Almvik Brick-Works Museum - History in short


Almvik is situated in the municipality of Västervik, in the centre of the Tjust district in the north eastern corner of of the province of Småland. When travelling along the E22 nortward from Västervik you can soon see "Almviks Café" on your right hand. Nearby you will find an old industrial area with a carpentry, a flour mill, a saw-mill and a brick-works.

The area, with its many buildings, belongs to Blekhems Egendom, an estate which has been owned by the Nordenfalk family since 1836. The history of Blekhem dates back to the 14th century and the most important owners are, in chronological order, the Soop family, king Gustav Vasa, king Gustav II Adolf and the families J Skytte, Gyllenstierna, Posse, Lagercrantz, Lewenhaupt and Hamilton.

In the old days there was quite intensive boat traffic in the bay between Västervik and Gamleby, called "Gamlebyviken". Also Almvik had a small harbour. One of the ideas for the future is to rebuild a quay at the brick-works. This would make it possible for tourist boats from Västervik to moor there, so the passengers may visit the museum, and then sail across the bay to the recently established ship yard where old sailing ships are restored and rebuilt in traditional manners.

The old industrial area

In a nineteenth century description of the Blekhem property you can read that the stream from lake Bleken powered two saw mills, two brick-works, a flour mill as well as two nail-works. The adjacent quay is good and the water depth allows also deep going ships to moor.

From the harbour bricks and lumber was shipped to places along the coast both northwards and southwards. During the years large volumes of brick was sold to Stockholm.

During the end of the nineteenth, and the beginning of the twentieth century, there was lots of activity in Almvik. The railway station, the telegraph station and the harbour took care of connections with the outside world. The brick-works, the mills, the carpentry factory and the country shop provided work for the people. The village of Almvik, approximately half a mile south of the brick-works, had two country shops, a school and a temperance house.

Today, only the carpentry is in use. Here first class interior carpentry is made for churches, banks insurance companies etc.

The saw mill and the old flour mill are still in full working condition.

The brick-works

Bricks has been manufactured in Almvik since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Mayor of the town Västervik is supposed to have founded the brick-works around 1650. In the year of 1669, for example, 4000 bricks were supplied for the the repair of Stegeholm Castle (the present ruin, where an annual festival of songs and ballads is held since thirty years, famous nationwide). The burghers of Västervik had at that time "seven sheds at the loading site, called ´Almeviken´"

In the year of 1885 the brick master mentions in a letter that 560 000 bricks, roofing tiles and tile pipes have been produced. In 1928 the production reached 1.4 million units.

The clay was taken from an area just north of the brick works. During 1898 a small railway was built for the transportation of the clay. At first the carriages were pushed manually, but later on oxen and horses were used. In the late twenties they were forced to search for a new source of clay. This was found close to lake Bleken and as it was at a longer distance from the brick-works, the transport was arranged by means of a steam powered cable way.

The brick-works was powered by the water of the Bleken creek until the nineteen forties, when electric power was used.

The Brick-Works Museum of Almvik

The old brick-works, unchanged since it was closed down in 1971, is now a museum. An exhibition room, in a section of the old drying barn, was opened on the 7 th of June, 1998. The idea is to expand the museum successively with more rooms, objects and scenes showing the old ways of working.

The non profit making society "Almviks Tegelbruks Vänner" runs the museum and keeps it open for visitors during the summer months.

The brick-works and the old industrial area, located just north of Västervik close to the main road E22, is classified as being of national interest. This is why the The National Heritage Board has so far supported the founding of the museum with the amount of 3 million SEK, mainly in purpose of restoring the buildings.

The main museum room is displaying a grand painting by Lars Jönsson; in addition three wooden sculptures by Gösta Holmer are set out on "their" places in the buildings. These works of art were made possible by contributions from the province and from the community. All in close co-operation with the owner Johan Nordenfalk of Blekhem and the artist Åsa Frosterud-Jägerhorn from Västervik.

Åsa has also, with assistance of Örjan Molander at Kalmar Läns Museum, written the book "En tegelstens historia"(The Story of a Brick), which tells the history of brick in general and especially that of Almvik Brick-Works. You can buy it from the society at the prize of 200 SEK including postage (outside Sweden) . Click here to order the book! (Please note that the book is written in swedish)

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