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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Ing. Montrose-Oster - Essen Strassenbahn

John Woodman

Not many British tram enthusiasts will be familiar with this German transport engineer but his name became wedded to a unique design produced by the Essen tramway workshops in 1934. Essen in fact was noteworthy for the forward looking tram designs which emerged during that decade beginning in 1933. Just when English Electric was unveiling its own groundbreaking rail coach design for Blackpool in June that year the Essen system launched the result of testing a low floor centre entrance tram. In fact this would be the very first tram without entry steps for passengers resulting from a especially lengthened bodyframe free from axles on its two single axle

'bogies'. Essen's tramways engineer Montrose-Oster developed a completely low floor body for a single ended unit with centre doors and a cardan shaft power system which drew on new technology emerging in the USA through the 'PCC' car design work ongoing in Brooklyn, New York.

Below : the remarkable clean lines (for 1934) of the very first all low floor tram - built by Orenstein and Koppel for Essen's tramways to their specifications and technical design. John Woodman Archive

The 'Montos' car as it became known was a singular prototype which was later joined by a matching trailer unit. Perhaps inevitably both trams would become victims of air raids on the Ruhr area during the war years. Numbered 505 it was followed by an equally remarkable new design in the shape of a four axle bogie car with a long body free from internal partitions and platform bulkheads. This became known as the 'Long Essener' contrasting sharply with traditional body construction up to that period - and in fact the design would become the forebearer of the postwar 'Grossraumwagen' which dominated German tram systems over several decades from the mid 1950s. Built by the Dusseldorf firm of Uerdingen 'Long Essener' would go on into series production over three years, with many remaining in service (mainly as trailer units) into the 1960s.

Not that these new cars were alone in being especial developments by the Essen tramway workshops; with several all steel single truck experimental cars being built in the pre-war era including a centre entrance front exit model. Much like Blackpool's own Engineering Workshops in the postwar years Essen's tramway engineers were given a wide brief to modernise their fleet through innovative designs. In 1951 the system became one of the first in West Germany to adopt the styling of Duwag's 'grossraumwagen' which became an almost standard feature of modernising systems thereafter. Below : two newly delivered cars of the postwar Duwag 'grossraumwagen' design seen here in outside storage on the Bielefeld system in 1965. Photo by John Woodman


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