Experience a virtually unaltederd shipyard from the last days of working sails in Norway.
The historic shipyard is open all year and has free entrance.
Contact the museum for guided tours and/or other requests.
Adults: NOK 120,-
Pupil or student: NOK 90,-
Senior: NOK 90,-
Children below 16: Free of charge
Cruise/groups: NOK 140,- per person
Minimum order: 600 NOK
Open 24 hours a day
Open-air attractions are free of charge.
Commercial operations began in 1856 when master shipwright Nils Peder Holm founded what he called “Mellemværftet”, meaning "the shipyard in the middle" since it lay between two older shipyards. Ship repair and maintenance has been going on here longer than that however, since the area where the yard lies has been used for beaching and repairing coastal craft at least since the 18th century.
Kristiansund harbor is one of Norway’s best natural harbors. Its position close to the coastal leads, with three inlets, made it an easy harbor to reach and leave in the age of sail. Other advantages were good anchorage, protection from prevailing winds and ample fresh water. The port of Kristiansund was Norway’s most important exporter of saltmatured cod for 200 years and sailing vessels, both coastal and deep water, were vital to the development of this trade. The inner bay or “Vågen” became the center for the building and maintenance of these fleets.
Steam vessels took over the export trade at the end of the 19th century, but the coastal transport of cod and herring was sail powered till the middle of the 20th century. Kristiansund was the home port of these vessels.
Mellemværftet was the main shipyard for maintenance and repair of this last fleet of working sail in Norway.
The smithy at Mellemværftet
All the iron parts needed to make a wooden ship were forged in the smithy: both the bolts that held the structure together and the fittings needed to rig and sail the large ships. All the necessary parts were shaped and formed by heating the iron and then beating it into the desired shape with a hammer and a sledgehammer. Gear and tools that was needed for shipyard work and other types of craft and production were also made here. The apprentices were allowed to use the hearth and firepot during the dinner break to forge cleaver knives that they could sell. The blacksmith also made repairs. Tools, parts for the ship and working machines – the blacksmith could also repair what he had made.
The blacksmith's ability to produce complicated objects and tools by using the sturdy iron, gave him a reputation among other artisans. The use of crackling fire to heat and shape the iron in the dark smithy, helped enhance the impression of mystical and magical powers. The blacksmith was the most respected professional in the shipyard. Everyone respected him and his professional skills, the hearth and firepot in the smithy was a meeting point, and often referred to as the heart of the shipyard. The blacksmith's reputation and position is symbolized by the fact that he was the one who controlled the meal times. The rope went through the workshop and down to the smithy. When the blacksmith's large pocketwatch showed noon, he pulled the rope to ring the bell that initiated one hour of food and rest. The blacksmith was in charge of the time at the shipyard.
The blacksmith and technical development
The blacksmith's job was to shape objects of iron and join these together using several techniques, such as riviting, bolting and especially forge welding. When the first electric welding machines came to Kristiansund in the 1920s, it was the beginning of a completely new era within mechanical work. With the old technique, the parts had to be heated almost to the melting point and then forced together with violent hammer blows, during the few seconds before the temperature reduced. With welding, one could work continuously without heating the parts beforehand. With the welding machines they could also perform the work outside the smithy. This was especially important when working on repairs. Electric welding equipment came to Mellemværftet in 1942. It was usually the blacksmith that mastered and controlled the technical progress in the shipyard. The blacksmith profession started developing towards welding and sheet metal work.
The most essential part of a smithy is the hearth and firepot, where glowing coke heats the iron so it can be manipulated. A smithy usually has two hearths and firepots – one regular and one that is bigger and longer, called "langessa". The shipwright worked with large and long objects and had to be able to heat large areas simultaneously, therefore one had to have a "langesse".