Ericsson grows out of Stockholm

In the early days, it was more or less obvious that Stockholm was the ideal location for the Swedish telephone industry, since the capital city was the most important market, and offered access to skilled labor and technical expertise. Proximity to higher education and research in the technical sphere soon proved to be an additional advantage. Access to raw materials and sources of energy were not a problem – steam and electricity could be generated locally.

In the 1920s, Ericsson's manufacturing operations were concentrated on Tulegatan, in central Stockholm. For many years, the company's head office was located at number 5, where the original factory had been built in 1884, and the whole manufacturing operation was gradually moved to a block further along the street. Ultimately, Ericsson took over entire block, and new buildings and courtyard superstructures were constructed to achieve maximum utilization of the site. In the end, however, overcrowding became a problem, and prevented further expansion of production. The company had to find new premises, and in 1930 Ericsson acquired a large plot in Midsommarkransen, which was then a rural suburb to the south of Stockholm, on the fringes of existing urban development.

In the mid-1930s, as the depression eased, the company began to study opportunities on the Midsommarkransen site more seriously. In 1937, Ericsson signed a major agreement with the municipal authorities, under which the company undertook to sell its properties on Tulegatan, a site in Älvsjö and almost half its land in Midsommarkransen. For its part, the municipality made an undertaking to provide water and sewage facilities and construct roads and a streetcar line to link up with the new plant which Ericsson promised to build by October 1941. Within two years, the "new stronghold of the Swedish telephone industry" was in place. This was a very advanced design for its time "rational, light and beautiful" "a factory in a green setting." The flow of trucks completing the move from Tulegatan to Midsommarkransen in 1940 marked the beginning of new era in Ericsson's history, as the company transferred its operations from the center of Stockholm to the suburbs.

As is often the case, the new plant proved to be too small almost immediately. Ericsson had had access to 43,000 square meters of floor space at Tulegatan, compared with 63,000 square meters in Midsommarkransen. Floor space was increased by 2,500 square meters in 1941, and by a similar amount in 1943. By the time the war ended in 1945, Ericsson had 5,000 employees at Midsommarkransen, and the site was fully exploited.

As a result, several initiatives were taken to acquire premises in other parts of Stockholm. In particular, this involved construction of a plant for the production of metering equipment in Ulvsunda to the west of Stockholm. Further initiatives were taken to meet the enormous increase in demand in the immediate postwar period, including the lease of a relatively central site for a new plant on Kungsholmen and premises for the telecommunications signal department in Gröndal, close to Midsommarkransen. Increased scope was provided at the main plant by relocating the production of cash registers to Döbelnsgatan in central Stockholm, and there were plans for further expansion.

But ultimately, Ericsson was forced to look for sites in other parts of the country, despite some concern regarding the weakening of links between the company's various plants.

Author: Ulf Olsson

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