Frederiksvaerk boasts a remarkable history along the lines of well-known English factory villages such as Coalbrookdale, New Lanark and Saltaire.
Based on waterpower Frederiksvaerk once housed the national armament industry and was a worldwide supplier of military equipment. In the 1720s an agate polishing mill was built and later on the king summoned a French engineer to produce cannons from wrought iron. The real breakthrough was made in the 1760s by the general J.F. Classen who developed the place into a prosperous industrial society. The Gun Foundry, an extensive powder works and a large number of dwellings in combination with workshops still exist.
Later Frederiksvaerk continued as a more traditional industrial town with iron works producing civil goods. The first Danish-built steam engine was constructed in the workshops in 1828 for use in a copper-rolling mill. In 1940, the Danish Steel Works began recycling scrap and Frederiksvaerk became the leading town of modern heavy industry in Denmark. The powder works closed in 1965, and has ever since been a museum whose main feature is the intact and working machinery from the 1800s, probably the oldest in the world. In 2007 Frederiksvaerk was designated a National industrial site.
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