Origin of the mill community in the 1880s

In communities founded on a single dominant factory in rural areas, the relationship between employer and employees was more immediate and comprehensive than in towns. In Jämsänkoski, too, the isolated circumstances made possible the paternal role of the manufacturing company regarding its community. The rural workforce had to be accustomed to regular factory work and a lifestyle tied to the clock. The mill company had to ensure adequate supplies of foodstuffs and organise housing for the workers.

This kind of factory paternalism characterised all Finnish paper mill villages and towns in the latter half of the 1800s. It was a form of management that ensured work flow, a contented workforce and a successful company. Differentiation only began in the early 1900s, when residential areas around factories grew and industry needed increasing numbers of workers with specialist skills. Pressures for change became apparent especially after the great strike in 1905. Trade unionisation and spread of the workers’ movement altered the political power balance of the communities. Growth of municipal authority provided workers with a channel of influence which was no longer tied to the factory community.

Jämsänkoski pulp mill built workers' houses in the 1880s, and at the end of the century, a school was established for the workers' children. Apart from furthering the work of educating the nation, the incentive was also the need of the factory for literate employees. In 1917, the company donated 25,000 mk to be used for general benefit of the workers, and funds were also granted for Jämsä folk high school. Through supporting educational and leisure activities, the aim was to keep workers away from undesirable pastimes.

Picture post card from the early 1900s. Patalankoski and the old paper mill.