Dear Members

Twenty-one today, twenty-one today, We've got the key of the door never been twenty-one before,

Well that's the way the song goes, It is our 21st Newsletter but unfortunately its not yet the key to return to our clubroom. We are still waiting for news from the church and confirmation of our risk assessment.

On the bright side we still have some interesting articles, brain teasers and photos, its your newsletter please keep them coming.



Phil and Nigel

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In 2007 Wayne and I decided to try the Wolsztyn Experience in Poland where, as I am sure that most of you know, PKP (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe SA – Polish State Railways Inc.) were still running steam on some services as a tourist attraction in association with an English company run by two brothers. One is based in England and deals with enquiries, bookings etc. whilst the other is based in Wolsztyn and meets the guests, arranges accommodation etc.  They also own a house in Wolsztyn at which some of the guests stay.

Having made enquiries we duly made a booking for August. However along the way we found that my grandson was expected in September and so we rearranged for November. So it was that on 11th November we flew from Luton to Poznan with Wizz Air. The flights etc. were all booked for us and we could have chosen to fly to Berlin and travel by train to Wolsztyn. Poznan then was not an all weather airport and if we had been diverted it would probably have been to Warsaw. We then have had to travel by coach back to Poznan.  As luck would have it all was well, although the landing was something else. We dropped through cloud and emerged at what seemed to be about 200 feet above the runway which we then hit almost immediately.



At the baggage reclaim we met another person on the Experience and shared a taxi from the airport to the station. Poznan station then was nothing like it is now. The ticket office was just a small building in-between the diverging lines and there wasn’t much else although there were quite a few platforms. We found the Wolsztyn train in one of the bay platforms and it was steam hauled by a 2-6-2 – Ol49–7. In the past Wolsztyn trains had been formed of four double deck coaches but by now were only two open coaches.

As the service is to a diesel time table the steam loco is worked hard and accelerates rapidly. We duly arrived at Wolsztyn later in the afternoon and were greeted by Howard from the Experience, who showed us the way to the house. We were staying at the house but some of the others stayed at a bed and breakfast further down the road and some others stayed in the railway boarding house at Wolsztyn shed.

In the evening we all met at the house, twelve of us I recall, and found a restaurant for dinner. At the time the prices in Poland were incredibly cheap and good three course meal with a couple of beers could be had for around a fifth of what you would pay in the UK.



The next morning Wayne and I were allocated to an early morning trip to Leszno. We made our way to the station and found the loco already on the train; again just two coaches. We also found that Poland in November is somewhat colder that the UK and wearing boiler suits without a coat, as we would on the NVR, was not a good idea. Others that had been before took and old coat for this reason. You live and learn!

The loco was a 4-6-0 Ok22–31 and we shared the driving to Leszno and return light engine. Back in time for lunch we spent the afternoon looking around the shed and the rest of the town.

On the 13th November we were to visit the narrow gauge line at Smigiel. To do this we travelled by taxi and the driver only spoke Polish and German whilst Wayne and I only spoke some French. Therefore there was little conversation other than by signs. The narrow gauge line is quite long but was is in a poor state of repair and only the last part from Smigiel to Bojonovo could be used by steam. The rest was used by a diesel railcar which was much lighter.



When the railcar arrived at Smigiel the passengers had to get out and cross the tracks to join the steam train, which consisted of an 0-8-0T Px48-1919 and a single coach. I drove the first trip and under instruction drove the loco hard. Along the way we saw a passenger waiting at a wayside platform which was hardly discernable and braked hard to stop in time. The last part of the line into Bojonovo is on a steep climb and the loco slipped badly. The usual rule is to ease off and let the loco find it’s feet but not here. I was told to just leave the regulator wide open and fight all the way up to the platform.

We had two round trips on the narrow gauge before returning to Bojonovo to catch a train to Leszno. Here we joined 2-8-2 Pt47-112 on a train back to Wolsztyn which was arrived at quite late and we had to find a take away for something to eat.

 The next morning was free before taking a railcar to Leszno to join 2-8-2 Pt47-112 again to return to Wolsztyn.

On the 15th Howard asked if we wanted a special turn, which involved collecting a loco from Wroclaw that had been on summer excursion duty, and returning with it. As this sounded somewhat interesting and different we jumped at the chance. So at 7.00 we took a taxi with a Polish loco crew to Leszno as there wasn’t an earlier enough train. At Leszno we caught a train to Wroclaw. With the loco crew we wandered across the tracks (no Health and Safety to worry about here) and found a 4-6-0 Ok1-359 at the rear of the shed.



This had already been prepared but how it was to be brought out was something of a mystery until we found that there was a traverser that ran all the way through the shed, which was full of diesel and electric locos. Once out of the shed we set off tender first. Now many of the Polish engines have fully enclosed cabs and are particularly warm. However this loco had an open back tender and we had the cold November air coming straight at us. This did not bode well for the long trip ahead. However we found that we were to shortly turn on a triangle and then set off chimney first which was a little warmer.

At Stare Bonovo we were looped to allow several faster service trains to pass and this held us up for probably an hour. The rear of the Polish loco cabs, unless fully enclosed of course, have a canvas screen across the rear of the cab and this was pulled across with Wayne, the two loco crew and myself huddled into the small but much warmer space.

Once we set off again I was driving and, being on a main line, speed was much greater than that we had experienced before. Approaching a station I noticed that the signal was ‘on’ and, having told the driver, shut off steam. As we neared the station the signal was pulled off and we slowly picked up speed again past the signal box where we saw the signalman waiting to take a photograph! Can you imagine that being allowed to happen in the UK?



At Wroclaw we had to go onto the shed to take water, which all took quite a time. Finally back at Wolsztyn we were very late and it was a quick takeaway again.

On the 16th we had a morning trip to Poznan on 2-6-2 Ol49-23. On arrival at Poznan the loco went on shed to be turned and to take water. The return trip was some time later in the afternoon and the crew suggested that we walked across to the station to find something to eat. So we wandered across several main line tracks to the platform. Health and Safety again! Having found a Burger King at the station we joined the loco in the same bay platform that we had left from on the first day. Return to Wolsztyn was fairly early and we took the chance to visit the shed again for more photo’s.=

That was our last steam day, as Howard arranged for all of the participants to have five days on the footplate, as was in the programme. We asked Howard for suggestions and he said he could arrange a day out to visit a second world war bunker and a castle. This seemed interesting and we duly paid the necessary costs. The bunker was on what had been the German/Russian border and was heavily fortified against Russian advance. However the Russians found a frozen lake that hadn’t been protected and simply drove around the defences.
The castle should have had some fine views but unfortunately it was too misty to see them.



During the week we heard from some of the other participants of various happenings. On the narrow gauge one had managed to charge up the slope into Bojonovo and failed to stop before hitting the earth bank at the end of the platform. On another occasion the participants arrived at Smigiel to find that the coke heater in the single coach had collapsed through the floor and so the coach could not be used. They spent the day at Smigiel shunting wagons in the out of use goods yard. Finally we heard that an electric loco on a service train that two guests had travelled in as one of their experiences, had later collided with a lorry on a level crossing and the driver had unfortunately been killed. Howard said that in Poland the driver of the lorry would have been taken straight to prison and would probably receive a twenty year sentence. Perhaps we should do that over here.



During the week Wayne and I had acquired a PKP plaques off of loco’s and Wayne had acquired a grease gun as well. On the last day as we packed we realised that the metal detector at the airport would not take kindly to these, not least the grease gun which looked a little like a gun. We decided that it was best to put in our hand luggage as at least we could show security what they were. We took a taxi to Poznan airport, as there wasn’t a suitable train to Poznan, and listened intentively to the weather, as we had heard that flights were being cancelled. Once at the airport we found several flights had been cancelled but that our one was in fact luckily the first in that morning.

Having checked the luggage in we went through passport control and then to security. We could see the staff scratching their heads trying to work out what we had in the hand luggage. So we took them from the bags and showed them. With limited English they said that we could not take them as hand luggage and would need to check them into the hold. So I had to take my bag with the three items back through passport control and to the check in desk. There I had to explain what was required and why. Fortunately we some how communicated OK and then it was back to passport control and security. Fortunately with the airport so quiet they remembered me and it wasn’t a problem.

So we flew home to Luton and the end of an eventful and enjoyable week.





Sacramento Railroad Museum


I also visited the Sacramento Railroad Museum, but it was open when I went! We had just spent some time looking around the State Capitol and listened to the debate on the budget problems then facing the state in 2009. Annie was the Governator at the time, but he wasn’t around for photo calls unfortunately.



The museum is a small one, but what it lacks in numbers of locos it makes up for in their size. the Southern Pacific 4-8-8-2 loco was built in 1944 by Baldwin. it weighs 477 tons in working order. The cab was put at the front of this oil burner because of the number of tunnels and snow sheds on the Donner Pass on the route over the Sierra Nevada mountains.  
The 2-6-0 loco from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad is an amazingly well presented exhibit. 




I had a trip on the V&TRR a couple of days previously. The line has serious gradients and sharp curves and ends at the ex gold mining town of Virginia. This is a real Western style one street town that survived into the 20th Century largely because the gold never appeared and the place was abandoned until it became a film set for the early TV Westerns in the 1950s. Today it is a busy little place full of tourists living the frontier and gold rush story. The railroad makes a spectacular addition to the overall scene. 
The loco is another Baldwin, oil fired, 2-8-0 of 1916. Compared with what was being built in England at the time it is strikingly modern with everything accessible, and massively built. 
The American preserved railroads are remarkably free and easy on access. A refreshing change.









July 1993 Railway Modeller

Burnham on Sea by Denys Brownlee a de Havilland  member for many years. He was very tall, quitely spoken, smoked a pipe and despite having huge hands was a superb 2mm modeller. At exhibitions, you could put an old penny in the slot and the lifeboat would come out and run down the slipway. I believe the layout still exists.  To read the whole article click the picture below.





Spiffing day out on the bike thanks to BR


A wonderful short film, produced by British Transport Films, about travelling around Britain by bicycle
with the help of the odd train. Approximately 1955






An interesting article on railway enthusiasts from an unknown newspaper in 1999






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