‘Friends of Wolsztyn’ being formed



A friend of Wolsztyn © Trevor Jones

A supporters group is being formed for the Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive. This initiative is intended to allow a larger group of people to become involved the campaign to keep the Wolsztyn steam-hauled regular timetable trains in operation – not just the people who drive and fire the engines, but also those who photograph and ride the trains. It is being led by Jim Clement and has the support of Howard and Trevor Jones. We back this initiative and are happy to publish Jim’s letter on BTWT.


This article has been written independently of but with the consent of the Directors of the Wolsztyn Experience.

As everyone will know, the cost of maintaining a steam presence at Wolsztyn, in Poland is extremely expensive. It also requires the goodwill and assistance of a large number of people from a variety of Operating Companies, not to mention that of the crews and maintenance fitters who operate out of Wolsztyn depot, in order to keep steam alive and in order to fulfil the passions of Steam Railway enthusiasts from around the world. It must also be remembered that the operations at Wolsztyn create a significant tourist attraction which contributes to the local economy. This is a win win situation. You only have to visit the town to see how important the steam aspect of the Railway is. We are indeed considered by the people of Wolsztyn as friends and we in turn find them to be excellent hosts.

The Wolsztyn Experience in conjunction with PKP Cargo and other associated Companies run driving courses for students. All this under the very watchful eye of highly experienced and qualified crews. It is the fees for these courses that generally cover the main operating costs but there are more less obvious behind the scenes expenses which have to be met.

As I see it, the Railway Enthusiast falls into four main categories. Firstly, the course participant.  Secondly, those of us who join in organised trips. Thirdly, those who are prepared to sponsor a specific project and fourthly the private individual who generally falls into the category of photographer. The first three groups contribute to the operating costs, whilst the latter contributes nothing. If you are a photographer who is passionate about your hobby, please remember that without the participants in the first three groups, you would have nothing to photograph. The question is, “how can we broaden the income source”?

We need to look beyond the first three groups and ask ourselves how can we encourage other non-participating enthusiasts from all over the world to support Steam in Poland. Could the answer be to form an affiliated support group, independent of Wolsztyn Experience but able to support WE where necessary. For example, if WE have a major project which will need financial  support, they could apply to the support group for help. This support group could take the title of “Friends of Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive Depot” The basic idea is that to become a “Friend”, a small annual membership fee of say £15 to £20 (or equivalent) together with an invitation to add a donation of your choice be paid. On joining, you will receive a Wolsztyn Experience Guide book, which will provide you with a lot of interesting information.

The next question you may have is “what’s in it for me”? If you value the preservation of scheduled, standard gauge steam operation, no matter where you live in the world, what better way to satisfy your passion than to know that your contribution is helping to maintain the excitement of steam operation for not only yourself but for others, as yet too young to appreciate the value of keeping steam alive.

Having outlined the broad concept we now come to the question as to how this should be implemented. Firstly, we need to discover who would be willing to become a “Friend”. In the first instance you can do this by emailing your interest to our email address which is, info@friendsofwsld.co.uk.  Once we have established a nucleus of “Friends” who would be willing to support the idea, the next step would be to set up a Trust with say four trustees who would be responsible for the implementation of the group and be responsible for the security and distribution of any assets . If anyone has experience in this area and would like to volunteer, please step up to the mark. As a small incentive, I am prepared to offer a voucher for one round trip on the footplate from Wolsztyn to Poznan to the first new “Friend” who does NOT fall into categories one, two or three.

To new Friends, what can you expect? Firstly, guaranteed steam for two round trips between Wolsztyn and Poznan, daily for next 5 years  (subject to loco availability). Secondly, if you come to Poland, whether driving or not, you will make a lot of new friends and get to enjoy the “feel” of the very last fully operating Steam Locomotive depot in Poland. Thirdly, as “Friends of WSLD” develops, we would hope to add a web site or link directly to the WE web site, in order to keep you up to date with the latest news. The exciting thing is that a few Locomotives are being totally re-built by PKP to ensure the presence of steam for years to come. PM32 – 2 should be out of Leszno depot in early spring 2009, followed by the PT47 – 65. OL49 – 111  is  undergoing a complete re-build at Leszno.

I have written this as a private individual in the hope that my passion together with yours, can create a movement which will be supported on a world wide basis. Together we must show our commitment and encourager the Polish authorities without whose co-operation, we would be dead in the water.

So please don’t procrastinate, register your interest NOW.

Jim Clement.

5 Responses to “‘Friends of Wolsztyn’ being formed”

  1. Rik degruyter Says:

    I strongly support the idea of a “friends” body. However there is already a Polish group active in the depot called “Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Wolsztynskiej Parowozowni”. Let us be careful to not divide strength from the beginning.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      There is indeed a Polish group of ‘friends’ who among other things publish regular reports in Polish and organise steam specials. In an ideal world there would be one organisation which would welcome membership from Poles and people from overseas. The result would be a powerful organisation with considerable ‘clout’. There would be nothing to lose, and possibly a lot to gain, if Jim sounded out the Polish body about the best way forward.

  2. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    I have emailed Jim, but so far no reply…………….

  3. Bob Walters Says:

    I’ve a feeling he’s in Wolsztyn this week, as he said he was going to discuss the matter with Howard.

  4. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Ah, that would explain it. No problems.

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