BR Standard 9F Class 2-10-0 locomotive 92220 Evening Star, built in 1960 in Swindon Works, the last steam locomotive to be constructed by British Railways, awaiting the ‘right away’ on the Keighly and Worth Valley Railway. Photo © Dave Cooper.
(Click on photo to see it in its original context on Wikipedia, details of licensing and for more information about Evening Star. Click here for more railway photographs on Dave Cooper’s website.)
Dyspozytor is as au fait with life in Great Britain as in Poland, and having one foot in both countries does allow some interesting comparisons to be made. Sometimes the comparisons are unfavourable to Poland. Have you ever tried shopping in a Polish Tesco? Sometimes the comparisons leave me smiling. I can travel right across Poland to its furthest borders for the price of a railway ticket from Stanstead to Gatwick. But at the moment I am just puzzled.
I am working on a leaflet which requires a timeline, showing how the history of railways in Poland fits into the history of railways in the world. I decide that a meaningful milestone will be the construction of the last steam locomotive for PKP. (Polish State Railways). This shouldn’t be a major research project. After all everybody who knows anything about Britain’s railways knows that Evening Star was the last locomotive constructed by BR.
I talk to my my friends at Fundacja Era Parowozow. I’m encouraged to look up the excellent database of surviving Polish Steam locomotives maintained by ‘Tomi’, Tomislaw Czarnecki. Reading his WWW pages always makes me depressed as every year his list gets shorter. The last locomotive to vanish was TKt48-155 which was plinthed at Kudowie Zdroj and was scrapped on 9 July 2008 at the request of the town council! Kudowa Zdroj is a pleasant health resort, but I will never stay there again.
Tomi’s list can be sorted by date order which gives us… Ty2-1407 built in 1964 at the Zaklady Naprawcze Taboru Kolejowego w Poznaniu. But ZNKT was a repair workshop, not a locomotive factory, so although Ty2-1407 may have had a new PKP number, it’s unlikely to have been an entirely new build. I contact the locomotive’s current owners, the PSMK (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association) based at their roundhouse at Skierniewice. They confirm that, although in one sense Ty2-1407’s is Poland’s youngest surviving locomotive, it was actually constructed from parts of older locomotives.
I ring the National Railway Museum in Warsaw. Poland’s last steam locomotive? Hold on. Wait a minute. Yes, of course! It’s our Ty51-228. There were a couple of Ty55’s constructed later, but they were experimental locomotives that never went into volume production. No I’m not sure when it was built. The information about the Ty55s was intriguing and contradicted information I had seen elsewhere, for example on M Mazurek’s private Chabowka website, that the Ty55’s never got of the drawing board.
I tried Googling for Ty51-228. I am very pleased that I did so, because Google led me to Tomasz Galka’s excellent English language website, Standard-Gauge Locomotives in Poland, which I had not seen before. Galka states many of the later examples (including last five, built in 1958 with serial numbers from 2627 to 2631 and service numbers Ty51-228 to 232 went directly to industrial operators, mainly Silesian sand railways, which used 29 of them. So unless they were built out of sequence, Ty51-228 was the first not the last of this batch of 5. And anyway it was not delivered to PKP, but to some industrial railway. So it’s not the ‘Polish Evening Star‘ that I’m looking for.
Galka has done a lot of research and crossed checked his sources so I was more inclined to believe him than the official PKP website (only Polish) which repeats the National Railway Museum claim that Ty51-228, built in 1958 is the last steam locomotive delivered to PKP. I decide to do a little cross checking of my own and phone Swiat Kolei, the Polish equivalent of the Railway Magazine. The editorial team at Swiat Kolei (well worth subscribing to if you are interested in Polish railways) are as always helpful and informative. There probably was no official ceremony to mark the last standard gauge steam locomotive delivered to PKP, but the event if it had taken place, would have been the delivery of a Tk51 and occurred in 1957. Several ‘broad gauge’ Tk51 were constructed in 1958. The construction of steam locomotives for export and industrial use continued into the 1960’s. A fireless steam locomotive was built in Poland as late as 1967.
So there you have it. The last steam locomotive ever constructed in Poland was probably a modest fireless locomotive, and the identity of last steam locomotive ever delivered to PKP is not definitively known. The investigation has already taken far too long, and I must now ‘move on’ and continue the other work on my leaflet. If anyone out there has the time, patience and Polish language skills to continue where I have have left off, there a couple of pints waiting if they can come up with the definitive answer, backed up with solid evidence.
In the meantime Wolsztyn’s magnificent Ty51-223, which was last steamed at the Wolsztyn Steam Parade in 1997, remains one of the last brand new mainline steam locomotives that were delivered directly to PKP.
Ty51-223 in steam for the last time at the Wolsztyn Steam Parade in 1997. Photo Wojtek Lis, parowozy.com.pl website
(Click to see picture in original context and to see more of Wojtek Lis’s photographs.)