Travelling from the forest and Vinberg, the road winds close to the buildings of Vängsbo, overlooking a patchwork of woods and fields, the Vägnan lake and the Voxna river valley. The farms are scattered down towards the open farmlands and the lake below. The village has an old-fashioned layout and a long history. It is unusual in that most of the farms remain undivided: the 1794 land division reforms came to nothing here due to disputes about land allocation, and the 1853 distribution only resulted in three farms being moved. Vängsbo is an area of national cultural interest and, along with the listed building Nygårds, is a World Heritage Site candidate.

Pictures from Vängsbo          Nygårds farm with its unique pediment

Pictures from Vängsbo                                                     Nygårds farm with its unique pediment
Photographs:  Lars Lööv


The big farms of Vängsbo

Vängsbo is dominated by big farmhouses and cowsheds built in the late 19th century and around the turn of the 20th; the settlement has much older roots however. There is a striking difference between the grand buildings of Långhed and those of Vängsbo. In Långhed, all the old traditional farm cottages were completely replaced around 1850 by the new wider buildings of the time; in Vängsbo, however, people simply modernised their older buildings, making them longer and higher.

Nygårds is an excellent example of this: the older farm building, with its long side facing the road, a tall traditional cottage painted in pale-pink oil paint, has been extensively studied by experts such as those at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. The farm’s transformation from the little single-storey cottage built in 1786 can be traced, step by step, through the decades of the 19th century up to the turn of the 20th . By this time, the farm was longer, had two storeys and an attic, glassed-in verandas, oil-painted panelling and a unique pediment.

At the turn of the 20th century, a brand new main farmhouse was designed and built on the farm by local master builder Olof Johansson. The family moved into it and kept the old building as a summer home. A few years later, the same builder was commissioned to design a new cowshed. It stands east of the two farmhouses. Many of Olof Johansson’s unique buildings can be seen along the road from Vängsbo to Edsbyn.


Watermill in Vängsbo

The stream cuts through the village and is flanked by watermills
Photograph: Lars Lööv

The industry of the farms – a source of wealth

Agrarian society in Hälsingland was a heavy user of waterpower. It was used to power threshing, grinding, scutching, chopping, crushing and much more. The stream that cuts through Vängsbo is flanked along both banks by old water mills. The dam in the heart of the village and was used to regulate the flow of water. This farm-based industry dates back to Medieval times, grew strongly throughout 18th century, and contributed to the wealth of Hälsingland farms up to the mid-19th century. A flax scutchery, mill, a shingle machine and threshing barn remain in Vängsbo. 


Text Ingalill Tengvall


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