Tuesday 23 March 2021

Charming Train Of Skips

It probably comes as no surprise that I find the image below extremely charming and inspirational. A short train of 5 skips, a rugged 600 mm gauge industrial locomotive, rolling hills and a quiet fjord in the background. The image is a lovely view of a small enterprise extracting fine grade sand for metal casting purposes placed in a tranquil landscape.

A Pedershaab-locomotive, 5 skips and two workers on their way from pit to the sand treatment facilities at ├śrbyhage. There doesn't seem to be any crops on the fields, though most of the trees have leaves. Perhaps it's spring - early May? Photo: Crop from Royal Danish Library image OD00406_003 from 1951. 

Here you get the full picture. A classic aerial shot of a Danish farm. A dog barking in the front yard and the farmer's wife standing in the doorway gazing at the low flying plane. The sand treating facility can be seen to the far right. Photo: Royal Danish Library OD00406_003 from 1951. 

The image is a good illustration of the Danish economy before industry took over the leading role. The farmers' fields points to agriculture's major role in Denmark's economy until the 1960's and the water to my country's long time history of shipping and trading. In fact even today Denmark is the world’s fifth largest maritime shipping nation – Danish shipping companies around the world controlling approximately 2,100 merchant ships

Almost the same view as above only 2 years later looking more or less directly south. The sand works' pier for loading the sand in barges and small ships is visible in the fjord. Photo: Royal Danish Library AAL_00113_024 from 1953.

Many years after the aerial photos were taken, I visited the location with a friend. At the end of the narrow road the sand works were still standing, although they were completly derelict and overgrown. Beneath shrubbery and caved in buildings we found track, skips and a locomotive. The pier for loading barges and small ships had long since been removed or destroyed by ice and a turnout was hanging precariously over the water's edge. Current sattelite images of the site show ruins still in place with a single new barn having been erected by a neighbouring farmer in addition.

A look into the wooden loco shed that hasn't stood up well to 30-40 years without maintenance. The loco inside wasn't made by any major producer of industrial locomotives and seems to have been built by a local black smith or garage. In 1990 I was a young, poor student and using 35 mm film, I have only a few pictures from the site. Today I would probably have shot 70 digital images - minimum. 

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