History of Álafoss

Álafoss, in Mosfellsbær, has been the site of diverse industry and culture for over a century. It’s history dates back to 1896, when a local farmer, named Björn Þorláksson, imported machinery for processing wool, and built a factory a short distance below the waterfall “Álafoss” in the Varmá river . The river was warm because many brooks from nearby hot springs ran into it. Björn used the river to power his machines and the warm water was also used to wash the wool. In the year 1922 Sigurjón Pétursson and his family became the sole owners of Álafoss. He expanded the factory continuously, importing new machinery and constructing new factory buildings, lodgings and a swimming pool above the Álafoss dam. The pool had a divingboard and it was often called “the longest swimmingpool in the world”! One could swim for over one hundred metres without turning around. Many children took their first swimming-lessons with Sigurjón at Álafoss. In the second World war the British army built barracks around Álafoss, housing thousands of soldiers. Álafoss sold them meals and refreshments as well as woolen goods. Some of those barracks still stand. In 1949 the “big factory-building” was raised. Demand for the Álafoss wool grew and export began in the fifties. In 1955 Ásbjörn Sigurjónsson became the director of Álafoss. During his time some of the production was moved into new factory-buildings which were raised on the hill above Varmá. The export of woolen goods grew steadily in the seventies and eighties and the factory’s capacity was multiplied. New and improved machinery was bought and the entire production was moved to the new factory. The old factory in the “gully” however, has found a new role in the woolen history. The Álafoss factory outlet is on the ground floor of the “big factory-building” and many of the old houses have also been renovated as studios and workshops for various artists and craftsmen. Álafoss has played an important role in the history of Icelandic industry for over a century and has changed the surrounding community from scattered farmsteads into the beautiful town Mosfellsbær. Each and every house of the factory has it’s own story and memories of the diverse and lively activeties of the years gone by. Varmá still runs through the Álafoss gully and the small waterfall, which made all the wheels turn a century ago, still plays.


 
A PLACE WITH HISTORY
Álafoss - Álafossvegi 23 - 270 Mosfellsbæ - tel: 354 566 6303 - FAX:354 566 6304 - e.mail: alafoss@islandia.is