Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was the inventor of dynamite. In 1866 he finished developing a method that made it possible to use liquid nitroglycerin safely. At that time this was the strongest explosive in the world, and Alfred Nobel's invention made an explosive that could be molded, stored and transported without danger. Dynamite became a success. Nobel built factories all over Europe and in the United States, and this industrial adventure made him Europe's richest bachelor when he died.
Alfred Nobel owned only a small, almost symbolic, part of the old factory in Hurum. However, his advice was always accepted by the Norwegian factory management. Documents, diaries, accounts, buildings and old equipment show this, and papers and artifacts were preserved after the production was stopped and the factory closed down in 1976. The factory buildings were turned into a museum run by former workers and experts on explosives.
The old factory at Hurum is a distinct footprint from one of the world's most famous inventors, industrialists and philanthropists!
A young man's initiative: Henrik Arctander
In 2011, twelve years old, the young student Henrik Arctander wrote his name in the history of explosives. His school arranged a seminar named "Find old memories and bring them to the class", and Henrik decided to write about the dynamite museum. Soon he was fascinated by the history, and when he presented his work, local people became interested. But Orica would not give this young historian access to the museum buildings. Therefore he decided to use his efforts to get the museum reopened and see to that the old factory was permanently protected.
Henrik mailed and tried to meet the leaders of Orica, he got the newspapers and Norwegian Broadcasting interested and he arranged public meetings. Therefore he was nominated to "The name of the year" in Hurum. No doubt Henrik Arctander's efforts have encouraged and strengthened the position of Norwegian authorities in the struggle for preservation of the old dynamite factory.
Norway has a particular responsibility to preserve the last factory in the world that shows how Alfred Nobel thought when he created his enormous fortune. In his last will and testament from 1895 he decided that an independent committee of five persons appointed by the Norwegian national assembly (Stortinget) was to be responsible of awarding what we today call the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize is meant to promote disarmament in the world and brotherhood among nations. Every year the whole world looks to Norway when the laureate's name is announced in Ocober and during the award ceremony on December 10th , the day Alfred Nobel passed away.
Luckily the Norwegian National Archives has taken care of written material and drawings from the long history of the factory, but there is a need of money to get the archive available for researchers. Who will contribute?
Finally, it is fantastic that the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the Nobel Peace Center this autumn support Norwegian authorities to have the old dynamite factory protected for ever.