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The coal occur­ren­ces in Kongfjord were alre­a­dy dis­co­ver­ed in 1610 by Jonas Poo­le, but they were not exploi­ted for more than 300 years. In 1916, a Nor­we­gi­an com­pa­ny star­ted an attempt to mine the coal on Brøg­ger­hal­vøya, on the south side of Kongsfjord. The com­pa­ny was cal­led Kings Bay Kull Kom­pa­ni AS and it was based in Åle­sund on the west coast of Nor­way. This explains the name of their new­ly foun­ded sett­le­ment, Ny-Åle­sund (“New Åle­sund”).

Map Ny-Åle­sund. The air­ship mast is out­side of the initi­al view of the map.

Pan­ora­ma Sub­pages of Ny-Åle­sund

From 1916 to 1963, Kings Bay Kull Kom­pa­ni tried to estab­lish indus­tri­al coal mining in Ny-Åle­sund. But soon after the initi­al years, the coal pri­ces on the world mar­ket drop­ped and mining in a remo­te place was not eco­no­mic­al any­mo­re. In the 1930s, other busi­nesses were tried, such as offe­ring har­bour ser­vices to fishing ves­sels or ope­ning up for tou­rists by ope­ning the North Pole hotel. Neither of tho­se attempts tur­ned out to be pro­fi­ta­ble.

Rene­wed attempts for mining were made after the Second World War, but the com­mu­ni­ty suf­fe­r­ed hea­vy los­ses during seve­ral mine acci­dents. As a con­se­quence, mining was final­ly aban­do­ned in 1963 and also the sett­le­ment was initi­al­ly left to its­elf. But soon sci­en­tists dis­co­ver­ed Ny-Åle­sund as a per­fect place for polar rese­arch. Start­ing in the 1970s, a num­ber of nati­ons have estab­lished sta­ti­ons for sea­so­nal or year-round rese­arch acti­vi­ty in Ny-Åle­sund.

The­re is no per­ma­nent popu­la­ti­on in a stric­ter sen­se, the­re are no fami­lies, no child­ren gro­wing up the­re. In the sum­mer, the­re are usual­ly bet­ween 150 and 200 peo­p­le in Ny-Åle­sund, most of the sci­en­tists who lea­ve when their work is done. In the win­ter, the popu­la­ti­on is accor­din­gly redu­ced to 30-40 peo­p­le who keep the place run­ning.

Ny-Åle­sund recei­ved world­wi­de public atten­ti­on during the years of the north pole expe­di­ti­ons of Roald Amund­sen (1926, air­ship Nor­ge) and Umber­to Nobi­le (1928, air­ship Ita­lia).

Amundsen Ny-Ålesund

Roald Amund­sen in Ny-Åle­sund.

Today, Ny-Åle­sund is often visi­ted by tou­rists who come with crui­se ships. Tou­rism is not on the local agen­da and the­re are no ser­vices offe­red to tou­rists bey­ond a visit to the sou­ve­nir shop (Kongsfjord­bu­tik­ken). The­re is no accom­mo­da­ti­on, shop­ping (bey­ond sou­ve­nirs) or trans­port available to tou­rists.



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last modification: 2019-01-21 · copyright: Rolf Stange