It was built in the 1780s to save small boats, during the period of the greatest-ever investment in the Swedish navy. Today, the Sloop and Longboat Shed on Stumholmen in Karlskrona is more lively than ever.
During the first half of the 1700s, problems affecting the Swedish navy's small boats had become extremely apparent. In the naval dockyards in Stockholm and Karlskrona, the boats were left outside throughout the year, and even if they were sometimes covered, so as to protect them from the elements, many of them rotted away. This was a great loss of resources. Consequently, in the middle of the 1700s, the navy erected a shed in which the small boats could be built and preserved.
During the 1780s, Gustav III implemented an impressive new building programme for the Swedish navy. This meant that a great number of warships, line ships and frigates were built on the naval base in Karlskrona within the space of a few years. Many new small ship boats, longboats and sloops were also built, so it was all the more urgent to arrange a proper place where they could be stored, maintained and repaired in the winter.
It was to meet this need that the Sloop and Longboat Shed in Stumholmen in Karlskrona was built.
A floor space of 3,600 square meters on each floor
The Sloop and Longboat Shed, which today is a part of the Naval Museum, was ready in 1787. A modern person associates the word "shed" with a small, barren building, but this description does not fit the Sloop and Longboat Shed. Each and every one of the three floors has a floor space of 3,600 square meters. The fascinating roof, which resembles an egg carton, is wide. The ground floor has room for 50 longboats – the largest of the ship boats, which had the task of setting out heavy anchors that were used to move the ships or to transport people and equipment. The second floor could accommodate up to 90 sloops, while the third floor held various type of equipment for the boats.
The middle of the impressive Sloop and Longboat Shed hides a yellow-painted tower that was once used for a lookout and for signalling.
With the help of slipways (equipment for taking the boats up on land), one could easily and smoothly move the longboats to the floor below. The level differences in the landscape around the building made it possible to place sloops and other small boats on the second floor with ease.
Bacillary dysentery and carrier pigeons
The Sloop and Longboat Shed quickly came to be used for purposes other than boats. In 1808, when bacillary dysentry plagued Karlskrona, it was used as a hospital. In the 1800s, its attic became the armoury and clothing supply depot for the fleet. In the begining of the 1920s, a pigeon house for carrier pigeons was built in the impressive building, as carrier pigeons were used by the Swedish Defence Forces right up until the end of the 1940s.
Shed in modern times
Nowadays, however, once again it is only boats that are stored in the Sloop and Longboat Shed, which became a listed building in 1991. It is open to the public every year from 1 June to 31 August. Fascinating boats whiz around here, one of them being the Royal Sloop. Built in 1844, the Royal Sloop was last rowed in 1988, when His Majesty King Carl Gustaf XVI conducted the traditional regent's tour of the realm.
There are also ten barks from the 1800s that belong to the Carlskrona Båteskader boat club, which sails them in a race, and a collapsible lifeboat of a type used by Swedish submarines in the early days of the twentieth century – to name a few of the many examples.
Now, in the new millenium, the Sloop and Longboat Shed is a place where a lot happens. Here, small boats from the different epochs are maintained and renovated. Litorina folk high school holds boat-building courses here, and there are also tackle workshops, sail-making courses and motor works on the premises. Hundreds of years after it was first built, the Sloop and Longboat Shed on Stumholmen is still a vibrant, lively establishment.