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The Swiss Tour  - 1935:

© by W.J Skinner.

The tour to Switzerland that had been talked about for some time had now become a reality and to those who took part in it, there will be an unforgettable memory impressed on their minds.  What they saw, what we heard  and the way we were received and treated was so grand, that it almost seems like a dream when we think about it.

I do not suppose there was one of the party who took part in the tour that had not read, or had been told during his school days the story of "William Tell" and the country he was so proud of.  This to some of the party, was looking back 50 years, and yet all were as eager as a lot of school-boys to see that country and its associations, that they had sp often read about.

Now it had been possible by this tour, to go and see and its people.

Not only from the historical point of view, and the pleasure side of the tour, but as we were going to see one of the foremost nations in the world of engineering, especially electrical, and of course in the clock and watch making.

They have shown the world, by their engineering feats in making use of the natural water supplies, in harnessing the water and then using it by passing it through turbines and generating electricity, both for light and power purposes, they do not feel the lack of coal.  The whole of the railways are worked by it, trams, and the works all over the country are using this power.

The cleanness of everything, building, housings etc. as well as the whole country has to be seen, to fully realise what is achieved by doing away with smoke and from from the use of coal.

The party of 100 met at Victoria Station at 4.0pm on Sunday May, 26 to commence their journey to Switzerland and with good send off from our friends, we left at 4.30 pm. for Folkestone and arrived their at 6.15 pm.  We were soon on the boat, and at 6.35 we left Folkestone for Boulogne on the S.S. Canterbury.

The sea was a bit choppy, but we had a good crossing, and arrived at Boulogne at 8.10 pm and were soon on the train, and we left there at 8.31 pm.  We passed through places that had been impressed on our minds during the great war, Ameins,  Laon, and arrived at Belport at 4.35 am.  It had been raining, and was dark most of the way, and most of the party had been trying to get a little sleep.

After a short stay, we were soon away again , and after another good run, arrived at Basle at 5.56am, right on time.  Here it was a beautiful sunshine, and the town and the country looked very nice and clean and everything looked freshly painted.  Basle is a very important junction, trains meeting and going to all parts of Europe.  Here we changed from the steam engine to electric , and after having time for a cup of coffee and little refreshment, we were soon on the way again.

During the journey from Paris to Basel we had a practical demonstration of the communication chain being pulled, with the brake whistle sounding the train was brought to a stand.

We passed through a long tunnel soon after leaving Basle, 5 miles long, taking some 9 minutes to get through.   Soon after we stopped at Oulton, but in a few minutes we were away again.

As it was now daylight we were able to see the beautiful country as we passed through it.  We had also left the steam engine at Basle so there was neither steam nor smoke to obstruct the view.  The electric engine was very quick at getting up speed and we were often touching over 60 MPH.

The valleys were very flat in some places and every bit of land seemed to be cultivated.  The slopes of the mountains were well wooded and every now and then we got a view of the snow-capped peaks looking very pretty as a background for the valleys.

The houses we passed were nearly all standing in their own grounds looking clean and fresh, as if they had just been painted.  A good many were built of wood, with a brick foundation and the usual veranda running right round the house.  We also noted that most of the houses had a good stack of wood piled up close to the house, ready for the winter fuel supply.

Electric wires and pylons were seen all over the place and some of the large railway yards seemed a maze of wires.   We also saw a view steam shunting engines in some of the depots.

All the main line express trains are worked by electric engines which are very powerful, weigh 120 tons and have 8 wheels geared.

Some of the electric engines look very peculiar when moving and at first glance you think the wheels are skidding and the side-rods on the coupled wheels seem stationary.  What is actually taking place is this: the framing over the wheels is so built that you cannot see the wheels and framing is coupled together and this part looks like the side-rod coupled onto the wheels, so giving the optical illusion.  Two men are present on the footplate of the express trains, but only one on shunting locomotives and less important trains.

It was also very noticeable how nice the discipline was amongst the railwaymen.  The porters, shunters all seemed appreciative of their own job and got on with it.  The uniforms of the staff were smart, the porters and platelayers wearing long dungaree smocks.

To some extent the scenery reminds one of the West Highlands of Scotland, but the mountains are higher and more snow is seen.

We arrived at Lucerne at 8.33 am.  Everybody was feeling very much in need of a wash and brush up and was getting hungry as well.  We were soon on our way to our respective hotels, our party going to the Hotel Cecil were we arrived at 9.0 am.

Here breakfast was soon served and soon after that was over we were taken around the city by a guide to see the places of interest including specimens of 15th Century buildings and the famous sleeping Lion of Lucerne.  This is a piece of sculpture carved in a big rock over an ornamental pond in memory of fallen Swiss Soldiers in an early war.  It was a wonderful bit of rock sculpture and is in very good condition.

We were then shown some fine specimens of old buildings.  Then we were taken to the Chapel Bridge, this is a lovely old bridge crossing the River Reuss.  It was built in 1333 as part of the City’s fortifications.  On the roof of the bridge are some beautiful paintings by the Swiss artist, H. Wegman in 1611 representing stirring needs of men of the Swiss Federation and the martyrdom of St. Leger and St. Maurice, Patron Saints of Lucerne.

The water tower close to the bridge was once used as a torture chamber, but it is now put to better use as the location of the town’s archives.  The station buildings are on a very grand scale and the approach very fine with view of Mount Pilatus forming the background of the view.

The chestnut avenues of the shores of the lake are also very fine.  They are kept well trimmed and it is lovely walking along the shore under these chestnut trees in the cool of the evening.

Lake Lucerne is 28 miles long and 4 to 5 miles wide in places.  There is fine fleet of steamers and plenty of small craft on the lake.

After lunch, the party met at 2.30om and were taken for a trip on Lake Lucerne.  The steamer was a paddle boat, about the same size as a Loch Lomand steamer, very clean and smart in appearance.   We had a very good trip, and saw some beautiful scenery from the boat including the Tell’s Chapel, the Schiller stone in memory of the famous dramatist from Horsham, the wonderful Elevator and the aerial railway and the town of Vitznau looking towards the snow capped Gersanerstock Mountain.

We arrived back at the pier at 6.00pm, having being some five and a half hours on the lake – giving you some idea of the size of Lake Lucerne.  The lake is 1400 feet above sea-level and the mountains around range between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.  The plants on the shores of the lake seem almost tropical, however the peaks beyond are covered in snow.

After dinner we were invited to Kursaal where a British programme had been arranged in honour of our visit to Lucerne.  The Union Flag was hung in a prominent position and the concert was opened by singing God save the King.

After a full and enjoyable day we returned to out hotels, tired.

During the journey from Paris to Basel we had a practical demonstration of the communication chain being pulled, with the brake whistle sounding the train was brought to a stand.

Later on in the week we also had a demonstration of the automatic train stop, that is in use on the Swiss Railways.  The driver had instructed to pass certain signals at danger and the train was stopped by the automatic train stop, in about 300 yards when running about 50 miles per hour.

Tuesday Morning:

We met at the station at 8.15am and left by train for Neuhausen at 8.35am. The first stop was Zug were we saw Lake Zug, we then passed through Thaiwil and arrived at Zurich at 9.40 am. and left there at 9.45 am.  Here we saw several large steam engines, 10 wheeled coupled.  It is a wonderful site a large shunting yard covered with the overhead electric wires.

We also saw several blocks of workman's dwellings.  They were well painted and looked very smart and clean and by the looks of the people on the verandas, they looked as if living in them was appreciated.

Soon after leaving Zurich we passed over a very high and fine built viaduct, over the Rhine and entered Germany at 10.15 am.  Although we were now in Germany, this part of the railway is controlled by the Swiss and works at Neuhausen  are managed by the Swiss.

Before leaving the train, we got a glimpse of the Rhine Falls and which we visited after going over the works.

Here at Nuhausen, are built the coaches for the Swiss Railways. They are all built of steel and aluminium, and nearly every thing is welded together, frames, bogies, bodies and roofs, The work and finish peing very fine, and was typical of what we say all over the country.

We also saw the spray painting very much in evidence, We saw the transfers being put on, and the stenciled lettering. he coaches are painted & dark green, and are very plain outside.

The upholstering in the seconds are very good, but the thirds are only wooden seats, although nice and clean looking.

About 1500 men are employed at these works. Our guide unfortunately did not, speak English, so we had to look and sum up ourselves

Some of our party could speak French, but not German.

The shop buildings were very fine, steel and concrete and plenty of light, and every where was spotlessly clean. We got round the works 12. o’clook, and then left to visit the Rhine Falls.

These are a beautiful sight, and speaking for myself, I have never ore seen any thing like it. They are very beautiful.

Here some of the water of the Rhine above the falls is turned off passed through turbines for making electricity for power.

We had lunch at Neuhausen, and then left at 2.15 pm, for Kreuzlingen arriving there at 3.10pm. Here we were taken on board a boat, fitted with ‘diesl’ engines, for a trip on Lake Constance.

This  a large lake, and touches both Germany and Austria.

It was a fine boat, well fitted out, and was something like the boats are on the American Rivers, from the pictures I have seen.  We got a fine view of "Fredrichshafen* in Germany, and also saw the Grafh-Zeppilen returning from South Africa, and just arriving hone.

We also saw several aeroplanes flying over the lake.  The weather was beautiful, brilliant sunshine, and it is a grand sight sailing on Lake Constance, and looking at the pretty places on the shores, with the Alps all snow capped in the background.

The next place we called at was Arbon, and landed at 4.30pm, to go to see the Saurer Motor works. Here we saw the "Chysler" cars being made, also big lorries and rail cars.

We were shown cars in course of construction from start to finish. Spray painting, and upholstering. Also the textile section of the works. These works are on a very large scale, and there seemed to be plenty of work going on. Here we were entertained to tea by the firm, and after that, some very nice speeches were made.

Here, as in fact at every place we had been to, we had been received by the people with the greatest courtesy. Nothing was too much trouble to them to make our visit to Switzerland as pleasant as possible. One gentleman, during the course of his remarks said, such visits as these were are not only good for trade, but they went far beyond that.  They broadened ones outlook on life, and the more we saw and learned of one another created a better feeling between people and people, Nation and Nation.

The replies were very nicely given by some of our members, and a very pleasant visit was brought to a close, We then left by train for Lucerne, via Zurich, and arrived back at the hotel at 9.20pm.


Up at 6.0am. breakfast, and due to leave Lucerne at 8.15. am for Geneva, then on to Lausanne which was to be our next resting place. Before leaving Lucerne we had a good look round the station and the buildings, we also had a look over one of the Electric engines, but we could not make the driver understand what we wanted to know, as he could not speak English,

We left at 8.17. am, and were soon passing through some lovely valleys, and ran along the side of the river Fmme for a long way.

We made a stop at Berne, the capital, for a few minuets, and when passing got a good view of the city and the noted bridge.

We left Berne at  10.0am, the next stop being Fribough, 10,25 am. The next stop was Romont and after that, Palezieux.  Here we got a very fine view of the snow capped mountains, and the clouds just touching them. The next place of call was Puidoux. Soon after leaving here we passed through miles of  Vineyards.

This was a wonderful sight. Tier after tier of vines, rising from the shores of lake Geneva right up to the mountains. The vines are all supported by stout sticks, and the garden tiers by concrete walls, Unless seen it is hard to imagine the vastness of these vineyards,

We also got a view of the wireless station on approaching Geneva. and arrived there at 12.30pm.

The station at Geneva is a magnificent building, and the buffet is on the same grand scale. After lunch we were taken or busses to see the League of Nation Buildings,

Here we were met by the British Representative, who in a few suitable remarks gave us a welcome to Geneva, and afterwards took us round to see the buildings, and explained the various halls and rooms to us, Even now in its unfinished state it is a wonderful place, and when completed will be the largest building in the world. It is built chiefly of white stone and concrete, and we were told that a lot of the material being used was British, Nearly all the glass for the windows is of British make.

We left the buildings at 3,30m for Lake Geneva, and got on board the steamer at 3.45. pm and left the pier at 4.0 pm.

Lake Geneva , like Lake Constance is so large, that you are almost convinced you are on the open sea, but of course you keep in sight of land all the time. The surrounding buildings are very fine, and remind one of our own seaside places on the English coast,

We have nothing in this country to compare with the station building we saw in Switzerland, and Geneva Was no exception.

From the deck of the steamer, a fine view of the city can be got. We also got a fine view of "Mont-Blanc" Here also we saw several aeroplane flying over the Lake. The Lake is 50 miles long and 14 miles wide. All along the shore can be seen pretty houses standing in their own grounds, and all looking as if they were all freshly painted. This freshness is noticed all over the country, due to the absence of smoke.

After a three hours sail  we arrived at Lausanne at, and going to our hotels for a wash, we then went to the Palace Hotel, where we were entertained to dinner by the Swiss Federal Railways. The General Manager being at the head of the centre table.  This was a grand finish to a grand day and enjoyed by all the party.


We were out again in good time, and met at the station at 8.0 am, to have a look round the station. This is like the rest, beautiful. The main entrance hall is more like the entrance to a Cathedral, with a grand dome and stained glass windows and pictures  The rest of the station buildings are just as good.

Here we saw a lot of Salvation Army men and women, going out for the day. They were in similar uniforms to what we see at home, only the wording on the caps and bonnet ribbon being a little different

We left Lausanne at 8.55 am, for Sion Sitton.  Nearly  all the way, we were passing through vineyards.  Running along the shores of Lake Geneva most of the way, we passed through Vevey and Montreux. and then through St.Maurice. Here we saw a beautiful waterfall.  All the way the railway banks were planted with vines, every bit of land seemed to be under cultivation for the growing of grapes.

Passing along through Martigny and then Ardon, we saw some marble quaries and soon arrived at Sion Sitton, which was a school of agriculture, and we saw some fine gardens and nurseries. We had a walk round the town, which is Italian, and saw the old castle, which is perched right on the top of a very high hill. It is now in ruins, but in earlier days was a fortified castle. This place is close to the entrance of the Simplon Tunnel,.

We got back to the station at 11.50 am and left at 11.55 for Martigny where we arrived at 12.15pm. This is close to "Mont-Blanc" of which we got another splendid view. Here we had lunch at the Kluser Hotel Close to this place is Mount St. Bernard, and this brought to our minds the story of the famous monks and their equally famous dogs, We left Martigney at for Vernayaz, to go to see the water power station which supplies the Swiss Railways with Electricity. arriving there at 2, 26 pm.

Here is seen one of the present day wonders of the world.  How the engineers have built reservoirs, harnessed the natural water supplies turned the water through turbines, and generated electricity to supply the whole country with light and power, and to work the whole of the railways in the country. 740 metres higher than the power house is the reservoir holding 59,000,000 gallons of water.

There is a direct fall of 670 ft, through about 4 ft.dia pipes, and the noise of the water passing through the turbines is deafening.

It is a wonderful bit of engineering, and great credit is due to those who conceived the idea, and then brought it to its present state.

We left here at 3,50 pm, and the next place of call was Montreux, and we arrived here at On the platform we saw a beautiful young St. Bernard dog being taken to England.

The station buildings are very fine, and look more like the entrance to the Municipal Buildings. All about here was vineyards,

All the shops were closed, and it was a general holiday, owing to it being the "Feast of the Ascension”, and here we saw a lot of young girls dressed up as brides, who had just come from church. The boys of about the same age, were dressed up in the best clothes, and had a bow of white ribbon tied on their left arm.

After spending an hour in looking round the town, we left for Lausanne.


We were up early, and had our bags packed, for we were leaving Lausanne to-day for Basle, and on our way home,

It was raining a little when we met at the station at 8. 0 am, and left at 8.15. am for Berne, the Capital, where we were going to stop and have a look round, and arrived at 9.55, am. Here we were met by some Officials of the Railway, and in parties of three  with a guide, we were shown round the city.

This is a fine city, and every where the buildings are on a grand scale, and very clean. We were first taken to see & small park re we saw a fine piece of sculpture at the back of an ornamental pond, and just away from that we got a very fine view of the city. We next went to the Parliament House, which are practically modern having been built in 1901. We just got a look inside, and saw the two famous bronze bears. After that we shewn the Kirchenfeldbrücke bridge and the sculptured memorial at one end of the bridge, to the builder of it.

We next sew the old market place, the Clock tower, and some lovely street fountains, with ornamental columns, painted blue and gold, and a gilded figure on the top. We also saw the old Parliament House and the chief Roman Catholic Church,

We were then taken to the "Kornhaus”", to hear some Swiss singing.  This is a lovely old building, built in 1716, and is in splendid condition. We went down a grand staircase to the "Cellar".

This is like the vaulted crept of a cathedral, beautifully painted in very bright colours, with little balconies on each side. There is a platform at the end, built like the end of a wine butt.

It is a restaurant and wine cellar, and concerts are given here also. and here we heard some of the finest male voice singing I have ever heard. One lady also sang and yodeled very fine.

We were then taken to lunch at the station buffet, and later on left for Olton at 1.55pm, to see the Wagon works of the Swiss Federal Railways. These works are on a large scale, and here again we saw electric welding taking the place of  riveting. Spray painting was again very much in evidence.

Here also we saw some new corridor stock being just finished. and the upholstering was very good, also the chromium platted fittings.

Outside the coaches were very plain, being painted a dark green.

The two systems of heating the trains was explained to us, also the brakes and the connections. The lettering on the coaches S.B.B. and C.F.F. being explained to us also. German and French.

Here we also saw a small steam engine shunting, and we were told that when the change was made from steam to electricity, they were able to sell their mainline engines, but a lot of the small ones were left on their hands, and they were wearing these out instead of scrapping them all.

After a good look round Olton we left for Basle at 5.7pm. and arrived there at, Dinner had been arranged for us at the Zoological Gardens Restaurant at 7.30 pm.

Here we given a grand farewell banquet, by the Railway management. Some fine speeches were made, and our visit to Switzerland was brought to a fine finish, and we left Basle for Paris at 11.5pm.

After we left Basle soon eveyone was settling down so as to get some sleep, so as to be fresh when we arrived in Paris.

We arrived at 6.45 sm, and breakfast had been arranged for us at 7.0 am.  Afterwards busses were at the door to take us for a drive round to see the sights of Paris. The first place was the Cathedral of the “Sacred Heart" and then the "Artist's Square".  Then we taken through some of the streets, some good and some bad, The Opera House, Church of St.Mary Magdeline, Place De La Concord, Lourve Gardens, Arch De Triumph, The Unknown Soldiers Tomb, The Eiffel Tower, and the Aquarium. The statuary in the Lourve Gardens was very grand.  We also went to the Invalides, and saw the war relics and pictures.  Notre-Dame was also seen, and here a service was in progress, and we saw a good display of colour in the different uniforms of the soldiers who were taking part in the service.

Dinner had been arranged for 12 .45pm. and after that we were at liberty to have a look round Paris on our own. We met at the station and left Paris at 4.30m for Boulogne, where we arrived at 7.10pm.

We were soon on board the S.S.Maid of Orleans, and left for Folkestone at 7.27pm.  After a good crossing we arrived at Folkestone at 9.5 pm, leaving for Victoria at 9.33pm. arriving there at 10.40pm.

After a hurried "Good Night" we separated and left for our respective hones,

An so came to a conclusion one of the grandest weeks that I can remember in my life. We had been received and treated as friends wherever we went. We had been to see one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  We had seen how the engineers of Switzerland had overcome the shortage of coal, and made such good use of the White Coal as is sometimes called the Water Power, by providing enough Electricity for every kind of work they want power for as well as light, and it has to be seen to be realised, what a country is like without smoke and grime from factory chimneys.

During the week we had travelled 1894 miles, 89 being on the lakes.

We had seen the home of *William Tell" and was able to realise how le must have loved such a country. We had seen lovely waterfalls and the snow capped mountains, and the lovely lakes.

Most of all, we had mixed with and heard the expressions of men of other Nations for that desire of Peace in the world, that all pure minded men hope for.

le had also been privileged to see that splendid building that is n course of erection at Geneva, the League of Nations Buildings, hat should be the guiding star, or loadstone, that all men should look up to. Peace on Earth, Good will towards men.