Vinterviken was once the location of the world’s first commercial nitroglycerine factory and the basis for Alfred Nobel’s success.
In 1865, Alfred Nobel bought a farm in Vinterviken in Stockholm to start manufacturing the highly explosive and violently unstable compound, nitroglycerine. The business started small but soon expanded to meet the demand for the chemical, created by the building of a few railroad tunnels in the city. The spot was chosen carefully, it was surrounded by hills to protect the neighboring areas from any accidental explosions, but was still close to Stockholm and next to the water providing the potential to build quays.
Initially, the facilities were simple sheds and some of the manufacturing took place outdoors. The spring of 1866 marked a dark period for the facility with a few serious accidents killing numerous employees. By that time Nobel had already lost his brother in a similar accident a few years earlier and he realized that something had to be done to handle and transport the explosive in a safe way. Nitroglycerine was too volatile and could explode for seemingly no reason at all.
Alfred started experimenting with different explosives and absorbents but couldn’t find what he was looking for until he one day happened to mix nitroglycerine with diatomaceous earth. The result was a soft, pliable material, like dough, relatively stable, and easy to handle safely. He succeeded in detonating the material using his blasting cap and kaboom, dynamite was born.
Today only a few traces can be found of what was the world’s first commercial factory for nitroglycerine. The former explosives factory now houses a restaurant, but a few blasting bunkers can still be found next to the water.
Know Before You Go
Vinterviken is a 15-20 minute walk away from the metro station Aspudden on the red line.