Strike a blow for Smigiel – part 2

by

Aleksander Starzynski
Wielkopolski Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow
ul. Golebia 2
61-834 Poznan
POLAND

Dear Mr Starzynski,

Although I live in Great Britain, I write as someone who regards himself as a friend of Poland, the Province of Wielkopolska and Wielkopolska’s railway heritage. Over the years, I have visited the Smigiel area over a dozen times to photograph and ride upon the narrow gauge railway which today still survives between Wielichowo and Stare Bojanowo, but which – as recently as the 1970s – ran as far as Rakonowice and Krzywin.

It is with great sadness that I have watched the decline of the railway in the last few years. It was the last survivor of Poland’s once extensive narrow gauge railways which continued to operate an all the year round passenger and freight services.

Sadly, Smigiel Town Council seems not to know just what a precious asset it has in its custody. During the period that the Council has been responsible for the line, not only did it not invest any of its own money in its operation and conservation, but rather tried to sequester as much money as possible from the operating grant generously made available by the Chief Executive’s Office for other purposes.

Notwithstanding the historical significance of the line, the Mayor of Smigiel and other representatives of Smigiel Town Council have declared on recent occasions that were not interested in sustain its role as a ‘real’ narrow gauge railway only in developing the line as a kind of ‘fair ground’ tourist attraction. Yet their recent decisions will only demonstrate that they are not interested in developing the line at all:

  • Their financial shenanigans have driven away the line’s operating company, SKPL, who were willing to run the line at a very modest cost.
  • They have closed the popular refreshment rooms at Smigiel and turned them into a police station.
  • They have filled in a cutting thereby blocking the railway’s freight connection to PKP preventing the transfer of steam locomotives by rail. Steam traction on the Smigiel line has been in previous years a great crowd puller.
  • They have abandoned a key section of line linking the Smigiel Railway with the PKP station making it much more difficult for elderly or disabled people to access the line in the future.

Over the years the office of the Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province has taken a leading role in sustaining and developing Wielkopolska’s railway heritage. I understand that, even though this year no trains are running at Smigiel, it gave the Town Council a 60,000 zloty grant towards the upkeep of the railway. Sadly there is very little evidence that it is being spent on the line itself. Perhaps it will be used to fund the ‘party’ the Council plans to hold on the occasion of the line’s 111th birthday?

I and thousands of other industrial heritage enthusiasts around the world respectfully ask you to use whatever influence you can bring to bear to persuade Smigiel Town Council to safeguard and develop this precious asset.

Yours sincerely

 

This slightly reworded letter will be sent to the Province’s Conservator of Historic Monuments. Please write and mail your own letters. Again, please do not copy the above letter exactly, but by all means use it as a base which you edit to reflect your own thoughts about the line and its historic significance.

Contact details:

Aleksander Starzynski
Wielkopolski Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow
ul. Golebia 2
61-834 Poznan
POLAND

tel +48 61 852-80-03, 852-80-04,
fax 852-80-02
e-mail wosoz@poznan.uw.gov.pl

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One Response to “Strike a blow for Smigiel – part 2”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Letters done, to Chief Executive and to Conservator — posted 19/9.

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