A trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany

In the Netherlands

During late 50ies, probably 1958, my father, his brother Börje (who at that time was co-owner of the car) and their parents, Oscar and Annie made a trip to the Netherlands. Here are the scans of that photo album. Maybe it's a bit too personal but I think the album is so fantastic so I decided to show it anyway, not only the pictures of the car.

Mercedes-Benz 219 Ponton on its way to Brussels

Ponton star on the way to Brussels (here on the old Moerdijkbrug, see how I found out further down)

Around Zuiderzee, Amsterdam and Rijksmuseum.

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  • Mercedes-Benz 219 parked around Zuiderzee for a break
  • Visit to Amsterdam, my father to the right and his parents Oscar and Annie to his left
  • My father's brother, Börje, at Zuiderzee

Kalverstraat in Amsterdam.

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More from Amsterdam, my grandfather Oscar looking out over the crovded marketplace and a female orchestra walking the streets.

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On the way to "Den Haag" and Scheveningen.

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  • Mercedes-Benz 219 parked on the way to "Den Haag" and Schevingen, Oscar and Annie preparing the coffee
  • Annie, my father and his brother and Oscar enjoying coffee in front of the MB219

Scheveningen, according to Wikipedia "a modern seaside resort with a long, sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse. The beach is popular for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding". I suppose the family didn't do much windsurfing or kiteboarding though....

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Haag and Rotterdam.

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And again...

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Haag. Note the student cap on the trunk lid! Based on the text in the album they were obviously "impressed" by the old prison cell with old style, original torture equipment.

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Belgium and Brussels

And here on the way to Brussels.

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  • The Ponton on its way to Brussels with the family, here on the old Moerdijkbrug
  • The Ponton on its way to Brussels with the family

Of course I got a little bit curious about what route they took from den Haag to Brussels, i.e. what bridge we see in the gallery above (also the intro picture to this article). Using Google Streetview, I searched the river crossings in Rotterdam and found Bridge of Spijkenisse being very similar as can be seen in the first picture below. But in the old pictures there are no towers for raising and lowering the bridge. And then I found Brug bij Keizerveer, also looking similar but with two bridges in parallel (2nd picture). So, now what? I decided to ask the Dutch Infrastructure authority what they knew. This is what I got to know from Kevin at the Rijkswaterstaat.

Today’s Bridge of Spijkenisse was finished 1978. The earlier bridge had a different profile, hence not looking like “my” bridge during the late 50ies (3rd picture). So, what about Brug bij Keizerveer? Same thing, the earlier version of the bridge, damaged at the end of the 2nd World War and then rebuilt, also had a different profile. But it turned that it was rebuilt during the late 70ies as well. The solution to the riddle is that the parts for both the bridge rebuilds' were sourced from the same place, the old Moerdijkbrug (4th picture) when it's traffic bridge was rebuilt - during the late 70ies. During the 50ies it was a 4-lane bridge! At that time the lanes were narrower than today, hence the old bridge is looking wider than today’s 3-lane bridges you see in the pictures below. This gives that the answer to the riddle; it's the old Moerdijkbrug you see in the pictures with the 219 above!

  • Spijkenisserbrug, Rotterdam, 2019, © Google
  • Brug bij Keizerveer, Rotterdam, 2019, © Google
  • Spijkenisserbrug, Rotterdam, 1964, © Cor Koornneef/CC BY-SA
  • Moerdijkbrug , Rotterdam, 1976, © Cor Koornneef/CC BY-SA

Some sort of exhibition in Brussels.

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"The russian exhibition" and Manneken Pis.

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There is obviously a Madonna hanging on the wall, and everyone passing her is touching her feet. Gives luck!

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Back in the Netherlands

Passing several bridges until they arrive to Arnhem.

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  • The W105 Ponton on its way to Arnhem, passing another bridge, this time the John S. Thompson bridge
  • The Mercedes 219 parked with my grandfather Oscar Johansson locking it

One of my visitors, Gerd from Germany, contacted me during spring 2020 regarding some of the locations in this article. The bridge in the gallery above, must have been taken where they crossed the Maas on the way to Arnhem, more specifically the John S. Thompson bridge. Gerd even found that the “repair”/ “reinforcement” plate, visible in the old photo, is still there – and it’s just on one pillar!

  • John S. Thompson Bridge, 2019, © Google
  • Comparison between old and new photo of John S. Thompson Bridge

Börje, who wrote text was a bit annoyed by difficulties getting a beer. Reason unknown.

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Gerd also pointed out that the beautiful buildings you see in the background of the picture in the gallery above are situated at Willemsplein, Arnhem. The buildings are called the Fromberghuizen and in the first picture of the gallery below, you can see how they looked like in 2016 according to Google Streetview. The “Van Houten” advertising on the building to the right has been removed since then, as well as the “Nederlandsche Lloyd” sign on the center. In 1963 they looked like the second picture in the gallery. That picture is taken from the Gelerijdersplein, adjacent to Willemsplein, also showing the so called AKU fountain. If you look at the perspective of the original image in the gallery above, they sit in an outdoor terrace of a restaurant. That terrace most certainly belonged to the a restaurant in the Royal building. The 3rd picture below shows how that building looked like 2016 according to Google Streetview. Today, April 2020, it's Stan & Co.

  • Fromberghuizen buildings, Willemsplein, Arnhem, 2016, © Google
  • Fromberghuizen buildings, Gelerijdersplein, Arnhem, 1963, © https://digit.wdr.de
  • The Royal Building, Willemsplein, Arnhem, © Google

And here a short recap of the battles around the city during the second world war.

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  • Ponton, Annie, Börje and Oscar in Arnhem, here at Kasteel Doorwerth
  • Ponton, Annie, Börje and Oscar visiting Arnhem, Kasteel Doorwerth

Gerd told me that the castle in the background of the second picture above most probably is Kasteel Doorwerth. I could see that the tower was similar in terms of the windows, the metal "reinforcements" in the wall and the "thingy" on top of the roof, but otherwise... Nja... But as Gerd pointed out, at the end of this Youtube video you can see that the castle was heavily damaged during the second world war. If you compare the old picture with a cut out from a recent Google Streetview-picture, you can see that the wall to the right of the tower has been rebuilt, just above where that wall ends in the old picture (the bricks are lighter)! Also the clock has been re-installed in the "thingy" on the top of the tower and the doorway has been changed as well.

The old Kasteel Doorwerth has been rebuilt since it was visited by my father and his family in the Mercedes-Benz 219 W105 in the late 50ies

Old and new Kasteel Doorwerth

After leaving Arnhem they stayed in a place close to the border and they were veeerrry satisified with the service there. I can't read the name clearly but it ought to be Oldenzaal (thanks again Gerd!). The word before that could be Losser, another place close to Oldenzaal. If anyone know the place, please let me know! 

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My grandmother enjoyed the breakfast in the garden, "This is how it always should be!".

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Next day they pass the border between the Netherlands and Germany. 

Mercedes-Benz 219 W105 on the border between the Netherlands and Germany

Mercedes-Benz 219 W105 on the border between the Netherlands and Germany, at the crossing Denekamp/Nordhorn

Given that they were in Oldenzaal and were heading towards Bremen, Gerd pointed out that the border crossing ought to have been done at the crossing Denekamp/Nordhorn. With the help of Google Streetview I found the old Dutch customs building which were not similar. I was a bit lazy and gave up, but Gerd "zoomed into" Germany from the Dutch border (due to unknown reason there is no Google Streetview on the German side) and found this. 

How the German customs building between the Netherlands and Germany, where the Mercedes-Benz 219 W105 stood parked, looked September 2019

How the customs building in the large picture above looked like in September 2019 according to Google Streetview

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  • My father in discussion with the border police, Ponton in background, at the crossing Denekamp/Nordhorn
  • My father in discussion with the border police, Mercedes in background, at the crossing Denekamp/Nordhorn

Then I realized, if you look at the second picture in the gallery above, you see the Dutch customs building as well. And it looks like below in the Google Streetview.

How the Dutch customs building between the Netherlands and Germany, where the Mercedes-Benz 219 W105 stood parked, looked September 2019

How the Dutch customs buildings in the second gallery picture above looked like in September 2019 according to Google Streetview

Back to Sweden, via Germany and Denmark

Fascinating Ponton drive through the forest. Was like driving in a tunnel even though it was a sunny day. They had to turn on the lights on the car! Next stop was Bremen.

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  • A fascinating drive with the Ponton through a leaf tunnel on their way to Bremen

Then the trip continued to Denmark (Jylland) via Hamburg. During the trip they had an issue with butter melting in the trunk. Well a black car and a warm, sunny day. How can you prevent that from happening.

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  • On their way to Denmark from Hamburg they experienced the downside of having a black car in summer, the butter melted laying in the trunk....

Not clear to me but I think the first picture gives an idea of the butter accident. Next picture is taken while entering Denmark from Germany, waiting for the Korsö-ferry at Nyborg.

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  • Waiting in line with the 219 for the Korsö-ferry at Nyborg

Tired family on the ferry.

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  • Enjoying the ferry trip from Nyborg to Korsö
  • My father in his environment, at sea...

"The last picture" and "melancholy" on Själland. "Home-coming around 14 July". And then some content pages which are of less interest for us "Pontoners".

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Fascinating Mercedes-Benz Ponton drive through the forest

Fascinating Mercedes-Benz Ponton drive through the forest

 Possible route

Based on the photo album I tried to recreate the route in Google Maps. Due to that Google Maps doesn't allow that many way-points, I divided the trip into two parts; from their home city Eskilstuna (even though I believe both Börje and Bo lived in Stockholm at that time) down to Brussels and then from Brussels and back again. I set Google Maps to avoid highways, having made the assumptions that:

  • most (if not none) of the highways present in Sweden today, did not exist at that time and that
  • the same applies to the highways in mid-Europe and that
  • even if they had existed, they chose the small, nice roads (I would have done so)

Given this I came up with the following two maps, stretching over approximately 1.750+1.650=3.400km. 

Possible route for the Mercedes 219 trip from Eskilstuna to Brussels around 1958

A possible route from Eskilstuna to Brussels

A possible route for the Mercedes W105 trip from Brussels to Eskilstuna around 1958

A possible route from Brussels back to Eskilstuna

Any comment on the suggested route depicted here is highly appreciated!