The history of Henningsvær (continued).
Harbour conditions, however, were a problem. The open neck of water known as Heimsundet, provided little shelter against the south-westerly storms. After years of deliberation and reports, work was finally begun on the breakwater at the southern end of Heimsundet in1929. Construction work took place only during the light times of the year, and it took five years before the breakwater was finally completed in 1934.
For the most part, the second world war had little effect on life in Henningsvær. The fisheries continued more or less as usual, although there was a distinct decline in the number of boats taking part during the war years. March 4, 1941, however, was to become a red letter day in the history of Lofoten. It was then that British forces consisting of 5 destroyers and two ground troop carriers sailed into the Vestfjord. In the course of that day, British commandos and a Norwegian platoon under the command of Captain Martin Linge carried out a number of demolition assignments on strategic targets in Lofoten. The operation, that became known as the "Lofoten Raid", led to the destruction of 11 cod-liver oil factories, a power station and several oil tanks. Henningsvær too, was one of the targets for the Lofoten Raid. English forces came ashore for a few hectic hours during the early morning, and demolished the cod-liver oil factory at "Englishman’s Wharf" (Engelskmannsbrygga). When they left shortly afterwards, a few of the local young men joined them to volunteer for service in Britain.
The raid on Lofoten was met with severe reprisals by the Germans, particularly in Svolvær, but also in Henningsvær, where relatives of those who had gone over to England were arrested and sent to Grini for internment, and a house was burned to the ground. The fishermen demonstrated their contempt for the reprisals by collectively leaving the scene when the house was to be burned.
After the war, the community quickly began to flourish again. Several years of record-breaking fisheries were to follow, and at one point in the 1950’s, over 1,000 people were resident in Henningsvær. It did not last, however. Catches gradually declined and comprehensive structural changes were made within the fisheries, resulting in fewer and bigger boats taking part in the Lofoten Fishery. The population of Henningsvær sank drastically until the 1990’s, when it stabilised at the present level of about 500 inhabitants.
By far the greatest change to occur in this island community after the war, was to take place within the field of communications. Until 1960, the only link with the outside world was by way of a small scheduled boat that sailed twice a day to Kabelvåg and Svolvær, or by the local freighter that also carried passengers. In 1960, however, the road to Festvåg was completed, and in 1963 the ferry link between Henningsvær and Festvåg was established.
By 1983, bridges had been built and Henningsvær gained a permanent road link with the rest of Lofoten. Consequently the foundation stone of a new, major industry had been laid, that of the tourist trade, which consolidated its position in earnest in Henningsvær in the 1990’s.