21 March 2009

Topping-out ceremony

As far back as 5 July 1893, the then Copenhagen Tramway Company approved the drawings for this small waiting room.

For many years it stood on Vestre Kirkegaards Allé in Copenhagen, where it provided shelter for waiting tram passengers. Later it was transferred to the Copenhagen Burial Service and used as a storage shed for equipment. While the building was in the cemetery of Vestre Kirkegaard in Copenhagen, the original wooden floor was replaced with a spare gravestone with the rear side up. At the beginning of the 1970s, the building became superfluous and was offered to the Danish Tramway Historical Society. It was then dismantled and taken to Skjoldenæsholm, where it became the first small building ever to stand on this site, where the first museum tram depot was due to be built.

For a few years this little wooden building stood on the museum forecourt, but it was later taken out to a tram stop called "Flemmings Minde". Here it remained until the spring of 2008, when it was badly in need of a thorough renovation.

For some years the Tramway Museum has enjoyed good collaboration with the Copenhagen Technical Academy, including its practical carpentry training department in Herlev.

Expert instructors from the academy came to the museum to assess the task, and it soon became clear that it would be best to transport the building to the school itself, which had the right tools to renovate the building all the way through.


When it was dismantled it turned out that the building was in a very poor condition after standing outdoors for 115 years. All the load-bearing posts in the corners and walls had been partly replaced some years ago, but the base and roof beams practically crumbled away when the best posts were being removed. On the other hand, all of the decoration, with its rosettes, etc., was very well-preserved and will naturally be restored in the totally renovated building.

At the beginning of the project, the sawmill company Hvalsø Savværk A/S sponsored one cubic metre of oakwood, which could be used to build part of the building frame. Later, more oak was acquired on extremely advantageous terms, so that the building could become a solid construction which, with the right care, will last outdoors for several more centuries.


On Friday 20 March 2009, the carpentry department of Copenhagen Technical Academy in Herlev placed the final rafter in position. Just as must have happened 116 years ago, this was naturally celebrated with a small topping-out ceremony - this time with grilled sausages, and of course the famous 'Tram Beer' from the Tramway Museum.

Later, oak floor joists will be placed in the waiting-room building, and the floor will probably be made of Pomeranian pine planks, if we can obtain these. The wall cladding is in ordinary pine, but all external edges will be given a profile. The roof planks are also in pine, and asphalt board will later be placed on top.

Plenty of work still lies in store for the budding carpentry apprentices, who will thereby be given an opportunity to undertake some very special carpentry tasks which must last for the foreseeable future, and will be seen by the museum's thousands of visitors.

The concrete foundation for the building was cast in the autumn of 2008 by the masonry department of Copenhagen Technical Academy. The foundation has been equipped with ventilation to prevent rot and fungi developing in the floor construction.

It is still much too early to say when the project will be finished, but in the meantime the actual tram stop platform is being equipped with new paving and kerbstones, as well as a couple of renovated Clausen lamps dating from around 1893 which originally used gas, but are now electric.