THE BUILDINGS AT NYHOLM


In the 1690´s work on the landfill on the tip of the Refshale, which was dry at low water, was begun. The immediate reason for this initiative was, that the ships built by the Danish Navy at Bremerholmen had become so large that it was no longer possible to launch them without causing severe damage to the ship.
The work at Nyholm progressed rapidly. As early as 1692 the first large ship was launched and soon new slipways were added together with new storage houses and workshops. As a result of the Northern War and the economic recession that followed the development of the area came to a halt. Not until the end of the 1720´s was Denmark again able to provide the funding necessary for new buildings and a frame attic building and two rigging houses were added.

In 1748 intendant de marine Frederik Danneskiold-Samsøe (the head of the Navy) presented the plan which would set the direction for the development of the installations at Holmen for the decades to come. His main idea was to gather all the functions necessary for the building, equipping, and maintenance of the ships at Nyholm. The plan also included new living quarters for the sailors. The new dwellings envisioned in the plan were meant as a supplement to, or perhaps a replacement for, Nyboder. In this way all artisans and their families could live and work within the closed military area, thereby saving money, time and transportation.

This was indeed a visionary plan and its main elements were in fact implemented. The government, however, refused to grant the enormous sums of money needed to complete the plan in its entirety. In the following 100 years the installations at Nyholm were extended to the south with Ankerøen, Christiansholm, Bodenhoff´s Plads, Frederiksholm and Arsenaløen. Here a number of administrative buildings and workshops were erected concurrently with new technological developments and other requirements of the day.

When reading the description of the scenery on Nyholm one might picture a gray and bleak environment, dirty buildings, the air filled with smoke and the stench of train oil and tar. It is of course difficult to reconstruct the impression of smells and sounds, but from the preserved sketches and drawings we know that most buildings were brick-built and that the workshops abounded with fine architectural details. At Nyholm we find tangible proof of the quality and solidity of the houses built at that time; here it is still possible to find many of the houses erected in the immediate aftermath of the Northern War.

A number of the Navy’s highest-ranking officers lived with their families at Gammelholm (meaning the old islet (in Danish 'holm')), the name given to Bremerholmen after the installations at Nyholm had been established. Domestic animals and nearby orchards and kitchen gardens provided these families with fresh milk and other necessities.