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Porsgrunn - A travel report by Terry
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Porsgrunn,  Norway - flag Norway -  Telemark
10229 readers

terje's travel reports

Sawdust, sailships and noble gentlemen

  14 votes
Page: 1 2
Like Stavanger, Porsgrunn has a strange background for its founding, and since 1653, the times of changes has swept over this city, transformed it from a quiet river mouth to the most powerful industrial center in Norway.

Welcome to Porsgrunn, my city of birth
Welcome to Porsgrunn, my city of birth
It is a quiet town, located where the Telemark Canal enters the salty sea. It all started in 1653, when the sawmills of neighbouring medieval city (the big brother) Skien discovered that the river was mudded by sawdust and impossible to sail. The customs office was relocated to the river mouth, and together with the Kings officers came merchants and crafters.
In 1807, Porsgrunn was officially named a city. At most, there were 15 shipyards in Porsgrunn, and more than 100 sailships were built in the great era from 1866 to 1880. Unfortunately, being big is not good for disovering new impulses and technology. This was the industrial revolution time, and steel ships and steam engines were soon to outnumber sailships. Despite this, in 1890, the most famous ship in Norway, the steel-barque Skomvær was built in Porsgrunn in 1890.
Just at the time when the shipping industry went downhill, a new industry saw daylight in Porsgrunn, porselain.
It is a coincidence that the name of the city is so simular with products from burned kaolin and feltspar. The city is named after a plant, the Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale), whose norwegian name is Pors. Porsgrunn means "the area where Bog Myrtle grow".
Anyway, the porcelain factory was founded by Johan Jeremiassen, who was married to shipowner Chr. Knudsen. He stayed in Karlsbad to cure his illness and became aware that most ingredients in porcelain was found near Porsgrunn. The rest of the ingredients could be tranported with the large number of ships in the city. With financial help from his father-in-law, the famous factory started production in 1887.
In 1927, Norsk Hydro started production at Herøya, later to become the major industry hub in Norway employing more than 5000 people.
Later, the cement-factory in Brevik was added to the list of important industry. Again the geology of the area, with large deposits of limestone, was crucial.
These 3 industries together makes Porsgrunn the most important port of Norway.

Favourite spots:
City Hall
City Hall
If you want to learn more of the shipping history, and of Skomvær in particular, a visit to the maritime museum, located next to Down Town shopping mall is needed.
The porcelain factory across the Porsgrunn Bridge, also has a visitors center, where you can observe the production and decoration of royal china. If you ever stumble across china from Porsgrunn, look for blue printing under the objects, which means it is old and very rare.
Another side of Porsgrunn is the science and educational growth. As the number of industrial employees decrease, the reseach center at Herøya (Norways largest) adds a new perspective into the 21. century. The campus at Kjølnes and Vallermyrene is simulatiously growing.
In 1901, whe city hall called Kammerherreløkka, burned down. The local architect Haldor Børve (look for my Børve photo album) was aked to design a new city hall. The result is absolutely worth seeing, a mix of reneissance and jugend style, with rich artistic design, inside and outside

What's really great:
Porsgrunn Porcelain Factory
Porsgrunn Porcelain Factory
Halvor Børve also designed the catholic church in Porsgrunn, build to support the many german workers at the porcelain factory. Is is inspired by medieval stave churches.
If you enjoy local sport, Porsgrunn has a history of having one of the best handball teams in Norway, Urædd Håndball. If you like soccer, make sure you see Pors Grenland playing. There is also a tradition for track-and-field, particularly shotput and discus. These events takes place at Kjølnes stadion.
I have already mentioned geology, and for those interestes in looking for rocks, there are rich possibilities in the area, particularly if you move south to Bamble and Kragerø.
Brevik, a little town south of Porsgrunn, is referred to as the first southern norway town, and from here you can go with public or private boats for trips in the great archipelago of islands. Ask for the socalled "Bukkespranget" if you have a chance to do this,

Hotel Vic in central Porsgrunn
Hotel Vic in central Porsgrunn
There is a few hotels in the area where you can stay.

Located in central Porsgrunn:

Located in Brevik:

Located in Langesund:
Also with a waterpark.

Other recommendations:
Besides the persons already mentioned, there are many big names in norwegian history, and in social/cultural life accociated with Porsgrunn. Here's a few:
Christian Michelsen - statesman
Jahn Otto Johansen - reporter/journalist/writer
Bjørg Vik - writer
Petter Stordalen - present day investor
Kristin Halvorsen - present day minister of finance
Georg Andersen - shot-putter/police
Bent Svele - handballplayer/TV-commentator
Tommy Svindal Larsen - Soccer player
Stephen Ackles - artist

and of course myself.... hehe

Enjoy your stay in Porsgrunn!!

Published on Tuesday May 16th, 2006

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Fri, May 19 2006 - 12:27 PM rating by st.vincent

Interesting historical information and a nice read.

Fri, May 19 2006 - 05:28 AM rating by gloriajames

Its interesting how a report can tell u something abt a place u have no idea that exists! A good effort.

Thu, May 18 2006 - 02:43 AM rating by marianne

Your photos give a good impression what Porsgrunn is like. The description gives lots of background information but not much practical information. You did not quite convince me to visit.

Wed, May 17 2006 - 02:47 AM rating by mistybleu

Intersting report, very historical and descriptive.

Tue, May 16 2006 - 06:51 AM rating by rangutan

Very informative but very way out for world travellers! Very important for European and regional travellers though.

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