The IET Archives has just completed the digitization of a photograph album that records the summer visit of a group of 27 Institution of Electrical Engineer (IEE) student members to Germany. This was a visit led by F J Tompsett that took place in July and August 1934. The photograph above shows some of those students ‘cleaning up’ after their earlier descent into the Jacobie Mine located in Oberhausen. The photograph below shows a group of the miners at the Jacobie Mine (which no longer exists) standing in front of the mine buildings and mineshaft.

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The photograph album contains 50 photographs, a list of the names included in the tour party, and a 6-page typescript account of the visit to Germany, written by H S Preston in September 1934. Mr Preston describes the above mine visit as follows;

“Those of us who were lucky enough to draw a “winner” for the privilege of descending into the bowels of the earth, as it is popularly known, were turned into pseudo miners for a couple of hours, complete even to the Davy lamp. The descent of the mine, and the journey to the coal face where the coal is hewn was an interesting experience that does not come one’s way every day.”

The adventure begins….

Mr Preston begins his account with a description of the group’s outward journey to Germany……

“The much awaited day – the 28th [July 1934], arrived at last. 2 pm at Victoria saw odd students with the IEE badge looking for the party proper. There also seemed to be one or two other folk on the platform at the same time which caused a spot of confusion; it looked as if everyone wanted to go to the Continent on the same train and boat.

Anyway, about three quarters of the party got inadvertently left behind at Victoria but soon followed up. When we got to Dover we were shepherded through the barriers rather like sheep but when we were on the boat the similarity changed to sardines – well packed too.

After climbing mountains of luggage and getting well hemmed in we started that much maligned crossing of the Channel. It looked a spot choppy, but none of our party was overcome by “mal de mer”.

The boat docked in Ostende at 9-30 pm and everyone made a wild stampede to the customs office in which establishment the officials must have been in a good mood as none of our party was made to disgorge his baggage. After sorting ourselves out we descended, “en masse”, on a café where we consumed a spot of food.

10:30 found us snuggly ensconced in our seats and the train under way. Most of the party alternated between sleeping and wandering down the corridors until we reached Aachen on the frontier, where a few customs chaps came aboard but did not trouble anyone very much except for gripping one or two magazines. Perhaps they were studying English!

We arrived in Cologne at the “cheery” hour of 5 am on Sunday morning and after an hour’s wait, due to some mistake about summer time, we were met by our German guide Herr von Addelmann, who conducted us to our hotel.”

Photograph Subject Matter

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The photograph collection does contain many typical ‘holiday snaps’, showing subjects such as parks, bridges, restaurants and beer gardens. There are also some interesting shots of modes of transport such as the image above (a high speed tram in Cologne) and the following two images.

Firstly, ascending the Drachenfels (“Dragon’s Rock”, a hill in the Siebengebirge uplands, between Konigswinter and Bad Honnef) by a rack railway;

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Secondly, and my favourite, “a new bicycle in Cologne”;

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Industrial Images

Unsurprisingly, given the background of the students and the nature of the trip, there are many industrial images. Some of these images are shown below.

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This is an image of the Goldenbergwerks at Knapsack, a surface coal mine with a power station on the same site. Mr Preston’s description of the works says;

“Approximately 50,000 tons of coal is mined per day, half of which is used in the power station, the other half being used to make coal briquettes. The power station had many interesting points and contained some of the largest turbo-alternators in Europe. The alternators were directly connected to switching systems 12 miles away.”

The pylons at Knapsack are shown more closely below;

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Finally an image I was not expecting to see….. a goldfish pond at Dusseldorf power station;

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Architectural / Sculptural Images

Many of the images highlight the lovely architecture of public and industrial buildings, for example, the Green Hall at the Dusseldorf Planitarium (now the Tonhalle, Dusseldorf) shown below.

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The following photograph shows the distribution gallery of Dusseldorf power station.

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Lastly there are several photographs of buildings that either did not survive World War II or suffered great damage such as the image of the forecourt of Stadhalle Mulheim below.

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As this trip involved a group of students and Germany, it came as no surprise to see multiple references to beer in Mr Preston’s account and he ended his description with the following paragraphs.

“We had a most tempting offer to visit a brewery on the last day but regretfully had to turn it down owing to lack of time. “Nach Koln” was the order of the day. On arrival we had the whole afternoon to spare and most of us buried ourselves buying dangerous looking cigars and other sundry mementoes of Germany. We left early in the evening and settled ourselves down to the journey well equipped with food which helped to pass the time away.

Drawing a veil over the somewhat tiresome journey, we arrived in London in the early morning where we bid one another “auf Wiedersehen”. There were many friendships formed on the tour due to the way the party kept together and probably everyone felt a tinge of regret when the tour finished.”

For those wishing to consult this photographic collection, it has an archive reference IET/SPE/1/32 and can be consulted at the IET Archives by appointment.