the houses in a safe harbour. This is a works, which is Herculian and which other kings and potentates cannot imitate.”
The New Town Plan of Landskrona
The New Town Plan of Landskrona
The Fortification of Landskrona
The Fortification of Landskrona
The Mayor´s House in Landskrona
The Mayor´s House in Landskrona

A New City Plan
In 1747 the Swedish parliament had decided that the town again was to be fortified with a new, strong citadel in the little island Gråen outside Landskrona. From this island a fortification was to protect the harbour and the new town, which was to be built south of the old. In 1749 Frederik I had approved of the new town plan, which then had a rectangular shape.
The castle architect Carl Hårleman from Stockholm left his stamp on the buildings.
As great parts of the town was build outside the beach line a system of channels were to drain the area. The channels were built after a Dutch model, when a street was laid out between the houses and the channel, like Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

The New Church
Hårleman was also the man behind the new church, which was started in 1754, but was not opened until 1788. The church was named Sofia Albertina after Gustav III´s sister.
The old Gothic church, which was almost as big as Lund´s cathedral, was demolished. It was felt that the church was too close to the old fortress, and it was feared that an enemy could occupy the church and from there fire at the fortress. Furthermore the church was dilapidated and contained a lot of building material, which could be used for other projects. Both strategic and economical reasons lay behind the demolition of one of the most magnificent churches in The North.
The Old Church in Landskrona
The Old Church in Landskrona
The New Church in Landskrona
The New Church in Landskrona
The New Church in Landskrona
The New Church in Landskrona

A Half Completed Town
The work on the new Landskrona made slow progress and simultaneously became too expensive. When Sweden´s finances became scarce during the war against Russia in 1788, the project was closed down and the new town was only half completed. In spite of this Landskrona had a typical 18th century mark and today there are many buildings from the time, when they tried to create a modern town in the spirit of the time.

©  Øresundstid 2009