A postscript to Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy.
Lesmierz No 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T on a sugar beet train in January 1980. Photo ©Tomasz Wach estate.
(Click to see original on Wciaz pod Para.)
It seems like another age, yet it was not quite 50 years ago (1964 or 5), that a cousin took me to see the yard (1) of the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa at Gdansk Wask and I had my first taste of Polish narrow gauge steam. Sadly, ten years later in 1974 the whole of the GKD on the left bank of the Vistula was closed and much, but not all, of the GDK followed suit in subsequent years.
During that same trip to Poland I found myself on a family organised visit to the palace to Wilanow to the south of Warsaw. In those days one went by tram to Wilanow, so I was happy enough, but when I discovered that the Wilanowska Kolej Dojazdowska ran from the gates of the park, I decided to pursue my own itinerary and, while the rest of my family went sight seeing at the palace, I and an attractive Warsaw cousin minder explored the WKD and the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa for the rest of the day.
We took a strange looking petrol(?) railcar to Piaseczno. I remember being disappointed that the line from the then terminus at Wilanow (the line had run once run as far as pl. Lubelski) ran as a roadside tramway through Powsin and Klarysew, but then the ride became more interesting as we passed the junction to Konstancin and I spotted some dumped 0-6-2Ts (2) before we reached Piaseczno Miasto. Miraculously three of these locos have survived and are now mouldering in the open at the skansen in Gryfice.
Piaseczno Miasto yard was bigger in those days (a few sidings have since been removed to make room for a road) and resembled a busy main line junction. Here we changed trains to ride in what I regarded to be a ‘proper train’ hauled by a Px48 as far as Warszawa Poludniowa. From here we took the tram back to the city centre. A few days later I had another Px48-hauled trip on the Marecka Kolej Dojazdowa from Warszawa Wilenska to Radzymin.
When Ed Beale brought my attention to the wonderful narrow gauge pictures of the late Tomasz Wach, as part of his photographic research for the Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy article, all these memories came flooding back. We wanted to reproduce Wach’s photographs of engines working on the Dobrzelin and Lesmierz sugar beet railways to illustrate the article and corresponded with Tomislaw Czarnecki on whose website Wciaz pod Para Wach’s photos are hosted as well a contact that we had been given for a representative of Wach’s estate. Sadly, though at first our correspondence seemed to be leading to a positive conclusion, it then petered out without us receiving a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Wach’s collection goes back to 1962 and continues through to 1995. It includes pictures of narrow gauge engines working on the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa, the Mlawska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Nasielska Kolej Dojazdowa as well as on the narrow gauge railways belonging to the sugar refineries at Dobrzelin, Guzow, Lesmierz and Mala Wies. There are also preservation era photos of unusual steam working on the narrow gauge lines in Elk and Sochaczew. In addition there are some splendid pictures of – mostly older – standard gauge locos working in various locations.
Wach’s pictures are from a past era when railway photography was strictly forbidden and only a handful of photographers managed to record what was an an amazingly diverse steam scene. We publish this review to celebrate Wach’s achievement and courage. It would be wonderful if someone (maybe FPKW?) manages to secure the right to reproduce these pictures in print and so preserves this wonderful collection for future generations.
(1) Ty1-1096 caught in Gdansk Wask in 1963
(2) Tyb5-3386 at Iwiczna on the Grójecka KD in May 1962
More Tomasz Wach photos (links to Wciaz pod Para):
- Dobrzelin Sugar Refinery 23 0-6-0T Las with Heath Robinson water tender in 1977
- Gdanska Kolej Dojazdowa Ty1-1096 shunting at Gdansk Wask in 1963
- Grojecka Kolej Dojazdowa Tyn6-3633 2-6-2T and passenger train at Pyry
- Kozienice Forestry Railway Ty 1133 600mm gauge Las at Cztery Kopce in 1977
- Kruszwica Sugar Refinery No.3 0-6-0T Las photographed c.1997
- Lesmierz Sugar Refinery No.3 HF Brigadelok (1721) in 1977
- Mala Wies Suger Refinery No. 5 HF Brigadelok (16160)
All photographs linked to in this article are from the collection of the late Tomasz Wach hosted on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s web site Wciaz pod Para. All the maps linked to from this article are courtesy Jaroslaw Wozny and Railmap – Kolejowa Mapa Polski. Thanks also to Ed Beale for doing the original photographic research.