Cologne, Hauptbahnhof with British Soldiers

Cologne, Hauptbahnhof with British Soldiers

Our main postcard from Germany shows the area by the the Hauptbahnhof and Dom (main railway station and cathedral) in Cologne. The German name of the city, Köln, was commonly written as Köln up to a hundred years ago and appears as such on many postcards. Numbered 191, it was produced by an unknown but enterprising local photographer specifically for sale to the occupying British forces, some of which are seen boarding the trams. It is a real photographic card, printed in sepia on a satin finish paper. The postcard in the smaller view is almost identical in style and is probably by the same publisher. It shows the river Rhine with a paddle steamer with the name "Rheinland" on its paddlebox. Superimposed in the centre of this card is the portrait of a British soldier. Both cards date from 1919, the second one helpfully tells us so.

The Rhein The tram in the main picture is one of the T.1 class of electric cars, which were the first type on the system. They were generically known as "Siemens" cars, originally open fronted with the short-long-short three side-window arrangement. Similar cars were built for Bonn, Cottbus, Frieburg, Bad Kreuznach, Mainz, Mönchengladbach and Rheydt. Cologne had 358 such cars, numbered in ranges between 401 and 771, and built between 1901 and 1908 by van der Zypen, Falkenried, Herbrand, Uerdingen and a few by the Cologne tramway itself. They were on 1.7 metre wheelbase two-axle trucks (last 55 cars were 1.8 metre) with two 25 kilowatt motors, the electrical equipment mostly coming from Siemens. The cars seated 16 with an additional 23 standing passengers. Most were withdrawn in the 1920s and 30s, but a few survived WW2. One car of this general type exists in the Cologne museum fleet as 407, but is ex Bonn car 7. The cars pulled a variety of trailers.

The Cologne tramway opened initially as a standard gauge horse system on 28th April 1877. The electric trams commenced on 15th October 1901, the last horse car running on 22nd May 1907. The tram in our postcard is on the then route 6. The destination board reads Bickendorf - Ehrenfeld - Friesenplatz - Hauptbahnhof - Heumarkt - Chlodwigplatz, points still served by trams. Today electric trams run in Cologne on a system of over 190km of route, partly in subways.

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Postcard of the Month is created by John R. Prentice © Copyright 2007