By Michael Cairns, RSGS Collections Team

Perth is celebrating 25 years of twinning with the Polish city of Bydgoszcz. The Society’s map collection includes this 80 year old town plan of Bydgoszcz.

Bydgoszcz is located in the west of Poland in Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivod (Kujawy-Pomerania Province in English) at the confluence of the Brda and Bydgoszcz rivers.

Bydgoszcz dates back to the 13th century. In the 18th century following the partition of Poland between Prussia, Russia and the Austrian Hapsburg Empire, it was allocated to the Kingdom of Prussia. The first railway was opened in 1851 to Berlin and the city subsequently became a major industrial centre. Bydgoszcz became part of Poland again when the country was restored to its independence following the Great War.

At the start of the Second World War Bydgoszcz was one of the larger cities of Poland with around 143,000 inhabitants. However, when this map was produced the city was in German hands. The Nazi invasion, initially of the western half of Poland, resulted in Bydgoszcz being governed as part of the Reich district of Danzig-West Prussia from 1939 to 1945.

This map, at a scale of 1:25,000 (2½ inches to the mile), was drawn by the Geographical Section of the Polish General Staff and published by the (British) War Office. The Polish Armed Forces in the West were based in Britain for much of the Second World War. Whether the map was actively used during the War is not known. The city was liberated from Nazi occupation in January 1945 by the Red Army and the Soviet controlled First Polish Army.

Bydgoszcz was a major railway junction and during the Second World War had the German Reich’s second largest factory producing nitro-glycerine, used in the making of explosives. The factory was constructed to the south east of the city in a forested area which has now been absorbed into the urban area of the city. The factory was approached by the road on the map showing the destination L. Emiljanowo. Parts of the factory’s remains have been converted into the Exploseum museum.

The map shows the pre-industrial core of the city in black, the area round Stary Rynek (Old Market Square in English) on the south bank of the Brda river. Industrial development and the housing serving it spread along the two waterways in the west of the city (one being the canalised River Bydgoszcz) and were served by the railways with the main passenger station (dworzec) in the north of the city. The more recent developments of the post First World War period are shown in the lighter shading. On the south western boundary is the airport (Lotnisko) which is still used, albeit modernised, including up to about five years ago flights to Glasgow airport.