Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

 

Monday 11th March 2019
Branch AGM, Photographic Competition and Members' Slides (and Digital Images)

Our seventeenth Branch AGM took place on Monday 11th March. In his opening remarks, Chairman Chris Meredith summarised the Branch’s activities during the past year, with other reports following from the various Branch Officers. Chris Meredith, Peter Wilson, Jeremy Harrison and Andrew Jones were re-elected to their respective posts. Discussion took place on the voluntary admission donations requested from attendees at meetings, and those present (except one) accepted that these would be increased from the April 2019 meeting. This formal part of the evening was followed by the Branch Photographic Competition, run by Andrew Jones and won by Jeremy Harrison with his picture of 1450 and autocoach 178 crossing Victoria Bridge on the Severn Valley Railway. The Society Archivist, Andy Davies, then described the work carried out by volunteer members to enable the former Station Master’s house at Leatherhead to be opened as the Society’s Archive and Library on 6th October 2018. Andy explained that it would regularly be open to members (dates will be in the RO), and encouraged us to patronise it. Jeremy concluded the evening by showing a selection of photographs, mainly taken on photographic charters on preserved railways, from late 2017 up to the previous day.

Monday 11th February 2019
Pictures from the Bill Jackson Collection: Part 1, 1952
Brian Jackson

At our meeting at Croydon on Monday 11th February Society member Brian Jackson presented photographs taken by his father entitled "Pictures from the Bill Jackson collection - Part 1 – 1952”. Brian explained that at this period colour photography was prohibitively expensive, and therefore these were exclusively black-and-white. Almost all were taken in late 1951 and 1952, mostly in close proximity to Brighton. As this was soon after the formation of British Railways, Bill had concentrated on veteran ex-Southern Railway locomotives, which had survived into British Railways ownership. Even when displaying the first lion-and-wheel emblem most of these were in extremely grubby condition. However, an occasional example was in immaculate ex-works condition. Then Brian moved away from Brighton to show some early shots of the Golden Arrow with BR Standard 'Britannia' class Pacifics 'William Shakespeare' and 'Iron Duke'. Finally he treated us to a view of the last G.W.R. “Saint" 4-6-0 'St. David' on a railtour, and some Eastern Region B1 and L.M.R. Class 5 4-6-0s on excursions from “north of the river". Interspersed with the steam engines were a few photos of diesel and electric locomotives, and some dock-side views of steam ships. As this presentation was billed as “Part 1” members were left waiting eagerly for Part 2!

Monday 14th January 2019
LMS Electrics
David Brown

For our first meeting of the New Year, on Monday 14th January, we welcomed back Society member David Brown with his presentation "LMS Electrics", a history of the development of railway electrification by London Midland & Scottish Railway, its predecessors and successors. David gave us a very well presented talk, illustrated with superb photographs, many of them rare. His story began with the Liverpool Overhead Railway, the second oldest electric metro in the world and the first elevated electric railway. This, and other electrification schemes in the northwest, around Liverpool and Manchester and beyond, including technology used and development of rolling stock, were covered in detail before David moved southwards to electrification of lines in LNWR/LMS territory in north and east London. Then finally, back north to the Lancaster-Morecombe-Heysham line, which had initially been electrified as a trial in 1908 using a German system of 6600V AC at 25Hz. Following an international conference held in Annecy in 1951, which highlighted the advantages, technical and economic, of 50Hz single phase AC electrification over DC systems, the line was converted in 1953 to trial the use of 50Hz current, which has since been widely adopted round the world.

Monday 10th December 2018
British Steam in the 21st Century
David Cox

On 10th December we welcomed David Cox, an accomplished railway photographer, who brought us a presentation of his own work entitled 'British Steam in the 21st Century'. Starting in the South and South West of England, David took us on a round Britain tour of all the English regions, with visits to Wales and Scotland, finishing in the South East England on the Lavender Line and Bluebell Railway. Along the way we enjoyed splendid shots of both standard and narrow gauge steam, locomotives on the mainline, on preserved railways, private railways, a zoo, a farm, docks, a couple of museums, and several former industrial sites. Some locations were visited more than once and provided comparisons, one year with another. We saw locomotives of all sizes and wheel arrangements. Some may not be seen in steam again, but there were plenty of others that certainly will be. David's excellent survey demonstrated, if there was any doubt, that steam the length and breadth of present day Britain, is very much alive and well. The audience showed its appreciation to David for providing a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Monday 12th November 2018
The Patriot Project
John Borrowdale

Then on Monday 12th November - the day following Remembrance Day - John Barrowdale of the LMS Patriot Project spoke on the project. He started with the history of the class, from its development from the LNWR Claughton class 4-6-0s – which included a locomotive named Patriot whose nameplate was accompanied by a plaque which commemorated the employees of the LNWR who had lost their lives in the Great War. When the Claughtons evolved into the Patriots, the nameplate and plaque were replicated on 5500 Patriot which became the LMS War Memorial locomotive and retained this feature after the end of the Second World War. John showed a delightful selection of photographs from the 1950s and 1960s showing the class in both original and rebuilt conditions. Throughout his presentation he showed the process of the construction in great detail.

Monday 8th October 2018
A Swiss Miscellany
Godfrey Gould

At our meeting in Croydon on Monday 8th October we gave a very warm welcome back to Godfrey Gould with his slide presentation “A Swiss Miscellany". Godfrey first travelled to Switzerland in 1960 and has made several visits since, most recently in the last three years with a Swiss Travel Pass. Starting in Zurich, the heart of the system, his presentation covered all the main aspects of Swiss railways: mainline and commuter passenger trains, including the most modern stylish and very comfortable tilting trains; carriage interiors and the use of observation cars, essential for enjoying the spectacular scenery; German and Italian mainline services in and out of the country; freight; mountain rack railways; private lines; the use of different gauges, and of the different languages spoken in the country; and Swiss railways in preservation. Buses and trams were also covered, as were the lake steamers, some now converted to diesel but all displaying a huge Swiss national flag at the stern. Godfrey's highly informative, very well illustrated and easily delivered talk provided a most enjoyable evening which attracted our best attendance of the season so far.

Monday 10th September 2018
The Development of the Permanent Way, with reference to the SE&CR
John Arkell

We started our 2018/19 season on Monday 10th September with a visit from John Arkell, Membership Secretary of the SE&CR Society, who gave an illustrated presentation on “The Development of Permanent Way”. John explained that the term “permanent way" emphasised that it was indeed a permanent replacement for the temporary plateways used during the construction of the line in early installations. With many illustrations, he showed how the early very short fish-belly rails evolved via Cubitt’s work for the South Eastern Railway in the 1840s. At the same time, the introduction of Bessemer steel rail facilitated much stronger lengths of rail on the developing trunk routes. By the 1870s the use of ballasted track was becoming widespread with the use of ballast halfway up the rail so characteristic of the SE&CR. The 1895 International Railway Congress led to preliminary work on standardising formations. By now trackside furniture such as gradient posts, mileposts, bridge and structure identification number plates were appearing. Despite the effects of standardisation, specific railway companies were beginning to show “family likenesses” in these lineside structures. As John’s story finished with the 1923 grouping his audience had enjoyed this insight into a feature of our hobby that did not always receive enough attention!

Saturday 28th July 2018
Visit to Spa Valley Railway

On Saturday 28th July five members of the Branch visited the Spa Valley Railway, traveling on the 1024 Uckfield service from East Croydon to Eridge. Here they were met by Brian Halford of the SVR, who was to be our host and guide for the whole of the visit. Unfortunately he had to break the news that owing to the prevailing heatwave conditions all trains on that day were to be worked by diesel locomotives. The 1020 train from Tunbridge Wells West arrived at Eridge a little late owing to a "small tree" on the line near High Rocks, which had had to be cleared, with Class 33 'Crompton' no. 33063 in Rail Freight livery on the front and Class 73 electro-diesel no. 73140 in shabby Network SouthEast livery on the rear. It departed (with branch party aboard) as the 1110 Eridge to Tunbridge Wells West, 22 minutes late, behind 73140, stopping briefly outside the station to detach 33063. After arrival at Tunbridge Wells West there was time for Brian to show the party round the workshop. Locomotives there included Deltic no. 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier in B.R. blue livery, and former L & Y. 0-6-0 no. 52322, visiting from the East Lancashire Railway for the summer, and sporting a 26C shedplate and a works plate proclaiming that it was built by the L.M.S. at Horwich in 1896! There was time for a snack in the static buffet car before traveling to Groombridge on the 1340 train worked by 33063. Groombridge is now effectively the signalling centre for the whole railway as explained by Brian and the lady signalman on duty. There was time for a quick look at the former station building before joining the 1536 to Eridge worked by 73140, to catch the Southern DMMU for the return to East Coydon. Our thanks go to Peter Wilson and Chris Meredith for organising the visit, and especially to Brian Halford and his colleagues for spending so much time with us.

Last updated: 28th April 2019