Stavanger: from rags to riches
Stavanger was little more than a small fishing village for centuries, but in the 19th century an influx of herring and sardines in the waters offshore kick started a lucrative canning industry that saw over 70 canneries open. One has now been converted into a museum, with all the original work areas preserved, even down to the authentic smell of the smokery.
Then in the 1960s, oil was discovered off the coast, dragging Norway onto the list of the world’s major producers of ‘black gold’ and, literally, making it an oil-rich state. Like Aberdeen in Scotland, Stavanger underwent major cultural and demographic upheaval, its population rapidly becoming the most cosmopolitan in Norway. The Norsk Oljemuseum (Petroleum museum) is no ordinary exhibition building. It is built as a North Sea Oil Platform, giving the visitor the opportunity to experience, in a 3 dimensional environment, what life is really like on a working rig. You can climb into diving bells and rescue craft, you can play with the drilling mechanisms and the monitoring equipment. Like many good museums today, it is a real hands-on experience that will keep you engaged for hours.
As we made our way back to the ship, we wandered through Old Stavanger, with its cobbled streets and its whitewashed timber houses, complete with small pretty gardens and picket fences.