• John Woodman

Polish Trams Built in Preston

John Woodman

The Treaty of Versailles is a resonant start for any Blog dealing with trams. An important outcome of that resulting Treaty was reestablishment of Poland as a sovereign state freed from its pre-war control by Austro-Hungary and Russia. Of course this created lingering ethnic tensions in the partitioning of border areas, and creation of the Free State of Danzig among further disputed territory. In the aftermath of the Great War and emergence of self governing Poland the new independent state sort strategic allies as well as credits for infrastructural investments.

Britain was among supporters of the newly independent Poland and with its own economic needs provided postwar credits and loans that favoured British companies and exported products. It was thus inevitable that requirement for new transport and power transmission infrastructure facilitated the entry of the English Electric Company into Polish contracts during the 1920s. Understandably Poland was disinclined to engage with German or Russian business, whilst France was heavily burdened by the rebuilding of its war shattered regions in the east of the country.

An important electrification network in the Warsaw area covering suburban railways also extended to new tram lines with an interurban character to the south and west of the capital. Understandably the wrap around contracts included new rolling stock supplied from Preston with very unbritish styling and construction suited to the hard cold winters of central and eastern Europe, Quite seperately a further transport link involving new trams emerged through the purchase of a German company in the Silesian region near to Kattowitz by a Scottish group with British capital. The need for improved transport access saw construction of a new link that allowed workers to travel to the mines at Dombrowa from the terminus of the existing Kattowitz network which extended east as far as Sosnowic. Here a new tram service was implemented operated by a mining company subsidiary to Dombrowa. A small fleet of square ended bogie cars and matching trailers to deal with peak hour demand was again built in Preston more or less to the same styling as the Warsaw suburban contract. Interestingly enough the mining communities in the south Yorkshire Dearne Valley were benefitting from a new tramway with English Electric cars at the same time. Both contracts favouring the square ended style adopted by the company postwar but the Dearne and District fleet were short two axle versions, a handful of which gravitated to the Fylde coast after premature closure of the Dearne & District company due to competition from buses.

Below : A Warsaw suburban tram postwar in red and white Polish standard colours on public transport after 1945. Square ended design and build by English Electric Co, in Preston mid 1920s. Photo : John Woodman Archive

Both the Warsaw and Dombrowa services continued through the Second World War with the UK built trams being finally replaced by the 1970s. One example of the Warsaw fleet has fortunately been preserved.

Featured Posts