The towns growth from the 1850s created the opportunity for considerable new housing developments. Several new quarters were established in the years between c.1850 and the turn of the century to both the east and west of the old town centre. The Konsul Graus Gade Quarter and the Vesterbrogade Quarter stem from the second half of the nineteenth century. Låsbygade, the towns old approach road from the west, was regarded until the beginning of the 1870s as the towns most important trading street. Here lay most of the merchants houses, but when the state railway station was placed by the harbour and the tracks were laid through the southern part of the town, the centre of trade moved little by little to the Jernbanegade/Østergade Quarter.
At the same time there was a change in the character of the trading. Earlier it had taken place in the shops adjoining the merchants houses, where people had shopped both wholesale and retail. Now some merchants specialised in wholesaling certain goods, others in the retail trade. Alongside this countless small shops sprang up on the towns shopping street. As a result of developments in industry some craftsmen began, instead of practising their trade, to sell the corresponding factory produced goods in their shops. Other shops were established by the many people who moved to the town, either from the hinterland or from North Schleswig, which many youths left to escape German military service. In this period the town became more ‘enlightened. The communal gasworks was built in 1861, and in 1898 the power station followed. The town received street lights, first gas lamps, later electric lights.
Extensive Building Projects
From 1880 to 1911 the number of inhabitants doubled yet again, from 7,141 til 14,219. The many newcomers found work in trading in particular. Kolding was during this period a centre for the exportation of livestock, particularly to Germany. The export of eels and trade in seed, fertilzer, and feed was also an important business activity. Amongst the most important industrial companies in this period were De Danske Mejeriers Maskinfabrik and S.W.Bruuns tobacco factory, which was for a time Denmarks largest tobacco factory, located where Føtex supermarket now lies.
The increase in population made the need for new housing almost insatiable. From the beginning of the 1880s the entire central part of the town saw rebuilding work. Old half-timbered houses were replaced by new brick-built, presentable houses of several storeys, just as new quarters – particularly south of the river – were developed. A number of talented architects built monumental buildings, Hotel Kolding on Akseltorvets north side – a worthy counterpart to the new Town Hall – Sct. Nicolai School and the Technical College, and the towns parish church were all thus rebuilt.
Until 1908 there was only one bridge across Kolding å river for motorised traffic, Sønderbro, but that year the so-called Nybro (New Bridge) was built. At the end of the 1920s Østerbro and Vesterbro followed, and finally Bredgadebroen was built during the Second World War.
While most of the towns population had earlier lived north of Kolding å river, there lived in around 1930 equal numbers north and south of the river, and since then the housing expansion has been greatest to the south. The allotment societies, which stood for loans for the purchase of grounds and building of smaller villas on the edge of town, are largely to be thanked for the fact that so many people from Kolding could afford their own house and garden.
The housing crisis during the First World War led to the building of the first properties designed for letting in Kolding, amongst others the council development Udsigten, built by the architect Ernst Petersen. He had come to town to build the Domhuset (police station and court) following a large architecture competition, and in the following years it was he who was responsible for numerous public buildings: Harteværket, Denmarks first water power station; the rebuilding of the Town Hall; Nationalbankens branch office, which now houses the councils tax department; Sparkassen Kolding; the Library; Købmandsskolen on Haderslevvej; and Sct. Hedvigs klinik, a Catholic hospital in Domhusgade.
Investment, Industry and Education
The considerable public investments which were implemented in order to reduce unemployment during and immediately after the First World War resulted in a particularly heavy tax burden on the towns inhabitants in the 1920s. The number of inhabitants fell, but the population in the surrounding parishes rose. It was an unfair situation that many people enjoyed the fruits of the activity in Kolding without paying for their share of it. Therefore, an annexation of the built-up areas of the neighbouring parishes was implemented in 1930. The towns total number of inhabitants rose to just under 22,000, and the towns area was doubled.
The positive effects of the annexation soon became apparent. The town was only to a lesser extent hit by the great unemployment of the 1930s. On top of this, the Lillebæltsbroen bridge, which was completed in 1935, was advantageous for Koldings location as a centre of trade and traffic.
A number of older industrial concerns, amongst them S.W.Bruuns tobacco factory, had to concede defeat around 1930, but others experienced growth, in particular factories with links to farming and the manufacture of agricultural products. Kolding Hørfabrik, active 1939 to 1965, was after the war the concern which employed the largest number of people. At the end of the 1940s several new steel industries were established, including Diesella which produced scooters and, so to speak, got Denmark moving. The great industrial upswing first occurred, however, with the boom at the beginning of the 1960s, and the laying out of purpose-built industrial estates where many companies working with stainless steel have set up shop. Furthermore, a number of firms working with the applied arts, for example Georg Jensen Damaskvæveriet A/S, Hans Hansen Sølvsmedie A/S (now Georg Jensen Kolding, part of the Royal Scandinavia group), Anni og Bent Knudsen, and Bent Gabrielsen Guldsmedie, are grouped in Kolding.
Efforts to make the town a centre of education in Southern Jutland have resulted in Kolding today being a university town featuring a department of Syddansk Universitet (University of Southern Denmark) developed on the basis of a polytechnic department to which the subjects Danish and English have been added. There is also a college of pedagogy, a ‘specialarbejderskole for the training of semi-skilled workers, and the Technical College from which Designskolen Kolding has sprung, one of two design colleges in Denmark. A teacher training college was established in 1953, but closed again in 1992 in connection with general cuts in state education.
From Demolition to Redevelopment
Traffic problems in the town have been debated heatedly since the 1930s. A main road along the castle lake, which was part of the town plan of 1947, wasnt given up until the 1960s. Instead, a ring road system has been constructed, and the motorway bypass has spared Kolding from unwanted traffic at the same time as it has connected the town to the great European motorway network. Today, Kolding has motorway connections to all four corners of the world.
The boom of the 1960s and early 1970s was to the detriment of Koldings old town centre – as has been the case in many of the countrys other market towns. The Vestergade Quarter was pulled down to make room for a centre encompassing a Town Hall and businesses, but these plans were later given up. Parts of Søndergade were pulled down to make room for a supermarket. But the large-scale demolitions are over. Instead Kolding has shown the way as regards redevelopment. The Konsul Graus Gade Quarter has been rebuilt according to the old patterns of development. Large parts of the buildings along Låsbygade have been cleared and included in the redevelopment works. The wound which was opened with the removal of Vestergade has been healed with the Cityarkaden and Midtgården. Kolding can once more present itself as a whole town. At the end of the 1980s the towns traffic system was reconstructed through the opening of the ring road. The town centre was thus made peaceful as regards traffic at the same time as a comprehensive modernisation of the buildings and streets was completed. Today, the town centre appears well-kept and attractive. The entire town centre was furnished with an uniform pavement of brick and granite.
In the same period the town has focused strongly on culture. Koldinghus has been restored through two decades (reopened 1989), and the castle today exists as a unique mixture of historical monument and exceptional new architecture, an impressive setting for a cultural historical museum with international special exhibitions. A Danish Silver Museum is being built up at Koldinghus. With Trapholt the town has gained a museum of modern art in an interesting building (opened 1988, expanded considerably 1997 with the founding of the Danish Furniture Museum). And with Kolding Theatre next to Hotel Comwell Kolding (previously Scanticon Kolding) the town has received the large hall for theatre, music, and conferences which it has lacked during most of the twentieth century. The hall was opened in 1991 and has led to a revitalising of the theatrical and musical life of Kolding.
In 1993 Kolding Storcenter was opened on a piece of land between Kolding and Bramdrupdam. Beforehand, there had been a heated debate about whether to support the town centre or to build a new shopping mall. With Kolding Storcenter, Kolding gained a retail magnet which attracts many customers from the whole of Southern Jutland. Simultaneously, the town centre experienced, as expected, a small downturn which has, however, more or less been won back. The area around the Storcenter continues to attract the types of shops which will attract further trade to the town.
Many businesses are established or open branches in the Kolding region, and with the opening of the Great Belt bridge it can be felt that the town lies at the centre of the Danish traffic network. Particularly transport firms and firms in need of centrally placed warehouse facilities come to the town and the surrounding area.