My abiding memory of the
meeting must be the weather - three glorious days of sparkling sunshine
and balmy evenings. In such conditions one could comfortably saunter
around or sit without recourse to a sweater. What a difference a week
makes. The previous week, they had had torrential rain causing flooding
with cellars needing to be pumped out by the fire service.
It was time to renew our friendships with our foreign friends and
maybe notice that ‘so and so’ had not turned up this year.
Fortunately, our foreign friends have such a command of English that
we do not feel at all out of place. In this way, I learnt that we
were close to an area where a dialect of Low German is spoken, which
can be difficult for other Germans to understand. Another surprising
feature of the local culture is that they are big tea drinkers. A
match for the English, I was told. The day after learning of this
I found two teabags on my car seat. I tested them when I got home
and found them to be excellent. It’s amazing what one learns
in a hot drinks queue.
Besides just Borgwards, there were other attractions. For example,
a red Feuerlöschboot (a fire extinguisher boat) was available
for trips around the harbour, during which it showed off its capability.
Four mighty water pumps on board deliver water at 160psi to four water
cannon mounted on scaffolding high above deck. When these are turned
on, broadside, the boat heels over under the forces generated. A bit
like cannons being fired on a galleon of yore.
The Maritime Museum was another attraction. Outdoors, it had a frigate,
a minesweeper, examples of torpedoes and depth charges, as well as
a naval fighter jet . The frigate – “Mölders”
– was named after Werner Mölders, a fighter ace in the
Spanish Civil war and in the early part of WWII. He died at the age
of 28yrs in 1941 on an internal German flight. The frigate was American
built in the early 1960’s and formed part of the NATO fleet.
It later became part of the German navy.
Indoors, the museum had examples of German uniforms and artefacts
dating back to the .Napoleonic wars. There were also fine scale models
of German naval battleships and a liner or two. Scharnhorst, Prince
Eugen, Bismarck and Kronprinz Wilhelm II come to mind. The Germans
and we have so much in common.
Perhaps the outstanding Wilhelmshaven landmark is the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke
(Emperor Wilhelm Bridge). It was built between 1905/7 and is of steel
construction. It has a span of 159m (522ft) and is 8m wide. It can
carry single file traffic, one direction at a time. Unusually, it
is a double swing bridge design in which either half of the span can
rotate about its own central support pillar. As its name implies,
it was opened by Kaiser “Bill”.
On our return journey, we were obliged to stop overnight at a small
town called Saterland. One of the rear wheel bearings on Gavin Watson’s
Isabella was disintegrating and needed urgent attention. Heinz Bruns
kindly recommended a local garage and by 10am the following morning,
a new bearing – previously obtained at the meeting – was
fitted and all was well.
So, we were on the final leg of our 4-day excursion. Just time to
pop in on Anjo Bosman and view his restoration work in progress. That
involved a Coupé Convertible conversion and a nearly finished
Combi rolling bodyshell. It was an opportunity for me to ask Anjo
his advice on what to do about my Isabella, which stands high at the
front (or low at the back?). He advised I should remove a coil from
each front spring. While at the show, I had measured a number of Isabellas
and determined that the correct ground to wheelarch measurement is
4” higher at the front than the rear when an Isabella is standing
normally, on level ground.
As we docked at Harwich, it was time to bid our farewells.To Gordon
and Joan (ultimately heading back to Canada); Matt, Fiona and the
two girls; Gavin and Liz; Nick,Fiona and Rufus; John; Graham and Fred;
Norman,Keith and Danny. And our Borgwards - Hansas 2400 and 1800,
an Isabella Cabriolet and two Isabella Saloons.
It was a most enjoyable trip, enjoyed by all. Please look at the many
photos John has displayed on our website.