Miniature Tram Network in Hamburg is a Treat for Rail Enthusiasts

Hamburg maybe home to Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, but there is another attraction in the city that can proudly claim to be truly “mini”.

If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to drive straight past the sleepy little German house nestled in among the trees in one of Hamburg’s leafy suburbs.  “Kleinbahn-Museum Wohldorf”  or Small Tram Museum Wohldorf is written in an old-fashioned typeface on the facade of the house, and only a tarpaulin-covered trolley a few metres away gives a quiet hint of what’s inside.

Stepping into the building, once a storehouse for freight goods, is like stepping back into a forgotten world. A miniature tram network takes up almost all of the first floor. “Many people come just to drive the tram,” says Ralf Kohlberg, who runs the museum together with his wife and a group of volunteers.

Hamburg miniature tram museum


The model tram is an imitation of an electric “Kleinbahn” (literally “small train”) which used to operate between Hamburg’s Volkdorf and Wohldorf train stations up until 1961. Through photos and other documents, the museum also explores the history of the tram or “Strassenbahn” which linked Hamburg’s urban and forest areas in the surrounding countryside from 1904 onwards.

At the time, the districts of Volksdorf, Wohldorf-Olstedt and others served by the network were located in Prussia. The Kleinbahn was an important means of transport for the inhabitants of these forest villages, and also for the inhabitants of Hamburg to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.

“There were many inns here. The city folk came here to visit dance events and enjoy their free time. It was just a piece of Hamburg’s leisure culture,” says Kohlberg. “The passengers would sit up in an open double-decker car, enjoying the landscape, singing songs, and simply enjoying themselves.”

Hamburg miniature tram museum

For Kohlberg, it was scenes like these that embodied the charm of the Kleinbahn. “The way the train went from inn to inn right through the forest, that must have been great.” And you can see that he would have enjoyed it too.  As for an unrestored motor coach from 1947 which currently sits outside the museum, nothing would delight him more than to see it on the track and bringing a part of Hamburg’s past to life again.

Thanks – Hamburg (dpa)

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