Rødby is a town and market town on Lolland with 1,993 inhabitants
(2020) located in Lolland Municipality, Region Zealand. Rødby is
located in a landscape-flat part of Lolland near the former Rødby
Nor, now dammed. It was formerly a port city. Since it was decided
in the 20th century to drain the large area, a pumping station at
Kramnitse has made sure to keep the noret and Rødby Fjord dry of
water, not least to avoid flooding in the city. However, it has also
meant that the old market town finally lost its direct connection to
Rødby is today a small town. From the time as a port city, there are several old warehouses and grocery farms, including Willers Gård from 1729, which today functions as a tourist agency. Rødby Church dates from the Middle Ages and was rebuilt in 1632, 1728 and in the 19th century. The tower is 38 meters high.
From the city there are approx. 5 kilometers to the port city Rødbyhavn and approx. 12 kilometers to Maribo.
In King Valdemar's Land Register from 1231, Rødby is listed with the name Ruthby. The prefix indicates in Zealand medieval Danish a (forest) clearing. The town name thus means that Rødby was built on a former forest area.
The Middle Ages
In the first centuries, Rødby was a trading post and an important ferry point to Holstein for Scandinavian travelers who were to move on to the central part of Europe. This important position meant that Christian I in 1454 gave the city certain freedoms to "like merchants" trade with the Germans, and later in 1506 the rights were extended to also apply to trade with "peasants and foreign merchants". In 1517, Christian II affirmed the town's old rights and gave it half of Langø for eternal use. In 1528 the privileges were reaffirmed. What gave the town some significance at that time was that it was a customs post and crossing point for Holstein and Fehmarn, as the crossing took place over its port Dragsminde - which, however, gradually sanded until and finally 1749 was closed. In 1555, the citizens of Rødby were exempted from paying the Great Customs when they traveled with tools and livestock used for their own breeding use. by Royal Letter of 24 August 1557, it was decided on the occasion that the inhabitants had complained that they had to pay tax both as citizens and peasants, that those who give land guilds, etc., should be exempted from civil burdens (contributions to ships equipment), but those who run merchandising should correspond to all the weight as market town merchants. In 1656, Arent Berntsen says in "Danmarckis oc Norgis Fructbar Herlighed" that Rødby was previously only considered a distinguished village, but that it is now generally considered a market town. However, it soon became a peasant town.
Under the dictatorship
In a royal letter of 24 January 1551 it is said that when Rødby was for the most part burned, it was to be investigated whether it was not better to lay the town closer to the beach. The market town rights were not granted to Rødby until 1682. The town was hit in 1694 by a violent flood that destroyed large parts of its business life. The citizens of Rødby therefore applied for tax relief, as they were unable to re-establish the city's economy without help. One accident after another hit Rødby in the 18th century. The town's Latin school closed in 1740. Despite the floods, Rødby Fjord gradually began to become true, which meant that the town's harbor at Dragsminde closed in 1749 and was subsequently moved to Kramnitse. In 1774, a fire ravaged and destroyed most of the market town, including the town's old half-timbered town hall with its archives, which was lost forever. It sent many Rødby citizens fleeing the area in deep poverty, and historians believe that the phrase "oh my god, are you from Rødby?" originates from this period. In 1776 it was called "this over all insignificant market town", and even in 1833 it is characterized as more like a village, as most houses were thatched. Until 1735, the town bailiff had in common with Maribo.
The lack of a port at Rødby meant that the population had to use Bandholm as a shipping port for agricultural products, and this made the Rødby area unattractive to trade with in the long run. In this way, the small market town was kept in poverty.
The early industrialization
Rødby's population was increasing in the late 1800s and but stagnated in the 1860s and later: 1,339 in 1850, 1,545 in 1855, 1,578 in 1860, 1,553 in 1870, 1,796 in 1880, 1,837 in 1890, 1,726 in 1901, 1,745 in 1906 and 2,020 in 1911.
The inhabitants' means of subsistence were in 1890: 132 lived by intangible enterprise, 556 by handicrafts and industry, 261 by trade and turnover, 7 by fishing, 580 by agriculture, 241 by other occupations, 27 by their means, 30 enjoyed alms, and 3 sat in prison. According to a 1906 census, the population was 1,745, of which 87 subsisted on intangible activities, 571 on agriculture, forestry and dairy farming, 9 on fishing, 630 on crafts and industry, 289 on trade and more, 59 on transportation, 32 were retired people, 62 lived by public support and 6 by other or unspecified business.
Of factories and industrial plants, the town had in 1855 only 2 distilleries. In 1872, factories mention cotton and linen looms as well as 1 book printing house that published "Rødby Avis". Of factories and industrial plants, the town had at the turn of the century 1 wool spinning mill, 1 brewery and 1 book printing house, from which "Rødby Avis" was published (another magazine, "Rødby Dagblad", was published in Nykøbing).
A hard blow for the town occurred in 1872. Here Rødby and the
rest of southern Lolland and Falster were hit by the most violent
storm flood ever and several human lives were lost on that occasion.
When the worst aftermath of the storm was over, construction began
on a 63-kilometer-long dike along the southern part of Lolland's
coast, and a drainage of Rødby Fjord was also started. The drying
was completed in 1966 and today the dikes stretch from the peninsula
Hyllekrog in the east to the seaweed Albuen in the west. At the
beginning of the 20th century, Rødby had a small shipyard, but it
closed again due to the drainage.
In 1912, the railway connection from Nykøbing Falster to the newly built Rødbyhavn was extended and this boosted the area's economic growth a bit more.
The interwar period
During the interwar period, Rødby's population was growing: in 1916 2,110, in 1921 3,290, in 1925 2,750, in 1930 3,108, in 1935 3,060, in 1940 3,443 inhabitants. But at the same time there was a growth in the suburbs Ringsebølle in Ringsebølle Parish and Sædinge in Sædinge Parish, where a number of people settled with work in Rødby.