History of Klädesholmen and herring

Klädesholmen is an old fishing community dating back to the 15th century, where herring salting-houses and canneries were built early on. Like most of the Swedish island and coastal communities, Klädesholmen had its golden age during the Great Herring Period 1748-1808.

The harbour, which was then in the Holme Fjord, filled with boats from near and far collecting the salted herring and the train oil to transport it to different parts of Europe. The church was built during the Great Herring Period and is today Tjörn's oldest remaining church. In 1808 the herring disappeared. The community quickly went downhill and the population reduced to just over three hundred in 1830. The recovery began in 1861, when two islanders discovered that there was fish near Storeggen (Ålesund). This caused many of the fishing boats to travel up towards Norway. When the herring returned to the coast in the latter part of the 19th century, the food manufacturing industry started to take shape.

Large warehouses were erected, in which herring was salted and fish prepared. Around the turn of the century, smaller boats were purchased and used to visit most of Sweden's harbours to sell the locally produced delicacies, such as dried cod, salted herring etc. At around the same time, people here learnt how to make spiced herring and sprat, and started selling different varieties of pickled herring. The art of spicing and pickling was learnt from recipes bought from wholesale dealers.

Today, production is concentrated to one company, Klädesholmen Seafood AB. Some of the company owners are of the fifth generation and almost half of all Swedish pickled herring comes from Klädesholmen, much of it under other brand names.

Why not visit Klädesholmen's museum - ‘Sillebua', a small museum where you can see how it all happened. At the food store, ICA Bojen, you can buy most of the herring varieties produced by the companies on the island.