With a vertical drop of 400 metres Tysso I was one of the largest high pressure plants in Europe. Close to 1000 men, and a few women, came to take part in this adventure of construction. Foundation, dams, large constructs in hand carved granite were erected in Skjeggedal. Two water tunnels of 3,5 kilometres each were carved out using blast-hole drills, mallets and dynamite. Five gigantic pipelines were lap jointed together in the steep mountainside all the way down to the fjord, where the 180 metre long power station was built in three stages. The plant was continuously developed with new technology and support functions, until 1989 when the production was shut down.
Navvies cutting out granite stone with their bare hands. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives
The company A/S Tyssefaldene hired the most reputable norwegian architects of those days to design the magnificent building. Victor Nordan and Thorvald Astrup were inspirated by different architectural periods such as Italian rennaissance, medieval castles and more.
The first section of the power station 1908. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives
After all these years of usage, the powerstation was abandoned up until the museum had managed to collect enough financial support from government, county and town to be able to preserve it.
In 1978 the region had made an initiative to get Tysso I protected. This did not lead anywhere. In 1989, Odda Municipality, with the financial support of The Norwegian Heritage Council, made the initiative to prepare a document explaining the value of the Tysso plant as part of the local and national industrial heritage.
In 1994 the Norwegian Directorate of Cultural Heritage developed a protection plan for the national technical and industrial heritage. Here the goals and priorities for a larger plant were clearly defined. All the businesses represented, created great values and shaped Norway to become the industrial nation it is. One of these plants is Tysso I. In spite of much positive feedback from the authorities, it took almost 6 years to get the protection declaration. In the meantime Tysso I was exposed to a severely damaging decay after the last machine was switched off in 1996.
In 1999 the museum in Tyssedal, with the support of the Norwegian Directorate of Cultural Heritage, developed an extensive report: “The condition and need for rehabilitation and maintenance of the Tysso I power plant”. The Tysso I report concluded that there was some urgency in getting the renovation work started. The report contained concrete plans with calculations of costs for the various stages of the restauration works. The goal was to finish this by 2003. The work started after the protection declaration on May 15th 2000, with the report as a basis for the work.
Interior of the restaurated powerstation. Photo: Harald Hognerud Kraftmuseet
The outer facade of the power station was restored to a total cost of 10 million NOK. 45.000 roof-slates have been re-laid. Gutters, drains and roof ridge fittings in copper have been partially replaced. 1000 windows have had their wrought-iron frames replaced. The outer walls have gotten partially new plaster and have been repainted. The power station has regained its reputation as a magnificent building down by the shores of the Sørfjord. Before the restauration could commence on the inside, a stable indoor climate had to be garantied. In the autumn of 2001 the remote-heating system was in place. It is based on hot cooling-water (70 degrees Celsius), from the neighbour factory Tizir. The heat energy from Tizir is distributed as hot, dry air in the 30 000 m3 turbine-hall through the installation of 22 aero-tempers. This way the museum saves a large amount of annual heating costs.
There is still power production in Tyssedal - today it takes place in the mountain halls of the Oksla power station, just behind Tysso I. Oksla contains of one large aggregate, which has replaced the 15 aggregates in Tysso I. Even today 50.000 litres of water is every second transformed into hydropower in Tyssedal.
The hydropower cathedral filmed by Arvid Aga.