It was quite common in the 17th century for citizens in the Mälaren valley to invest in the iron industry. The first bar-iron forge at Trångfors was established in 1628 by Adolf Willemson, a merchant from Västerås. It started off small, with just three workers.
In the latter half of the 18th century, the Strömsholm canal cut straight across the Trångfors estate and the old manor house had to be pulled down. The existing forge was built in 1799. Good use was made of the water from the canal: an enclosed timber trough from the canal provided water power for the forge hammer. When the Lancashire method was introduced in 1875, production rose sharply and peaked in 1900 at an annual output of 3,100 tonnes. But by 1915, the forge had been closed down.
One of the four Lancashire furnaces has been restored, and work is under way on the water-wheel and trough. The mumbling hammer has been given a new base. In time, the intention is to be able to demonstrate the pig-iron refining process and mixing of the melt in the forge.
A congenial room with a cosy open fire is available for hire for private functions and meetings. It has been set up in the former spark-machining workshop next door to the forge.
A room above the forge, which used to be a rest room for the forge workers between shifts, has now been converted into a meeting room. The murals on the walls were painted by Gunnar Hall. Next door to that is the charcoal storehouse, which dates from 1800. The charcoal wagons ran straight in here and tipped their load from the ramps at the top of the furnace.
The Trångfors power station on the other side of the river was built in 1898–9 by a firm of consulting engineers, Qvist & Gjers, of Arboga. A water trough was built at the side of the waterfall and it carried the water over a distance of several hundred metres to the works. The power station operated until 1988 and is now a museum. The original equipment has been preserved. The station has six horizontal turbines each generating an output of 400 hp. The generators were manufactured by ASEA and were awarded the “Grand Prix” at an international industrial exhibition in Paris in 1900.
Every August, there is a Trångfors open day when the building is open to visitors, who can also watch barges being locked through on the canal.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.