The steam engine is the invention that singularly has had the most importance for the Industrial Revolution. The man, behind the steamboats’ early development in Sweden, was an immigrated Englishman named Samuel Owen. Already in 1818, he put Sweden’s first functioning paddle steamer into traffic. Thanks to Owen, the inventor and entrepreneur, Sweden became one of the countries setting a precedent, in both the building and the traffic of steamboats.
It was towards the middle of the 1800’s that the steamboat traffic, in Sweden, began in earnest. The steamboats constituted the link between archipelago and town; and were used by the farmers around Mälaren to transport wood, fish and farm produce. Passenger traffic also intensified during this period, not least because it had become a popular summer pastime for the growing population of Stockholm towards the end of the 1800’s. Stockholmers, of all classes, could use the steamboat traffic for both business and pleasure, due to the surprisingly low ticket price owed to the increasing competition.
After WWII, the railway and the extended road traffic of lorries started to beat the steamboats competitively. Remaining were solely the boats that could sustain themselves economically on the ample traffic in the archipelago during the summer months. In the 1960’s, the work to preserve the remaining ships was initialized. Today, this steamboat movement, with Ångfartyg Stockholm’s Omgifningar AB taking the helm, has managed to preserve 10 steamships in the Stockholm area; these together constitute the worlds’ largest steamboat fleet. Four of these steamships are now available for public viewing at Strandvägen, Kajplats 18.
Stockholm’s Hamnar, Ångfartyg Stockholm’s Omgifningar AB, a company in the KGK group, and Stockholm’s Restauranger & Wärdshus have for five years jointly worked for a Steamboat Museum with restaurant and bars, on the Strandvägen. On the 30th May 2013 this, finally, became reality.