I have been lucky enough to receive from my Dad this week some photos of my Grandma and extended Norwegian family growing up in Sauda in the 1940s.
The photos are from a collection of over 2000 photographs provided by many families and institutions within the town, including the archives of the Electric Furnace Products Company, and is a fascinating insight into life in Sauda.
Sauda is a municipality of Ryfylke located in western Norway. The town itself sits at the head of the Saudafjord where the high mountain plateaus and valleys to the East create a large basin for water capture. Orthographic rainfall, when clouds are forced to rise by the mountains, provides a ready supply of water along over 50 rivers and creeks linked together with numerous small and large mountain lakes.
This has made Sauda particularly popular among pioneers of developers of hydroelectric power, and electricity is still being generated today.
The area’s industrial heritage also extends to metal production that started under the Electric Furnace Products Company Ltd, a subsidiary to Union Carbide from 1915 until 1977. The original plan was to produce carbide, but after only a short period, the company started producing ferrous alloy.
The company developed Sauda in a fashion not dissimilar to British factory owners during the industrial revolution.The ‘New Town’ project, Åbøbyen was a purpose-built part of town, that benefitted company employees and represented an innovative philosophy in housing.
It was built by the company between 1916 and 1970. Åbøbyen provided blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and bourgeoisie members of the upper-crust leadership housing in a well-organized part of town. Streets, pavements, alleys of maple and lime trees, blended beautifully with housing, tennis courts, athletics fields, schools, parks and club houses. The company saw to it that Sauda was provided with a proper hospital that catered to its inhabitants. Åbøbyen today is a protected part of town.