A hidden treasure
on merchant street

How it all started ..

In 1681, there was a major city fire in Trondheim. Johan Caspar von Cicignon was commissioned by the king to rebuild Trondheim and the row of wharves on Kjøpmannsgata was built according to the city plan drawn up by him. Fire safety measures were put in place, in accordance with which the wharves on Kjøpmannsgata were built at a lower level, parallel with a line of trees on the top of the slope to prevent any possible new fire hazards. In recent times, Trondheim has had several city fires – both large and small. Several of the oldest wharves on Kjøpmannsgata were lost in both 1967 and 1983. For this reason, Huitfeldtbrygga is considered a very precious and important memory of a bygone era.

Kjøpmannsgata was at this time the city’s most important street, home to many of the city’s traders (the name means «Merchants’ Street»). Henrik Hornemann (1644-1716) came to Norway from Germany, and was one of the most influential merchants in the city. Henrich Hornemann, one of his relatives, was the first owner of Huitfeldtbrygga. He is listed in the Fire Tax Register as the owner from 1766. According to the City Antiquarian, Huitfeldtbrygga was built for Governor Hans Hagerup in the 1740s. Several other owners have also been listed later during the 17th Century.

Nicolay Heinrich Knudtzon (1787-1837), a wholesaler from Kristiansund and a man famous for fish exports, took over Huitfeldtbrygga in 1830. He and his descendants made a great deal from exports of dried and salted cod (clipfish). In 1840 the wharf was taken over by consul Arild Christopher Huitfeldt (1813-1877). According to the Fire Tax Memorandum of 1841, the wharf was in good repair and had greatly increased in value. Huitfeldt lived at Huitfeldtgården, Kjøpmannsgata 14. He was a hard-working businessman. He was involved in timber processing, extraction and export of other materials and pyrite from his own mines, fertiliser production, brickwork and pattern farming at several locations in Trøndelag. The factory on Kjøpmannsgata was, nevertheless, his greatest interest, founded by Huitfeldt’s father-in-law, but Huitfeldt himself was the main shareholder and boss. They manufactured a steamship and a locomotive, but Huitfeldtbrygga was most known locally for the timber business during Huitfeldt’s time. In 1878, the Fire Tax Register records that the first and second storeys were merged, probably to allow more space for the timber business. Towards the end of the 19th century, the significance of the wharf changed on account of developments in transport; the sea route was no longer the most important. The wharves now began to be used as warehouses and not ports.

Ivar Huitfeldt, Henrik’s son, took the legacy forward. In the 1900s, the business became subject to a financial downturn and Huitfeldt no longer alone made use of the wharf, but rented out warehouse space. In 1937, the wharf was sold as the bankruptcy estate of A. Huitfeldt and Co. to the Master Glazier Andreas L. Riis. The change of ownership led to further reallocation of space at the wharf. Since car ownership had become more widespread, the wharf was also changed to make it possible to back in with goods at ground level. Following Riis, Huitfeldtbrygga has had a number of owners.

The wharf bears the scars of 40-50 years of lack of maintenance. The wharf’s foundation alignment with its bearers, posts and tie beams is in a critically poor condition. The wooden external walls are badly rotten and there are leaks in the roof. The wharf leans towards the river, and where it is worst, it would appear to be about 1.5 metres below what it ought to be.

2016: Lord Eiendom A/s took over 100% ownership of the wharf as from 2016. In the autumn of 2016, the foundation of the wharf were secured with steel formwork supports and emergency repairs were carried out. A 3-year plan is being formulated which will return the wharf to its correct position. It needs to be jacked up and plans are being laid for new foundations, new timber walls, a new roof and repairs to the cladding and windows. The work is expected to take place over the period 2018 to 2021. The City Antiquarian in Trondheim will be assisting with valuable advice and guidance. The National Antiquarian, Sør Trøndelag County Council, the Cultural Heritage Fund, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments and the UNI Foundation have awarded financial grants to make this restoration work a reality.