At 11.55 the train arrives at Hjuksebø station, according to schedule.There will be a short stop on track 1, while the locomotive changes position for the stretch up to Tinnoset.The platform is full of people of all ages. The school children were well prepared with Norwegian and self-made Iranian flag.A little boy of 3 years had no flag, and the only thing he remembers is a lot of people and a thick rope in face height.The Royal Ministry of Justice and Police had forgotten to ask for police guard on Hjuksebø, but the station master had been prescient and had set up a rope two meters into the platform.
Celebration journey through Telemark
Sunday 21 May 1961 is a beautiful day in Oslo.At 09.15 a group of cars leaves the royal castle. 15 minutes later the royal 15/61 extra trains rolls out of the Western Railway station while King Olaf stands on the platform waving.The Shah of Persia and his wife are heading for Telemark.
First the 22 year old Empress Farah Diba comes out on the platform at the end of the wagon. A sigh rises from the crowd. Then the Shah comes. They both smile and wave.They look at the local people in Sunday clothes, the station master in his best uniform and white gloves. Birches along the edge of the station site have thin bright green leaves.Through the foliage the guests can catch a glimpse of the village, the Heddal Lake which sparkles in the sunshine, Notodden with smoke from Tinfos and the cone-shaped Gausta mountain in the horizon to the north.Welcome to Telemark!
Had a movie camera
People absorb the impression of these exotic guests. The Shah is 42 years old, smart, handsome and charming.Farah Diba was already established as a fashion icon and the ideal of beauty through the weekly press.Suddenly, she disappears into the wagon, but comes back immediately with a small movie camera.She takes two steps down onto the platform and films from the narrow strip between the train and the rope.Iranian journalists accompanying the train said later that they have never seen the imperial couple as close to people.In Iran it would have been unimaginable. The 3-year-old with the rope in his face was probably also filmed.50 years later Farah Diba writes from exile in Paris.She does not remember many details from the trip in Norway.So much had happened in the meantime and the film rolls from the time were left behind in Tehran when she and her husband had to flee the country in 1979.But she remembers the beautiful scenery, the wonderful hospitality and all the fair-haired children.
At 12.05 the train continues to Notodden, Tinnoset and over the Lake Tinnsjøen with the train ferry Storegut (BigBoy) to Mæl.From there, there is a car cortege up the narrow valley to the town of Rjukan with the imperial couple in Hydro's new Cadillac.Everywhere, people have turned up to greet and see.On Tinnoset there is an atmosphere like 17 of May (National Day): Freshly mowed lawns, flowers, flags and branches of Birch.Large color photos of the imperial couple adorn the station.The celebrity guests are greeted by the station master, Managing Director of Hydro, Østbye with his wife and daughter, and director Garber.The road from the station to the ferry was paved for the occasion. The local newspaper reports that "Outside the gate to the ferry area smart boy-scouts from the 1stRjukan platoon formed a line of espalier.A more enjoyable reception than here on Tinnoset station was hardly experienced by the imperial couple during their entire visit, and it seemed that they were pleasantly surprised by it».At first, people had enough with watching, but then they started shouting cheers. "
At 12.45 the day after, the party arrived at Gransherad Station and boarded the waiting train.At 13.00, according to schedule, the train left for Vestfold.The original itinerary included visits to Ulefoss, but this was deleted because the car ride there was considered to be too uncomfortable.In retrospect, it seems curious that train transportation was used, but we must remember that although the best cars could be good enough, the road standard in Eastern Telemark was highly variable.Therefore, trains were both faster and far more comfortable, especially a royal special train. The Special train is described in a letter from the NSB's Board of Oslo to the Norwegian Trade Council, which organized this semi-official part of the visit.It was set up with locomotive, 1 freight car and 6 bogie cars.
The last one was A0 100, built in 1926 and belonging to Oslo district.It was rebuilt in 1941 and was known as the Terboven-coach thereafter.In 1961, King Haakon's old coach was retired and the new king's coach was not yet delivered.A0 100 was therefore NSB’s best representation coach.At one end there was a platform, partly roofed over.There the Shah stood with his Farah Diba and waved to those present at several short stops along the way, like Drammen, Skien and Notodden.From the platform they came into the lounge, furnished with table and eight armchairs and sofas with tables in front.To the left of the couch was the door to a side hallway and the three sleeping compartments.The first two were regular 1st-class sleeping compartments with two berths in height, table and sink.The last sleeping cabin had two beds in height.In addition, the Shah and his wife had armchair, bureau and bathroom with closet and toilet.
Safe and confident
Monday 22May the train made a brief stop at Notodden Station.The local newspaper reported that over 1000 people had turned up.The tour continued to Skien and Sandefjord by train.Next day the group boarded a motor torpedo boat from the Royal Norwegian Navy and headed for the Old Town in Fredrikstad.The chief of police in Notodden could breathe a sigh of relief. Everything had gone according to schedule and without problems.Thousands of people in Telemark had experienced and participated in the visit in different ways. The 3-year-old in Hjuksebø grew up with frequent references to these exotic and glamorous guests.In the days that followed the visit was front-page news in all newspapers.The local newspaper Telen wrote that "the world's most famous monarchs, the Shah and Empress Farah Diba more than met expectations and were an even more beautiful and handsome couple than we had expected.From they stepped down on the platform at Tinnoset station till they said goodbye at Rjukan yesterday morning, they won hundreds of friends in town and village - simply by their charm and smiling naturalness.The visit was very successful. "
A newspaper from the capital described it as a "celebration travel through Telemark - a romantic postcard landscape."On Mæl station we learn that "The cheers burst from the dense masses of spectators on the platform outside the station.Here, too, there were waving schoolchildren with Persian and Norwegian flags and it was fun without equal.He, straight and sober, heavily laden with golden decorations, and she, cute and chic, safe and confident despite the fact that she is only 22 years. "
Heads of State
50 years is gone and today it is unthinkable that a similar journey would be undertaken by train.But in 1961 the train was superior in both speed and comfort.Moreover, the NSB's infrastructure was much better.Both the Bratsberg-line to Notodden and the Tinnoset-line further north had much traffic.The stations were manned.Both buildings and outdoor areas were well kept.People were accustomed to using trains and stations were important meeting points.After the Shah and Farah Diba, Hjuksebø station could log yet another foreign head of state on visit.In August 1964 the Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev passed, just weeks before he was deposed by his opponents in the Communist Party.He came from Oslo, would continue to Herøya and swept through East-Telemark in an extra train with helicopter hovering overhead.