The story of Lidköping’s Stadshotell
The stadshotell (city hotel) plays an important part in the history of many Swedish towns, and this is also the case in Lidköping. Come with us back to the later part of the 19th century, when it all began.
The stadshotell phenomenon came about in connection with the development of the Swedish railway network at the end of the nineteenth century. The towns saw greater business activity and, with more travellers and visitors, more overnight accommodation was needed. The ground floor of the hotels often housed a restaurant that became the heart of the town’s nightlife.
For almost 100 years, our beautiful stadshotell on the shores of Lake Vänern has been a valued meeting place for both locals and those travelling through the town. It all began in 1896 when mayor Wennéus proposed that Lidköping, which had two railways running through the town at the time, should build a modern and respectable hotel. Plans for a new hotel in the town had been discussed by the city council back in 1876. But the matter remained unresolved for 20 years while a three-man committee was appointed to examine the mayor’s proposal.
The then operating Hotell Lidköping was for sale at this time, and its owner, captain Bergmanson of Filsbäck, had set an asking price of 50,000 Swedish kronor. A stadshotell that would be run by an administrator on behalf of the town was now about to see the light of day.
But first it was to be given a modern appearance and a rebuilding proposal was therefore sought from the Stockholm architect, Nilsson-Dag. The cost of the modernisation was estimated at 90,000 kronor, which was considered to be too expensive. With cheaper materials and some simplifications, the price and the renovation started to move in the right direction. In 1900 the rebuilt hotel, an impressive building in French Renaissance style, was ready for its first guests. A comprehensive modernisation was carried out in 1933, which included the exterior of the hotel getting its present appearance.
LIDKÖPING – THE TOWN WITH A FIERY HISTORY
Lidköping was given its first town charter in 1446. The town probably has its origins as a strategically located trading place where important roads to Skara, Norway and the west coast intersected.
In 1651 Jacob De la Gardie, Count of Läckö, was given Lidköping by Queen Kristina. The town was however returned to the crown a few years later, although the son, Magnus Gabriel, was given permission to build a town in the county. After a change in land ownership in 1670, construction began in line with De la Gardie’s own town plan. Thereafter Lidköping consisted of two small towns on either side of the Lidan river. The towns had their own mayors until 1683 when they came together as a single Lidköping under the crown. De la Gardie watched over both towns for his whole life, and to this day his legacy can be seen in the names of streets, squares and buildings. The building at Nya Stadens Torg square was originally the count’s hunting lodge.
Lidköping’s history has been plagued by fire. In 1533, the greater part of the town was laid waste and then King Gustav Vasa commanded the population to move to what is now Vänersborg (Huvudnäs), which never happened as the town was rebuilt instead. 300 years later, in 1849, it was time for a second fire which destroyed virtually all of the old town. The only place left was the quarter around Limtorget square. In order to guard against more fires, most houses were thereafter built of stone.
The first graduation dinner
In 1950, Lidköping´s first graduates had dinner here at Stadshotellet. A group of 15 high school graduates celebrated the end of three years of study at Lidköping’s upper secondary school, which opened in 1947. The town council took part, celebrating and eating dinner with the happy graduates.
Taube on the ladies of the town
“Kind hands, delicate fingertips and seem hungry for love”. That is how Evert Taube described the ladies of Lidköping in a letter written at Stadshotellet in May 1947, when he was visiting the town. In the evening he came back to the hotel and strutted his stuff to the sounds of Forsbergs Trio.
A successful banquet with Jussi
In 1944, the world-famous opera singer Jussi Björling was in town as guest soloist at a concert. However, on arrival he was so sick that he had to visit the hospital. Miracles were performed there, Jussi recovered and the concert was a success. The same was true of the following banquet at Stadt, where he received both acclamation and gifts.
In 1908, many guests nearly missed their dinner at Stadshotellet. At the opening of the railway line between Lidköping and Tun, nobody had thought that even trains at standstill consume steam. This was however ingeniously resolved by taking water from a ditch in Tun, so the ceremonial train could return to Lidköping in time for the dinner.