World Heritage in Notodden and Tinn is effectively the industrial legacy of the first two decades of the last century. It was at this point that scientist Kristian Birkeland, engineer Sam Eyde and project manager Sigurd Kloumann created Norsk Hydro. In addition, both Eyde and Kloumann founded several separate companies that played central roles in Norway's history. They boosted the second industrial revolution in Norway, promoting growth, optimism, employment and new industrial cities. For the creation of Hydro was not only the beginning of a spectacular industrial adventure, but also the first viable manifestation of what would be an entirely new industry.
- Now that the pioneering collaboration project of Hydro's founders can be awarded the World Heritage seal, the reason is not just that they have done something great and innovative. At the time, Svelgfoss was one of the largest power plants in Europe, and a few years later, the hydroelectric development of the Rjukanfossen waterfall ended up being the largest in the world. Even more important was the fact that the work done by the founders was characterized by exceptional quality. More than 100 years later, we can experience what they created in the original location and, in part, still in operation. Worldwide, there is nothing like it, and this will help Telemark province to leave an even more evident mark on the world map - says Brandtzæg.
He points out that today, 110 years after the founding of Hydro, the success of the pioneers serves as a great inspiration for the leaders of the company.
- The exceptional recognition that inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list fills us with both pride and humility. Working every day to innovate Hydro in the face of current and future challenges, we continue to build on that legacy - says Brandtzæg.
It was Erik Solheim, the then Minister for Environment and Development, who, in September 2010, on board the old Hydro M / F “Storegut” ferryboat in Mæl, started the nomination process which, at that end of week was crowned with applause and full support from the UNESCO meeting in Bonn. The work on the application was conducted by the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage of Norway, in close collaboration with the Telemark province administration and the prefectures of Notodden and Tinn.
In the detailed request, they presented the story about the following:
- the water from the Hardangervidda plateau that flows east to Rjukan and Notodden;
- water that turns into electricity;
- the electrical energy that is used to create a process chemical industry;
- a process industry that produces fertilizers, a global product.
It all concerns the history of Norsk Hydro, the beginning of Norway's second industrial revolution, two very special industrial communities and the beginning of what has been called the Norwegian model of social welfare.