The history of Lillsjödal outdoor facility

Lillsjödal outdoor facility was donated to the students at Lund University by Dr. Arvid Lindau (1892–1958), professor of pathology, bacteriology, and public health at Lund University (and the discoverer of the von Hippel-Lindau syndrome).

Professor Lindau was immensely interested in orienteering and was also the president of Lund University’s gymnastics and sports society (LUGI). In order to better the chances of Lund’s students to be able to practice the noble sport of orienteering he began his search for a cabin in Scanias northern parts, better suited for orienteering and other field sports than Lund’s farming landscape. He found Lillsjödal, and “instead of a croft for the practitioners of orienteering – a facility for the whole student community”.

The previous owner of Lillsjödal, pre-school teacher Carl Mellton (a dedicated caregiver and descriptor of the culture of Göinge), had recently passed away, and in January in 1941 Lindau started raising money to be able to purchase the facility. To his aid was the legendary industrialist Holger Crafoord (1908–1982), founder of Gambro, CEO of Åkerlund & Rausing for several years, etcetera, and the university’s principal. Together they started working with the industries of Scania and were finally able to raise enough money.

Michael Thomas Hansen (1890–1956), director of Svensk Uppslagsbok and later on Förlagshuset Norden, donated the 26 000 crowns needed to purchase the property. A number of other companies, among which were Malmö Sparbank, Malmö Strumpfabrik, and Åkerlund & Rausing, donated funds for restoration and furnishing.

On February 25, 1941, Lindau transferred the facility to the students, and the deputies of Lund’s Student Union decided on forming a foundation named “Lund’s Student Union’s outdoor facility” with the purpose of presenting the student union’s members with the opportunity of an enriched outdoor life and provide a base for field sports for the student community.

Following the work on furnishing and restoration Lillsjödal was inaugurated on February 25, 1942. The state’s committee for recreational activities had contributed with money, and funds were also raised by means of holding union dances. Furniture (many of which still have not been lost) was custom made by Gärsnäs furniture. The beds were made available by the Red Cross on the condition that Lillsjödal was to act as a war hospital during wartimes.

The male students slept on the top floor in the main building, while female students could stay overnight in the annex (the cost was 1 crown, but only 50 öre if one brought private sheets). The facility was maintained by a foreman (the first one was named Guy Arvidsson, and the current one is Nils Åkesson) and a pair of janitors living at the facility (in what today is known as the conference room, the foreman’s office, and the bedroom with a balcony on the second floor). SJ (at that time, the trains stopped in Sösdala) had a student discount from Lund and Malmoe, and the food was (according to Lundagård 8/43) “of pre-war quality” (breakfast cost 90 öre and lunch 1.60 crowns). The facility was self-supporting in vegetables and there was a small chicken farm as well.

As mentioned, the basic idea was that Lillsjödal should be used for outdoor life and field sports. This also came to happen. The nations organised bandy tournaments on the frozen lake, frequent orienteering took place during autumn and spring (several different orienteering charts are available at the facility), and skiing was popular during winter. There were talks on the construction of a ski slope (this probably concerned one of the slope towards the lake – thus a rather modest slope). A grass field was staged as well, on which one could do anything from playing soccer and tennis to boule and croquet. The lake was open to sport fishing and canoeing.

Lillsjödal was rented out to the city of Malmoe during the summers – acting as a summer camp for the city children – as well as to various companies, using the facility as a holiday retreat for their workers. The students were however referred to their other facility, the student facility of Skanör (which is run by the Academic Society, AF).

It was soon to become obvious that the students’ major interest was not in the practicing of advanced sports. Far more popular were the nations’ trips and other festivities arranged from the very start. The goose banquets, crayfish parties, and Easter/Christmas parties were to become rather more legendary than hard training sessions in the woods.

The student union organised occasional entertainment evenings at the facility. In this fashion people were, for example, entertained by “lute song by senior lecturer” in April 6 in 1964.

Today Lillsjödal stands open to anyone interested (although students affiliated with LUS and LUGI have quite a favorable discount). Throughout the years thousands of students and thousands of other happy people have been able to experience the enchanting old facility, the refreshing lake, and the healthy forest. Student unions, nations, AF committees, and other student associations enjoy traveling to Lillsjödal for the sake of socialising and confering, and the same goes for the lucky person who also has discovered the facility and travels there with his or hers company or friends.

There is no longer any matron around to cook the food – one has to make use of the newly renovated and suitable kitchen for this (and if you do not feel like cooking, there is a pizzeria available in Sösdala). But one can use the sauna or take a swim in the lake, play volleyball on the grass field, wander about the only student forest in Sweden, and the evenings are perfect for settling down in front of the fireplace.

Welcome! And welcome back!