Skjoldastraumen is so narrow and Grindafjorden (Skjoldafjorden) on the inside so big that the tidal water hardly gets in before it must come out again. This ends up with very strong streams in the narrow sound and which has made it difficult, not to say, dangerous for sailors.
Several times people in the area has proposed wortks to make it easier to pass. In the 1850ies a plan was made, and money gathered and some big stones in the fairway was removed. This was excellent for small boats, but was not good enough for bigger ships.
In 1866 the local council asked the government for money to make it possible for steamers to pass through the sound. The harbour manager found that it would cost about 14 000 NOK to dig a canal through the stream. The Canal department surpervised the works. In 1872 the steamer Skjold tested the canal, but got stuck. A year later Skjold tried again, with the same result. After this the canal department made new plans, but no works were started.
As the trade with the closest town Haugesund increased the trouble with Skjoldastraumen threatened to stop the developement in the area and in 1893 the local council once again asked for help from the government. Now the costs were estimated to 37 000 NOK. The government would pay half of it if the local council also payed half. But this was too much for the local council, so no works could start.
In 1895 the government's harbour manager made new plans. He planned for a 460 meter canal by Straumsholmen and a lock with gates both for high and low tides. The canal would be 3 meter deep and 10 meter wide, and the cost was estimated to 112 000 NOK. The plans got an OK i 1900, but works did not start until March 1904. The canal and lock was ready for use in autumn 1908 and the total cost was 161 000 NK.
On November 14th 1908 the lock and canal was officially opened when the three steamers Karmøy, Robert and Skjold passed through. By this a dream of generations about easy saling throgh the stream became true. During many decades the steamers used this canal to carry people and gods between Skjoldafjorden and the big cities Stavanger and Haugesund.
In 1932 a swingbridge for roadtraffic was built across the canal. This old bridge is now usually open for boats, but it is in good shape and used once a year at the lock-festival in June. A new lifting bridge was built for road traffic in 1987 and is used when freigthers and big sail boats want to pass into or out of Skjoldafjorden.
This lock in Skoldastraumen is one of two saltwater locks in Norway, and it is the only one that has been in constant use since opening in 1908. The other lock, the one at Lindås north of Bergen has been out of service since the 1960ies, but is now beeing renovated.
Jahn Børe Jahnsen
The lock chamber being built within a sheltered weir dam in 1907.
The opening ceremony in 1908.
© Pictures by Torleiv Tveit.
Click here to get back to the startpage.
This page was modified at 12-08-06