- A Historical Review

The suburb which became an independent industrial town.


With this small text we will try to give you a very short briefing on the history of our great town Sundbyberg. At least about some of the most important things in its modern history.

One could ask oneself what's so special about Sundbyberg. Songs, comedies and several books have been written about it, even television programmes as the popular "Lorry", named after one of the most famous places in town, has it´s own little inventor from Sundbyberg performed by actor Peter Dalle. To understand the magic of Sundbyberg you have to know something about the founder of the town and the people who came to live and work here.

How did it all start?

About 150 years ago Sundbyberg was considered an agricultural area in the coutryside. There were only a few mansions and they were more or less owned by the same owner, who lived at The Estate "Sundbybergs Gård".

A.P.Löfström In 1863 a man called Anders Petter Löfström bought the estate, including the other mansions and farms in the area. He was originally an agriculturalist but as he liked to work hard he soon turned into a real country squire and owner of a lot of estates all over the country. but he was a very special man and a very special squire, he was a working squire taking part in all kinds of duties and practical work concerning the estate. He was a real self-made man and he never liked the power he in the long run came to possess.

During this period Stockholm became crowded as a lot of people had to move from the agricultural parts of Sweden when a lot of farms had to close down. Sweden was at last changing from being an agricultural country into an industrialized one. As the former farm workers were forced into the larger cities these became just like Stockholm, overcrowded. Of course neither Stockholm nor any other town was prepared for this migration and there was not enough housing for the workers.

The important railroad

Löfström and his wife Emma were very liberal and religiously minded with a great interest in social welfare and they wanted to do something for homeless workers and their families. Löfström had connections everywhere and he heard about the plans to build a railroad from Stockholm to Västerås and realized that if he could persuade the private railroad company to place a part of the railroad within Sundbyberg he could also help the poor workers in Stockholm as well as himself. With a train connection to Stockholm a worker could easily live in Sundbyberg and work in Stockholm. He did succeed in his plans and sold a great piece of land very very cheap to the railroad company and they started to build their railroad. In 1876 the railroad opened up.

A new modern suburb - the very first

Löfström then started to sell out pieces of land, very cheap we might add, to workers who then got the possibility to build their own homes. Löfström got his inspiration from Europe with all it's new and modern suburbs, particularly from England. He got a lot of help and inspiration from his sons who travelled all over the world. His eldest son Per Johan who had a Master of Architecture from the Vienna Academy helped his father making up drafts for houses and an infrastructure of a town.

Löfström's original idea was to build a new and modern suburb but it did not turn out that way in the long run. All around Stockholm construction of houses for workers and white collar workers was taking place, so in the late 1880-ies there was not such a big demand for land and houses in Sundbyberg anymore.
Löfström then came up with the idea that he might attract some businessmen to start up factories and mills in order to make Sundbyberg, as such, attractive as a place to both live and work in. He made contact with Carl Richard Nyberg, the Sievert brothers and many many others. They were all, as Löfström, self-made men and saw the opportunity to, for a cheap price, buy themselves land for their companies mills and factories. They all became very successful throughout the world.

Max Sievert and L. M. Ericsson

One of them, Max Sievert - and his brothers - were good friends of L. M. Ericsson, the founder of the Ericsson telecommunications company, and after a few years they started to fabricate telephone cables exclusively for him. This was a very important change in the working life of Sundbyberg. For the first time there were now jobs for women. They could for the first time enter the labour market without having to leave home. They could manufacture telephone cables at home in their own kitchens. In 1928 Ericsson bought the whole business from Sievert but the factory remained in Sundbyberg. Even today with new technology, downsizing and outscoring, we can still find a small division of Ericsson within our town - Ericsson Cables, still offering jobs for some of our citizens.

A growing area

Well then, what happened with Sundbyberg ? In 1888 Sundbyberg gained the right to become a "köping", an independent urban district (small market town) and a lot of people started to move in from all over the country. They had found themselves a new place to lead their lives. Sundbyberg was now filled with workers and factories and to serve them the town also needed shops, doctors, craftsmen and so forth.

Löfström started to build more than a 100 houses by himself in order to attract those kinds of people and as always he succeeded. He also built a church, the first town hall, the first school, the first nursery and day-care-center, among other things, and donated everything to the town including the legal rights to the water of Bällsta River.

Population Male Female Total
1895 777 838 1615
1897 850 887 1737
1899 926 1103 2029
1901 1128 1244 2372
1903     3031
1905 1719 1809 3528
1907 1997 2124 4121
1909 2178 2264 4442
1911 2353 2427 4780

Duvbo - a very special place

As mentioned above Löfström also owned the estate "Duvbo Gård" situated just north of the centre of Sundbyberg. He found no need for that land anymore although he used the land, or rather the clay he could find on the land for his brickmill. Bricks which were used to build houses within Sundbyberg and even in Stockholm. Due to his connections with businessmen from Stockholm he was involved with plans to build small new villa suburbs all around Stockholm. He took a great interest in all kinds of plans that included housing for workers and sold the Duvbo Estate to a newly formed company, mainly formed by workers in Stockholm, in which he held shares, called "AB Egna Hem På Landet" (Villas on the Countryside Ltd.). "AB Egna Hem På Landet" started to sell out the land and within a very short period of time the area Duvbo was built. To make the area even more attractive a new railway station was built, the "Sundbyberg Norra" situated very close to Duvbo.

Duvbo is considered the first area of Egna Hem in Sweden and is therefore now protected from major changes. To own a house in Duvbo is equal to a great responsibility to preserve historical object for the future. When there is a demand for restoration etc it is to be done in a way so that you do not alter the special design of the area or it's houses.

Independent - at last!

Löfström, who started everything about suburbs in Sweden, turned out to be the founder of an independent industrial town without the need for Stockholm. Sundbyberg grew and grew and the population which came from different parts of Sweden with different experiences and different backgrounds started to organize, religious people started building a lot of churches, workers started labour unions and political organizations. Sundbyberg became a town where people did care for one another. It became a place where children were born and where their grandparents died, generation after generation. A very special spirit, called Sundbybergsandan (The Sundbyberg Spirit), makes people love their town and stay here. A person from Sundbyberg is not likely to move from here and people from the outside world find the town so exotic and special that they more than gladly wait years and years to find themselves an apartement or house in Sundbyberg.

In 1927 Sundbyberg gained the rights to become an independent town. Sundbyberg is still independent and we do hope it will stay that way!

Sundbyberg 1995 (revised aug 1997)

Lena A Löfström

PS. One strange thing with Sundbyberg is that it, along with is neighbour town Solna, is actually surrounded by the borders of Stockholm. Sundbyberg is like a small island within the great sea of Stockholm. DS.