Category Archives: History

Old Rauma open yard

Tapio Niemi and his wife have a private museum in Old Rauma. They open it for the public to see for free. Often do I get a request from visitors to see a yard in the old town. So when you come for a tour, I try to get you to see the pearls of Eteläpitkäkatu 30.

The homes those days weren’t so overloaded with things, I guess. But it is wonderful to see all that. Feels like a home, not a museum.

The storage rooms had a toilet on second floor, with dirt falling on first floor. The excrement of domestic animals were collected there as well. Remember, the sewage system came in 1935. Imagine sitting there next to your neighbor and discussing daily politics. Or why else would it be 4 seats next to each other?

It is called a WÄLMLÄ HOME MUSEUM, but they have no website.

Sailors’ lonely wives

The wife of a seamen, depicted on the paintings of the 19th century, is standing on the sea side sad and distressed. Next time she sees the husband in a year or two. Maybe never. She is responsible for taking care of the house and the kids alone. I wrote this story to the newspaper Raumalainen, published on 17.07.2019.

Every third man in Rauma was a sailor around the middle of the 19th century. In 1830 Rauma seamen got the right to sail further away from the shores of Finland, on open seas all around the world.  Sailors received new duties at faraway ports and their ships did not return home for years.

The sailor’s wife received a third or half of the man’s wage through the seamen’s house. Not bad! But that was not enough to feed the family. Women had to rent out rooms in order to make extra money. They would take care of the sick, the orphans and the old people and be paid by the seamen’s house (just as if the men on sea would pay their wives, but the money goes to a caretaker). If women had no house of their own, they would have to work as maids and live in the employer’s house (under constant supervision, losing their independence). Most of the women from 1750s to 1840s were engaged in bobbin lace making for extra revenue.

The other men in the family, the grandfathers and the brothers, helped them. Sometimes a grandma would live in the next room, as you can see in Kirsti’s house museum.

One fifth of the seamen earned so well that they could buy the real estate from that income. Only house owners were allowed to practice farming and rent fields from the city. It was a good side income. The owners of the Kirsti’s house kept cattle from 1755 until 1947.

The salary and working conditions of Finnish sailors were not good. No wonder they escaped the ship for a better life in America or for a better paid job on American or English ships. Some got sick on faraway journeys and had to be left at the hospital in South Africa or other remote countries, with no opportunity to return.

According to Jari Lybeck’s dissertation, 270 seamen from Rauma escaped from the ship in 1840-1870 (that is 30 years). The same happened on the other Finnish ships and every third seamen from Turku would desert the ship! The masters would then have to find new personnel in order to continue sailing.

Picture by Juha Sinisalo , Raumalainen. I am looking out of the window at Kirsti’s house to see if my seaman is coming home.

What did the seamen eat on long journeys during the times they had no refrigerators? Pea soup and porridge. Porridge and pea soup. Stomach pains, yes. Weak health from the lack of vitamin C as well. When they reached the land, they would buy meat, fruit, alcohol, tobacco and coffee. It was only after the 1850s that they had any money. And the young boys, of course, went for an “adventure”. Married men wanted the same, but they were afraid the rumors would reach their families at home. They were all from the same town.

Have you seen the porcelain dogs on the windows in the old Rauma? The dogs look in the house if the man is home. According to a rumor these were given to the seamen as gifts by the most expensive prostitutes at English ports.

Later, when china dogs were not available, housewives placed the OMO washing powder box on a window (OMO- like the Old Man Out, you know).

But only a third of the divorces were a result of a woman’s misbehavior. Only? Or too many? I wonder where these extra men arrived to the small town to comfort lonely women, if at some point Rauma had 1000 seamen (sounds like all boys aged 10+ and men were on the sea).

A woman filed for a divorce if a man had deserted the ship for a better life and there was no sign of him for a year. Usually she waited longer, even 10-20 years. A single woman with kids was not a nice status those days. Some did a crime to feed the family. A seamen’s house supported those deserted wives to some extent, but not forever. If she got pregnant, she filed for a divorce. She could keep his belongings, as he was the initial cause of their divorce (not her extramarital relationship). She had to be quick, as he could still decide to return and she would be the only sinful.

It was not only the status of a married woman, the independence from a master and the financial security that lead women to such a lonely marriage. It might as well been love. Why else would anyone walk all the way from Rauma to Turku harbor (100 kilometers!) to meet a husband. It took them days to get there. They helped carry the things home. Gifts? Stockings? Perfumes? No.  All she got from a well-travelled man was a self-made ship in a bottle. Most important was that he came back alive. The captain’s wife might have got a scarf.

Nowadays not only the seamen leave homes and families. Several positions require a trip from time to time. But our spouses come home more often. We have the electricity, washing machines, television, hot water. Food is available at the store; there is no need to grow the potatoes and keep cattle. Children’s diapers go into garbage, not the laundry. Rauma is no longer a city of single mothers.

Enjoy your family summer holiday and why not visit the Rauma museums together. The sailor’s house museum Kirsti is open on summer time only (Tue-Sun 10-17). Rauma Maritime Museum is open every day in summer (from 11-17). On other times it is only on Saturdays. The wealthy shipowner’s Gabriel Granlund house museum Marela is open every day except Mondays.

Article by Kairi Rintanen (just like all the others in this blog)

House museum Marela

Marela shows the life and lifestyle of a wealthy shipowner and his family at the turn of the 1900s, the golden age of seafaring in Rauma.

The shipowner Gabriel Granlund II started off at sea at age 9. He didn’t go to school, but he knew foreign languages. His English skills, for example, were used at the peace negotiations of the Crimean War in 1855, when British ships tried to bomb Rauma.

He founded the family quite late. He was 57, when he married a 20 years younger Kristina. They had 3 sons, one of whom died in a sailing accident at an early age.

Gabriel was a rich, but stingy man. When he died in 1901, his grown-up sons and the wife started wide renovations of the house and built a summer residence Villa Tallbo (now a fancy restaurant). They went bankrupt soon. Not only because of wasting the money, but also due to the more competitive steam ships. None of their belongings can be seen at the museum, but thanks to the precise bankruptcy list, similar things have been found there.

Rauma Old Town Hall

Rauma’s town council has been in several buildings before the people of Rauma built this baroque style stone house in 1776. It is similar to one in Porvoo.

The 18th century town halls in Rauma and Porvoo are the only ones in Finland which have remained in their original form. Rauma’s building is the second oldest stone building in Rauma after the Church of the Holy Cross (1512).

In 1776 Rauma was a town of 1500 people, half of whom were working age people. Each was required to bring grey stones for the construction of the building.

The town council moved away from the second floor into a new building in 1902 and the police department moved out of the first floor in 1930ies. Rauma museum occupies the whole building since then.

Why Rauma got a museum so early? In 1891, during the renovations of the Holy Cross Church, many things needed to be stored somewhere. Hence the idea of a museum was born.

Funny, the museum walls say the town had 15 city councilors, chosen among the biggest tax payers. But those wealthy men were not interested in such additional tasks given to them. The only revenue they received was a free rent of a cabbage field for 8 years. Haha. Imagine telling this to your current city mayor 😊

Collecting taxes to the Swedish king was an unpleasant thing to do and the youngest clerk got that job. The Swedish copper coin from the 1700s and 1800s could be 19 kilos heavy! Look at the picture.

The second floor is about the history of Rauma and Finland. The first floor has an exhibition of Rauma bobbin lace. Now that it has temporarily moved into the premises of Marela house museum, the Town Hall museum holds an exhibition of church lace.

The first floor has a nice souvenir shop. Toilets are on the ground floor. You can see the windows of the lockup (prison).

By the way, while in Rauma, visit 3 museums for the price of 8 euros! (Raathihuone- old town hall, Kirsti seaman’s house museum and Marela shipowner’s house museum).

The long awaited railway

It was a time when roads were of bad condition and horses were used for the transportation of goods. Don’t forget that Rauma had the biggest sailing ship capacity in 1892-1898 in whole Finland! But what to ship if there was no connection to the factories?

Rauma asked government for the railway already in 1880s, but the heads of state refused to invest in such a small town. Rauma was a city of 4000 people, just like Uusikaupunki. But Pori, which received the railway connection, had over 10 000 inhabitants. Pori and Rauma have for long been competing with each other for the same projects.

Rauma’s old locomotive

Besides the funds of the road transportation, which were derived from taxing the alcohol consumption, were low those days.

As the long-awaited 47 kilometers of railroad was ready, the town’s people were in an overly festive mood hooraying on the streets of Rauma.

Rauma would not be such an important export harbor these days if the town council had not decided to take action then.

Also the training center for teachers was established in Rauma due to the positive developments in transport connections. It would otherwise have gone to Pori.

Railroad history

The first regular rail service started in the United States in 1830. The same year in England. In 1850’s in Finland.
The railway was considered expensive and not suitable for winter traffic. The government was thinking of creating a transport network through building inland river-channels instead!

Compared to horse transport, the railway was fast and efficient. The Emperor Alexander II announced that a railway had to be built from Helsinki to Hämeenlinna. So the first railway in the country was already 35 years before.

In 1868, the Riihimäe- St. Petersburg line was opened (in order to be able to bring food from Russia during the years of hunger).

Rauma was the only municipality to build its own railway

Stenius supported the construction

In 1895, Rauma received permission to build a railway and government promised to give half of the money if the town of 4000 people found the other half. That was 20 times the size of Rauma’s annual budget. It is 9.5 million euros in today’s currency.

Merchant J. L. Stenius inherited 145,000 marks in his will for the construction of the track. The city borrowed another 1 million marks in bonds. Construction went fast and the track was completed with a smaller budget due to the delay. The price of iron and steel had almost dropped by half and the interest rates on loans had also declined.

When Rauma got its 47.5 km long railway line from Rauma harbor to Kokemäe Peipohja in Pori, it started transporting both cargo and passengers. Different wagons were merged into one. Wagons were rented from the government.

Construction

There was a lack of carpenters and sometimes the work was interrupted by excessive drinking, but otherwise the work progressed quickly and great damage was avoided on site. At some point, there 1,500 employees (in the town of 4000 people!) and accommodation problems occurred. Fifty families were homeless before the winter arrived. They were accommodated in summer villas, at a cholera hospital on Syväraumankatu street and at restaurant Suoja at the harbor.

An interesting fact

For 3 years the Rauma Town Hall clock was 14 minutes behind the railway station’s clock. In 1899 the official time of Helsinki was introduced in the whole city to avoid misunderstandings. But who needs a clock anyway, haha. The first 100 years the town hall clock showed hours only.

Railway station

The Rauma railway station is as old as the railway, built in 1897. The drawings are similar to that of Oulu railway station.  
The appearance of the building is unchanged, but the interior has been changed during renovations. The city sold the building to private hands 20 years ago. The current owner is planning to build a restaurant in the old premises.

Refugee port during the war

At the beginning of the World War I in 1914, all Finnish harbors were closed except the one of Rauma! Refugees started to use this as an opportunity to escape from Russia to Western Europe and vice versa. The port in Pori, Mäntyluoto, was open for the traffic of goods only. Or was it?

I have seen pictures of nicely dressed ladies sitting on top of their hat boxes on the sandy dunes of Rauma pine forest. The first refugees were of an upper class and could pay for the housing and food to Rauma families, in money or jewelry. They travelled in VIP wagons of the train. The rest were not doing so well and helping became a burden to the citizens of Rauma.

Why the port of Rauma was not closed by the Russian decision makers? I made a quick research and came to these conclusions (you may correct):
1. It was a winter port. The sea was ice free.
2. Same railway track width as in Russia.
3. Rauma port was active in foreign trade.
4. Affordable position as a recipient of Gevle and Stockholm traffic

The shipping offices moved from Helsinki to Rauma (also the branch office of the famous butter producer Valio).

The goods for the Russian state arrived to Rauma in bad condition. It had been stored outside in Sweden and got wet on the way. It could have been an arbitrary behavior of frustrated people. Not everyone was on the Russian side. Different books give different approaches on being faithful to the Russian government and about the relationship to the German enemy. Sea marks were removed from near the port to confuse the German enemies.

In 1950 Rauma sold the railway to the state as it was economically difficult to maintain. Rauma city received 175 million marks from the sale that it used for the construction of Otankoulu schoolhouse in 1952 (the yellow building near the baseball field and the beach).

Passenger traffic

Passenger traffic on the track ended in 1988 and from then on people were taken to Kokemäe by bus. The Tampere – Pori train stops at Kokemäe.

Freight traffic is still very lively, and the track was electrified in 1997, 100 years after its establishment.

The Finnish government was recently offering four towns of Finland to participate in a short pilot project to test if there was a need for the passenger railway traffic. Rauma was unfortunately left out of the project as the research showed low interest in passenger traffic (70 000 -100 000 passengers per year would only be 10% of the full capacity; 14-20 passengers per train). The railway station would have been built somewhere close to Prisma or Citymarket, cause its old building is under private ownership and in a distant place.

Matti Vahe ja Mauri Rautavuori, the experts of the Rauma railway history, are of the opinion that the city council’s brave decision to build the railway on its own was as good as today’s city council’s decision to rescue the shipbuilding business by purchasing the premises of the shipbuilding company that closed its doors in Rauma 7 years ago. Rauma Marine Constructions has a bright future ahead with orders for about 1 billion euros for the coming 7-8 years!

So it is all connected to each other. Rauma started to flourish as it got its own railway connection! The population has grown from 4 000 to 40 000 people. Rauma is a successful industrial town.

I just wish we had more people visiting the town. A spa would be an opportunity to get people visit Rauma all year round. But it’s another topic. Enjoy the many beaches of the Rauma town while it’s still warm outside.

Kirsti house museum

This is the most lovely house museum in the Old Rauma and it is open in summer only.
It has been in the ownership of the same family for 200 years until the city bought it in 1970ies .
Each room is decorated in a certain area- from 1920ies .. up to 1960ies.

You can see where a family of 4 lived in the same room and grandma in the back room (lace making equipment on a table).
You can see the room from 1920ies from when there was no electricity, but an oil lamp on the wall.
You can see the part of the house from 1960ies, where kitchen was modernized. The heating stove was thrown out to make space for the in- the- house- toilet. Kitchen had a running water and an electric stove. TV also came in the 60ies and had the central location in the room.

Some interesting facts from the past!
Electricity came in 1900, but first it was used at the town entities and later it was sold to the households.
Houses were connected to the city’s drinking and sewage water system in 1930ies.
First cars in Finland in 1900, but mainly used by rich Russian travelers or Swedish companies that transported their products through Finland to Russia. They had cattle as well til the 1950ies.
Television came in the early 1960ies.

Visit the website of Kirsti museum

Poroholma 5* camping area

Rauma used to be a well known spa town in the mid 1700ies and 1800ies. Rich people from Finland would come to drink the magic waters of the Kaivonpuisto spa. They would stay in one of the summer residents near the seaside or in the old town of Rauma.

Not much is left to remind us of the spa time, except the renovated “outdoor terrace” of the Kaivonpuisto park that is now located at the Poroholma seaside area (left on the picture).

Poroholma is a 5 star camping area built around an old summer resort from 1880ies. The seashore has moved kilometers away from where it used to be near the old town border.

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Although a seaside town, Rauma is rather an industrial town. Spa industry would bring more tourists and activity to the town all year round.

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There is a famous 3-day festival on the St John’s Day that brings along 35 thousand young people at the end of June.
Raumanmeren juhannus – info

Read more here
More pictures here