Hugo’s collection of century-old steam engines is apparently the only one in the Czech Republic. He has been showing it regularly around Christmas for several years to the parishioners of the Church of the Holy Salvator near Charles Bridge. “I have about a hundred pieces in total. There are around ten locomotives alone. They are all from the years 1910 to 1930. They come mainly from Nuremberg, Germany, which was a toy power at the time,” explained Robert Hugo, who has been an organist at the church for over 30 years.
Toys for handy…
Unlike current children’s electric trains, his machines have a miniature steam engine inside. “It runs on alcohol. Burning it in a boiler boils water and creates steam that powers the machine. At the beginning of the 20th century, these were relatively complicated toys intended for older children from wealthy families. It is not entirely easy to start them and not to stop them. You have to wait for the alcohol to burn off,” explained Robert Hugo. According to him, over time, the toys gradually began to become collectible models in an accurate scale intended mainly for adults.
Organist, musicologist and university teacher Robert Hugo started collecting gadgets seven years ago. “The first historical train was given to me by a friend. It caught my attention and I started looking for them in various online auctions. Some rarer pieces can cost up to several thousand crowns,” he explained.
They will be leaving at the weekend
People will be able to see part of the collection in motion in the sacristy this weekend. “Trains depart on Sunday afternoon and evening. Anyone who comes to mass can see them. After the weekend, I’ll start cleaning them, and people won’t see them again until a year from now,” he said.
Where, when, for how much
Church of the Holy Savior Křižovnická 1040/4, Prague 1, Old Town
Sunday at 15:00 – 15:30, 21:00 – 21:30