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Helsingborg – swiftly

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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.
„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

Sturzen-Becker
If Malmo in the 1880´s and the 90´s had a socialist mouthpiece in Axel Danielsson´s “Arbetet”, Helsingborg had from the end of the 1840´s a radical-liberal platform in the newspaper “Öresundsposten”. Very early he spoke for the abolition of the Assembly of the Estates of the Realm, for the republic and extended suffrage. The demands for increased freedom and the diminishing of injustice were constantly recurring in the columns and tirades were shot at the church and at the time not least the well-known teetotaler and vicar, Peter Wieselgren. After Scandinavism had been toned down at the end of the 1860´s, the newspaper supported the independence of Norway and thus worked for the dissolution of the Union.
Öresundsposten had great impact in the country and became difficult for the state. The criticism against the monarchy, the injustices and the Union, resulted in the intervention of the authorities and the newspaper was closed down several times, but rose again, like Aftonbladet, with a new name. This is why the name w Öresundsposten as changed from Öresundsposten to Allmänna Öresundsposten and later changed name to Nyera Öresundsposten, and, when that was banned, to Nyaste Öresundsposten.
Sturzen-Becker
Sturzen-Becker
Öresundsposten
Öresundsposten
Peter Wieselgren
Peter Wieselgren

The Propandagist
Öresundsposten was founded in 1847 by Oscar Patrik Sturzen-Becker, who very early turned it into the primary forum of Scandinavism in Sweden. He had worked in Uppsala and Stockholm as a writer and publicist. After having broken with the romantic ideals his literary activities became more realistic and he became the radical liberalism’s frontrunner. As a Scandinavist he wanted to make Swedish culture known in Denmark and he lectured in Copenhagen in the 1840´s.
He was on the side of August Blanche in a savage battle against the writer Carl Jonas Love Almqvist. In spite of this he supported Almqvist, when he had to go underground because of the charges against him in connection with he poisoning of a usurer in Stockholm. Sturzen-Becker hid Almqvist in this home in Helsingborg and later helped him escape across the Sound. Almqvist never returned to Sweden. When Carl Jonas Love Almqvist died in 1866, Sturzen-Becker wrote a poem, where rehabilitated Almqvist as a romantic and simultaneously reminded of the June morning in 1851, when Almqvist fled to Elsinore..

Fredrik Borg
Fredrik Borg, who is one of the most important persons in the history of ideas in Sweden in the 19th century, took over Öresundsposten in 1855. He was born in Landskrona in 1824 and after studies in Lund, where he very early was introduced to the continental radicalism, he worked in Stockholm as a writer and publicist and there he founded the first Socialist workers´ society (1850) in Sweden. He came to Helsingborg and Öresundsposten with recommendations from Lars Johan Hierta from Aftonbladet. The cooperation between Borg and Sturzen-Becker was not always frictionless, but the relationship between Borg and Wieselgren developed into friendship. Borg remained a romantic and never ceased to dream of a better world with freedom and justice as ideals.
Fredrik Borg
Fredrik Borg

The Radical
In July 1858 a big Scandinavistic meeting was held in Ramlösa and thousands of Danish participants were greeted with kettledrums and trumpets in the harbour of Helsingborg. The city had been decorated with flags and there was an intense festive atmosphere was prevalent. The meeting was not only a Scandinavistic manifestation, but developed into a strange history of ideas. Almost 12000 Scandinavists had gathered in Ramlösa, where Ploug, Ahnfelt and all the other Scandinavism-enthusiasts held speeches. Fredrik Borg mounted the platform and presented his view of women, which made the listeners gape. He explained that he thought it unfair to see women as “mother, wife, mistress”, while men at the same time not only was seen as “father, husband and lover”, but also as a fellow citizen and he demanded civil rights for women and the same rights to education and working life.
This was an equal rights policy, which was way ahead of its time, and Borg was the first to demand women suffrage in parliament in 1884, when he was active as a member. But his proposal was not met with sympathy for his convictions and it took 35 years before the parliament introduced women suffrage. The speech in Ramlösa was way ahead of its time and it was brilliant. Borg struck a note, which was to become a recurrent theme in Öresundsposten. The speech was printed in the paper July 16th 1858 and some of it is reported here as a source, but we cannot help quoting the ending here: “ Put her in the sunlight, in whose warmth her loving nature can bloom and yield fruits for society”.

Progresses and Friends
In Helsingborg Borg was at first plagued by the narrowness of the small town, but committed himself more and more to the development of the town as councilman as well as a member of parliament, and he subsequently became quite pleased with the change and development of Helsingborg. In the beginning of the 60´s he felt so “patriotic” that he bought “a comfortable and well-situated house near the town square”.
It is not to be forgotten that Borg – and not only the consuls – were instrumental for the origin of the railways in Helsingborg. It was also partly to Borg´s credit that the city had a new city library and a new theatre in 1877.
The Helsingborgsposten as well as Helsingborgs Tidning tried to overthrow Borg, but the harsh attacks from the competitors only led to the increase of subscribers for Öresundsposten. But Borg had more friends, which a comprehensive correspondence shows. Viktor Rydberg, Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, Lars Johan Hierta and Björnstjerne Björnson were all intimate friends and with the latter he cooperated intensively in the fight for the independence of Norway. Borg developed, perhaps because of these friendly connections into a pure liberalist and broke with the class-thinking of Socialism.

Other Effects
In the wake of the strong urbanization many things happened. We have already mentioned the city library and the new theatre, which by many were viewed as the most beautiful in the country and which insensitive politicians almost a hundred years later let become dilapidated and had torn down. But even sports made its entry. In 1868 the first international rowing regatta in the North was held and Karl XV, Prince Oskar and the Danish crown prince were there. The same year the Olympic Games were taken up again, the Swedish athletic championships were held in Helsingborg and in the same time around the first Swedish championship final in football was played, also in Helsingborg. (Örgryte won). Already in 1898 the sports ground Olympia was opened, which became one of Sweden´s most classic sports grounds.
Nobody can claim that the city was not going fast. Even in Stockholm there was surprise and in Aftonbladet shortly after the millennium you could read the following accurate description of the development of Helsingborg:
“It is like a fairy tale that Helsingborg in less than a generation has risen from a “hole”, who got by on a little overland trade and shipping, a little craft and a lot of trickery, to one of the largest and lovely cities, blossoming through the fruits of the far-sightedness and initiative of a few men."
The Theatre
The Theatre

©  Øresundstid 2009