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Halland’s oldest mill site – Lennart Hildingsson

The small community of Rydöbruk is Halland’s oldest mill site. 1742 is often seen as the starting year, when an iron mill was built next to the river Nissan – at Knystafors.

In the 1830s, a hand paper mill was added, which at the turn of the last century was transformed into a pulp production on a larger and industrial scale. It was also a period when the social environment we still see today emerged. During the 1900s, the mill environment was expanded with a sawmill, foundry, chipboard and carpentry factory.

Today’s social environment is marked by the imprint left by large-scale industry, such as sulphite pulp mills, which came around 1900. This was also a time when the population multiplied, due to skilled industrial workers migrating to Rydö from different parts of the country.

The mass period lasted less than 50 years. From the 1940s and onwards, various types of manufacturing industries were active in the facilities originally created for the large-scale industry, such as toy factory, mechanical workshop, sawmill, foundry, interior carpentry, etc. Of all of these, only the carpentry is still in operation today.

Today the original industrial facilities remain on site in significant part, but in varying degrees of disrepair. In recent years, however, these facilities have gained the interest from the hospitality industry, through the addition of restaurants, bakeries and a hotel.

The variety of activities in the settlement has left its mark on its inhabitants. The inhabitants of Rydö have had to get used to changes, sometimes revolutionary. There is one story, for example, about the mill workers’ disappointment when they, after the closure of the mill in 1945, were offered a new job carving and assembling small wooden toy cars, instead of boiling logs into paper pulp as they were used to.

Seasonal water shortages, declining economic conditions and labor conflicts could also stop machines and factory activities for long periods, which is why inhabitants of Rydö had to be prepared for anything and had to rely on ingenuity to manage their living in changing situations.

Folk movements and association activities have had and still have a strong position in Rydöbruk. Today, there are roughly 400 residents living in the small town – still oscillating between various kinds of ups and downs in the community.

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