Havnegade og Nørreled GB

Badebørn. 1944

Badebørn. 1938

Villa Målet. 2014

Villa Målet. 2014


The streets of Havnegade and Nørreled each have a story to tell.

The streets of Havnegade and Nørreled each have a story to tell. Havnegade is a mixture of small houses that also contained shops, and businesses including a kiosk, a bicycle repair shop, a chair maker, a joiner, a tailor; Hou’s first retirement home was established in one of these buildings by the parish council. In Nørreled, there is especially one house that draws attention to itself, namely the white house coming into view round the corner: Nørreled no. 4, also known as ‘Villa Maalet’. The story you’re about to hear is about the children that came here to bathe, the ‘bath train’, and milk! In 1885, a circle of Odder citizens started a collection to benefit the Bathing Organisation for Scrofulous Children in Hou. This was the start of the phenomenon later to be known as the Hou ‘bath train’. On presentation of a doctor’s certificate, children of poor health from poor homes were eligible for bathing at Hou Public Sea Baths – and a free meal to follow. The local railway company supported the initiative dispatching a ‘bath train’ on a daily basis. The children were transported in cattle wagons with benches installed. The ‘bath train’ became a permanent arrangement and continued until 1957. When the train arrived at Hou, boys and girls went their separate ways; it was not considered a good idea to allow them to bathe together. The public baths had been extended and consisted of a set of piers each of which had changing facilities, thanks to private funds and a grant from a local building society. For the first decades, the children were given a meal following their bathing session, but starting from the 1930s and for the next ten years or so, they were offered a glass of milk – and later on a fruit drink – to have with their packed lunch. In the 1940s and until the mid-1950s, this took place in Herta Ricardy’s garden behind her house, namely Villa Maalet, Nørreled no. 4. In 1952, a total of 2,389 children arrived on the ‘bath train’ to Hou.