Friday, July 2, 2010

Ålesund - Part 1

After having a further dig through Ålesund pictures, I realised that it's more than one post.
The place has too many interesting points to be able to shorten it down to one post, so bear with me, there's some nice scenic pics coming up later.
But for now I wanted to look a little deeper at a few interesting ones which have a Shetland connection.

The first one is the North Sea monument, erected in remembrance of all Norwegians who escaped across the North Sea during World War 2.
The monument, by Olav Stavseng, stands proudly on a pillar, in the 'peace park' at Skateflua.
The enscription on a plaque at the base of the pillar reads:
"In memory of 320 Norwegians who lost their lives on land or at sea following the escape route across the North Sea to allied harbours during the German occupation. 1940 - 1945. And 3300 Norwegians who safely arrived port, And fought with allied friends in the battle that gave us freedom."
This memorial is for all the Norwegians who fled Norway, including those who escaped to Shetland on the Shetland Bus.

The next memorial pictured doesn't have a direct Shetland connection, but it immediately made a connection in my mind. In Shetland there are the Gloup Disaster Memorial, and the Delting Disaster Memorial, both of which remember fishing tragedies where many men were lost.
In Ålesund there is the "Seaward" memorial, which remembers a fishing disaster off the coast of Ålesund in 1885. What made me instantly make a connection with this memorial was the similarity in the artists interpretation between this one and the Gloup memorial. A woman looking out to sea.

The plaque on the base of the memorial reads:
"On August 13 1885, 7 open fishing boats sank in a severe north-westerly gale off the coast of Ålesund. 33 fishermen lost their lives. 29 widows and 113 children were left to mourn. "Seaward" was erected in memory of those who died in the tragedy.
Most of the 33 fishermen were from Buholmen, Buholmstranda and Røysa, the nearby area to the east of the monument. "Seaward", therefore, stands also as a tribute to the proud and thrifty fisher folk who lived in this part of Ålesund."

Now, getting away from monuments, but staying with history, and a unique part of Norwegian maritime history which, given the petty squabbling going on in Shetland all the time about ferry services, I thought was well worth a mention.

"Bilfergen", (literal translation, "The Car Ferry"), The first ever ro-ro car ferry in Norway.
She served our area, Vestnes - Molde - Åndalsnes.
Built in 1921 at Hardanger, in the early days she mainly served Vestnes - Åndalsnes. In 1925 she opened the Vestnes - Molde route.
In 1934 she was rebuilt so that cars could be loaded on ramps at both ends, holding a total of 5 cars.
In 1954 she was rebuilt again, with the wheelhouse being moved to the side so that she became more like what we consider as a ro-ro these days.
Retired from use in the 1970s, she has now been rebuilt to look like she did between '34 and '54.

I would love to get a picture of her alongside one of the new ferries on the Vestnes - Molde crossing. They are 125m long and it's mind boggling to see how many cars and trucks they can hold. Maybe somebody from the owners, MRF, will have the same bright idea and bring her round to Romsdalfjorden for a picture shoot.

Yun's aa fir enoo.


  1. Great post about Ålesund! I'm impressed :-)

  2. Thanks,
    There's more to come on Ålesund, so I hope I don't make any screw-ups. There are likely to be many more posts on the town since it's got so much to speak about, compared to Molde, which I might give a mention to at some time in the future. ;-)