Björkborn Manor was built from 1812-1814 as a residence for the family who owned Björkborn Ironworks. When Alfred Nobel acquired Bofors-Gullspång in 1894, the Manor was also part of the purchase. Alfred chose to live here during his visits to Sweden. He planned to make many modernizations to the house such as electric lighting, running water and proper sewerage. New furniture and carpets were bought in Stockholm and wallpaper ordered from England. Alfred appointed one of his nephews, Hjalmar, to be responsible for the interior improvements. Alfred had quite a strong opinion about the smoking lounge, being quoted as saying ‘Goodwill, l’ll always have the money to buy fine tobacco, so I won’t need a separate room to smoke in ’- thus, the smoking lounge was converted to a billiards room.
When Alfred Nobel took over Björkborn Manor, a period of 21 years had passed since he had last lived in Sweden. Björkborn was also the very last house he owned in Sweden prior to his death in 1896.
Björkborn Manor remained as a residential house right up until 1972 when it was then converted to offices. Sometime after this the Nobel Museum opened up in the Manor. Some of Alfred Nobel’s original furniture is on exhibition along with other furniture typical for that period. The museum shows how the Manor may have looked during the 1890s.
The 1600s was a century of rapid expansion for Swedish Industry. A great many new Ironworks and foundries sprang into life. Iron was a very profitable product, particularly in the export market – this was in part due to the long and costly wars being fought in Europe. Swedish iron also had excellent reputation because of its high quality.
A government agency, Bergskollegium (a committee which governed the production of Ore) needed to give its permission for any new foundry or ‘bruk’(small ironworks) to be built. An ironworks , or ‘bruk’ in Swedish, usually consisted of a small works with the owner actually living on-site with control over all production and workforce. Workers on a ‘bruk’ often received accommodation and food as part of their wages. The works would have had their own school, doctor, shop and tailor. It was quite common for the works’ owner to also run a farm which could sometimes generate more profit than the production of iron.
During the 1600s, three ironworks were started in Karlskoga. Björkborn’s Bruk was founded in 1639. At first it manufactured bar iron. Production was subsequently widened to include nails, shovels and spades, axes and horseshoes. An iron-rolling mill, sawmill, flourmill and brickworks were also added to the site later on.
Iron was produced right through until 1901 when the works was closed down. The farmland remained productive for some time after, having been leased out for agricultural use.