Port of Norrkoping
Review and History

The Port of Norrkoping lies at the mouth of the River Motala Strom at the Braviken Bay about 54 nautical miles from the Baltic Sea in southern Sweden. About 133 kilometers southwest of Stockholm, the Port of Norrkoping is an industrial city once famous for its textile industry. In 2005, almost 125 thousand people called the Port of Norrkoping home.

Port History

Rock carvings from the Late Bronze Age suggest that humans have lived in the area of the Port of Norrkoping for thousands of years. The modern city was first settled in the Middle Ages.

The first written mention of the Port of Norrkoping in the 12th Century referred to a church. In 1283, the wife of Valdemar I of Sweden, Sofia of Denmark, gave her salmon-fishing rights to the monastery at Skanninge (Swedish) some 70 kilometers west of the Port of Norrkoping. Records suggest that the city was founded in 1350 and chartered in 1384, and the settlement grew around the falls and rapids on the Motala where people could use water-power to run their mills.

Several battles took place on the site of the Port of Norrkoping, destroying the medieval city. During the 16th Century Northern Seven Years’ War, the whole of south Norrkoping was burned down and rebuilt by John III of Sweden. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Port of Norrkoping exported grain, iron, hides, timber, and nails to Baltic customers and imported wine and beer, fish, linen, hemp, and cloth.

In the early 17th Century, a weapons industry appeared in the Port of Norrkoping, and the harbor began attracting large ships seeking trade with the industries located in Finspang (Swedish) some 17 kilometers inland from the Port of Norrkoping. At the same time, the textile industry was established. By the middle 17th Century, the Port of Norrkoping was the second biggest city in Sweden with about six thousand residents.

The Port of Norrkoping was burned in 1655 and in 1719. Stones from the old Johannisborg Castle were used to build new houses in the city. The Port of Norrkoping was rebuilt again during the 1700s, and several new industries came to the city.

There were three sugar refineries in the Port of Norrkoping, and a large snuff industry was booming. Some structures remain from this period. By the middle 1700s, the Port of Norrkoping was becoming an important city. The Swedish Riksdag met there in 1769, and King Gustav IV of Sweden was crowned there in 1800.

The 19th Century brought new fires to the Port of Norrkoping. After 1826, wooden houses were not permitted in the city. In 1841, the ship industry was born. By 1850, over 600 people were employed, making it the biggest ship industry in Sweden. Throughout the 19th Century, the Port of Norrkoping prospered. New industries started and expanded.

A cotton refinery was built by the Motala, and the city got a paper mill in 1854 that is still operating today. With the Port of Norrkoping’s textile industry thriving, the port imported much raw wool from Britain, and more than 70% of the country’s textiles were produced in the Port of Norrkoping (which came to be called the “Manchester of Sweden”). In 1863, a new harbor board was created to manage and maintain the quays and cranes in the Port of Norrkoping, and port customers demanded an improved access channel. Near the end of the century, the Port of Norrkoping was expanded.

Industry continued to grow, particularly textiles, through the first half of 20th Century. In 1907, the Port of Norrkoping’s first stevedoring company was founded by a local consortium of businesses. By 1950, 65 factories employed 6600 people in the Port of Norrkoping. However, competition from other countries led to the closure of 18 of the factories by 1956. In 1962, the modern Lindo Canal was opened, leading to a significant increase in traffic calling at the Port of Norrkoping.

By 1970, only ten factories remained employing only 1200 people. Even the 350-year-old Holmen paper mill closed, putting another 900 people on the unemployment rolls. Hoping to soften the economic blows, several government offices were moved from Stockholm to the Port of Norrkoping.

In 1974, the city bought a quarter interest in the stevedoring company Norrkopings Stuveri. For the rest of the 20th Century, the Port of Norrkoping’s economy remained relatively stagnant. However, with ocean-going commercial vessels growing larger, the Port of Norrkoping built the 1983 Pampus Terminal, a new outer harbor, that could handle deep-draught ships. In 1991, the Port of Norrkoping and its stevedoring companies merged, creating the Norrkopings Hamn Och Stuveri AB, to achieve economies of scale and improve operating efficiency.

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the Port of Norrkoping is recovering, becoming a cultural and educational center for southern Sweden. Today, the Port of Norrkoping is one of Sweden’s major ports. The port handles a large portion of the total value of imports and exports moving through Swedish ports.

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