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World heritage: The cradle of Hydro

On Sunday, UNESCO put Notodden and Rjukan, the birthplace of Hydro, on the exclusive list of world cultural heritage. "A fantastic recognition of the innovative engineering, determination and social commitment that distinguished the founders," says CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg.

The World Heritage Sites of Notodden and Tinn are practically the industrial heritage of the first two decades of the 20th century. During this time, researcher Kristian Birkeland, engineer Sam Eyde and project manager Sigurd Kloumann jointly created Norsk Hydro. Eyde and Kloumann each founded other companies, each of which should play an important role in Norwegian history. They were the engines of the second industrial revolution in Norway, creating economic growth, optimism, jobs and new industrial locations. So building Hydro wasn't just the beginning of a spectacular industrial adventure, but also the first vital drive of what was to grow into a whole new industry.

Unusual quality

«If the cross-border cooperation project of the Hydro founders is now recognized as a cultural heritage, it is not just because they have created something great and new. Svelgfoss was the largest hydropower plant in Europe at the time, and the hydraulic engineering measures to use the Rjukan waterfall a few years later were even the largest in the world. But at least as important is that the work done by the founders is of unusually high quality. More than 100 years later, we can still admire her work in its original environment and partly still in operation. This is unique on a global scale and will help put the Telemark region on the world map, "Brandtzæg explains.

As he further emphasizes, the success of the pioneers 110 years after Hydro was founded is a source of inspiration for today's bosses of the company.

«The honor of being recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site fills us with pride and humility. We build on this legacy in our daily efforts to renew Hydro for the challenges of the present and the future », explains Brandtzæg

Photo: Fjellanger Widerøe A / S

Long way

The long road to nomination was taken by the then Minister for Environment and Development, Erik Solheim, on board the old M / F "Storegut" hydro-ferry in Mæl. At the weekend, the success was shown, which was rewarded with applause from the full hall at the UNESCO event in Bonn. The work related to the application was directed by the Directorate of Historic Monuments in association with Telemark Fylkes Commune and Notodden and Tinn Counties.

The application consisted of a comprehensive presentation of the following perspectives:

  • Water flowing from the Hardangervidda plateau to Rjukan and Notodden in the east
  • Water that is converted into electricity
  • Electricity used to build a chemical process industry
  • a process industry that produces the global product of artificial fertilizers

Everything is about the history of Norsk Hydro, the beginning of the second industrial revolution in Norway, two special industrial sites and the germ of the Norwegian welfare state model.

This text is machine translated. To view the original German text, click on DE on the top right of this window

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