Parowozownia Pilska OKRĄGLAK


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OKRĄGLAK - parowozownia w Pile

 The most valuable monument of extant industrial architecture in Piła is roundhouse with adjoining objects. It is permanently embedded in city landscape. At present, it is the unique type of object extant in original shape in Poland and it is among a few in Europe. The roundhouse objects were taken under restorer’s care. Unfortunately, it is gradually destroyed as the result of desisting from regular restoring actions. Due to its solid construction it has not collapsed yet. The only rescue for that object could be targeting it for transport and productive or exhibition purposes supported with necessary funds for carrying out essential redecorative works. The group of citizens of Pila having interest in city history formed association by the name of Pilska Parowozownia – OKRĄGLAK which was registered in Judicial Country Register on the 29th of March in 2007 as the initiative to fulfill these objectives. Now, the study works are in progress over preparing utilization concept of not only roundhouse hall but of the whole railway monumental complex: the back of office and storehouse, and workshops with water-tower. Worked out materials will be presented to object owners, local authorities and the other bodies which could take part in project.

            The railway in history of Piła played significant role. It was the source of jobs for major part of city citizens until nearly XX century. The beginnings of railway in Pila reach the half of XIX century. After ten years from starting first preparatory works and after three years of aforementioned works in progress, the first railway line crossing Pila was festively opened on the 27th of July in 1851. It was part of Eastern Railway (Ostbahn) from Berlin to Krolewiec. Some stations needed to be equipped with devices for water supply and coal supply and tools for substituting locomotives, because of technical range of contemporary steam engines which amounted to only several kilometers. One of such stations was Pila.


The bill of parliament passed in 1868 decreed the construction of railway line from Pila through Chojnice to Tczew and it was thus possible to shorten the route to Bydgoszcz by 34 kilometers. From the moment of opening this railway line on the 16th of January in 1871 (the line was built through stages, the whole route was negotiable just only on the 15th of July in 1873) Pila was granted the status of node station. Aforementioned decisions caused the urgent need of building technical support system. One is tempted to think that it caused the second birth of Pila station. Investments were realized during 1870-1874 period. Besides constructing new station building, the roundhouse with central rotating device (designed as the model one for Eastern Railway) and office building with water reservoir and boiler house and workshop and water-tower and water take were built.


            The roundhouse was the building used for stopovers of steam engine locomotives. All kinds of work connected with present maintenance of steam engines locomotives were carried out in it: preparing them for functioning, securing them after ride and making all the fine repairs. The functioning of roundhouse was accompanied with the activity of the devices of the other buildings: workshops, office and dispatching center, changing rooms, dining room, storehouses (spare parts, oils etc.), boiler house, pump station and water reservoir (water-tower) and coal depot. Taking into consideration the technical conditions of servicing the railway traffic all the aforementioned buildings and devices were situated between railways tracts coming out into direction of Bydgoszcz and Chojnice.


New roundhouse in hexagonal shape with rotating device situated centrally allowed for moving locomotives of 11 meters. It was equipped with three entry gates which made stationing and servicing 13 locomotives possible at the same time. Main hall has diameter of 31 meters and height of 16 meters. It is surrounded with nave of 9, 7 meters width and 6, 2 – 8 meters height. The dome of hall is supported on cast-iron poles and it is crowned with blind vent of 6, 5 metres diameter and 2 metres height. The roof construction is made of framework installed with rivet steel elements and its roofing is made of boards covered with asphalt. The blind vent (in the shape of chimney) is built into the dome over every stopover position allowing for moving outside steam and smoke from active chimney of steam engine.

The dome is separated from nave surrounding stopover positions by high (ca. 2 metres) glass skylight consisting of 64 modules (4 for each 16 segments). The roof of nave is constructively supported by rivet grating based on the one end on the external wall and on the other end on cast-iron pole. The wood roofing made of boards attached to crosswise edges is covered with roof asphalt. The whole construction of roof is augmented by many steel pulls connected with screws.

The two windows are situated in most of lateral walls. The entry gates (at present fully steel, originally with glassed wood construction) are built into three windows and one entry gate is constructed with bonding bar for office building with water reservoir on the last floor. All the walls (external and internal) are made of brick and they are externally connected and internally whitened. They are also plastered and painted (in separate rooms). The tracks (stopover and gateway) are equipped with review canals of 12,5 -13,5 metres length.


The main hall is directly adjoined by two storerooms (built in slightly later period). The buildings of pump station and water-tower and storehouse and boiler house belong to roundhouse unit, too. Only traces of external devices for carborization (coal trenches, cranes) and routing (cleaning canals) remained in present day roundhouse. As time had elapsed steam engine locomotives got longer (increasing their power caused the lengthening of boilers). New rotating device of 16 meters diameter was built in 20s of last century in order to use continuously roundhouse facilities. New fanned roundhouses were constructed for longer steam engine locomotives (for passenger and freight stations). The decisions were taken to perform current repairs of carriages and tenders in old roundhouse to enhance its use.


At the break of 80s and 90s of the last century the whole roundhouse was used as the place of storing inactive steam engine locomotives and tenders and as the workshop in which future railway mechanics were trained. The first class locomotive works were dissolved in 1991. Finally, the utilization of the roundhouse was terminated in 1997 with dissolving the repairing section of internal combustion engines. Up to the end of XX century the hall was utilized as the garage for trolleys of the department dealing with railway lines maintenance and as the storehouse of road materials. It was no longer used after that time because of poor technical conditions.


Everything should be done for that important and monumental object of industrial architecture in order to preserve it in Pila landscape. The task undertaken by the members of Pilska Parowozownia Association is huge challenge not only for them but most of all for the owners of roundhouse property and Pila town.


 Piotr Rogoziński

 Above article was published in “Kronika Wielkopolski” Nr 4(124) year 2007 p. 101-106


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