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Klaipėda Winter Port

Lithuanian Sea Museum owns the archive of engineer Romualdas Dačinskas (1914-2010). It comprises material related to the history of Klaipėda and Šventoji ports. On the eve of World War I was set up a project for Klaipėda seaport expansion the documentation of which, i.e. descriptions of proposals, plans, schemes, graphics, pictures, bears some really interesting information. It is worth to take a deeper look at the 20th century Klaipėda seaport projects as well as schemes and their copies depicting various buildings and mechanisms of the port. There are several individual documents dating back to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. The plans, schemes, photographs and documents selected for the exhibition are one way or another related to Klaipėda Winter Port. It presents a unique collection of 26 photos of Klaipėda seaport. It is comprised of two portfolios acquired from Seaport Construction Board of Königsberg County in Klaipėda (Regeierungsbezirk Königsberg Hafenbauamt Memel) both with the same inscription Published on 29 March 1914 (Gehört zum Erläuterungsbericht vom 29 – ten März 1914). The first one is entitled 16 Photographs about the Lack of Space at the Seaport whereas the second bears the title 10 Photographs about Wood Storage and Shipping. The pictures are glued on the cardboard with the date of each picture at the bottom left-hand corner. The dates are: 17 December 1910, 19 April 1911, and 28 October – 5 November 1913. The collection is supplemented with a journal and schemes of construction works carried out at Klaipėda seaport in 1908-1914.

Dating 1929-1930, the sources provided reveal Lithuanian Republic’s investments in increasing the depth and width of the basin as well as solving problems concerning the infrastructure of the winter port. The exhibits not only present us with a real opportunity to get to know engineering and the history of Klaipėda seaport better but to also take a glimpse into a submerged and distant mundane life of the city.

The origin of winter port reaches as far as 16-19th centuries. Sailing-vessels reaching Klaipėda during winter time would seek sanctuary in its natural bays, behind the capes of Dangė River. Sometimes, however, such a shelter would turn into traps – the change of a current, stormy wind or moving ice blocks would threaten the ships.

In the 18th century Klaipėda became one of the main Baltic Sea ports exporting wood which made it crucial to safely harbour the ships unexpectedly caught in winter rigour. State investments in seaport infrastructure promoted at the time when the Kingdom of Prussia became part of the German Empire lead to a significant change. 25 August 1855 marks the start of winter port construction along Curonian Lagoon. Due to inconsistent funding and complicated political situation works were delayed and the project was completed only in 1872 with France paying contribution. When the winter port and King Wilhelm Canal built in 1873 as well as two railway branch-lines Winter Port – Klaipėda Railway Station and Winter Port – Northern Ballast Quay built respectively in 1876 and 1878 were incorporated into a common infrastructure of Klaipėda Seaport there was hope for a sudden economic rise. Wood trading crisis of 1875-1881, however, have buried expectations to make huge profit. After the crisis the growth of wood export was slow. When sailing-vessels were replaced by steamers it turned out that a rather small and shallow Winter Port cannot harbour all the ships. Due to its shallowness, wood shipment works and slowly growing infrastructure the port could not be used in all its capacity. In 1879-1914 various ways of how to improve situation at the Winter Port were considered but World War I interrupted the plans. In 1925-1932 with a huge financial support from the Republic of Lithuania the Winter Port was modernised.

Romualdas Dačinskas (1914–2010)

Romualdas Dačinskas’s interest in the world of water has manifested itself as early as in his youth hood. As a young man he looked for fellows who would share his interest and was rewarded. Together with P. Labanauskas, A. Michelevičius, V. Šarūnas, V. Petukauskas, B. Stundžia, V. Švedas, A. Aglinskas and K. Aglinskas he joined Sea Scouts Organisation established in Kaunas in 1922. As a specialist he matured in the academic environment of interwar Kaunas. His talents as well as fate brought him to Kaunas Polytechnic Institute where in 1944-1947 he worked as the head of the Department of Hydrotechnics, Hydrology and Hydraulics. In 1946 as a member of the research group of Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas) he went on a business trip to Eastern Prussia. Thanks to this and other similar initiatives much of valuable testimonies about Lithuania Minor were preserved. In 1947-1974 R. Dačinskas worked as a senior lecturer in Kaunas Polytechnic Institute. The course book Hydraulics that he wrote and published together with his colleagues is regarded as one of the best among its Lithuanian rivals. More than once he proved his ability to combine theoretical knowledge with practice. Thanks to him on 2 June – 15 October 1951 the hydroelectric power plant was designed and built on the banks of River Dovinė. Supervised by R. Dačinskas, 818 students and 19 institute specialists worked shifts for 3 weeks. It is still surprising to see the high quality and durability of those mechanisms. Even when retired he continued his quest for innovative solutions in engineering and was socially active.

Unknown author

Photo „Starke Inanspruchnahme des Winterhafens. Löschen und Laden den grosser Dampfer nebeneinander.


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