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Hahn-Pedersen: Konsulens skib. Omkring et skibsportræt

fra 1847.

Sjæk’len 2006. Årbog for Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet,

Esbjerg 2007, p. 9-25, p. 16, p. 9. p. 8.


Holm: op.cit., 1993, p. 29.




Søren Frederiksen:

Hjuldampere og Havnebro.


Byhistoriske arkiv 1988. Hahn-Pedersen: op.cit. 2007, p. 20f.


Holm: op.cit. 1992, p. 27f.


Holm: op.cit. 1992, p. 38ff.


Hjerting i 700 år.


22. årg, 4. 1991 p. 34.


This article deals withVarde’s place of embarkation, Hjerting,

which was the most northerly harbour on the Wadden Sea

coast in the 1600-1700s. Ribe’s harbour was dominant in the

northernWadden Sea throughout the Middle Ages, but during

the 1600s Varde – and with it the town’s harbour Hjerting –

grew in importance. In 1671, nineteen vessels were based at

Varde customs house, with a total loading figure of 49.5 (ap-

proximately 99 tons). In 1688, the residents at Varde’s har-

bours Ho, Oksby and Hjerting gained the privilege of export-

ing their goods to foreign destinations, and Varde’s customs

house was moved to Hjerting in 1692.

The 1700s were Hjerting’s golden age. In 1731, Ribe

had only one remaining ship, while Hjerting had the same

number of ships as in 1671, namely 19. The ships had, how-

ever, become significantly bigger, so the total tonnage had

grown from 49.5 to 160 læster (about 320 tons). The traffic

went to Norway, the Elbe and Hamburg, and Holland. The

traffic to Holland was special for Hjerting because by far

the greater part of the traffic to Holland at this time passed

through Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, and only a few of

the harbours in the province had direct contact with Hol-

land. Hjerting also came into use as a transit harbour for

merchants in large parts of Jutland. However, the traffic to

Holland decreased during the 1700s, and Hamburg gained

ground as the city where most imported goods were fetched.

With its customs house and shipping traffic, Hjerting had a

small population of officials, and a 1777 source wrote of the

town as “a big and well-built town”. The 1787 census shows

that the population of Hjerting was 257. However, the island

of Fanø just out from Hjerting had built up a significant fleet

during the latter half of the 1700s, and the growth in ves-

sels in the area was almost exclusively at Fanø. Hjerting lost

significance, and in 1798 only seven vessels remained with

a total of 40 læster (about 80 tons).

However, it was still believed in the early 1800s that

Hjerting had a maritime future, and it was said that the town

was important enough to be granted rights as a market town.

It was predicted that together, Fanø and Hjerting could be

a competitor to Hamburg on a par with Altona. In a period

from 1847, there was also a direct steamship connection

from Hjerting to England, and a number of citizens joined

forces and built a pier at Hjerting in 1852. But its life was

brief as it was damaged by winter ice, and in 1862 it had to

be abandoned.

The Danish parliament decided in 1868 that Denmark’s

new west coast harbour would be at Esbjerg, only a few

kilometres from Hjerting, and this put an end to Hjerting’s

dreams of a harbour. On the other hand, the proximity to

Esbjerg harbour meant that Hjerting’s fishery flourished,

not least because Esbjerg’s railway, which opened in 1874,

provided significantly improved possibilities for selling the

fish to more distant markets at a higher price. Another new

business possibility also appeared around this time, namely

summer tourism, and the North Sea bathers in Hjerting ad-

vertised that the location was particularly suitable for single

frail persons, for nervous and overworked people and for

families with children.

The new city of Esbjerg increasingly attracted activi-

ties, and Hjerting changed its focus from Varde to Esbjerg.

With the municipal reform in 1970, Guldager Parish, and

therewith Hjerting, became a part of Esbjerg, and the for-

merly so important loading dock for Varde is now a suburb

of Esbjerg. Today Hjerting’s maritime past is remembered

mostly in the names of streets and town quarters. The newer

areas in the city’s southeast are named after maritime oc-

cupations, and the streets in the northwestern part are called

after types of vessel.