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Brits highlight Gothenburg links

James Savage · 15 Jun 2010, 15:40

Published: 15 Jun 2010 15:40 GMT+02:00

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For anyone who has spent time in Gothenburg, the city’s links to the other side of the North Sea are obvious - residents have proudly call the city ‘Lilla London’ or little London for at least 250 years; many of Gothenburg’s most prominent institutions have British links. The events this week, part of a festival called ‘Think Britain’, are Britain’s way of highlighting the connection, says British Ambassador Andrew Mitchell:

“There is a very strong historical relationship between Gothenburg and Britain. It’s over 300 years old, but is a very modern relationship too.”

Indeed, Gothenburg’s status as Sweden’s most important trading port owes much to the British, and particularly Scottish, connection:

Swedish investment bank Carnegie is rooted in the British link with Gothenburg. It was founded in the city as a trading business in 1803 by David Carnegie, a Scottish businessman.

The Swedish East India Company, which arguable launched Gothenburg as a major trading port, was founded by Scot Colin Campbell and attracted large numbers of of British merchants, who were eager to escape the restrictions of British trade policy. Many of these merchants quickly became Swedish citizens to escape British reprisals against deserters, and some of their descendants still live in Sweden.

That trading relationship remains important, with massive DFDS freight ferries plying the route from Gothenburg to British ports every day.

The Swedish East India Company might have gone, but reminders of it remain. The Royal Bachelors’ Club, founded in 1769 mainly by British merchants from the company, is considered the fourth oldest gentlemen’s club in the world. The club has a tradition that when the British ambassador visits it hoists a 19th century union jack on its flagpole.

The name of William Chalmers, the son of a Scottish merchant, is still remembered in the city’s famous Chalmers Technical University. Even many popular Gothenburg forenames have a Scottish feel, with Glen viewed in Sweden as a typically ‘Göteborsk’ name.

This week, British officials are hoping to alert both Brits and Gothenburgers to the importance of the relationship. The Queen’s Birthday Party, the highlight of all British embassies’ social calendars, will be held on HMS Kent in Gothenburg harbour - the first time the party has been held outside of Stockholm. The ship will later head to Stockholm, where it will play a prominent role in the Royal Wedding celebrations.

There will be some nods to history, when Andrew Mitchell rededicates a memorial to British Admiral James Saumarez, who commanded the Baltic fleet in the war against Russia, and was later honoured by Swedish King Karl XIII.

The focus of the week, however, will be on the future. A seminar bringing together Swedish and British wind power companies is being attended by over 100 people. There will also be a meeting of companies involved in electronic care, an area where the UK is a market leader.

Story continues below…

The festival also taps into the irreverent brand of humour shared by Brits and Gothenburgers: the Röhsska Museum’s is holding a Queen’s Tea Party at the same time as the official Queen’s Birthday Party, at which anyone dressed as a queen will get in free - from little girls in tiaras to fully-fledged drag queens:

“It’s about celebrating what Britain stands for - the traditional and the modern, the diverse and the alternative,” says Mitchell.

Related links:

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:05 June 15, 2010 by Gletta
Free English beer in any pub for any Brit?
18:28 June 15, 2010 by Lukestar1991
Its nothing like London, if anything its more like a bigger version of what Liverpool should be by now.
20:35 June 15, 2010 by concha de tu puta madre
A better comparison would be Gothenburg and a Eastern European city. Kiev or Brno anyone?
00:01 June 16, 2010 by jack sprat
Ha,ha,....Little Britain methinks.lol.

At least it explains why the G'burgers are renowned for being much friendlier and more sociable than the rest of the miserable blighters.
00:32 June 16, 2010 by Rebel
Have Brits left any genetic legacy? if so Swedes there must have bad teeth and the women must be ugly.
02:09 June 16, 2010 by jack sprat
Probably all got their bad teeth eating out of cr@p Swedish supermarkets and junk food joints.

No wonder they all have false teeth by they're 30,leave them in a pot beside the bed and their blonde wigs on the headboard and wake up without their make-up masks.

Better the devil you know.
05:42 June 16, 2010 by Dano
Ah it could be worse.They could have called it "Little New York", Then they'd all have been fat,smelly,ignorant,arrogant,gun toting,oil grabbing warmongers!

Stereotype's are such fun arn't they? ;)
07:32 June 16, 2010 by flintis
Not much of a link to England nowadays though, b'stards stopped the ferry.


Friendlier in G'borg? Yeah must be why there's more crime & murders per capita. But that's what you get living at the arse end of Sweden.
07:41 June 16, 2010 by sweco1
What about the Dutch they build Gothenburg.
10:21 June 16, 2010 by timhipkiss
Why do all Swedish towns have to compare themselves to somewhere else? Why is Stockholm "The Nordic Venice" and Gothenburg "Little London"? Don't these places have a strong enough identity to live on their own names? I'm not aware of other European cities using such comparisons - do only Swedes suffer this inferiority complex?
12:18 June 16, 2010 by Åskar
"The Nordic Venice" or "Venice of the North" comes from a song written some time in the 30:s/40:s. The expression is also used by Amsterdam and Birmingham.

"Little London" goes back a couple of hundred years when Gothenburgh and London had very strong ties with each other.
13:38 June 16, 2010 by Marc the Texan
Gothenburg has better weather:)
14:34 June 16, 2010 by timhipkiss
Birmingham as the "Venice of the North"? Now that's a good one!
15:43 June 16, 2010 by flintis

Although I'm no great fan of Birmingham, it has one of the longest canal & river systems of any city in europe, hence it's nickname VotN.
19:45 June 16, 2010 by jack sprat
There are many reminders of the British influence in the G'burg region,apart from developing the city into a major international port.

The G'burg canal,Iron and Steel working foundries for the production of farm machinery and other equipment,helping bring Sweden out of the stone age.

They even showed the locals how to brew top quality real ale,..a lesson which sadly seems to have been forgotten.
08:28 June 18, 2010 by adnans
timhipkiss@ truly spoken.....
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