Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Tuesday 14th May

'Station to Station, Cambridge to London'

Terry Ward

For our final meeting of the season we welcomed Terry Ward, a photographer with a passion for architecture and history. He took us on a journey along his favourite line, the West Anglian Line from Cambridge to London Liverpool Street. Not only did we see the main route but Terry also gave us a look at some of the remaining architecture and infrastructure on closed lines along the way such as the Haverhill line, Saffron Walden line and the Bishops Stortford to Braintree line.

Starting at a much changed Cambridge station, we learnt of its origins and how it could have been much closer to the city centre but for the all powerful university. There was also a look at Coldhams Lane depot with a class 317 unit propelled inside by an 08 shunter.

Heading south, we saw views of all the stations to Bishops Stortford along with signal boxes, another of Terry's interests. Beyond here, the station styles changed from Victorian Gothic and Edwardian to 1960s concrete at Harlow. Several of the stations were very neglected and Terry deemed them too uninteresting to show.

We saw the wetland nature reserve at Roydon and Rye House power station. Passing through the suburbs, !950s developments of flats were much in evidence along with more recent warehousing. At Tottenham Hale, the two platforms had been renumbered in somewhat hopeful anticipation of Crossrail 2. Liverpool Street was still basically the Victorian gem we remembered although outside, Crossrail development was still much in evidence.

For many of us, this was a nostalgic journey where we learnt more about some of the sights along the route thanks to Terry's research and interests in all things architectural and historical.

Tuesday 16th April 2019

'GWR to the end of Steam'

Brian Benford

Brian Benford made a welcome return to our Branch for our April meeting, this time with a very comprehensive selection of slides of GWR locomotives from the various pre-grouping companies, the GWR of 1923 and the Western region of BR after 1948.We saw just about everything from a broad gauge working in the 19th century to Kings and Castles in the early 1960's.

Tank engines of the Taff Vale Railway and Cardiff Railway featured and we also saw a locomotive with M&GN branding which we learned formerly belonged to a GWR constituent company before being sold. Many of the slides we saw were taken in the 1930's and were black and white but the images were superb and some of the trains consisted of an eclectic mix of coaches.What was equally enjoyable was that Brian was able to give us snippets of information about the subject locos such as the reasons for detail differences and whether they made any difference to the engines performance.

We learned that the GW was the first company to experiment with streamlining and we saw a few shots of streamlined Kings and Castles. The colour slides that were featured were also of great interest as they showed the livery details to very good effect some of ex-works pictures were really pleasing. To finish with, Brian showed a picture of the last locomotive ordered by the GWR, gas turbine 18000 which was not delivered until after nationalisation and the cost would have paid for several Castles.

This was a lovely show and was enhanced by Brian's research on the subject and humorous comments on some of the images.

Tuesday 12th March 2019
Railways of the Isle of Man
Geoff Brockett

For our March meeting, our speaker took us "overseas" to the Isle of Man. Geoff Brockett of the South Essex branch has enjoyed visiting the island since the 1970's right up to the present day and during that time has seen many changes to the island's railway system. The only thing that has remained a constant is the unpredictable nature of the weather.
Geoff began by giving us a history of the different systems on the island and how over the years, declining trade had caused the railway network to shrink and had it not been for the Manx government stepping in the whole system could well have closed.
The first line we saw was the Isle of Man Railway which is steam worked on 3ft gauge from Douglas to Port Erin. The slides we saw showed the engines in various liveries over the years together with a large variety of rolling stock which over the course of time appeared in liveries that at one time were carried. Geoff showed how the infrastructure had also changed with stations losing canopies and sheds being demolished.
We then saw a few slides of the horse tramway which is also 3ft gauge and runs from Douglas pier to Derby Castle.
From Derby Castle we were treated to a journey along the Manx Electric Railway which opened in 1893. The line runs to Ramsey with numerous delightful stations along the route. We must have seen all the power cars and trailers in operation including the unique freight loco No.23. The original 1893 motor cars and trailers were still in operation and beautifully restored.
At Laxey, the Snaefell Mountain Railway runs to the highest point on the island on 3ft 6in. gauge to accommodate a centre braking rail. Some of the views from the line were outstanding although Geoff said that mist can often obscure almost everything. The passenger stock dates from 1895 although some rebuilding has occurred.
Other railways Geoff had visited were the charming little 2ft. gauge Groudle Glen Railway with steam engines named Polar Bear, Sea lion and a new build called Brown Bear. The line closed in 1962 but has been reinstated since 1982 by volunteers.
The 19in. Laxey Mines railway with two little steam engines named Ant and Bee also featured.

Geoff's presentation which covered over 40 years and showed us just about every type of engine, carriage and wagon working on the Isle of Man was not only thorough and informative but some of the pictures gave those who had not been there the incentive to visit some time.

Tuesday 12th February 2019
Preserved railways past, present and future?
Michael Smyth

Our February meeting was a presentation by one of our Branch members, Michael Smyth, who gave us a very interesting and thought provoking presentation entitled "Preserved railways past, present and future?" Michael began by saying how the UK has probably the best railway preservation movement in the world thanks in no small measure to Dai Woodham at Barry and the large numbers of enthusiasts who sought to save lines closed after the Beeching report. Luckily, at that time there were many career railwaymen who enjoyed steam engines and had a wide knowledge of railway operations and were more than happy to assist the embryonic preservation groups. Today after fifty years or so, the different railways have evolved into what we have today with beautifully restored engines, rolling stock and buildings that take us back to a bygone era.
In Michael's view, the larger preserved lines such as the North York Moors & Severn Valley, which have developed engineering facilities and carriage restoration sheds are well placed, as they have become tourist attractions in their own right.
Other lines, which are not in traditional tourist areas, have developed income streams such as hire to television & film companies and dining trains. All have themed events and Santa specials which are vital to get the interest of the very young. The pictures we saw showed many of the different lines Michael had visited and some pictures in black & white really captured the atmosphere of the lines.
The future, although unknown, was his main fear. Most of the railways depend heavily on volunteers, most of whom are elderly, and the younger generation are not coming along in sufficient numbers to replace them. Some of the lines are very much enthusiast only lines and depend very much on an ageing core of supporters. Legislation changes add to running costs and on some lines, major infrastructure work is needed if the lines are to remain in their current state.

Michael's show drew many questions and comments from the audience and gave us a good insight into the railway preservation world that holds a place in our hearts. It was a well researched and presented show that was enjoyed by all.

Tuesday 8th January 2019
(To) Tebay on EBay
Dave Pearce

For the first meeting of 2019, we welcomed Dave Pearce to Cambridge with a presentation intriguingly titled "Tebay on Ebay".
This was a collection of images that Dave had managed to purchase on Ebay but sometimes he had missed out on slides that had exceeded his budget, often by over a hundred pounds. Most of the slides were B&W featuring scenes of the 50s and 60s although there were a few colour images. Dave usually purchased images because of the photographer although some were bought because of childhood memories.
Fittingly, we started in the Tebay area steam working freight and passenger trains over Shap with banking locos. Many other areas featured including the GC route and the ECML.
There were scenes on the Alnwick branch and various steam workings in Lancashire & Yorkshire. There were shots of an RCTS rail tour in Scotland along with scenes on various sheds.
The number of locations was too numerous to mention here and the image quality was excellent although some of the negatives needed processing after scanning to obtain an acceptable image.

This was an enjoyable presentation which raised a few talking points amongst the audience and Dave gained a few snippets of information on some of the images.

Tuesday 11th December 2018
A.G.M. followed by Members' contributions

Our last meeting of 2018 followed the format of previous years. The Chairman opened the AGM and business was dealt with swiftly. Thanks to the sterling efforts of our sales officer, Keith Crossley over the past year, the branch has invested in more new equipment to improve the quality of any presentations.
Following the meeting we had seasonal refreshments before seeing our members' contributions.
The chairman, Robert Bartlett, provided some slides of the Ravenglass & Eskdale with shots of River Mite, River Irt & Northern Rock at Dalegarth in 1983, 8F 48431 on the K&WV in 1984 and steam in Germany in 1985.
Michael Smyth then showed some fabulous scenes of QJs in China working in -25C with glorious smoke followed by shots from a trip to Pakistan and a journey up the Khyber pass.
Next, Dave Goodyear showed a digital selection of his early B&W photos which covered many types of engines from various places and included a King, a County and a Coronation (City of Coventry). He also included his first ever photo, a Britannia on the Harwich Branch.
The secretary showed a variety of shots all taken this year. They included a 56, a 60 and 66s on freight, numerous electric units and scenes on the Isle of Wight and the Welsh Highland Railway.
To finish with, Keith Crossley gave us a very varied selection of Italian locomotives and other types of rolling stock taken on his trip to Venice this year. Of particular note was the amount of graffiti which adorned Italian trains.

This concluded a very enjoyable evening's entertainment and we now look forward to 2019.

Tuesday 13th November 2018
60's Steam on shed
David Percival

Our speaker for November was David Percival with his very nostalgic presentation entitled " 60's Steam on shed ". This was an almost entirely black and white slide presentation although the last few were colour.

David has always lived in the vicinity of the East Coast mainline so unsurprisingly, scenes of Kings Cross top shed featured with Gresley & Peppercorn pacifics.
However, with rover tickets and organised trips, David was able to visit sheds all over the country bringing the opportunity to photograph numerous classes of steam engines that were still in service at the time. Not content to take an ordinary picture, David would capture the overall scene with the loco reflecting in a puddle, piles of ash and wheelbarrows and shovels. People were important to the overall scene and often we saw a driver and fireman by their engine.
Shed scenes at places such as Woodford Halse and Bolton showed the sun struggling to shine through clouds of smoke from numerous locos which produced a really evocative picture. Scenes inside sheds showed engines lit by shafts of sunlight.

The whole show was able to portray a very honest view of the period from 1960 to the end the steam era on the various regions and was thoroughly enjoyed by all present.

Tuesday 9th October 2018
Glasgow and South-Western route
David McLean.

For our second meeting of the season, David MacClean made a return visit to our branch with another Scottish themed presentation which this time focused on The Glasgow & South Western railway.
Like so many lines, it was originally conceived to carry coal. The earliest part of the system was the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway built by The Marquess of Titchfield to carry coal from his workings at Kilmarnock to the port of Troon in the early 1800s. We learnt that the G&SW itself was formed in 1850 with the merger of several smaller and struggling lines. David showed pictures of several of the very elegant classes of engines, mostly built at the company works at Kilmarnock.

   Glasgow & South Western Railway 15405 4-6-4T at Kilmarnock. Built in Kilmarnock in 1922 and originally numbered 545. Acquired by LMS and scrapped in 1936  
There were numerous classes of locos operating over the system including the powerful 4-6-4 Baltic tanks.
In its heyday, there were over 1100 route miles, but David showed several pictures of the jewel in the company's crown, Glasgow St Enoch station and hotel. Here we were to see views of the Thames-Clyde express in steam and diesel days - sadly no more. Stranraer was also important for ferry traffic to Ireland.
Today, much has changed with vast closures with the demise of coal fired power stations and ferry traffic much reduced. No longer can we travel from Dumfries to Stranraer through beautiful scenery and delightful stations as David's pictures showed us but there are still many places, particularly on the Ayrshire coast that are still worth a visit.

Again, a well researched show.

Tuesday 11th September 2018
Next train gone
Adrian White

For our first meeting of the new season, we welcomed Adrian White from the Stevenage Locomotive Society with his presentation entitled "Next train gone". The title gave no clue as to what was to follow.
Adrian gave us a wide selection of images which he told us were inspired by Colin Gifford's photography. What we saw were images from the UK, Europe and the USA, not always taken from conventional angles or in the best of light and weather conditions. He said he had been told that there is no such thing as good or bad weather, only weather, so make the most of it, be patient and the results may well pay off.
In the UK we toured both the mainlines and preserved railways. The S.V.R. featured prominently and Adrian showed us what could be achieved from one location along the line in different weather and light conditions - the results were worth it.
Some of his images were in black and white and industrial scenes, in particular, were very nostalgic. We saw night scenes and silhouettes and one silhouette of 60009 crossing Digswell viaduct on the GN was worthy of note.
Stations too were seen with particular praise given to the redevelopment of both Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations.
Overseas, Germany provided some spectacular scenes of class 01 Pacifics and class 44s working freight and passenger services during a Plandampf celebration.
Switzerland did not disappoint with some amazing snow scenes.
If vivid colour was needed, an autumn visit to the Durango and Silverton and other lines in the USA provided just that. It was amazing to hear that the images had not been altered in any way.

This was an extremely well presented show and other branches would do well to invite Adrian along for an evening.

Last updated: 17th May 2019