Down memory lane!

by

przedkowice_trains

Narrow Gauge junction station at Przedkowice, railcar MBxd1 working the branch to Zmigrod Miasto, waits for the arrival of the Px49-hauled train from Sulmierzyc to Trzebnicy Gaj.
Photo © Tony Statham

(Click to see the original photo on Tony Staham’s Fotopic site.)

It seems only yesterday that any lengthy car journey across Poland’s minor roads would sooner or later bring up the sight of a vintage narrow gauge tank locomotive, with a tender of uncertain provenance, running across the fields hauling some ancient goods wagons. Sadly such scenes are now only fading memories which is why I was excited to come across Tony Staham’s Fotopic site.

If you haven’t seen them before, there’s a feast of hitherto unknown colour photographs of the Polish railway scene waiting for you. Though the colour has faded, Tony’s pictures – particularly those of narrow gauge scenes – capture the atmosphere of the period perfectly. To the serious railway historian the photos are intriguing because they are displayed without the benefit of any captions. It would be an interesting exercise for BTWT readers to try to identify the various locations that he has photographed.

The photo of Przedkowice brings back personal memories of visiting the line in the mid-1970s. A couple of years ago there was a serious attempt to develop a EU-funded project to rebuild part of the line. This led by the chairman of Milicz municipality and was supposed to involve all the local authorities along the line. However, changes in central government following the last elections now make it unlikely that the necessary ‘matching funding’ from Polish sources will be available and the project seems unlikely to go forward.

Dyspozytor

Tony Statham’s Fotopic Pictures

wkd_przedkowice

Map of the area based on Railmap – kolejowa mapa Polski

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4 Responses to “Down memory lane!”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    A highly bitter-sweet item. As said, “it seems only yesterday”; but the sad realisation is there, that this overall delightful scene is gone forever. Regrettably, I never made it to the Trzebnica / Przedkowice system — depicted as idyllic, by all accounts.

    Wonderful picture of Przedkowice – distillation of what the Polish n/g set-up back then, was “about”. From what I have seen of Mr. Staham’s pics via the links, this one captures the general scene-and-feeling, more than most do. The great majority (highly interesting, “no quarrel with”) would seem to be close-in, detailed locomotive shots.

    How did all these guys managed to do what they did, without spending the majority of their time “assisting the police with their enquiries”, and losing most of what they’d photted, in the process.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      I think that railways as such were supposedly part of the Warsaw Pact’s defence against imperialism and officially off limits to photographers until after the ‘Round Table Agreement’ between the communists and the opposition. However, on narrow gauge railways, which by the the 1970s were on the way out, the regulations weren’t implemented so fiercely.

      I remember being bawled at by the stationmaster at Stepnica for taking photographs in 1974. But apart from telling me off he didn’t do anything. The same year a similar fate befell me for taking photos of a tram depot in Warsaw.

  2. Tony Statham Says:

    In answer to Robert Hall this was a 2 week organised tour by Steam Safaris between 9-24th July 1976. We had official permits and PKP guide but at every location the local station officer would phone head office to confirm the permits were real. Taking photos of bridges at any location was forbidden and at some large stations we were allowed to film in one direction.. but not in another.. being watched most carefully by the station police who couldnt understand our hobby. The railway staff them selves were always very helpful. Also.. to correct the above photo comment.. the Px49 train had arrived first and it waited for the little railcar to roll in from the horizon.. before the passengers all transfered and the railcar headed back.. then the Px49 carried on. If you wanted to watch the whole operation on cine film please visit my site on youtube.com and search user “ta455driver” or subject “PKP”. You will find approx 1.5 hours of super8 cine uploads including some interesting 600mm narrow gauge steam running as well. Regards Tony Statham

  3. Robert Hall Says:

    Thanks. One tends to forget that there was available, in Poland and Eastern Europe generally, the opportunity for photographers to go on officially-sanctioned organised tours. “Horses for courses.” By temperament, I’m not a tour-group person, and always preferred to do my own thing and take my chances with same… Thank you for pointer to cine scenes; will be great to see.

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