The manslaughterer in Vänersborg

Photo: Erik Björnänger
Photo: Erik Björnänger

In front of the town hall, in the middle of Plantaget in Vänersborg, there is a beautiful street lamp in cast iron. Its name, though, has a rather morbid ring to it – "The manslaughterer".

In 1867, or 150 years ago, Vänersborg began to install gas-powered street lighting. One of the most conspicuous street lamps in the city was a four-arm candelabra. It was going to be placed in the market square, but things changed and it was decided to locate it in the middle of Plantaget in front of the town hall (now Kulturhuset) which was in the process of being built.

A dramatic, tragic accident

The street lamp was made of cast iron and was thus very heavy: in fact it weighed over one and a half tonnes. A substantial support had been built to erect the lamp. It would be pulled into position using ropes and a number of workmen engaged for the job. Something broke suddenly, and both the street lamp and the support fell to the ground. Unfortunately the street lamp hit one of the men, Johannes Andersson, on the head and his skull was crushed. His workmates took him to the hospital, but they could only state that his death had been instant.

The day after the tragic event, however, the street lamp was in place and spread its clear gaslight over Plantaget. It had already been christened with its fateful name, the Killer.

Johannes had no wife or children, but he had supported his mother, Britta Stina Ekberg. Soon after her son died she ended up at the poorhouse.

Updated: 2017-02-09 09:21