My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

Discovering Beckholmen – wonderful sights

Beck 1

Me and my two blogging friends – we got to know each other via our blogs – decided to meet on a sunny Sunday in September and explore something that was new to us and our cameras which was easier said than done. We all have that strange habit of walking around all over the city with our cameras, but we finally agreed that Beckholmen was the perfect choice.

Beck 2

What is Beckholmen then? “Beck” means “Pitch” and “holmen” is “the islet” in Swedish, in other words an islet where pitch was made. In 1631 Albert Schmidt got permission to produce pitch there and the location was well chosen, because handling of pitch and tar was indeed a fire hazard and all such activites were strictly forbidden within the city limits.

Queen Kristina donated the islet (and more land just what was considered as outside the city back then) to the city of Stockholm in 1647, expressing a wish that the city would build warehouses and sheds that would be useful for the town and its inhabitants. This didn’t seem to affect the production of pitch and there was a shipyard nearby who needed the pitch to keep the ships’ hulls watertight.

All buildings on Beckholmen were destroyed by the huge fire in the Katarina parish in 1723 – the wind had carried sparks across the water, however, everything was built up again the next year.

At the end of the 1840’s, the number of steamships had increased considerably and the shortage of drydocks became a problem for shipowners and merchants. As a result, Stockholm Wholesale Dealers’ Association bought Beckholmen in 1848 and had two drydocks constructed there by Nils Ericson, brother of the inventor John Ericsson. In 1904 one of the drydocks had a length of 102 metres and the other one was 99 metres long.

The Swedish state bought Beckholmen in 1918 on behalf of the Navy. Another drydock was built in the 20’s and it has a length of about 200 metres after lengthening. It was named after king Gustaf V. The Navy used Beckholmen until 1969 when all repair and maintenance works moved to a new base on Muskö.

After the Navy came Finnboda Shipyard who used the docks on Beckholmen for repair works on icebreakers. The drydocks were taken over by Beckholmens dockförening [Beckholmen’s Drydock Society] in 1984 and they still run the activities there, even though Gustaf V’s dock still has the character of a commercial shipyard.

Beckholmen also holds a record that I find hard to beat. The warship VASA which capsized on her maiden voyage in August 1628 was docked in there when salvaged in 1961 for tightening of the hull and giving the archeologists a chance to carry out the most necessary works before she was moved to the temporary museum. Many objects from her were stored on Beckholmen while awaiting conservation.

(facts from Swedish Wikipedia, translated by me)

Beck 3

Stern part of an old tug in the drydock

Beck 4

It’s hard not to take a look through the windows. So many interesting and exciting things to see…

Beck 5

I have no idea of what this is, but I liked the shape of it

Beck 6

A painted propeller

Beck 7

A couple of photos of steel propellers

Beck 8

Beck 9


2 responses

  1. Great walk around in Beckholmen. I don’t know if I like the rust or propellers more, so perhaps I just like both subjects very much.

    08/10/2009 at 14:34

  2. Staffan H

    Lynn: Thank you – and there is more to come soon, very soon… 😀

    08/10/2009 at 18:15

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