The International Steam Pages
To Europe for (a little) Steam in the 1960s
Keith Chambers writes of long gone school trips which will resonate with many British readers and, who knows, maybe some other too: I have now added some extra photographs (24th April 2011) to go with the original photographs at the end.
The 1960s were a time when teachers’ pay was comparatively low and a result of this was that teachers wanting to travel abroad could do so by arranging a school trip during holidays. To be well supported it had to be inexpensive. This is exactly what a number of teachers did at my secondary school. To those teachers and my parents who indulged me I will always be grateful, for it allowed me to venture into the unknown and catch some of my first glimpses of steam locomotives outside the U.K. I had little knowledge of what lay in wait across the Channel. I had some idea of what French and German steam locomotives looked like from reading my father’s Railway Magazine and Trains Illustrated each month but beyond that it was mostly a mystery.
My first foray was at the age of twelve. The annual trip to St.Malo in France was organised unsurprisingly by two French teachers. The journey to and from St.Malo was by coach crossing on the ferry to Cherbourg where we arrived on 21st July 1965. After leaving the ferry the coach went through the town and uphill alongside a railway line. Suddenly a line of rusty steam locomotives appeared, three tender engines and a tank locomotive and unmistakably French to my eyes. Then we were round a corner and they had disappeared from sight. Some hours later we arrived in St. Malo where we found our hotel, then went off in small groups to look at the town. I found a street map, located the station and made plans. At the first opportunity I would find the station in the hope of seeing another French locomotive. The following day I was off to the station and as I got there found a tank locomotive just like the one I had seen in Cherbourg and this time it was in steam. I took a photograph of this 040TA and watched it shunting around for some time fascinated by this foreign beast. Then it was onto the station platform. I bought a platform ticket from a machine and received an electric shock for my trouble. I still have this souvenir. Across the lines I could see the loco shed. There, looking far too big for the depot, was a large tender locomotive in steam which appears from the photo I still have to be a 141P class 2-8-2. Sadly I did not venture across to the shed and look inside, for at the time I believe an ancient 0-6-0 was kept there. During the few days stay in St.Malo we made a number of local visits and one of these was a trip by hydrofoil across the Rance estuary to the nearby town of Dinard. Armed with my very basic knowledge of French nouns I soon spotted an enamelled sign “Gare” and followed the direction of the arrow to arrive at the station shortly afterwards. Nothing stirred and I remember it was hot and sunny. There was a small engine shed which I explored this time but it was empty although obviously still used. I then studied the timetable on the station and it appeared that there would be an arrival from Paris within the hour! I waited hoping that it might be steam hauled and was not disappointed when some time later in came the expected train with a steam loco at its head tender first. It ran round the train quickly and in no time was ready to depart so I took a photograph with the one remaining frame on my film. It was a 141C class 2-8-2. The photo is full of period details, trolleys on the platform, a yard crane and well kept flowerbeds. On the return journey to England something fortuitous happened. We had to stay in Cherbourg overnight and catch a ferry the following morning. The pension we stayed in was only a few minutes walk from the line of withdrawn locos I had seen earlier. As well as the 040TA mentioned previously I photographed the rest of the line which consisted of three Pacifics of 231D class. They all have single chimneys. What had also become apparent was that close by was a large locomotive shed so I went along an approach road to investigate. I could see ahead of me a large concrete roundhouse and a straight road building but it was impossible to see inside either. Locomotives in the yard seemed to be diesels of 68000 class. Then I noticed beyond some wagons the top of a locomotive in steam. I was destined to go no further as I was confronted by an SNCF employee who clearly wanted to know what I thought I was doing. In my best schoolboy French I tried “Est il possible de photographier les locomotives?” Clearly an unsympathetic man his response was a firm “non”. Having already worked out what to do I made my way via an overbridge to a road on the opposite side of the line where there was a view across the shed yard. From here I could at least see that steam locomotive which was now moving into a position for me to photograph but being pushed by a small 4wDM. I duly took my shot, my first sighting of a 140C class 2-8-0. I then noticed another steam locomotive and managed to get a photograph of part of it between some wagons. It was an ancient 030C class tender locomotive in a line with two more 140Cs and another 040TA.There ended my first experiences of the SNCF. Despite travelling by coach I had seen an assortment of engine sheds, only a handful of steam locomotives but of six classes. I had also seen a new diesel class with its distinctive design that I would see regularly over the next 40 years on trips to France. Had I entered the depots at St.Malo and Cherbourg I’m sure I would have seen much more and both these depots are now disused. The railway to Dinard is now closed.
My next adventure though was by train and quite unexpected. I was just fourteen in December 1966 and so qualified to take part in an annual skiing trip organised by a P.E. teacher. This was a week to Switzerland or Scotland and either way would involve a return train journey. Unfortunately this year all the reasonably priced options had been fully booked and the organiser sadly informed us that there would be no ski trip, although he had been offered the possibility of two weeks in Zakopane, Poland for a cheaper price but realised that nobody would be interested because of the long journeys involved which would of course have to be by train. He could not have been more mistaken and the trip was soon on and fully booked! On the sheets about the trip sent to my parents was some information on visiting Poland. One instruction emphasised in capital letters was that we should not take any photographs of railways. This also applied to travel through East Germany. On 28th December 1966 I stood with an excited group of my peers at Liverpool Street station ready to catch the first leg of a journey from London to southern Poland. We were soon off in Mk 1 stock hauled by an English Electric diesel towards Harwich. Arriving at Parkeston Quay I looked in vain for a glimpse of a departmental B1 which I hoped might be there. All I actually remember were a couple of 350 hp diesel shunters. Several hours later we were at the Hook and I was boarding a long distance continental train for the first time in my life. I don’t remember much about the journey through
Netherlands but was surprised to see a familiar 350 hp diesel shunter just like the ones I had seen before leaving England a few hours previously. It was also my first experience of couchettes and at some point I awoke in the middle of the night aware that we had stopped. I peered through the window and alongside our train was a steam shed full of German locomotives. I remember the nearest as a 4-6-0 and was probably an 038 class (Prussian P8). I have no idea where this depot was but my next memory was of arriving in Berlin on a grey morning. We had been woken from our couchettes by border officials and each handed a form to fill in. The forms were not in English so discussions began as we tried to understand what was required and began to fill in the forms one by one as we only had a leaky biro between us. As the third form was begun the officials, now tired of waiting, took the incomplete forms from us, stamped our passports and moved along. My passport was stamped six times as we passed through Berlin. The train crept into a large station which from the illicit photo I took must be Ostbahnhof. I took this photo because there in a platform was a steam hauled passenger train about to leave. At its head was an 01
Pacific. It departed and I photographed a second Pacific, an 03 class. At the far end as we headed east I snapped another
Pacific through the grubby window, the driver staring back at me in the picture. It’s a streamlined 01.05 class. I have some memory of passing a shed behind a row of carriages but my photos tell the story again when we reached Frankfurt/Oder. I remember where it was because some one was explaining to me that there were two Frankfurts and that this was the less famous one. I remember a shed quite close to the hauptbanhof and that the locos were mostly obscured from view apart from a dumped 2-10-0 alongside. Leaving eastwards we passed and I photographed two engineer’s trains, both headed by
Kriegslok 2-10-0s. One of them is 52.4966. A short time later we came to a halt at what we realised must be the border with
Poland - this was Kunowice. I looked around to see if there were any clues that might suggest that there were steam locomotives in the country. I had no idea. A triangle of lines to the north of where we stood looked little used and held a few old looking items of rolling stock.. The border guards arrived and the process was far quicker than in Berlin. One quick small stamp in the passport and after a wait which was possibly the time it took to check all passengers’ documents we slowly began to rumble east again. A short time later we came to another station. I waited then suddenly heard a whistle and a steam locomotive ran light through the station. I did not photograph it but it looked old with a long chimney. There was a mental struggle going on as on one hand I thought of that capitalised instruction about photography while on the other was my overwhelming desire to photograph steam locomotives. Determined I held my camera to the window in what I thought was a surreptitious way. The station buildings meant that any locomotives running east to west would be hidden from view until the last moment. Another light engine appeared and I pressed the shutter. Then another and I pressed the shutter again. Looking at my first two photos of Polish steam now I realise from the features on the station that this was Zbaszynek and the locos were returning to the shed which I had not seen. The photos are fascinating all these years later because of the details in them. A woman holding a child’s hand hurries by. In the other a man appears to be buying something from a kiosk. The locos were more modern than the first and I had always thought that they were both S160s (Tr203 class in Poland). Closer inspection now however reveals that one is but the other is a rarer Tr202 class, a British built ‘Liberation’ and probably well away from the area that it was allocated to. I took no more photos on the journey to Warsaw but assorted steam locomotives flashed by. Most notable was a huge steam shed just outside Poznan. I had rarely seen such an enormous depot, just rows and rows of locomotives. I did have my camera at the ready later because we had twice passed sidings where a curious class of 0-6-0T seemed to be shunting. Like most of the locos I had seen they had bright red driving wheels but were otherwise black. But these seemed boxed in somehow with a ridge along the top of the boiler. I never did see a third to photograph. It is only now over forty years later that I have discovered that they were the comparatively rare TKh4b class 0-6-0 fireless locomotives. They were built in the early 1950s using the frames of withdrawn TKi3 class 2-6-0Ts (ex Prussian T93 class). Arrival at Warsaw some hours later may have been late because we seemed to be in a hurry to catch a coach connection to a hotel where we would stay before travelling south the next day. The station in Warsaw was very Spartan with low platforms and fences but no canopies. We presumed that it had been badly damaged during the war and still needed rebuilding. As we dragged our luggage along the platform an ancient steam loco passed light engine on a line that turned south away from the station. Perhaps it led to another shed. I dropped my bag and scrambled for my camera but I was too late. However before I could put it away another loco clunked by light engine. I pointed and pressed the shutter. Looking now I see a Prussian P8 class 4-6-0 (Ok1 in Poland) running tender first. Then I noticed a larger locomotive on the other side of the station. My shutter clicked again. This was a more modern 2-8-2 of the Pt47 class. By now I was well behind the rest of my compatriots waving my camera around and noticed the group leader marching back towards me looking rather apoplectic! I don’t blame him really but it was worth it. Later that day we toured a cold Warsaw and I saw ‘bendy buses’ for the first time and totally suited to their environment of wide boulevards. The next day we went by coach to Krakow and again a city tour
and left by coach the following day bound for Zakopane our mountain destination. Three memories and one photograph define that journey for me. As we left Krakow I took a shot of a steam locomotive on an embankment. It’s a slightly curious picture because on the embankment a man stands looking at the locomotive, while slightly obscuring the smokebox is another figure sitting on a seat. A column of exhaust lifts vertically from the loco and most features behind the smokebox are shrouded in steam. Studying this picture I have imagined that it could show any number of rare classes that might have been hanging on in Krakow at this time. I have to concede however that it actually shows another Tr203. Somewhere south of the city with the road rising we passed a medium sized industrial works. I looked down to see three or four squat green narrow gauge 0-4-0T locomotives looking busy. Later further south and as we approached the mountains we passed over a level crossing. To the west and a few hundred metres away was the rear of a large loco shed. At the far end I could see rows of locomotives in steam but too far away to see details. We arrived in Zakopane in the dark.
A red stamp in my passport says ‘Surete Nationale CALAIS 29 Mars 1968’. Steam on the Southern Region of British Railways had finished the previous year so I had not expected to see any on the train to Dover Marine. Alongside Tonbridge shed however there were two steam locos, USA class 0-6-0Ts nos. DS237 & DS238 which had been withdrawn as Ashford works shunters many months before and whose journey to a south Wales scrapyard had been fortuitously delayed. Getting off the ferry and walking onto the platforms at Calais Maritime had an air of familiarity but only from photographs in magazines. We walked along the long green train and found our compartments. A whistle somewhere told me what I had hoped for. There was still steam at Calais. I had time to get off and look for the culprit. There was an 050TQ class 0-10-0T shunting local passenger stock. Another shunted nearby. Then back on the train and we were off on our journey to Venice, the destination for this visit. It was then I realised that we were being steam hauled. Passing Calais shed with a cluster of 141Rs I guessed that we were being pulled by one. At the end of a row of withdrawn examples behind the shed was a tenderless pacific. After some time we stopped at Hazebrouck. It seemed a small station for our long distance train to stop at but on leaving I guessed why. A small shed with half a dozen or so 141Rs was close by. We had changed locos and were no longer steam hauled. By the time we got to Lille it was dark and foggy. We passed a busy steam shed in the gloom and there silhouetted were a few examples of a class that I did recognise, 230D class 4-6-0s almost certainly some of the last examples. The remainder of the journey through France was in darkness but I was awake and it was light when we pulled into Basel station. I was fairly sure that I would not see any steam locomotives on the SBB, so was therefore rather surprised when we left the station and passed a depot with an attractive black 2-6-2T alongside looking very much in working order. This was almost certainly preserved Eb 3/5 class number 5819. The journey through Switzerland was spectacular. I saw a few ‘Crocodile’ electric locos which I was familiar with because Rosebud produced an 00 scale model of one of these strange looking beasts in their ‘Kitmaster’ series. We eventually made our way through the St.Gotthard Tunnel and down into Italy. My knowledge of Italian steam was very limited. Kitmaster made another model in the early 1960s of what they called an ‘Italian Tank’ loco. I now know that this was an 835 class 0-6-0T. Even then it looked old and I doubted whether they were still used. Apart from that I had a vague notion that curious looking locos with Crosti boilers had operated in the country. I entered Italy with as much idea about what steam I might see as I had when I had entered Poland. Things didn’t look promising as we arrived at Milano Centrale some time later
and I hadn’t seen a single steam loco. We reversed out of this impressive station and soon were turning eastwards. Then I saw it! Smistamento shed. Turntables and part-roofed roundhouses and dozens of steam locos. Curiously not many seemed to be in steam and they were all new to me and straight away I noticed that they had a style of their own, that unique look of Italian steam. Except something was familiar, I had seen one in Poland, a U.S. built 2-8-0 was dumped with other withdrawn locos. It was an S160 (736 class in Italy). It was possibly 736.205 which was still there 35 years later. Then, as we rattled along the Po Valley the deluge began. We passed sidings with locos shunting. I began to see some 835 class at almost every sizeable station. Then 2-8-0s, one with a Crosti boiler, then another and several 2-6-0s. We passed a number of medium sized sheds, I remember, at places such as Brescia, Vicenza and Padova, each with a gaggle of 2-6-0s and tank locos, and finally a steamy Mestre before rolling into the main station at Venice. Mestre was obviously within walking distance and as before I was making plans. I walked to Mestre a couple of days later initially finding my way through the alleyways of Venice until I found Santa Lucia, the main station. It was then just a case of following the line across the causeway which connects Venice to the mainland. However before that I noticed some steam activity nearby. There was a yard
and electric depot roughly south of the station. My photo shows two 2-6-0s and an 835 tank loco all shunting in the area. Then it was onto the causeway for the reasonably long walk to my destination. Some way across I stopped to photograph a double headed passenger train heading west. At the front are two 2-6-0s and my notes tell me it was bound for Treviso. On arrival in Mestre I found the steam shed but did not attempt to go round it for some reason. At the rear of the shed however were two lines of condemned steam locos which I duly photographed. And what an interesting group it was. There are two 895 class 0-8-0Ts, 2-6-0T no. 880.048, an ancient looking 851 class 0-6-0T and a Crosti boilered loco. I was amazed when I studied this picture carefully as I had expected to see a 2-8-0 but this was a 623 class 2-6-0, a type I was unaware of until I began to write this article. Thirty five were converted in the 1950s from 625 class 2-6-0s. I wandered across to the station where I watched another 835 class shunting around and a couple of steam hauled freights passed behind 625.176 and a 740 class. I then noticed a steam loco some way off and went to investigate. I had stumbled upon the private RFM system. The loco was an ex FS 895 class pulling a few wagons. I followed the track a short way and came across another of the class dead outside a small workshop building. R.F.M is painted on the bunker and no. 4 on the buffer beam.
Over the next few months I saw the last gasps of B.R. steam back in England and probably thought that when I was hauled by a ‘black 5’ between Preston and Blackpool that I would not be steam hauled on a regular service train again. I was wrong though. A surprise was waiting the following year on my final school trip abroad.
On 5th April 1969 I was again on a ferry from Harwich but this time to Bremerhaven on Prins Ferries. This time the trip was to Copenhagen. We disembarked at Colombus Quay and boarded a boat train to Hamburg. Passing through Bremerhaven I saw my first DB shed, and noted that I could see about ten steam locos there and two 94 class 0-10-0Ts shunting in a large yard. Then another shed was passed at Bremen (Walle) where I estimated forty plus steam locos and mostly in steam. At Bremen Hbf there was a dead 2-10-0 stored nearby. This was the first DB steam loco that I can identify by number as my photograph clearly shows it to be 044-570. My notes tell me that there were three other working steam locos in the Bremen area. On the journey to Hamburg I noted a couple of 2-10-0s passing on freights and passed sidings containing about twenty withdrawn steam somewhere between Sprotze and Buchholz. At the latter town was a shed where I saw at least six more stored steam locos. It was reminiscent of Britain during steam’s final years. Some working locos but many withdrawn and dumped examples at sheds and sidings. In Hamburg I leant out of the carriage window and photographed 051-676 passing on a freight. At Hamburg Hbf we must have changed trains for Copenhagen. At any rate on the platform there I took a picture of an 86 class tank seemingly a station pilot. On the train up towards Puttgarten and the ferry more steam hauled freights passed and then it was onto the train ferry, a service that operates to this day. In Denmark diesels seemed to reign as we left Rodby and travelled north towards Copenhagen. I feared the worst. A small country like Denmark had probably finished with steam as Belgium and the Netherlands already had done. I realised I might be wrong when we passed the roundhouse at Naevsted. On the turntable was a very 19th century looking F class 0-6-0T. It had red and white bands around the chimney which unbeknown to me at the time was typical of Danish steam locomotives. For the rest of the journey I looked out for more of the same but arrived in Copenhagen disappointed. We actually stayed outside the city some way from any railway lines and were taken there by coach. We were to have outings during the week the first of which was on a Sunday to Malmo. To get there we used the ferry from Helsingor to Helsingborg and travelled down the coast. My first glimpse of Swedish railways was passing the locomotive depot in Helsingborg which was all diesel and electric. In Malmo we were given time to wander and typically I headed for the nearest town map and then the main station. Some time later I had worked my way round to a large overbridge from where I could see extensive yards and a locomotive depot. No steam visible though anywhere. Then I noticed some one further along the bridge who seemed to be interested in the trains so I
approached and in my best English asked him if he was a railway enthusiast. I was fortunate on two counts. Firstly he spoke English and secondly he shared my passion for railways. ‘Are there any steam locomotives here?’ I asked expecting the answer ‘no’.
My instructions had been simple. Find the main station and then follow the line west keeping south of the line until I got to a large depot. I found the main station (Hovedbanegård) which is an imposing structure with roofs supported by large curved wooden beams. I started on my quest. I walked a mile or so then I found Copenhagen Central locomotive sheds at Dybblesbro. In the wall of the depot I found a door. I opened it and stepped into that wonderful atmosphere of a steam shed. Nothing was in steam but certainly the handful of locos in front of me were very much in working order. What struck me was the architecture of the place. It mirrored the Hovedbanegård with its curved wooden pillars and beams. I photographed the nearest loco. It was a C class 4-4-0. I counted eight locomotives in working order and then made my way outside. Several diesels stood around including a number of the then new MZ class which had been instrumental in displacing the lines of withdrawn steam locomotives that I could now see alongside the shed. There were a further twenty two steam locos in those scrap lines, the last remnants of steam traction in the Copenhagen area. The thirty locomotives present that day made a very interesting group. The largest in number were E class Pacifics and S class 2-6-4 suburban tanks numbering ten and nine respectively. The last duties for the Pacifics had been one daily return working to Kalundborg which was finally dieselised in September 1968. However two examples were briefly reinstated to deal with additional Christmas traffic that year. The remaining locos were older and included four F class 0-6-0Ts, two Hs class 0-4-0Ts, two C class 4-4-0s and two G (iii) class 0-6-0s. The final locomotive was T class 4-6-0 no.297, a type I had already seen in steam in both Germany and Poland, the ubiquitous Prussian P8 class. This had formerly been DR 38.2877 and one of only three of the class on the DSB. They had been seized by British forces after the war and sent to Copenhagen for repair and then acquired for use in Denmark. It had survived this long as an oil heating locomotive and was finally towed off to a scrap yard in Hedehusene in 1970.
The return journey from Copenhagen to Bremerhaven was much as the first had been except that this time I did notice a shed in Hamburg where I counted fourteen steam locos of which some were in steam. At Bremerhaven I leant out of a window as our train travelled round a long curve towards the harbour. Here was one last surprise. At some point we had changed locomotives. I was being steam hauled once again, this time by a DB 044 class. I kept my head out and enjoyed every moment of it. As I watched the loco run round the train at Colombus Quay I noticed that this was quite a steamy place. Up to four of the class were busy in the harbour area. It was then onto the ferry for the long crossing back to England.
Recounting these journeys has been something of an historical investigation for me. These events were over forty years ago and my memories of them have faded. What I have had to help me is a series of photographs taken on a cheap camera using 127 roll film, some rather sparse notes that I made after each journey and other pieces of evidence such as passport stamps. Most of the photographs are of mediocre quality but reveal types that were often unfamiliar to me when I took the photographs but that I can identify with hindsight.
Many of the places I visited during this period I have returned to many years later. In 1991 I lived and worked in Copenhagen and during that time returned to Dybblesbro to find the depot I had visited. Sadly the imposing steam shed had largely disappeared except for a small rear portion and had been replaced by a modern diesel depot still housing some MZ class diesels. One day in central Copenhagen I discovered an old train ferry which was used as an occasional venue. Inside on the train deck I came across an old friend, preserved Hs class 415 which had been on the scrap line that day in 1969.
Fortunately the majority of the locomotive types I saw have survived into preservation sometimes in remarkable numbers. More than fifty Italian 835 class survive for example. There are exceptions however. No TKh4b class survive in Poland, the last of the class being scrapped as recently as 2004. In Italy there is no surviving 623 class, while in Denmark no DSB ‘T’ class was preserved although of course many examples exist elsewhere. In France sadly all of the magnificent 050TQ and 141P classes have gone. Finally the little preserved locomotive in Malmö was from the Malmö Limhamn Järnväg built in 1888 by the Swedish builder Nohab. A static exhibit then it has since been restored to working order and is occasionally steamed on the Veteranjärnvägen in Klippan.
Zakopani shed interior:
Moscow bound at Warsaw:
Locos at Cherbourg:
051-676 near Hamburg
Ty2 Kriegslok at Zakopane
Between Milan and Brescia
625 027 at Brescia
These are the original pictures..
2-10-2T at Zakopane
#1 at Malmo
F 456 at Copenhagen
G 633 at Copenhagen
H 415 at Copenhagen