TIP OF THE DAY: Watch a short documentary by photo artist Sanna Kannisto about the creation of bird photos at the Hanko bird station.

Hanko's old spa

Text: Marketta Wall

A spa was established in Hanko in the late 1870s. The celebrities and royals of their time were cared for by sister-in-law. Here is the story of sister Edla Helin.

Listen to the story told by Mi Grönlund.

I'm Edla Helin, the head dresser. I have been here since the spa opened in 1879, but now in this new spa I am the head dresser and I have also taught a whole host of younger women to this profession. We all have a similar suit: a black skirt, a white apron, a short-sleeved blouse and a red vest. There have already been almost 500 guests this year, half as many as last year. It is due to the reforms that have been made for this season, following the examples applied by Professor Homén from France.

In the new wing we have a bigger pool and six bathrooms where you can take a day bath. They help with nerve problems. There are also four steam cabinets, two of which can be used for hot air baths and two for turpentine steam baths. For rheumatism, the turpentine steam cabinet is an effective treatment, as is a pine bath and mud massage, for which there is a separate room. Here we use only the finest, heated sea mud, which is easier to rinse off than oil or Vaseline. There are also private rooms for hot wrapping baths, and the people of Hanko are happy to take them when they are in the flu or cold. The new part also has a knitting bath, which has also been imported from France, but here in Hanko it has been slightly modified.

There are special showers for the local treatment of the lower extremities, developed by engineer Huber from Helsinki according to the instructions of Professor Homén. This is known as Hanko’s specialty and was on display at the Berlin Medical Conference. For cold feet and headaches, this treatment helps especially. These baths have also been prescribed by the professor for the Countess.

The Countess has come to seek treatment for indigestion. They, as well as urinary tract ailments, are treated at our spa with a new mechanical device that provides electric baths. The amount of electric current is regulated in the induction room, from where the wires are passed through the wall to the metal plates in the bath of the adjacent room. The electrotherapy department also provides four-pool baths, where the bather's hands and feet are each in their own basins.

The health water supply takes place on a large glass veranda next to the Mining Salon, where from 7 to 9, 12 to 1 and 6 to 7 all common mineral water species, German, Swedish and domestic, both natural and artificial, are offered, not forgetting Ronneby's arsenic water and bottled radioactive water. The Countess gets good care and the necessary rest here in Hanko. After the treatments there is still time to take walks in the park or boat trips to the archipelago and there are dances in the Well Room every week. For treatments and rest, it is important that there is silence in the Spa Park after nine in the evening.

Text: Marketta Wall, Photos & video: Hanko Museum.

This story has been produced with the support of the Svenska Kulturfonden.