Photos: Bremen Harbour

As promised, here is the second part of the photos I took during my recent excursion to the Walle neighbourhood of Bremen. Part 1 was devoted to the 19th century Walle Cemetery, while part 2 covers photos of the Bremen harbour, which is directly adjacent to the Walle and Gröplingen neighbourhoods.

The harbour of Bremen has declined in importance since the 1980s. The river Weser has the unfortunate tendency to silt up and Bremen is approx. 70 kilometers inland, so all the big vessels so to Bremerhaven at the mouth of the Weser these days. Plus, we lost our two biggest shipyards in the 1980s and 1990s (more about that later). These days, the Bremen harbour area is a curious mix of gentrified shopping, cultural and entertainment venues and old industry, some of it dating back to the turn of the century. Some of the old industrial buildings are also quite stunning and reminiscent of Steampunk settings.

So let’s take a look:

Bremen Speicher XI

“Speicher XI”, i.e. Warehouse XI, a 400 m long brick warehouse built in 1912. Nowadays, it houses the Bremen harbour museum, the Bremen arts college, a restaurant and other cultural companies and organisations.

Bremen Speicher XI

Speicher XI flanked by a decomissioned loading crane. I did a reading of maritime themed poetry inside the Speicher with a few other local writers once.

Bremen Speicher XI

The front side of Speicher XI with a cargo crane dating from 1975.

Patrol boat Wilhelm Hübotter

The “Wilhelm Hübotter”, decomissioned patrol boat of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service is displayed in front of a warehouse that is actually still in use. Wilhelm Hübotter is a German architect, by the way. Yes, I had to look that up.

Bremen harbour trompe d'oeil

A neat trompe d’oeil painting on the side of a warehouse.

Bremen grain unloading plant

The Steampunky grain discharge plant was built between 1914 and 1929 and was the biggest brick building in Europe at one time. It is still mightily impressive.

Bremen grain discharge plant

A look along the silos of the grain discharge plant. These silos could once hold 75 thousand tons of grain. More amazingly, this gigantic brick colossus is located directly next to a shopping mall and entertainment center.

Bremen grain discharge plant

The elevator of the grain discharge plant sucks the grain out of the hold of cargo vessels and transports it into the plant. The plant was active until 1999.

Bremen Roland mill

From grain to flour, but still brickwork: The Roland Mill, a steampowered grain mill built in 1897 and still operated by a family which established its first windmill in 1811.

Bremen Roland Mill

The flour silos of the Roland Mill. In February 1979, the Roland Mill suffered a devastating flour dust explosion which killed 14 people, shattered windows all over Walle and covered the entire area in fine flour dust. It looked freakily like snow.

Bremen Roland Mills

Another look at the Roland Mill with its distinctive pagoda shaped tower.

Regarding the Roland Mill, I was not yet six years old in February 1979, yet I have an extremely vivid false memory of seeing the flour dust explosion happening, even though I know I was nowhere near the mill at the time of the explosion and besides, I remember the explosion happening in a different place than where it really happened. It can’t be the result of having seen a video either, since there are no films or videos of the explosion. Even more unpleasant, I tend to get flashbacks of that false memory whenever I’m near the Roland Mill. It’s particularly nasty when you’re driving.

Bremen Waterfront

View across the river Weser and the old shipyard harbour from the Waterfront Mall. Where the Waterfront Mall now stands was once the location of the AG Weser shipyard which went bankrupt in 1983 during the shipyard crisis, putting lots of good people out of work. I’m still angry about that and about the lack of any sort of political support thirty years later.

Bremen harbour

A look across the Bremen harbour from the surviving old pier of the AG Weser shipyard. The factory in front is a malting plant (it was quite difficult to find that out, since no one seems to know what that quite visible factory actually is), in the background you can see the Bremen steelworks.

Bremen steelworks

A closer look at the Bremen steelworks, once operated by Klöckner, now by Arcelor Mittal. Getting onto the premises is only marginally less hassle than crossing an international border.

Bremen harbour

A closer look at the sheet piling of the pier of the old AG Weser shipyard.

Bremen harbour lighthouses

The entrance to the old shipyard harbour, flanked by two lighthouses. The green starboardside lighthouse is also known locally as the mouse tower.

Bremen river Weser Lankenauer Höft

A view across the river Weser from an artificial island created to separate the premises of the AG Weser shipyard from the river proper. You can see greenery, a passing inland water vessel and the Lankenauer Höft look-out point in the background.

Floating lifesaver

A picture of desolation. A discarded lifesaver floating in the harbour basin by the Waterfront Mall.

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2 Responses to Photos: Bremen Harbour

  1. Sherwood Smith says:

    Those are fascinating, though kind of sad.

    • Cora says:

      I have the theory that the current popularity of Steampunk is at least partly a reaction to the gradual disappearance both of old-time industries and of the related factories, warehouses, etc…

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