Today the Bergen County Jail is an incipient ruin next door to the new Town Hall. Once it was a top modern prison with facilities still new to many citizens in Bergen. The first prisoners were jailed there in 1867, and the last prisoners moved out in 1990. Since then, the old jail building has become an overgrown ghost house.
When the Bergen Fire Brigade was founded in 1868, Corps de Garde was an obvious choice as one of two primary locations for fire stations. Corps de Garde, however, has a history that goes some years further back.
The history of the Rosenkrantz Tower dates back to around 1270. The tower grew taller and taller over the centuries, to send warnings of fear to uninvited military guests and to make a political statement towards the Hanseatic League. The view from the tower is amazing. From the rooftop one can see the whole town, the harbour, the coastline and the islands off the coast of Bergen. In the basement of the Rosenkrantz Tower there is a dungeon. The people kept there did not have much else in view than torture or execution.
Ladegårdsgaten 19 was built in 1853. The house started out as a school, Stølen School. Later on it has been used as a maritime school, a fire station and a police station. Today the house is privately owned.
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.
Execution is an old and well-known way of punishment. It still goes on in many countries, and the methods in use are plentiful and varied. Anne Pedersdatter Beyer was burnt as a witch at Nordnes in 1590. The last execution performed in Bergen during peace time was when Swedish-Norwegian Jacob A.J. Wallin was beheaded at Nordnes in 1876.
The basement in the Town Hall was used as a prison until 1867, when Bergen County Jail was ready to incarcerate criminals – one man to one prison cell. In the Town Hall basement more than twelve prisoners could be put in each cell. The basement also accommodated the mentally ill in a bedlam.
The prison at Bergenhus Fort and Castle was commonly known as the Slave Prison. The convicts of particularly hard crimes were kept here. The prison opened in 1739, and offered board and lodging to people who had been a bit careless about the laws of society. The last slaves left the prison in 1878.
If you one day found yourself being a slave at Bergenhus Fort and Castle, you had turned into a criminal of great proportions, such as a notorius thief or a killer. The Slave prison was not a place where the rehabilitation of criminals was a highly regarded philosophy. But if anything at all was to soften the hardened criminal’s heart, it would have to be the words of the Lord. In 1840 two rooms in the crypt of Håkon’s Hall were turned into a church for the slaves.