16th Dampf in Melle, Steam Automobile Tour – 1-4 May 2015
(or, How to keep the cake bakers of Germany in business!)
An experience written by Marilyn Oliver.
At the kind invitation of Heiner Rössler and his team, John and I were fortunate to be able to join Basil Craske at the 16th “Dampf in Melle” tour for steam cars from 1 – 4 May 2015. The base for the tour was at the magnificent Automuseum in Melle.
After packing Basil’s car with the essential steam car spare parts and hitching up the trailer carrying his Stanley Model 70, the three of us set off for Harwich to sail to the Hook of Holland. This was really exciting for me as I hadn’t travelled anywhere by sea since I was 12 years old when I went “abroad” for the first time to Belgium on a school trip – yes, I can remember that far back!
The North Sea was as flat as the proverbial mill pond for our crossing and we reached the Netherlands refreshed after a night’s sleep followed by a good breakfast.
With the aid of the sat nav, we set off for Melle, with only one “minor” detour at a new roundabout/junction (maze?) being developed, at which point the sat nav threw up her hands and said “I give up – sort it out yourself”!
We arrived at the Automuseum in Melle in good time and were greeted by Heiner. After offloading the Stanley we checked in at our hotel before returning to the Automuseum in the evening for the fire-up dinner – which was a magnificent spread. There, we had the chance to meet the other members of the tour, who had travelled from a number of European countries.
Day 1 of the tour dawned cool, but bright. We had the chance to see the other guests’ vehicles, which included Stanleys, Whites, Locomobiles and Toledos.
We were given the details of our routes for the next four days and we all set off – safe in the knowledge that Heiner had arranged a superb back-up team ready to supply tools, fuel and water, as well as a trailer should there be a complete breakdown (virtually unknown for a steam car!).
The route took us initially towards Rödinghausen where we stopped for a short break to have coffee and cake. Refreshed, we continued on through the beautiful countryside, through Schwenningdorf to Hüllhorst where we stopped to view the Rossmühle (horse treadmill). The octagonal shaped mill was built in 1797 and was designed for up to 6 horses to operate the pounding mill to produce flax and corn. The mill was fully restored in the 1980s and now operates for educational purposes.
A short drive took us to our lunch stop at the restaurant Kahle Warte at Oberbauerschaft where we enjoyed another delicious meal.
The route then took us through Muckum and Bad Essen to Unsere Kleine Fischfarm (Our Little Fish Farm). Here a man-made lake provided customers with the opportunity to catch rainbow trout, gold trout and salmon – and of course, the opportunity to drink tea and eat home-made cakes! We spent an enjoyable 30 minutes sitting in the sunshine before taking the picturesque route back to the Automuseum.
On arrival at the museum, we decided to explore the vehicles on display. There are three floors full of vehicles, with each vehicle only being stored for 6 months maximum. After that time it is changed for another, which keeps the display fresh. An unusual addition to the museum is a large collection of prams – wonderful! We then decided to go down to the museum’s café for a cup of tea and found that they also sell cake (of course), all of which are hand made by the volunteers running the coffee bar. In the evening, we all met at La Grotta, a local Italian restaurant.
Day 2 - An even sunnier day dawned, and we made ready for the day’s route. We were a little later setting off today as a very rare Lane steam car had arrived, for which there was a lot of interest.
We eventually headed off towards Oldendorf, revelling again in the beautiful scenery – and appreciating the extremely quiet roads. It was a real joy to be able to drive a steam car without being hassled by other drivers! The scenery is made particularly pleasurable by the lack of hedges at the side of the roads as we have in England. This enables you to see for miles – and see other traffic on small roads.
We had also noticed on the previous day, how immaculate all the property is in the area, to the extent that I decided the wild birds had been trained to avoid flying over houses as the roofs were pristine (if you get my meaning …?). A coffee stop at Bergwirt Pöhler had an added unexpected pleasure as members of a brass band arrived and played traditional music while we were waiting for our coffee … and cake. J
We proceeded through the countryside, crossing the stunning Mittellandkanal, the longest artificial waterway in Germany at over 300km. Construction of the canal started in 1906 and was completed in 1938 – which doesn’t seem very long at all for an undertaking of that magnitude!
Soon after, we arrived at our lunch stop at Schloss Benkausen, a beautiful location now used as a venue for business conferences and private events such as weddings. In the same grounds is the Deutsches Automatenmuseum owned by the Gauselmann family. When I saw the words “auto” and “museum” (see, I am virtually fluent in German!) I had a feeling I would be spending the next hour going “ooh” and “aah” over a collection of ancient hub caps, or even some old car radiators – but no! In reality this was to be for me, probably, the highlight of the attractions we attended during the tour. It is a collection of historic slot machines, vending machines, gaming and entertainment machines, juke boxes, music boxes and mechanical music automatons. It is FABULOUS! The collection includes machines dating back to the 1880s, and there are around 1800 machines. I could have stayed there for the rest of the day. When entering the museum, our “ticket” was actually a metal brooch in the design of the museum’s logo – which we were allowed to keep. I now wear this on my ‘steam car hat’ and will treasure it always.
As we were visiting at the beginning of May, it was lovely to see that so many people still celebrate May Day by decorating poles with ribbons and carved figures portraying various trades carried out in the town. Apparently it is tradition for someone to try and steal the maypole the night before, and it has to be retrieved by paying a ransom, in beer. (Personally, I would have thought cake was a much better bargaining item!)
Talking of cake … having gently driven the next 20km or so, we made our scheduled afternoon refreshment stop. Well, all this fresh air does make one a little peckish! After returning to the Automuseum, we all gathered at the beautiful Postillion Restaurant in Melle for dinner. There, I was able to learn a little German from the menu. My philosophy is that at least I won’t starve in any country if I can read the menu!
The third day of our tour took us out to Borgloh and Bad Iburg, where we stopped for coffee, etc.! We then carried on to the club house of the Leedener Old Timer Club “Schwarze Wolke” (Black Cloud). I did wonder if the name referred actually to a “black hole”, because men were never seen again after entering the clubhouse, but it transpired that the black cloud refers to the cloud of diesel fumes created by the collection of historic tractors. The club had a huge and very varied collection of farm machinery and implements. There was great interest in the steam cars and we were then treated to a wonderful lunch of home-made soup. What wonderful hospitality again!
On the way back to the Automuseum, we had just enough time to squeeze in a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Basil was intrigued with the minute timers we received with our tea, so we could choose the amount of time we wanted it to brew.
The excellent evening meal was at the Heimathof restaurant, set in the beautiful Gronenberg Park, surrounded by trees.
Our last day started out rather grey and with a little rain, but soon brightened. We set off towards the hamlets of Föckinghausen and Westerhausen. Our morning refreshment stop was at Gasthaus Wortmann in the beautiful church square at Ostercappeln. It was here that the rain stopped and the sun started to appear, so we were able to take down the hood on the Stanley. Finding the correct road in which we should park had taken a few attempts, but our scenting skills had become so finely honed by now, that we could track down cake and coffee at a distance of 2 km!
From Ostercappeln we drove to the sheep farm at Hüde, which forms part of the Naturraum Dümmerniedering – a conservation area. The shepherd, Michael Seel and his family care for the “Diepholzer Moorschucke” breed which can cope with wet pastures. Grazing of the pastures has encouraged a return of arctic geese benefitting from good feeding grounds, and also spring meadow birds seeking nesting sites. The area has been returned to its natural wetland state and is used for educational purposes for groups and individuals alike. Michael introduced us to his flock which were housed in their shed at the time of our visit. On opening the door, we were greeted with the bleating from a huge flock – they were probably just as surprised to be looking at us, as we were of them!
Lunch was provided in the charming Schäferhof Café, where cute models of sheep adorned the room. Lunch was the most delicious, tasty casserole I have ever had and was most welcome.
Sadly we were now on our last leg of the tour. But thank goodness, there was one more coffee and cake stop to attend at Altes Forsthaus located on the scenic Gut Arenshorst golf club before returning to the Automuseum. The cars were loaded onto their trailers ready for the journey home the next day and we had a magnificent last meal at the die Knolle Kartoffelhaus before saying our goodbyes to everyone.
The hospitality shown to everyone on this tour was positively outstanding. Wherever we went people went out of their way to make us welcome (yes, even this lazy English threesome who don’t bother to learn the language!). A huge, belated, thank you to Heiner and his team for a most pleasurable and well organised tour.
I sincerely hope John and I will be able to attend again – and who knows, perhaps I will have learnt to speak a little more German than just “three black teas and three pieces of cake please”!
9 cars attended the rally, with 6 Whites and 3 Stanleys. A good time was had by all, with many members of the public taking an interest in the cars. Each day, the steam cars were on parade in the two rings, giving rides to those who wished to. It was probably the first time the number of Whites exceeded the number of Stanleys!
Sunday 24th May
Sunday’s tour was the longest route, a trip of 76.4 miles to Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway. Unfortunately, John Dyke realised that his White’s packing gland had come adrift from the cylinder block, meaning, despite effort to remedy the problem, was found to be incurable until back at his workshop. This day’s tour involved a trip into Hampshire, our passports at the ready, and across the New Forest, stopping at the viewpoint at Woodgreen, to more spectacular views. A stop was made for coffee and water at the Fighting Cocks public house, before carrying on negotiating Horses, Donkeys and the like, much to the amusement of a number of the crews.
Skirting through Beaulieu, past Beaulieu garage, and a stop for water at the Ford, we arrived at Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway in the early afternoon, where an area had been coned off in readiness for us. A prepaid trip on the large scale Railway, built for Lord Rothchild was enjoyed by all, however lunch came at a price! £6.50 for a jacket potato was considered rather excessive! An alternate route was then traced back, stopping at Bramshaw Golf Club for water, before passing through Downton, and into Salisbury, to complete another days touring. That evening, a wonderful meal at the local Wildwood restaurant was had by all, in their private function room, allowing crews to discuss another good day.
Saturday 23rd May
For the first day of the tour, a round trip of 69.5 miles to Wilton Windmill and Crofton Beam Engines was planned. Having given Basil Craske a sat-nav, we departed the hotel at around 10 o’clock. Then followed a route, skirting Salisbury and then over Salisbury Plain, where fantastic views could be seen for miles around, the beautiful weather aiding this considerably. At around the 15 mile point, a water stop was made at a Petrol station car wash, where the workers took great delight in posing with their pressure washing gear aimed at the cars, while the tanks were being filled.
The route then continued further over the plain, the evidence of the local military being clearly seen, with fantastic views for all to see. A stop was made for coffee at the Shears Inn at Collingbourne Ducis, where the crews were able to sit and natter before pressing on. All the cars pulled away and were off in a flash, except a certain member of the contingent whom forgot to turn their gas pilot light back on (no names mentioned!). Following some rather steep hills, we arrived at Wilton Windmill, where a guided tour of the Mill and its working was undertaken by the majority of the participants. We were also thrilled to be able to watch a group of Tiger Moths zig-zag across the sky above us for a good ten minutes, good organising on our part I think! But before too long, it was time to press on to Crofton Beam Engines, only a few miles down the road, where lunch was to be had by the river, as well as witnessing the engines in steam, which date from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. This set-up was kindly arranged by fellow steam car owner Peter Turvey and his colleagues, who welcomed us with tickets, to allow us entry at a reduced rate, thank you Peter.
However, the journey from the Windmill was not without incident, as the model R driven by John Oliver decided its Swagelock fitting on the main steam line would part, causing the car to come to a halt. But thanks to much fettling by Basil Craske, a temporary repair was carried out, allowing the car to limp back to base, at a much reduced rate. Despite parting company again on a very steep hill, the car carried on, along with the others, back across the Salisbury Plain, stopping again for water, this time at a stream, before arriving back at base. The model R was then taken to Richard Hounslow’s workshop on his farm, where a satisfactory repair was undertaken, in readiness for the next day.
On Friday the 22nd May 2015, the Hounslow Family welcomed 8 cars and their crews to the start of the first steam car tour in Wiltshire. Those attending were:
John and Anne Dyke-1910 White model 00 20HP Doctors Coupe.
Steve Baldock and Richard and Connie Knott-1909 Stanley model R 20HP.
Basil Craske and Russell and Wendy Yeomans-1908 Stanley model K 30HP semi-racer.
John and Marilyn Oliver and Vic and Val Nobbs-1909 Stanley model R 20HP.
James Barron, Christine, Ollie and Liam Calver and Alan and Clair Barkley-1910 Stanley 70 20HP.
Dudley and Lynette Watts-1921 Stanley 735A 20HP.
Richard Hounslow and Delia Pady-1924 Gwynne 8 I.C car.
Peter and George Hounslow-1923 Stanley 740B 20HP.
Sarah Hounslow, Jacky Reay/Viv Newman-modern back-up car with extra water and fuel.
Having arrived and unloaded, the trailers were moved and parked in Richard Hounslow’s field on his farm. Following this, we all sat down to a three course meal at the Rose and Crown hotel, where route maps were given out, ready for the first days tour, Saturday.
Over 500 cars took part in the run itself, which was held in torrential wet weather conditions. Over 100 cars took part in the Regent Street Concours the day before.
16 Steam cars took part in the run, including a Gardner-Serpollet from the Mullhouse Museum in France. At the Bonhams Auction on the Friday, another Gardner Serpollet, a 1904 model, sold for £371,100, to an American buyer.
Melle Tour 2013
The 14th German Steam Automobile Tour was based as always at the Automuseum in Melle and organised by Heiner and Anne Marie Rössler and their excellent team of helpers. The Firing Up Dinner was Saturday night, 28th April, with tour routes of around 80kms (50miles) on the following four days and finishing off with the Blow Down Dinner on the Wednesday evening. We needn’t have worried about not being able to understand German as the tour routes were so very easy to understand with self explanatory diagrams for every turn. There were 16 steam cars participating from six countries – two Whites, Udo Puchert’s 1902 Waltham, two Locomobiles, a Likamobile and 10 Stanleys with another two cars on static display; a 1906 Stanley Vanderbilt Cup Racer and a 1911 Stanley Model 63. Even the fragile little tiller steered cars managed to complete the routes which were through very pretty countryside, past historic homes, castles and country estates with just the gentlest of hills to tax us. The slowest cars would catch the faster cars up at the frequent coffee stops. A special mention here to Lucia Serventi driving her 1900 Locomobile Style 2 who never gave up. It was such a treat to have a back-up service team following us all every day – if any car faltered it was quickly put onto a platform trailer and whisked back to base. What luxury! It was a lovely surprise to see the ex-David Webster/John Liming Stanley Model R arrive, now owned by Willy Smessaert from Belgium, and the ex-Tom Dawson Stanley 750A driven to the tour by its 21 year old owner René Hopf. The ex-Marion Cole 735B effortlessly completed the tour driven by Bob Bruin and we met the new owner of the ex-Bill Lowe 735B, Captain Reinhard Kloser. This was the first time that Mike Mutters, Bill Rich and Basil Craske had joined fellow Brit’ Arthur Thomson and Jerry Stoneman in taking cars to Germany, but all agreed that it won’t be the last, it was a great experience. Thank you everyone, organisers and participants, for making us all so welcome.
Arthur Thomson White OO 1910
Basil Craske Stanley 70 1910
Mike Mutters Stanley 606 1914
Bill Rich Stanley 6.5 HP Runabout 1903
Willy Smessaert Stanley R 1908
Jean Tilmans Stanley Mountain Wagon 1913
Bob Bruin Stanley 735 B 1919
Gerry Stoneman Stanley Vanderbilt Cup Racer 1906
Charles Whitworth Likamobile 2008
Wvittorio Serventi Locomobile Style 2 1900
Peter Würinger Locomobile Style 2 1900
Arnoud Carp White D 1904
Udo Puchert Waltham 1902
Heiner Rössler Stanley 735 B 1919
René Hopf Stanley 750 A 1924
Helmut Karbe Stanley Vanderbilt Cup Racer 1906
Karl-Heinz Rehkopf Stanley 63 1911
Owners w/o car
Albert Seigers Homebuilt Doble
Captain Kloser Stanley 735 B
Martin Werbeck Stanley 735 B