Sectioned S6 on the Skierniewice turntable.
If you travel through Skierniewice by train, cast a glance at the old roundhouse which houses the amazing collection of rolling stock gathered together by the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association). Though most of the collection is inside the roundhouse, a few steam engines can be seen outside, including the last surviving Prussian S6 4-4-0.
The story of the S6’s survival is worth telling, particularly as this particular engine never, as far as it is known, worked in Poland! The S6 class locomotive was development of the Prussian Class S 4 4-4-0s intended for fast express trains. It was designed in 1904 by Linke-Hofmann of Breslau. The design was championed by Robert Garbe, the Prussian Railways Head of Locomotive Design and Procurement. Between 1906 and 1913 ,a total of 584 S6s were manufactured by Linke-Hofmann, Henschel-Werke and Maschinenbauanstalt Humboldt. They were the last four-coupled, express locomotives to be built in Germany. It is interesting to compare the design features of the S6s with those of their British contemporaries, the North British Railway’s J Class (LNER D29) ‘Scott’ 4-4-0s. It was not until 1927 that the LNER (of which the NBR had become a part) would build a modern 4-4-0 with outside cylinders and valve gear – Nigel Gresley’s D49 ‘Hunt ‘ / ‘Shire’ class.
The PKP classification for the S6s was Pd5. 81 Pd5s ran on Polish State Railways before the outbreak of WWII and 37 continued to work after the war, the last one being withdrawn in 1958. None of the engines that ran on PKP metals were preserved. The S6 at Skierniewice owes its continued existence to a strange quirk of fate. Formerly DRB 13 1247, it was built by the Linke-Hofmann-Werke in Breslau (Wroclaw) and in withdrawn from active service in December 1928. The locomotive was used as an instructional exhibit to train future generations of enginemen. At some stage it was partially sectioned and by 1945 it had found it way to Lodz. In 1954 it was set up outside the Railway Technical College in Warsaw carrying the fictional designation Pd5-17. On 23 April it was delivered to the PSMK’s base in Skierniewice on three low loaders.
Is it too much to hope that as a result of some future Polish – German project this historic locomotive could one day be restored to run again?
(The former engine shed at Skierniewice is open on the first Saturday of the month, May through to October.)