The history of Janus

Janusfabrikken AS aims to safeguard the expertise, culture and history of the textile industry in Norway, and has therefore established a facility which caters for the ever-increasing demand for factory tours, from both Norway and abroad.

You won’t get much closer to living history than at the Janus factory! Old and new expertise go hand in hand here. Old and new technology work side by side. Even the designers refer back to the old archives to find inspiration for new collections.




Janus has renovated the old Espeland station


Right in front of the factory is the railway station with its outhouse. Both buildings have been completely renovated and reconstructed to their former glory. The railway station has a vast collection of advertising posters designed by the renowned Bergen artist Audun Hetland.
In its heyday, the railway station (first built in 1899) represented the lifeblood of Espeland. The railway provided the only form of transport of goods to and from the factory. The company founder, Anton S. Stephansen, actually paid for the station to be built and paid the clerk a salary to get the train to stop there. Behind the station building, you can see the kissing bench, now returned to its original site. Historically, this was where you came for your first kiss – you never know, history might repeat itself?

The old wooden building from 1895 housed the entire factory during those early years, and has now been completely renovated to provide a cultural centre. (Click here to read more about the cultural centre)
The exhibits in the centre include old machinery and parts from the very first years of factory production, along with a whole lot of paraphernalia. The cultural centre also has a factory sale section and its own concert hall. Below the cultural centre, closer to the river, a large outdoor stage has been built.
Anton S. Stephansen has been described as a rational adventurer. It seems safe to say at least that he must have been an adventurer, starting up a factory in the middle of nowhere at the end of the 19th century. With his bare hands and a loan from his father-in-law, he laid each stone to build the factory. Today, Espeland is totally changed. Thanks to the factory, Espeland is now very much a vital part of Arna district and Bergen municipality. From its modest start in 1895, the factory buildings now represent an area of over 20,000 m2. The factory has always contributed actively to the local community, playing an active role in starting up residential areas, sports grounds and musical bands. And this trend continues. The company recently let out a plot of land near the factory which is now a pleasant residential area.

 Skjermbilde 2011-11-30 kl. 22.54.00

 Janus cultural centre in Espeland




The Janus factory in the year 1895



It was the Espeland waterfall which first caught the interest of the company’s founder. The fast-flowing watercourse formed the foundation for an industrial adventure which has been sustained until modern times. Running a textile factory has never been easy – having to balance on the double-edged sword of changing fashions and changing technology, not to mention the fluctuating economy and competition from low-cost countries. Despite this, the Janus factory has always displayed an indomitable will to survive and an indescribable motivation, no matter what obstacles are encountered along the way.
Today, the Janus factory is owned by Janus Holding and Gøy AS. Janne Vangen Solheim is the CEO and chairman of the board of the company.

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