Manufakturhuset (the Manufactory House) has been used in a variety of ways, such as an orphanage, a school, a House of Correction, a church and public offices. The first Manufactory House was built in 1646, but it burnt down in 1702. It was soon rebuilt, but was not taken into proper use until 1743, when the king demanded an end to disorder, theft and other difficulties caused by the beggars in the streets of Bergen. The Manufactory House was restored in 1990.
Early in the 19th century there were two manufactory houses in Bergen. These houses were very simple machine run textile mills. The workers in these early manufactories were mostly put there by force. One mill served for a long period as a reformatory prison – the House of Correction, where the inmates worked as spinners and weavers. Another manufactory was the Workhouse, started by the authorities in 1814. Idle people and alcoholics were put there if they caused a public nuisance.
During its 350 years of existence, the Manufactory House has served several purposes. Originally, in 1646, it was called a “Child House”. Poor boys and girls aged twelve to eighteen, who had lost their guardians, could be raised well and learn a craft. At the same time prostitutes could be placed there, separated from the youths.
Later on the house was turned into an establishment for poor adults and homeless people. Their work was spinning flax into linen thread and spinning tobacco, as well as nail production. In 1744 the house became a punitive workhouse for adults, and in 1789 it was turned into a House of Correction for male thieves.
The Manufactory House was also the common punishment institution for women. There did exist some crime among women, and breaching society’s sexual laws and norms was the most common reason for putting women in the Manufactory House. These rules were strict, particularly for women – sexuality belonged to the married life.
Hans Jacob Dam was manager of the punive workhouse for nearly fifty years in the middle of the 19th centruy. He was described as a cruel and merciless manager, showing little or no compassion with neither the inmates nor their relatives. Families travelling for days to meet their father or husband were met with closed doors. Only exceptionally and in connection with long sentences, the convict got to meet his family. Supposedly, Manager Dam was not very happy when the convicts were allowed to chew tobacco or eat butter, and uttered: “Imagine this situation: we are supposed to summon these crooks and ask them: What pleases you - do you prefer butter or tobacco?” For the last eleven years of his carreer Dam complained about this situation.
Around 1860, we know that the inmates rose at five o’clock in the summer, and at six o’clock in the winter. Water was brought to the dormitories, but the inmates were not encouraged to wash themselves. The work day lasted until 7:45 p.m. Between work hours, the inmates had two food breaks, and they also had a meal towards the end of the day. The inmates were locked up at 8 p.m., and were supposed to go to bed immediately.
Some years before the Manufactory House was made a House of Correction, children were once again being given education here. Keeping children under the same roof as the criminals was obviously not regarded a problem. The two groups were kept separated, and did not have much contact. The children were taught different crafts, and the purpose was to send them on to apprenticeships under masters in these crafts.
The government had been owner of the Manufactory House until 1892, after which the town council took over the building in order to use it as a primary school. The school remained on these premises until 1936. After the Second World War, the house has been used for public purposes.
Lungegården School had, creatively, started to use the church room in the Manufactury House as a gymnastics room. The old church room, which dates back to 1744, is today called “the Theatre” and is used as a convention room.