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Water Tower, Odense Public Slaughterhouses from 1926


Not far from the editors residence is one of the last great industrial complexes in Odense, build at the end of the 19th century until the first quarter of the 20th century: “De offentlige Slagtehuse” – “Odense Public Slaughterhouse-/Abattoirs”.

Odense public abattoirs” was a late child of the increased control of the food industry, which was introduced in the late 1800s. Back then, there began to be a growing awareness of hygiene. It was no longer accepted that animals were slaughtered around the city in backyards and outbuildings.
There had to be a control over these mishaps. In 1895, the City Council introduced a special meat inspection law, which meant that all commercial butchering for the future were to take place at a public abattoir.
After a few political and cooperative setbacks, the four major local Butchers and the Odense Municipality agreed to build a brand new Odense public Slaughterhouse. Here from Rugårdsvej, there would be easy access to both train and harbor from where the Danish bacon could be transported to Esbjerg and exported to England.

The Complex, seen from Ruggårdsvej in 1955 (Source:

The Complex, seen from Ruggårdsvej in 1955 (Source:


On 14 April 1926 the foundation stone was laid, and in January 1927 the first test slaughter in the new premises were held. The new complex, build in red, hand-molded brick, was extensive and had four slaughter halls, a large market hall, a covered hall for the transport of meat, two pre-coolers, steam- and other mechanical systems, stables and a unit for the destruction of animal residues. There were of course also rooms for meat inspection and a large and distinctive water tower.

(Click the Photos to see enlarged Gallery…)

The huge building complex was built after drawings by the Royal Buildings Inspector Knud Lehn Petersen, and he made sure that there were placed animal motifs in many places – in granite or cast in iron caps. Designs especially made for this place, that clearly indicated the use of the buildings.

(Click the Photos to see enlarged Gallery…)

Even if there at times  was a busy activity at the slaughter houses (-that supplied Odense and surroundings -and sometimes even Copenhagen – with meat), the place was no goldmine. In the late 1960s, the activities diminished drastically. Changes in trade patterns and reciprocating revenues marked the beginning of the end of these abattoirs. the many merchants who had their base at the slaughter houses, disappeared slowly, and in 1989 it was definitively over.

Today, the buildings are owned by the City of Odense. For over 2 years ago, the City Council decided to sell the complex to private investors, although without any luck. The Buildings are in bad condition due to poor maintenance and inactivity.

(Click the Photos to see enlarged Gallery…)

Today, it is a quiet place. While exploring the Compound, shooting the images at hand, it seems easy to imaging the business, the employees, the smells, the noises around the site – and first of all: The millions of animals that were butchered here. It all came to a sudden end, and perhaps these buildings won’t tell their stories no more, perhaps they won’t be there at all.

(Click the Photos to see enlarged Gallery…)

© 2014 – Oliver Haas-Jensen, All Rights Reserved


Swiss expat, living in the green middle of Denmark since 1992. Family man, amateur photographer and editor of this site. I publish my photographic work from exploring my surroundings, travels and events i attend to in order to share it with the visitors of this site. Welcome to Olivers Film Roll.

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