Bente Rytter:  Hårupskoven

Sejs-Svejbæk Lokalhistoriske Forening modtog i juni 2009 en række spørgsmål fra to sociologistuderende fra Utrecht, som sammen med deres danske underviser og deres medstuderende havde været på feltarbejde i landsbyer mellem Skanderborg og Silkeborg.  Kenneth Wijngaarde og Roger von Starreburg skulle beskæftige sig med Svejbæks udvikling og talte med flere i området, blandt andet Carl Strunge, som gjorde dem opmærksom på, at der eksisterede en forening, der arbejdede med Svejbæks historie.  Jeg har på mit bedste engelsk prøvet at besvare deres spørgsmål, som i teksten er fremhævet i fed skrift.  


Bente Rytter

Sindbjerg Mosevej 26


DK-8600 Silkeborg


Dear Kenneth Wijngaarde and Rogier van Starreburg.


Your field research on Svejbæk sounds very interesting. We hope you will send the result of your studies to us, when it is finished.  I just wonder – why Svejbæk?  I shall now try to answer your questions and also to tell a little more about this site.


You ask for Real sources: It is a pity that you don’t read Danish.  You will find nothing in English (as far as I know) about Svejbæk.  But anyway take a look at our homepage under profiles.  Here are pictures and texts about 3 profiles, who has meant a lot for Svejbæk.  Edvard Egeberg was a writer.  He wrote a lot of novels about the earlier history of Silkeborg and surroundings.  His brother Sigurd Egeberg was a builder. He is the man behind a lot of houses in Svejbæk Station (the small white houses built for the workers at Træskofabrikken in the beginning of the 20th century).  Most of them still existing.  Some made bigger.  He also owned a grocer’s shop – and he had a lot of daughters.  Another Egeberg-brother – the youngest – Holger was a gardener and had a gardener’s shop in Svejbæk.  The Egeberg-brothers were born in the village of Linå (early spelling Linaa).  Their father and before him their grandfather were teachers there.  Elisabet (Lisbet) Jørgensen –Edvard’s grandchild – living in his house – Edv. Egebergs Vej 3 until February this year - now 90 years old – has told and written about her family and told about people and their houses in Svejbæk.  If you at the homepage under “Søg på siderne” write Elisabet you shall find pages with a lot of pictures from both the old days and nowadays from Svejbæk.


The third profile from Svejbæk is the fisherman Laurs Christensen.  He was the first to build a house near the lake (at the peninsula Holten).  People thought he was crazy to build a house near the water because of the mosquitoes.  Nowadays it is very attractive to have a house near the lake.  The house still exists looking still the same belonging to his greatgrandchildren using it as a summerhouse for all the families.  He learned fishing from his father and was a fisherman until he died in the 1950’es.  He sold his fish to the restaurants along the river and the lakes and at the market in Silkeborg.  It is said that he was the man, who invented the famous “Svejbæk-aal” (aal = ål = eel), which tourists came from all over the country to eat at restaurants like Svejbæk Færgegård (at the other side of the lake), Onkel Peter’s Hus (the house of uncle Peter – now Ålekroen = the inn of eels) and Ludvigslyst.


Some history: What we today call Sejs Hede (Sejs Heath) is just what is left of a huge heath between the lakes Julsø, Borresø and Brassø to the south , the two bigger forests Linå Vesterskov to the east and Nordskoven to the west and the main road to Århus to the north.  If you came to Sejs Heath about 1850 you would look over a vast area with heather, low birch-trees and willows, blueberries and cranberries and reindeer-moss, perhaps a little grass.  Maybe you would meet a shepherd with his goats, cows and sheep.  A man from Copenhagen ( a relative to the founder of the papermill in Silkeborg) – was here in the summer 1850 and visited Sejs Heath several times.  He wrote about the nature and the people, he met, in his diary: “Adolf Ludvig Drewsens dagbog under hans ophold på Silkeborg”.  The book is only  published in Danish, but very interesting from our point of view.  I know for sure from the census in February 1850 that there were exactly 9 households (43 persons – 26 adults and 17 children under 16 in Linå-Sejs (this name is explained below) at that time. 


Sejs Heath were for centuries common for the two villages Linå (Linaa) and Hårup (Haarup). Springtime, summertime and in the autumn you would meet the shepherds (like Drewsen did) from the villages.  In the morning after the milking they would bring the goats and the cows to the heath and bring them back in the evening.  The sheep would stay the night over at the heath with the shepherd or some young boys.  The eastern half of the heath belonged to Linå and the western half to Hårup.  In the late 1700’s the government decided to make an agricultural reform all over the country, the so called “udskiftning”.  The farms should no longer be placed in villages and the fields should no longer be cultivated in common.  Some of the farms were moved to other places in the outskirts of the villages.  This happened here from 1796 and on.  That meant that commons like Sejs Heath no longer belonged to all the farmers but was matriculated to certain farms.  The western part – the Hårup part was divided between, I think, about four or five farms and became later on, what we today call Sejs.  The eastern part, the Linå part, became what we today call Svejbæk, but that name was only used from about 1890 or maybe even later.  Until then the places were called Hårup-Sejs and Linå- Sejs.  In the matriculations numbers (land register) you can still see this.  Land (the sites) in Sejs is registered under Haarup By and in Svejbæk under Linaa By.  The borderlines between Sejs and Svejbæk are the roads (from the lake) Enebærvej, Borgdalsvej and Langdalsvej.  Nowadays most people in Sejs and Svejbæk believe, that Sejs Søvej near the church is the borderline between Sejs and Svejbæk.


Answers to your questions:


  1. Svejbæk.  There is and there was never a city or even a village at the south side of the lake. There was a place with one or two farms (depends on which year) and a few houses called Sveibæk Huse (huse = houses).  The name Svejbæk comes from a creek  (in Danish “bæk”) near Svejbæk Huse..  From the beginning of history the lakes and the river were used for transportation.  From mid 1800’s railroads were built and the government decided about 1860 to built a railroad across Jutland from Århus.  There were discussions about where to place it – up the hills along the main road or down along the lakes.  As you see the last was followed.  Next point to discuss were where to place the stations.  Between Silkeborg and Skanderborg there was no doubt about Laven and Rye.  Both villages were placed in the hills, but the stations were in the low land.  Around the stations came quickly houses with shops and craftsmen, a motor mill and so on.  The towns around the station were called Laven Station and Ry Station.  The villages got the names Gammel (old) Laven and Gammel Rye.  But what about a station between Silkeborg and Laven?  First it ended up not with a station, but a stop (holdeplads).  Years later when the factory was built it became a station.  Why there?  Because of tourism, the boats (Hjejlen etc., Himmelbjerget), the short way to the other bank.  The place where the stop was, had no name and there were no houses. Therefore the name from the opposite side of the river Gudenå, Svejbæk was used.  It took about 30 years before houses were built near the station.  The locals did not use the trains (two trains a-day),   If they wanted to go to Silkeborg they used their rowing boats or they walked.

1926-1972 there was a stop in Sejs.  A stop means that the trains only stopped, when there were passengers to or at the stop.

The short answer is, that the city didn’t move to the other side.  There is still a Svejbæk at both sides.  Nowadays the south side is called Svejbæk Færge even there is no ferry, just a rowing boat.  If you want to cross the river, the camping site has a written obligation to bring passengers from one bank to the other in a rowing boat. (I know it is used, but I don’t know the ticket price).


  1. Hotel Ludvigslyst has had a long and chequered career.  From the reformation in 1536 when the crown took over the properties of the catholic church until 1840 the area was owned by the University of Copenhagen.  In 1840 it was bought by the owner of a bigger farm in Laven.  Later on (about 1856) the first judge and chief constable in the new town of Silkeborg, Mr. Drechsel, bought it. He sold it in 1876.  All these years Ludvigslyst was a farm run by tenants.  The next owner decided to make a summer restaurant and later on Ludvigslyst also became a summer pension.  Around 1900-1940 Ludvigslyst was a very popular place.  Writers, painters, actors, business people spent their summer at Ludvigslyst.  Ordinary people came walking or by train, bike or boat bringing their own food and buying their drinks from the restaurant.  A playground for the children and for some time even a zoo.  During WW2 Ludvigslyst became a recreation place for German mariners and after the war a place for German refugees from East Prussia.  They ruined the buildings totally, and Ludvigslyst never became the same, even different owners tried to do their best.  At last it was bought by Silkeborg kommune (kommune = municipality).  Until 1970 Svejbæk (and Sejs) were part of Linå sogn (sogn = parish), but a reform brought Linå Sogn into Silkeborg kommune.

About 1990 Silkeborg Museum, Silkeborg kommune, the society of hotel and restaurant owners and the union of hotel and restaurant workers decided to make a working hotel and restaurant museum at Ludvigslyst. But – some influent politicians in the council of Silkeborg kommune wanted and want to make Silkeborg known all over the world as a “kurby”, like Spa in Belgium for rich people, you know wellness, mud baths, etc.  In 2008 they decided to close down the museum, demolish the old buildings and build a modern hotel at the site.  Lots of protests and arguments from the people of Svejbæk and Sejs didn’t make any difference.  The house was emptied and the local population got a path along the lake to calm them down.  But then an incident happened that even politicians can do nothing about – a global economical crisis, so what now?  The answer is blowing in the wind.


  1. The kind of people first living in Svejbæk.  This question  can be understood in different ways – what is first?  You are doing a field research of the town of Svejbæk.  Therefore I’ll begin at the time, when Svejbæk started to be a town – in the latest part of the 19’s century.  There were some bigger and smaller farms, among them a small farm owned by Strunge Jensen’s great grandfather Peder Jensen, who drowned in 1891 on his way from Silkeborg in his rowing boat.  At Ludvigslyst lived Christen Rasmussen with his family.  He came from a poor family on the other side of the lakes, but he was a clever businessman and had earned enough to buy Ludvigslyst, a farm with license to run a restaurant and a pension, which he did with success.   He was well off, but also a man who cared about the society . He was the first member of the Linå parish council coming from Sejs-Svejbæk.  He worked for making a school in Sejs. The school was built in 1879.  And used until 1958, when a new school was built.

In 1892 the first dentist in Silkeborg, Mr. Warming, built the first summerhouse in Svejbæk, Villa Longfield.  The small farmers had worked outdoors in the summertime, but most of them made clogs in the wintertime, selling them on markets all over Jutland.  The wooden clogs were as popular in Denmark as in Nederland.

At the census in 1901 seven family fathers in Sejs-Svejbæk were both clog makers and farmers. Five were farmers. One was a grocer. One works in the forest.  Three house fathers work for the railroad (among them two at the stop and one (and his wife) are crossing keepers).  One is a fisher man and a farmer.  Some of the clog makers run a kind of factory.  The census takes place the 1st of February.  It’s winter and time for making clogs.  At least 5 younger men work making clogs at different clog makers houses.  Two house fathers live from old age provision.  These men and their families are the inhabitants of Svejbæk in 1901.

From 1915 Svejbæk’s development takes on.  A factory making wood wool is built.  Few years later the factory (1919) is changed into a factory making clogs.  The factory was meant to produce 150.000 pair of clogs per year.  In 1929 the production had grown to 222.500 pair.  The factory even exported thousands of clogs to Nederland from 1930.  The manager at Svejbæk Træskofabrik, Mr. Fenger, got a small pair of clogs for a birthday present in 1938.  When he heard that the later queen of Nederland, Beatrix, was born at his birthday, his small birthday clogs were decorated with her name in golden letters and send to the royal court in Amsterdam.  Fenger got a letter with thanks,  and some Dutch newspapers brought drawings showing how the little princess got her clogs from Denmark.

In 1942 the factory produced 283.000 pairs, but the next years was it not possible to keep the production that high because of the war and lack of wood.  After the war the factory was sold to a firm from Copenhagen making furniture for schools and equipment for sport.  This factory closed in 2006.

Træskofabrikken was a well known place of work with a good reputation.  Workers stayed there for lifetime.  The same reputation had the successor.

Træskofabrikken was the biggest working place in the parish of Linå.  Workers settled down in new built houses in Svejbæk.  Some other workers came on bike or walking from Sejs or Silkeborg.  One or two came by train from Ry or Skanderborg.  Craftsmen (a smith, carpenters, painters, a plumber, masons etc.) settled down in Svejbæk, shops grew up.  Today there are no shops in Svejbæk.  They are all in Sejs.


  1. You ask what role the city of Silkeborg played in the development of Svejbæk.  Did Silkeborg play any role?  I don’t know.  Maybe there would have been no railroad, if Silkeborg hasn’t been founded.  And then no Træskofabrik in Svejbæk.  I am not sure.  I have heard so much about these clog makers at Sejs Heath.  My grandmother’s family.  I am sure they anyway would have found out to follow the clog making into the industrial times.  The soil here was pure sand, but supplied with the stable work of making clogs they earned to their living.  My grandmother’s sister, Elise Bjørnholt Christensen, wrote in her memories: “My family has lived here for many years – I do not know how many.  We were poor, but all people around here were poor, but common to all was a certain feeling of pride and unconquerable spirit – we are a “race” tenacious of life, who wanted to do things ourselves without help from others”.


The last is also a comment to what you write about rich or poor people.  I am not sure that people in Svejbæk all are rich people.

We can only guess about that. Back to the real sources: Most people in Svejbæk nowadays are from the middle classes.  Families with or without children.  Retired couples, widows and divorced men and women.  Of course people in Svejbæk nowadays are richer than people were before.  All Danes today are richer than people were before.  Most of the houses in Svejbæk today are just like houses in so many other middle class districts.  Svejbæk is today what we in Denmark call a “soveby” (dormitory town).  Husband and wife are  working in Silkeborg, Herning or Århus.  The children are in kindergarten or daycare (usually from the age of six months), older children are at school in Sejs or Silkeborg and after school they are still at the school, but now in the so called  “fritidsordning” (spare time center) still together with and overlooked by adults.  Most of the retired people are very active playing golf, participating in meetings or looking after their ill grandchildren.


Today Silkeborg of course plays a role.  Svejbæk is part of Silkeborg kommune.


Who is she, you may ask?  I am the chairman of Sejs-Svejbæk Lokalhistoriske Forening.  I am sure you are able to translate the name of this association.  When I retired from my work as a teacher and left my students forever, I decided to work with genealogy, but when the above mentioned association started up in 2003 I agreed to be the chairman,  mainly because it was important not to forget the past.

1.      I worked several years at Silkeborg Historical Museum

2.      I am a real Sejsbo. 5. generation on the place where I live.

3.      I have worked with history all my working life.


            Sometimes I regret that I became a chairman.  Local history takes a lot of time and I

            still want to work with genealogy.