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HOLMEN AND THE KØLLE FAMILY Holmen lies by the fjord, innermost in Ulvikpollen. Originally this was a small smallholding or coast dweller’s place belonging to the farm Håheim. Major Johan Henrik Palludan obtained leasehold for a part of Holmen in 1773, and erected a grand house, as he was the head of Nordre Hardangerske kompani. In 1806 Mrs Palludin sold Holmen to the somewhat eccentric theologian Kristian Kølle, and thus the Kølle family came to Ulvik. Today the Kølle house in Holmen is gone, today it is the residence of the principal of the State horticultural school that occupies the ground – a villa in the dragon style from the turn of the previous century.
As early as 1906 the Matre and Haugsdal waterway was bought up by the businessman Blauuw from Bergen; the first “waterfall speculator” in the Matre area. He immediately resold it to Fr. Hiorth, who transferred all the rights to the company Matrefaldene in 1908. Behind A/S Matrefaldene were German interests, Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik, which wanted to start production of saltpetre fertilizer with nitrogen and electricity.
In 1923 Bergenshalvøens Kommunale Kraftselskap (BKK) expropriated large areas for power plants and development of hydropower started soon afterwards. Dale power station with the two first aggregates, each of 14 MW was put into operation on 17 November 1927. In the supply reservoir in Storefossen 5152 cubic metres of concrete were cast, and a modern and well-equipped power station was built.
Today Tyssedal appears like a classical industrial community, a picture of modern Norway from the turn of the former century until today. A/S Tyssefaldene was established in 1906, and on 1 May 1908 Tyssedal power station was put into operation. The work on the first stage of the facility was completed in a short time, with a work force of 500 men. They built water tunnels, regulation reservoirs, power station, penstocks, harbour, cableways, office buildings, houses and 6 km of power lines in the wild mountains above Odda to provide the new melting plant with power.
The 28th November 1914 was a day to remember for the Os inhabitants. This was the day they could turn the switch on the wall and have electric light in their houses. It was like opening the door on the future when the power station at Gåssand was put into operation.