Det Junkerske Stemmeværk (The Junker Weir)
The Junkerske Stemmeværk ( The Junker Weir) has historically been used for different purposes. From the 1600s until the late 1800, it was used as an eel trap. Then water from the river Kongeå's largest irrigation systems, Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation Channel and Sønderskov-Tobøl Irrigation Canal, was taken into into the weir. When the irrigation channels were closed in the 1950s, Kongeåen's Fish farm took over the weir.
The Sønderskov-Tobøl Irrigation Channel was by far the most expensive to build. This was because the channel had to be led under under three watercourses and four public roads. Bridges and underpasses were expensive to build. The first time the channel company applied for permission to build the canal, the authorities said no. It would be far too costly to build.
The second time the company applied, it was given official permission to build the canal. The authorities were right about the economic side of things. The construction costs exceeded the budget by 35%. The canal was financed with a loan from the Danish state.
Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation channel
A number of landowners along the river Kongeå's southern banks had purchased the Junkerske Stemmeværk from the owner to the farm Egeriis in Malt parish. He had used the weir as an eel trap. Now it was to serve as a water intake for an upcoming irrigation channel. The owner of the farm did not completely let go of the weir. He reserved the right to fish in the eel trap's free undercurrent.
The Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation Channel was built over the next years with a cheap loan from the Prussian state. Landowners on the river Kongeå's northern banks protested about the construction of the Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation Channel as they believed that it would damage their meadows.
An international commission was set up comprising representatives from Denmark and Prussia. The commission partly agreed with the landowners and awarded them a poor compensation for the deterioration of their pastures. A paltry DKK 190 per year to be distributed between 70 landowners. On the other hand, the commission determined that the owners on the northern banks had the right to build a similar irrigation system north of the river.
Sønderskov-Tobøl Irrigation Channel
The northern bank owners used their right to lay an irrigation system north of the river in December 1894, when they decided to build Sønderskov-Tobøl Irrigation Channel.
The system was designed by Det Danske Hedeselskab (the Danish Heath Society) and built in cooperation with Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation Channel on the Junkerske Stemmeværk. Sønderskov-Tobøl Irrigation Channel simply bought half of the weir. The two companies then agreed about the river Kongeå's water and the operation of the Junkerske Stemmeværk.
The construction of the irrigation channel started in the spring of 1898. The work was given to two contractors from Vejle. During some period, they had up to 100 men digging the canal, constructing bridges and underpasses.
The irrigation canal covered 73 landowners. It irrigated 125.5 acres of meadow and 115.2 acres of arable land.
Closing down the irrigation channel
In 1947, the question of closing down the channel was raised for the first time, but the landowners could not agree. Many landowners still irrigated their pastures with water from the channel. However, five years later they managed to agree on closing down the irrigation channel. At the time, the channel irrigated land for 55 landowners.
Lintrup-Hygum Irrigation Channel took over the Junkerske Stemmeværk as sole owner. The south bank owners did not want to close down their channel yet. About 70 landowners still irrigated their pastures with water from the channel.
Author: Linda Klitmøller, museum curator, Sønderskov Museum