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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Dr Oetker's Puddings

John Woodman

Following on my days at Blackpool Grammar School (both the old one and the newly built edifice at Highfurlong) I opted to find pastures new and after a brief spell in London signed up for nine years in the Army. This was in the early 1960s when the UK still had a sizeable military establishment with various foreign postings, albeit dwindling in number as the days of Empire were quickly fading. Signing up in a Whitehall recruiting office I found myself in Catterick Camp (of little joy) before being flown to join my Regiment in West Germany. As luck would have it my arrival preceded by a few months the final closure of the local tramway system based in Paderborn. I had the pleasure of seeing (and riding) on pre-war two axle traditional wooden bodied cars operating the very last section of the once extensive PESAG network linking Paderborn with Detmold and umpteen villages in and around this part of Westphalia.

Bielefeld's condemned pre-war trams lined up outside the new depot built out of sight. The righthand model had received a modernising 'upgrade' from its original condition as seen in the lefthand example. Trailers to the same style present an impressive sight to the rear.

Having got my bearings I ventured forth to the nearest tram system to Paderborn which succumbed to all bus services that September. Some 60 kilometres north from Paderborn is the sizeable town of Bielefeld which straddles the main east west railway line from the Ruhr to Hannover and further east across the Russian Zone of Germany (or the DDR as the east Germans prefer to style their homeland). A British military train ran daily between Hannover and West Berlin as a tangible remnant of the Potsdam Agreement of 1945; whilst the road corridor from Helmstedt provided an unimpeded traffic link, I sampled both

Unlike the faltering trams in Paderborn, Bielefeld was undergoing something of a revival of its town network at the time. The system continued to operate very typical prewar two axle motor units pulling one or two vintage trailers, complete with roving conductor, but a decision to continue and modernise the tram fleet had already been taken by the time of my arrival, as well as extensions to the postwar network. The pre-war standard Bielefeld tram is exemplified above.

Thus Bielefeld presented a transitional decade with new articulated cars arriving, naturally of the familiar Duwag design (Dusseldorf Wagenfabrik) in equally typical primrose colours and modestly applied dull green relief. Nearly all of the system was street running (as far as I could see) with a new tram depot being built on the outskirts of the town to serve the growing fleet of newcomers. Withdrawn two axle cars being lined up in the open awaiting their inevitable fate as the articulated models took over successive services. Some souvenir 'snaps' from my visits follow.

Bielefeld is a light industrial town whose principal claim to fame (in those days) was its major employer and pudding maker extraordinaire - Dr Oetker. Signage pronouncing the company's habitat and pudding manufacture! was very much in evidence for passengers arriving (and departing) Bielefeld's main railway station.

Bielefeld's brand new trams lined up at the same open air depot site (this time wired).

Two axle trailers were added at peak periods. Both Images : John Woodman


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