Windmills in Stockholm

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Small Stampan in watercolor by A.T. Gellerstedt, 1862.

Windmills in Stockholm were already mentioned in the 15th century when a "mill mountain on Stockholm's ore" is mentioned. Two windmills are visible on the Vädersolstavlan from 1535 - one is the Helgeandshuset mill - and the painting is therefore one of the oldest illustrations of a named windmill in Stockholm. Stockholm's most famous mills are named, but a windmills name were originally nicknames (good and bad ones) that usually included the mills owners name and was created by the public. The names received a more official status when they were complied and printed on Petrus Tillaeus map of Stockholm the year 1733.

There were around 80 named windmills in Stockholm in total, and about half of them were located on Södermalm. The city's windmills had their prime time during the 17th and 18th century. They were placed on Stockholm's many hights, wills, and peaks, and marked the cityscape of Stockholm for hundreds of years. the dominating mill type was the more simple post mill, which during the 1660s and later was accompanied by the more modern smock mill. The oldest preserved post mill is believed to be Big Stampan from the 1670s; it was moved in 1882 and now exists on Kvarnbacken by today's trafikplats Rissne. The oldest preserved smock mill in Stockholm is Waldemarsuddes oljekvarn which was built in the 1780s; it still stands on its original spot on Southern Djurgården.

By the turn of the 1900s, all mills had disappeared from the inner city of Stockholm; the last one was the Holländskan at Södermalm which was demolished in 1894. The reason for the disappearance of the mills is firstly because of the Industrial Revolution, which brought a new, reliable energy source - the steam engine. Another reason is that the growing city affected new residential quarters and parks where there was no room for any windmills. Four mills were moved far outside the city center, where some stayed active until the 1930s. Överby mill is one of the few fully functioning windmills in Stockholm country. The public is invited two days a year to see how they milled grain to flour in the past.

Historical background[edit]

Early pictures[edit]

The Sun Dog Paintings windmills, 1535

The oldest image of a windmill in Sweden comes from 1514 and can be found on an altar cabinet in Värmdö church. On The Sun Dog Painting from 1535 two windmills are visable, whereas one is located on Mariaberget (to the right). The other one is located on Riddarholmen (to the left) and is Helgeandshusets mill, which consequently is the oldest illustration of a named windmill in Stockholm. The mill was one of Stockholm's early mills and is probably from the 15th century. In the 17th century it doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Types of mills[edit]

Burr mills were still common in the 17th century. Muscle power was used instead of wind or water power to crush or grind grain or fruit kernels between rocks in order to produce flour or oil. Gustav II Adolf is said to have granted tax exemption for those who used the hand mill with the explanation "it's tax enough when you grind until your arms hurt".

A post mill to the left, a smock mill to the right, named Starckan, watercolor, 1881.

There are at least 60 famous windmills in Stockholm from the 17th century. These were exclusively post mills. This type of mill, which is also the most common mill on Öland, is built on a pedestal. The roof was usually a gabled roof covered with wood shingles or boards. It was a simple and fairly cheap, but "wobbly" construction. The oldest preserved post mill is believed to be Big Stampan from the 1670s.

During the 17th century a more modern mill type was introduced in Sweden and Stockholm. The mill was common in Holland which is why its called "Holländare" in Swedish (translates into "Hollander" or "from Holland"). This type of mill is called a smock mill in English. The mill house stood firmly on the ground and only its hood and wings were rotatable. The typical appearance of a smock mill is a polygonal and almost cylindrical upwards tapering mill house. The roof is often dome-like and covered with wooden shingles or sheet metal. In larger buildings there is usually a bridge around the mill houses lower region where you, with support of a rod, can maneuver the mills top.

Tasks in the mill[edit]

The wind millers had different duties. Everyone's job wasn't to grind grain into flour, although they were in the majority. Some crushed kernels and fruits for oil and were called "stampers" or "oil-millers". Others pressed plants such as flax and hemp, so called "hemp-stampers" for the manufacturing of sails and rope, and were common in harbor- and shipbuilding cities such as Stockholm. A sawmill was previously located by Waldemarsuddes oil mill, but it burned down in the year 1849. A few mills ground cork, gunpowder, and dye. One mill used for dye production for the dyer Carl Gustaf Hoving was Klippan, a large smock mill constructed in the year 1770 on what today is Danviksklippan and was demolished in the year 1903. By replacing the millstones the same mill was able to carry out different assignments, such as to grind grain or dye with different millstones. The capacity of the mills was calculated by the amount of millstones. A small mill had one pair of millstones whereas larger mills could have up to ten pairs of millstones.

Naming mills[edit]

Mills on Tillaeus map from 1733, by Observatoriekullen. a is Spelbomskan, b is Small Stampan, c is Big Stampan, d is Big Adam, e is Small Eva, f is Gamla Rörstrandskvarnen, and g is the older Barnhuskvarnen. North is to the right.

Stockholm's more famous windmills have individual names. In the beginning, the names were popular nicknames (good and bad). For example: the mill Franckan is named after the Elder Lars Franck, Jan Erss after the construction Elder Johan Eriksson Rehn, Grubbens mill after Hans Grubb, Mosis mill after the baker Moses Israelsson, an Big and Small Pryssan after the miller Johan Persson Preutz, Schultan after the master baker Jochum Schultz, Helgan after the brewer Helge Helgesson, and Waros after the coiner Johan Warou.

Another common way to name mills is to name them "big" and "small", such as Big and Small Somens mill, Small Munkan and Big Munkan, Small Träskan and Big Träskan, Big and Small Tuna, Big Adam and Small Eva, as well as Big Tissan and Small Tissan.

The names werent official and some mills could have different names like Spelbomskan which was also called ”Lichtons mill” and ”The mill by gåsgränd”. The more popular mills gained a more official status when they for the first time were compiled and printed on Petrus Tillaeus map of Stockholm from 1733 (Tillaeus map is west-oriented). In total he listed 59 windmills which were divided into ”Norremalm” and ”Södermalm”

Location, dating, and appearance[edit]

Despite the fact that Stockholm's mills had for hundreds of years constituted a dominant feature of the cityscape, and although they were often depicted in older city views, as in Frans Hogenberg's copper engraving from the 16th century or Jan van den Aveelen's view of Kungsträdgården from the year 1700 (with 17 mills in the background), they were rarely found in address calendars or listings.

Waldemarsuddes oil mill in watercolor by A.T. Gellerstedt, 1890.

On some maps there are mills, but without names. Therefore, the Tillaeus Stockholm-covered mill listing with both name and map image is today a valuable source for the localization of different mills in Stockholm. By comparing Tillaeus map from the 1700s with later depictions and maps, such as Heinrich Neuhaus Stockholm panorama from the 1870s, good information about individual mills history is received.

Thanks to the artist and architect Albert Theodor Gellerstedts interest for mills in Stockholm, we now know how many mills looked. He drew and painted "det Stockholm, som går" during the second half of the 1800s, and before all the mills disappeared he was able to document several mills in drawings, etchings, and watercolor. Sometimes he would state the year the mill was demolished. According to the Nordic Museum, which has an extensive collection of the work of Gellerstedts, the hefty ”Holländskan” in the block Åsen on Södermalm was one of Gellerstedts most portrayed mills. However, the oil mill on Waldemarsudde is believed to be the most portrayed of all the mills in Stockholm.

The amount of work and difficult to correctly localize certain mills is shown by the historian Bertil Waldén's investigation in ”Samfundet S:t Eriks Årsbok 1925 – Tre Väderkvarnar från det gamla Stockholm” (English translation: The community S:t Eriks Yearbook 1925 - Three Windmills from the olden Stockholm). Confusion arose before Waldén clarified that Big Stampan and Big Tissan in Kälvesta wasn't one of the old Barnhusmills. Dagens Nyheter from 21 October 1924 reported that the Barnhusmills were rediscovered just outside the town. Enthusiastic readers proposed that they be relocated to their original location in Tegnérlunden, but they weren't the Barnhuskvarnar. They were never moved, they were demolished in the year 1890 when the park Tegnérlunden was being built.

Stockholm City Museum conducted a comprehensive mill exhibit in 1939 where Arthur Sjögren, among other things, wrote a list of 84 of Stockholm's steam-, water-, and windmills. In 1995 Per Anders Fogelström made a new attempt to create an uppdated and, if possible, complete overview of Stockholm's windmills supported by Sjögren's work. In his book "Ur det försvunna", the chapter "Vingar över bergen" he says: ”Någon fullständighet kan inte uppnås och uppgifterna som finns är ibland osäkra. Allt för mycket är borta, vingar lämnar inga fotspår.”

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