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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

English Electric Trams in Poland

The interwar years saw a newly created Poland - riven from the Communist ruled Russian territory and the former Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. The new state was in need of modernisation of transport infrastructure, particularly in and around Warsaw. British Government credits were available to support new export markets for manufactured products. The English Electric Company saw opportunity for its power generation and electrical distribution systems and with political support secured contracts for the electrification of Warsaw suburban railways. This extended to supply of rolling stock for two seperate tramways running out of Warsaw's suburbs.

At the same time the company also gained contracts for similarly supplying trams to an independent tramway linked to the network around Katowicz in Silesia. A Scottish firm had investments in mines at Dombrowa which needed tram service access from the town of Sosnowicz which was at the eastern extremity of the existing Katowicz network. The line from Sosnowicz was supplied with new English Electric trams in the form of four axle double ended single deck cars with matching trailers. They were designed to the same style as the trams being delivered to Warsaw and unlike anything built for British systems, the nearest equivalent was the Dearne & District company opened in the same postwar era (but short lived due to its single track and loop lines and bus competition).

The English Electric cars were long lived running through the years of yet a further conflict into the early 1960s. It should be remembered that the Katowicz region had previously been under German control accordingly with tram operation influenced by interests and procurement entirely with German origins. The British trams certainly stood out from the prevailing equipment design and English Electric being unfamiliar with conditions in central Europe were 'flying blind' in designing rolling stock able to withstand the harsh winters which typified weather conditions in Poland. Nonetheless their robust features were sufficiently capable to maintaining services even during German military occupation from 1939.

This was the only occasion in which British built trams (and ones originating from Preston) would operate in Poland. An interesting interior view of the English Electric equipment provides insight into the utiliitarian nature of these trams -, although it is not known whether

this was a tram for Warsaw or Dombrowa operations. The square edged driver's glazing does have at least some affinity with the Preston front design features of the 1920s. Image : John Woodman Archive

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