Pikiruukki pitch factory

Nätinabban Hakamaanreitti Pietarsaari


Near the old harbour bay, there was a rocky headland called Nätinabban (Verkkoniemi), where fishermen and other townspeople had fish sheds and draining racks for fishing nets. A pitch factory (Pikiruukki) was built at Nätinabban in the 1750s. The pitch manufactured there was used for sealing the hulls of sailing ships, among other things, and pitch was also exported. Expertise for building the pitch factory and manufacturing pitch came from Uusikaarlepyy, where pitch had been produced industrially already for a century. Pitch was refined from tar: 1.5 barrels of tar was needed for one barrel of pitch. When the tar was heated, water evaporated and solid pitch remained. Lars Blom, a merchant and member of town administrative court, established Pikiruukki, which was obviously the first industrial enterprise in Pietarsaari.


The copper tar boiler was usually secured to the ground with natural stones and bricks. In Pikiruukki, a copper boiler purchased from Sweden was first used. It held 40 barrels, which equals about 5,000 litres of tar. Later on, a boiler for 60 barrels of tar was acquired. The copper boiler was actively used and had to be regularly maintained and repaired. New boilers had to be brought from Stockholm every twenty years, which was expensive and strenuous. The boilers were transported as copper plates, which had to be riveted together. Pitch manufacture was at its most intensive in the late 1700s with about 1,500 pitch barrels produced every year. At the beginning of the 1800s, the respective amount was about 1,000 barrels. Small amounts of pitch oil were also produced. The operation of the pitch factory died down by the 1880s.


Some remnants of Pikiruukki could still be seen in autumn 2018 in the hardwood forest along the canal that was dug and lined with stones as government relief work in the first decades of the 1900s. The intention is to expand the nearby graveyard to the Pikiruukki area.