Another time

APELVIKEN IN THE PAST

"Warberg as a seaside resort is… among the most excellent. Its open location near the seashore, with a few feet of elevation, makes the city available to the refreshing westwinds prevailing here for most of the year. The countryside surroundings, consisting of dry and fresh upland valleys as well as mountains and hills, are such in nature, that they do not engender any harmful mist or fog. […] The seaside resort of Warberg, such as it is known near and far by the many who come to its shores each summer, to obtain life and health from the refreshing waves of the Kattegat.”

J. Wallin 1861

One p or two?

NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE

When Wallin wrote the above lines, the resort life at Varberg was already very much established. Some say it was first expanded in 1811, when the Svartekällan spring at Stora Apelviken was promoted as a health spring by the local Varberg authorities. For how long it had been used by the locals, we do not know. Others claim that the invigorating properties of ocean baths had been advocated for much longer.

 

Where the name Apelviken truly originated is another untold story. There are tales of a boat, carrying apples for cargo, that ran aground. The apples were said to have washed ashore in the bay. Another explanation is that the name was originally Appellviken, derived from appell meaning “signal”, since in the old days, the governor of the fortress was alerted from the Subbe peninsula in times of danger. True or false? Nobody knows. What is true, though, is that Apelviken was previously known as Apelvik, and has seen a variety of spellings through the years; Abilleuig (1574), Abelwiigh (1600) and Apelwijk (1646). Equally true is that when non-local guests say Apelviken, local Varberg residents will say Appelviken with a short a, without fail

Health and fun

AND A LITTLE BIT LIKE THE PRESENT

Regardless, the health spring put Varberg on the map. From the end of the 17th century, when Sweden’s first official health spring was inaugurated at Medevi, until the First World War, people had a lot of faith in the salubrious effects of soda springs. Society flocked to these establishments. Furthermore, Varberg could offer ocean baths. A Bathing board was quickly established, and the taking of the waters was complemented with baths and all manner of festivities. Wallin’s extraordinary book, Beskrifning öfver badorterna å Sverges vestra kust – handbok för badgäster further tells us that “... In Warberg, general soirées are hosted every Tuesday and Friday evening. That these are both pleasant and amusing, should not even have to be mentioned. Costume balls, farmers’ weddings and other excellent entertainment are further included on the list of jollifications of the saison.

When Wallin wrote his guidebook, there was not yet a railway in Varberg. Summer guests arrived mainly by boat. Steamers, the Kattegatt and the Halland, departed from Gothenburg on Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning. If the seas were calm, the trip took about four or five hours. It was not until 1880 that the railway connection between Varberg and Borås was built, and eight years, later you could travel by train between Varberg and Gothenburg. The railway gave more people the opportunity to come to Varberg.

Industrialisation meant that many people who had previously worked on the countryside farms, now endured very long and hard working days in the city factories, which were often very dirty. This sparked a need to escape to nature. Something that had previously been a self-evident thing taken for granted, was now tranformed into an intense longing. The factory workers of the cities arrived in great numbers. Initially just for the day, and eventually with plain tents and windbreaks. As early as 1930, we can tell by looking at old postcards that some spontaneous, spartan “camping sites” had been established. As cars became increasingly common in the 1950s, the place saw what was then considered to be a mass invasion.

Camping

FROM SPONTANEOUS CAMPING UNTIL TODAY

As early as the 1920s, bathers brought simple tents when they came here. Initially, these were probably used more as changing rooms than for accommodation; for protection against the sun, and for changing. But eventually, someone would skip the Sunday morning service, stay the night and have another day at the beach.

In 1933, the Bathing board had had enough of the disorder, and the time had come to sort things out west of the railway. Two security guards were hired, and a fee was applied to changing rooms and camping pitches. A pitch was 50 öre per day, or 5 SEK for a fortnight.

The first camping ground under the administration of the Bathing board, located further south than it is now, was soon used to capacity. The area was not developed at this time, and offered no services of any kind, which soon caused the camping to become more or less unsanitary. After the war, when the camping ground had been closed, the Bathing board realised that it was no longer up to standard, and in 1952, an area known as   “Agrellska jordarna” was acquired to accommodate a new camping ground in the north section of the Apelviken area.

The fenced-off camping ground, with a few flowerbeds, toilets and combined sinks for washing both dishes and people, would later become Destination Apelviken. It was opened in 1956. Bathing clerk Allan Kanje was granted 32 780 SEK to develop the new camping ground. A year later, in 1957, the first shop was built. In 1958, a seasonal pitch for a “camping wagon” was 75 SEK, and in 1959, the new camping ground had already become too small.

In the 1960s, the area was expanded to the south. But the Bathing board concluded that the camping ground, despite its popularity, did not generate much income. When Varberg was made a large municipal district in 1971, the newly formed committee for recreational activities shouldered the responsibility for the baths and camping ventures, and it was decided that from 1973 on, both the Apelviken and Getterön camping grounds were to be run as private enterprises; a task entrusted to Gunnar Troilius from Halmstad. Nils Gordh, 17 years old at the time, was given his first summer job, and the rest is, as we say, history.

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