Mackmyra´s first forge for bar-iron was established during the 16th century. In the province of Gästrikland forging was a common activity among farmers. A good business as profit was in cash. It was a small scale production and took place primarily during periods with plenty of water, e.g. spring.
Raw material for the demanded bar-iron is called pig-iron. To be able to use their own pig-iron for the forge, the farmers built their own blast-furnace in 1672, near the shopping centre of today. Only a few years later the forge and the blast-furnace were sold to the assessor Daniel Tilas from Stockholm.
In 1756 the business was sold to the merchant Jan Paul Strömbäck from Gävle. A transformation was initiated from a farmers´ forge to a developed iron works. In the turn of the century 1800 the mansion was built. Until then the owners had been living near the blast-furnace in Valbo or in the city of Gävle.
In 1814 the whole enterprise was sold to Olof Elfbrink, whose descendants still own Mackmyra Bruk today. He expands the bar-iron forge and introduces the Lancashire forging, a method from England. He lays out a park and erects housing for the employed and offices.
At this time the family owns the full chain of production; mine, blast-furnace, forge, nail hammer, forests for production of charcoal – and the family owns one of the largest Swedish shipping companies of that time. Bar-iron was shipped to mainly England and USA.
During the middle of the 19th century the competition increased between ironworks. New and large scale industries drove small furnaces out of business.
Nowadays Mackmyra is often associated with whisky. In 1999 Mackmyra Svensk Whisky Inc. started to produce single malt whisky in the building complex of the old bar-iron forge - mill - power–generating station. The distillery is shown to visitors. Reservation is required.
A number of objects are on the National List of Heritages: mansion including cellars, guest wing, wash-house, forge, mill, power station and in the park the chestnut walk and the pavilion.
English comments to the broschure
1 The Iron-Bar Forge
The forge is documented already in the 16th century. In 1839, the new white washed forge was considered the largest in the region. The initials U.E. on its northern wall, stands for Ulrika Elfbrink, one of the many female owners of an iron “bruk” i.e. iron forge. During her government she had the forge being built with the most fuel saving technique known at that time, the Lancashire method.
During the 17th-, 18th- and 19th- centuries Swedish bar-iron had a good reputation. From the harbour of Gävle iron was exported to many countries. Bar-iron was a refined forgeable product that demanded great skills in craftsmanship to produce.
The raw material was pig-iron, which was good for casting but contained too much of coal for forging. In the hearth the pig-iron was manufactured, it was melted down and processed with a water driven hammer to bring down the amount of coal. The black smiths formed the iron into long bars, i.e. bar-iron.
The later coming method, the Bessemer method, came to use in the 1860´s. It drove the old bruks out of business. From now on you could produce forgeable steel right from the floating raw iron coming from the blast-furnace. Manufacturing of bar-iron stopped in 1877. The forge is nowadays the reception to Mackmyra Svensk Whisky AB.
2 The Mill and the Water Power Station
In 1877, when manufacturing of bar-iron closed down, one part of the forge was torn down and a mill was built, the largest and most modern in the region, using the old
water power but for a new purpose. Grain and flour were transported to and from the mill on a side track from the newly built Gävle – Dala railroad.
Next to the mill an electric power station was erected in 1905. The tenants of the Bruk were among the first in the neighbourhood who could make use of electric light. Both the mill and the power station are rebuilt for today´s whisky distillery.
3 The Mansion
is a two storied building made of timber and plastered. It has a mansard roof. The erection started in 1797 but the interiors were completed 15 years later. The family’s town house was burned down in the big fire of Gävle in 1869. Then the mansion in Mackmyra was modernized. The building got its plastered walls and a new entrance.
4 The Wash-House and the Guest-House
During the first part of the 18th century a distillery was placed here. The present buildings were established in 1831 – 40. The wash-house contains weaving and bakery facilities. The wing was intended for servants in the lower level. The guest rooms were on the upper level.
5 The English Park and the Pavilion
The park was planned in 1820´s according to English ideals. An English landscape park appears as if all is natural but in reality everything is carefully planned with high hard wood trees, winding paths and beautiful out looks. The opposite is a French park, with rigorous symmetry and strict cut trees and hedges. In the park a pavilion, from 1831, is designed like a Greek temple.
The yearly maintenance of the park is cared for by Bruksparkens Vänner, “Friends of the Park”, together with Mackmyra Bruk.
6 The Black-Smiths´ Quarters
The four white two-family houses were erected in the 1820´s as quarters for the black-smiths and their families.
7 The Mill Magazine
In late 1800´s a house for storing charcoal was exchanged for a magazine for the newly built mill. Nowadays malt for the whiskey distillery is stored in a silo.
8 The Cow House
In 1832 a stable for the horses at the Bruk was erected. It was later on extended and became a cow house - all made in moulded slag from the iron works. Today the building is once again a stable, this time for Icelandic horses.
9 The Steward´s House
Up till 1826 the oldest black-smiths´ quarters were next to the manor house and the forge. Then they had to give place for the house for the steward. At the Bruk he was in charge of all businesses – iron production, farming and forestry. The house also was an office for the whole establishment.
10 The Carpenter´s Office
Once a carpentry, saddlery, and mangle-house.
11 The Cow Shed for the Black-Smiths´
To every dwelling belonged a part in the cow shed. The house was erected in 1826 and was washed on the walls towards the mansion. The other side shows the more simple building material and masonry. In the end of the 19th century, west of the cow shed, two long buildings were built for the farm workers at the Bruk.
12 The Piggery
The Bruk also had a swinery, built in moulded slag. Today a garage for tractors and grass-mowers.
13 The Dairy
Farming had an extensive milk production with a shop in Gävle, “Mackmyra Mjölkmagasin”. Before refrigerators were invented lots of ice were needed to cool the milk. Near the dairy a stack of ice blocks was stored. During winter ice was sawed out from the ice covered river. Thick layers of sawdust kept the ice fairly intact during summer. The dairy was closed in 1945.
14 Silo for Producer-Gas Wood chips
During the Second World War gasoline was rationed. Cars could run on gas produced from very dry wood. The wooden chips were dried in the silo, sacked and sold to Stockholm.
(click to enlarge)