Norway’s success story begins with timber. For a time it was the country’s most important export product and was later used as a building material for factories and towns, thereby giving a boost to the country's industrialisation and modernisation. The sawmill constructed at Spillum in central Norway in 1884 was at the forefront of this development. Its pioneering steam-driven engines were the first to be used in the timber processing industry. Today, the building houses the Norwegian Sawmill Museum. Here visitors can experience industrial history live – on running saws and planing machines! They can also see how beams, shutter boards, moulding and panelling are made from unworked tree trunks. The whole site has been remained unchanged. It includes the largest timber building (covering an area of almost 3000 m²) and one of the largest steam engines in the country. Archaeologists, historians, restoration workers and engineers have turned the industrial monument into a lively venue. At the same time they have been able to preserve the working skills that were necessary to run the mill successfully in early industrial times, despite all attempts at mechanisation. Two old tugs, Hauka and Oter, lie tied up at the banks of the directly adjacent fjord. They also belong to the museum.
Hundreds of steam-driven sawmills covered the forests of Norway in the late 19th century. Timber was the largest industry in the country and exports were sent all over the world. At the start of the century demand began to fall off. However, this was compensated by a new market right on the doorstep as the greater of Norway and the corresponding building boom required huge amounts of construction timber.
The more the towns and industrial plants grew, the greater the business. The saw and planing works in Spillum, a middle size business in comparison with others in the country, found its customers mostly in Northern Norway. Its products included unplaned beams and shutter boards as well as complete ready-made houses including interior fittings. Electric motors were introduced in the 1940s to replace the old steam engines. The boiler, however, remained in service. The steam it generated helped to dry out the timber that was stored in a new purpose-built hall. The plant now covered 2,960 square metres; and even today it has one of the largest wooden buildings in Scandinavia.
Work at the Spillum mill ended in 1986. The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology immediately recognised the value of the industrial monument. Not only it was the best kept, old, steam-driven saw mill in Norway, but also the only one still in existance. After comprehensive restoration it was opened as an industrial museum in 1991. Its machinery is still in working order and produces, amongst other things, high-quality wooden models for architectural restoration projects. Signs and screens give visitors background information and additional visual aids. Plans for the new visitor centre include a permanent exhibition on the history of the Norwegian sawmill industry. The museum already contains exhibits taken from sawmills all over the country.
|Recommended duration of visit:||1 Hours|
|Duration of a guided Tour:||45-60 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||None|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
Monday - Friday 8am-4pm
Monday - Friday 8am-3pm