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History

De Ansatte ved fyrstikkfabrikken Development at Raufoss

It all started with the establishment of a match factory at Raufoss in 1873. After a third fire in 1893, the burned-down factory building was rebuilt, but the owners had lost faith in further operation.

In 1892, a defence commission proposed to move the production of cartridges from Akershus Fortress in Oslo to a safer inland location (this due to conflicts with Sweden). The match-factory lot at Raufoss was chosen because it was considered to be a safe location, on the western side of Lake Mjösa, far from the Swedish border.

Her fylles 6,5mm patroner til Krag Jørgensen geværet. Dette var bedriftens første produktIn the course of 1895, adaptations to the buildings and transfer of machinery from Christiania (Oslo) were completed. The production of 6.5 million cartridges at Raufoss could start. At the end of 1896 the factory employed about 90 workers, of which the majority followed from Christiania. The conflict with the Swedes increased towards 1905, and more production was moved to Raufoss. For some time the number of employees was up to a total of 500.

Here 6.5 cartridges for Krag Jörgensen rifles are filled. This was the company’s first product.>

An important event in this period was the completion of the railroad from Christiania to Gjövik in 1902, which meant that Raufoss had a connection to the outside world.

After the conflict with Sweden had been settled, the demand for ammunition decreased as did the need for workers, down to 240 in 1914. In 1914, WW1 broke out, which caused both the factory and the local community to thrive, creating a boom period. Norwegian authorities prepared for the worst and decided that the factory should be expanded into a full fledged ammunitions factory with 3000 employees, in case of a possible mobilization. At the turn of the year 1917/18, about 1000 workers were employed in the factory. The most important investments made in this period were a grenade pressing machine, an extruding press and a rolling mill.

Stangpresse på patronfabrikken - 1920After the war the demand for ammunition fell dramatically. Central authorities established a commission to consider a change to civilian operation. This resulted in new technology and new products – but everything didn’t turn out as a success. The largest projects were a steel foundry and a ball bearing factory. However, civilian products could not compensate for the cessation of orders for ammunition.

Extruding press in the cartridge factory – 1920>>

Then came WW2, 1940- 1945, with production of ammunition for the Germans, and an extensive resistance movement around the factory. In the first period after the war, the factories received few orders for ammunition and in 1945 the production of civilian products constituted 60% of the total. In 1947 it was decided to change the status of the company from being under direct public administration to establishing the company as a separate legal entity with its own board and supervisory board.

Produksjon av støtfanger for Volvo i 1989Norway’s Nato membership in 1949 came to be decisive to RA’s further development. Towards 1960 the production volume and number of employees increased steadily, to about 2000. At this time the demand for ammunition decreased once again due to new ideas within the Nato alliance: policymakers thought that a new war would be fought with atomic weapons. Once again there was a shift to civilian products.

Of the new civilian product that were introduced can be mentioned: mass produced automotive parts (Volvo), the Raufoss moped, aluminium bumpers and aluminium building fronts/panelling. Substantial investments in necessary machinery and equipment were made. However, it didn’t take many years before NATO changed their strategy. It was now stated that conventional arms were not outdated after all. This resulted in new progress for the company.

Production of bumbers for Volvo – 1989>>

In 1968 Raufoss Ammunition Factories were reorganised as a
limited company. The Norwegian state owned all the shares. In 1990, Raufoss AS (as it was then called) became a public limited company, i.e. listed on the stock exchange.

Kronprins Harald besøker RA i 1990In 1995, two business areas were established as fully owned subsidiaries. One of the companies, Raufoss Automotive, made parts for the automotive industry. They had a substantial need of capital, and the need for a financially strong partner became more and more evident. Norwegian Hydro became interested in the operation and initially bought 40% of the shares and the remaining 60% in 1997. The other business area, defence, was organised as a separate limited company together with Swedish and Finnish partners in 1998. This company was called Nammo, of which the Norwegian State owned 45% of the shares.

Crown Prince Harald visits RA in 1990>>

Since then it has seemed expedient to split up and sell the rest of Raufoss ASA. Today, there are between 30 and 40 companies within the industrial park at Raufoss with a total of about 3000 employees.

Rolf Holmen, Historical Centre

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