The fast-flowing waters of the River Klosterån led to the foundation of smelting houses for iron and copper as far back as the fifteenth century. The place was called Riddarhyttan, but it was given the name Kloster (“Monastery”) after a Cistercian abbey that was completed in 1486. The foundations of the abbey church can still be seen today. In the mid-sixteenth century the abbey was closed and the smelting houses and hammers were taken over by mine-owners. Besides iron, they also produced gunpowder, and from the mideighteenth century this was the site of Sweden’s biggest gunpowder mill. At the start of the nineteenth century, operations were expanded to include a plate rolling mill. This was Sweden’s most modern rolling mill, and Kloster gradually became a successful ironworks. Poor communications and recessions led to the closure of the works in the late nineteenth century. The Kloster Ironworks Museum, housed in the old stables, tells more about the history of the ironworks.
Gustaf de Laval (1845 – 1913), one of the great technical geniuses of the nineteenth century, worked as an engineer at the Kloster mill 1876–1877. The old hammermill in Kloster was placed at his disposal. Here he was able to work on his experiments and inventions. It did not take long before de Laval, following an idea from Germany, designed the prototype of what was to become the separator, a machine for separating cream from milk. On the first floor of the forge he built the test machine that laid the foundation for the global company AB Separator, later Alfa Laval. The separator then spread to farms all over the world. De Laval had 92 patents, and during his lifetime he worked on more than 200 projects.
Gustaf de Laval’s motto:
“You have to make your way forward over the scrap heaps.”