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Industrialization in Hellebæk

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In the 18th century industrialization stepped up in several places in North Zealand among them in Hellebæk on the north coast six kilometres from Elsinore. The point of departure was the utilization of the waterpower in the area. In Hellebæk it was the fabrication of weapons, primarily rifles to the Danish army. Hammermøllen, in the middle of the picture, was the central part in the fabrication lay out.

The Importance of Water Power
At the beginning of the building of Kronborg in the time of Frederik II, they discovered the possibilities in the utilization of the waterpower of the area, primarily in Hellebæk. In order to procure bread for the many workers they built a corn mill close to the beach, but under Christian IV they also started to become interested in other projects. When they found bog iron ore in the area, he organized a project to smelt and cultivate iron ore from here. In 1601 Poul Smelter was appointed to:
“in the new melting mill, which we have built at our castle, Kronborg, with diligence and without delay to smelt and cultivate the iron ore, which is found in the clay”.

The First Experiments with Iron Production
The iron production experiments were never a success, it was transferred to Norway instead, but the carried on forging a considerable amount of different iron material, more than 10.000 pieces of smelting goods for Frederiksborg Castle under the direction of Caspar Fincke, who was a master at the mill in the period 1622-30. There were several different products like locks, hinges, latches and grates. A copper mill was also built in the area, probably with water from Kobberdammen (the Copper Dam) as motive power, but the circumstances here are not clear. The copper plates were to be used for roof on the king´s many buildings. The total plant worked until 1650, but was destroyed by the Swedes in the war of 1658. It took another 100 years before things started up again.
The conditions for the whole enterprise were the utilization of the water resources and the extensive regulation system, which was to ensure a stable water supply all year round.

The Central Area for the Utilization of the Waterpower
The central area for the utilization of the waterpower was Hellebækken (The Helle Brook), which ran from Bondedammen to the beach with a drop of more than 20 metres. The work with damming and utilizing the waterpower system was begun in 1575 with labour from Elsinore. At first they began work on the lower part of the system, but as early as 1577 a channel between Sortesø and Klaresø (lakes) were dug. It took a lot of work to maintain the water system and the mills.
Hammermøllen
Hammermøllen
The Water System in Hellebæk
The Water System in Hellebæk

The Rifle Factory
In the beginning of the 18th century there were plans to place a rifle factory in Hellebæk, but it was not until the works was put up for auction in 1743 and regiment quartermaster Stephan Hansen from Elsinore bought it for 15.250 rix-dollars, that something happened.
Stephan Hansen was good example of a commoner, originally a farmer´s son, who with diligence and industry worked his way up in society. In connection with the building of the rifle factory he was seen as a private entrepreneur and he had the monopoly of rifle manufacturing for 20 years. In 1743 he was making a career for himself in the military and he also functioned as a grocer in Elsinore. In the period 1750-70 he also had commercial rights in the Faroe Islands. Around 1750 he built Hellebækgård in connection with his enlargements of the business.
Stephan Hansen managed to re-organize and renew the works. Old buildings were renovated, he called in specialists from abroad and built a number of buildings, among them the characteristic yellow houses in Bøssemagergade in Hellebæk, where a number of craftsmen and their journeymen lived and worked.

Contemporary Map of the Plant
In 1752 an employee at the works drew a map of the plant. The map shows the distance from Bondedammen to the coast. According to the map there were two hammer mills at this time. It is assumed that one had a so-called over drop wheel, the other as can be seen on the restore mill a under drop wheel. The original mill was rebuilt in the time of Stephan Hansen and was finished in 1765, the same year the state bought the works back.
In connection with the restoration of the mill in 1980 the enlarged mill from 1765 was reconstructed. The mill wheels were placed at the house ends. The highest wheel, 6 metres in diameter and ¾ metres in width, powered the bellows to the forge, while the lower wheel, 5 metres in diameter and 1,5 metres wide, powered two hammers, a so-called stretch hammer, whose head weighed 100 kilos and a barrel hammer, which weighed 20 kilos. There were also connections to the bellows in the loft.
Map of the Plant 1752
Map of the Plant 1752
Hammermøllen
Hammermøllen
Cross Section of the Mill Works
Cross Section of the Mill Works
The new Hammer Mill
The new Hammer Mill

An Example of the Transition from Craft to Industry
The interesting thing about the plant in Hellebæk is its character of transition form from craftsman like production to industry.
Characteristic of the craft was that a few skilled workers individually designed the products with simple tools and usually to a known market, like for instance Elsinore. In contrast the industrial industry was targeted against an unknown, or variable market and the production was divided into sub-processes and was carried out by way of machines, which was operated mechanically.

Manufacture
Manufacture was characterized with the gathering of a large number of workers in one place (building). This was a beginning division of labour, but still not a common power supply, which dictated the procedure. This production form existed in Denmark as early as the time of Christian IV in the form of state manufacturers, which were to supply the court with for instance silk products.
In this form it was a question of a national self-supplying strategy, and a “closed” market, which was to provide independence in strategic areas. Deliveries of gunpowder, bullets and so on were also characteristic and this was where the state´s interest in the rifle factory entered the picture.

Transference Industry
The transference industry primarily focused on the organization of the production with regards to the financing and sale of the goods. The production itself transferred to the workers´ homes, typically in connection with early textile production. The transferor provided raw materials for production, often also the work tools and bought and sold the goods. This production form was characteristic for early textile production in Denmark and still exists in the form of home seamstresses.
It could be interesting to try and determine what kind of factory the rifle factory was. To help this it could be useful to involve a description of the procedure:
“In order to follow the development of Hellebæk it can be useful to see, how rifles were produced and how the development in the construction of the rifles proceeded. The fabrication included rifles, ramrods and bayonets. The single parts were manufactured in separated mills and workshops. The gun barrels were forged in Hammermøllen. The iron was forged into a strip, which was a little longer than the actual barrel. The strip was bent on an anvil into a U-form. Then the iron was bent over a mandrel. The iron was heated to welding temperature and welded together over a mandrel under a water hammer with sinkers with cylindrical hollows in both anvil and hammer. When a plug was welded in one end, the barrel was ready for boring and grinding. These operations took place in special mills.
A capable smith could forge 2 1/2 barrels in one workday, probably 12 hours. Ramrods and bayonets were forged in a special hammer mill; they also had their own grinding mills. Smiths, who had works shops in connection with their houses, forged the locks and other accessories. There were also works shops for the stocks, which were made of walnut wood, or, for the less fine rifles, elm.
When the barrel was finished it was tested by the “test master” in the “the Test House”, which still exists in Hellebæk. The building was divided in two. One was brick and had a tile roof. This was the test master’s workshop.... During the test the barrels were fastened up to 50 at the time. There was a groove for gunpowder, which could be ignited from outside...”
“Of the tested rifles 4,5% were blown up at the test of a total production of 88.700 barrels and of the finished rifles 18,2% were discarded. Left were 70.000 pieces (the period 180-1819). It was therefore not strange that riflemen said a prayer before they fired a shot, and fast shooting was not possible.
However, some of the rifles that were discarded in Copenhagen were used. They were used as payment overseas, for slaves, for instance. Many of these rifles blew up rather quickly, but that did not bother the sellers”.
To Kisling´s description can be added that the master journeyman as a rule could choos from receiving raw materials (iron and coal) measured out, or get the work on contract and then pay for the raw materials. It is also assumed that the employed gunsmiths have been able to carry out all the processes in the manufacture, but in practice the singular processes have been specialized.

The State Interferes
In 1765 the state bought the plant in Hellebæk back from Stephan Hansen for the amount of 120.000 rix-dollars. In 1767 the king almost handed over the plant to major general J.F. Classen, which already had a deed on the powder works in Frederiksværk, in exchange of the yearly deliverance of 600 rifles.
However the minister of finance H.C. Schimmelmann interfered and occasioned that the plant was put up for an auction, where he bid 1.000 rix dollars over the son of Stephan Hansen and acquired the plant for 70.000 rix dollars.
Hellebæk Farm
Hellebæk Farm

The Industrial Baron
H.C. Schimmelman was, like Stephan Hansen, an upstart, the son of a Pomeranian grocer and already very rich, when he was attached to the Danish government as a financial advisor and guarantor. He arranged big loans to the Danish state and reorganized the state finances.
He himself bought the estate Lindenborg and was ennobled (baron). In this connection his purchase of the state´s sugar plantations with refineries to match in the West Indies for 400.000 rix-dollars, is also very interesting.
Schimmelmann (1724-1782)
Schimmelmann (1724-1782)
H.C. Schimmelmann (1724-1782)
H.C. Schimmelmann (1724-1782)
The Frigate Fredensborg
The Frigate Fredensborg

The Triangle Trade
With the purchase of the rifle factory in Hellebæk Schimmelmann was personally able to the characteristic triangle trade between Europe, Africa and America. Manufactured goods like guns were sent from Europe to Africa, where the goods were traded for slaves, who where sent to the West Indies. From here raw materials like sugar, which were sent to Europe for further processing. Schimmelmann also had a monopoly of the sugar sale in Norway.
Thus Schimmelmann had a share in the slave trade and one of the slave ships bore the name “Countess Schimmelmann” H.C. Schimmelmann´s son, Ernst, later worked actively for the abolishing of the Negro trade. In 1792 a transition period of ten years were introduced with a prohibition against the import of slaves to the West Indies, but they were allowed to be traded on the islands, and married couples and children could still be separated at a sale.

Muzzle Loader – an Obsolete Construction
In Stephan Hansen´s time 300 rifles were manufactured yearly, in the period 1769-1800 approximately 6000 a year. The rifle production continued through the 19th century, but during the war in 1864 the slow muzzle loaders showed themselves to be technologically obsolete and the production was abandoned.

©  Øresundstid 2009