Poul Steenstrup (1772-1864)


Visionary. Businessman. Innovator. Politician. Nationalist. There are many words to describe Poul Steenstrup (1772-1864), but the one that stirs the imagination most here at KONGSBERG is founder.

Steenstrup, a Danish born entrepreneur, came to Norway in 1797 to attend the Kongsberg Mining Academy. For the young Dane, who had already demonstrated a love for technology, metallurgy and mining during his studies at Copenhagen University, the chance to attend Norway’s foremost technical seat of learning was an opportunity not be missed.

His educational success at the institution helped plant enduring roots within the community, as he moved on to employment at the local silver works before becoming superintendent and manager of the town’s ironworks. It was here that the KONGSBERG concept took shape in his ambitious mind’s eye.

Steenstrup first proposed the idea of a new breed of industrial business in 1811. Mindful of the volatile political situation in Europe, he saw an opportunity for Norway to establish its own weapon’s factory, giving the country both an industrial platform to build upon and a degree of independence. In 1813 he managed to win the backing of Prince Regent Christian Frederik - who visited the ironworks at the time - giving his plans a royal seal of approval and setting in motion a process that would lead to the formation of Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk on 20 March 1814.

The rest, as you’ll see on this website, is history. Our history.

Steenstrup went on to run a series of successful businesses, while also enjoying a decade long political career (1814-1824) as a member of Norway’s Independence Party. He took part in the National Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814, where the celebrated national constitution was composed – another truly defining moment in Norway’s proud history.