Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports



Monday 13th May 2019

'Outdoor Meeting - Roade Cutting'

Fifteen or so hardy souls gathered after teatime at the fabled Bridge 209 straddling the southern end of Roade Cutting.

From the time the first Members arrived at 6.15pm until about 9.15pm when daylight was fading, an estimate of somewhere in the region of 150 movements would not be an exaggeration. One year we must actually log the movements (one for the Branch Secretary’s Diary please!).

The need to note the running numbers of much of the passing traffic on the four tracks is now not a true requirement. It would seem that the succession of main line Pendelinos, the currently allocated semi-fasts on the Northampton Loop and the few DMUs running Holyhead trains would not need to “trouble the scorer”.

Luckily, there is a reasonable volume of freight trains during the evening, and the various Classes of 66, 66 variants, the odd Class 70, Class 90 and even a Class 66 towing 2 X Class 67 light northbound via Northampton added to the fun.

There are a number of non-trespassing walks to be had giving more excellent views of our “Crown Jewel”, including the site of the signal-box with a leaky floor, that was perched over the Northampton lines until its un-mourned demise (by the signalmen that is!), during the 1939-45 war and the still extant aqueduct high over the tracks in the cutting, feeding Roade village.

Needless to say, the walks usually wind back to the visit of “Black Watch” on the “Carlisle Stopper”, and the 1952 arrival of various Scottish Region Jubilees such as “North West Frontier”, “Howe”, “Assam” and “Rodney”. The ones departing in exchange were mostly un-mourned as we had “got them”. A look into a Northampton spotters mid 1950s ABCs collection of Jubilees would quite easily determine his age!

Monday 29th April 2019

Member's Evening

Our last Branch Indoor meeting of the 2018/19 session was a Members Evening. It was well supported, but a few of the non-attendees would have enjoyed the fare of offer at least as much of those present.

Leading the charge was Tommy Tomalin, supported by Brian Sullivan, showing life on the preserved K&WVR from the early 1970s almost to the present day. The stations were represented as well as the locomotives and rolling stock, and a good number of the “countryside” shots were exactly that, and proved that life did not grind to a halt as the years after 1970 marched on. More than a few shouts could be heard regarding shots “then” that could not be taken “now”. The obviously damaged cab of Class 5 45212, that many of us recollect from 1967/68 was to the fore and there is still some doubt as to how the damage occurred, but never repaired by British Railways.

Following on was Lester Cooper who produced a series of colour (with the odd black and white) shots amounting to a who’s who of preserved locos. Just a few numbers for a change - 46115 at Perth, 60103 on the East Lancs line, 46512 at Aviemore, a youthful 60163, blue King 6023, double-headed Manors on the GC line, 34081, 34092, Castle 5043, Southern (30)777, and 2 Class 5s powering past Rugeley on what could have been ‘The Royal Scot’ in1955. These were the result of some skilful “placing” of the subject in the picture, with a shot of 46100 crossing the Far Cotton “15 Arches”, where no background was to be seen, but the location was unmistakeable.

David Scudamore then produced a number of pictures taken in the claustrophobic environs of the museum of Doncaster Grammar School, in which is shoe-horned just about every type of British railway artefacts imaginable, far too many to mention individually, but your reviewer had to note the nameplates of 45727, 45539, 46120, 45607, 45560, 46228, an the fortuitous saving of Harrow 1952 disaster engines 45637 and 46202. There were also a number of plates from the rest of the big four. David and Roberta had also visited Stainforth and Barnetby, where Class 142 and 144 were seen working along with various diesels on freight workings. Items in the museum are so closely packed that from one angle what appeared to be a nameplate “LAMPORT”, became, from a different angle, “FlamboYANT”.

After a late interval. Roger Whitehead produced a worthy slideshow of USA steam taken during a lengthy rail-tour in October 2000. Locos utilised included a preserved Western Maryland 2-8-0 No. 734, East Broad Top & Coal Co. Nos. 13 and 14, Strasburg Line No. 90, Reading Railroad cab-forward no. 1187, as well as “Steamtown” Big Boy 4012. Photography in the wide open spaces of the USA needs a slightly modified approach to that in the cramped situations usually found in the UK, and Roger has certainly managed to cope with that. We are grateful that his horizons were a little wider than some of ours!

Finally, as the clock wound down, a small selection of Brian Denny’s home-made slides covering his home ground around Duston West were shown, the idea being to send us all home with a “cosy glow”, but in fact we already had that feeling from the earlier offerings that comprised a very entertaining evening.

Tuesday 16th April 2019

"The Ashes" Quiz versus LCGB Bedford

A most enjoyable evening at Bedford with plenty of good natured banter and a very positive result for the Northampton RCTS team who retained ‘The Ashes’. The results were Northampton RCTS 78 points, LCGB Bedford 45 points & LCGB St Albans 14 points.

I attach a photo showing the RCTS winning team of Colin Briggs, Bob Hunt, David Scudamore, Brian Sullivan and Tommy Tomalin receiving ‘The Ashes’ from LCGB Bedford Chairman Bill Davies. Thanks to Bryan Cross & Bill Davies for the considerable effort they had clearly put into preparing the quiz in a digital format.


Monday 8th April 2019

'Steam in and around York'

Chris Nettleton

Monday, 8th April brought a return visit from Chris Nettleton, who travelled from Eaglescliffe to speak, with film and slide accompaniment about “Steam in and around York”.

His first offering was the film “This is York”. This film was quick to set the scene for what followed. To think that we thought that road traffic was busy causing traffic jams in 1953 when this film was shot – the roads around York looked positively empty compared with today, but on rail, much the opposite was to be the effect! Life as filmed through the daily tasks of the Station Master was shown through a series of shots including more than steam locomotives.

We then moved onto pictures from Chris’s own collection, and a few highlights included the “lost” A4 pacific, in it’s guise as a garter blue number 14, known to most of us as 60014, but surely, as the first of the Class and it’s early exploits, worthy of preservation in his eyes. Chris reminded us that York was similar to Carlisle in the number of pre-grouping railways that served the station in days gone by. A3 60074 on the northbound “North Briton” in 1959 with the well-mixed coach combinations of red and cream mixed with the later maroon of the times was a gem, as was Raven Pacific 2400. Those present expecting to see those Bank Hall, 27A engines almost unknown at the bottom end of the WCML were pleased to see the particularly evasive 45717 “Dauntless”, but when 27A allocated and unashamedly un-rebuilt and grammatically incorrect Patriot 45517 came into view, its Willesden past credentials were noted! D20 62387 on a June 1957 RCTS special, was very welcome as was the sight of Bulleid pacific 35007 on another special.

Disaster was shown when A3 60036 arrived in an unexpected and short bay with a local from Sunderland in 1958. Luckily the most hurt was the front bogie of “Columbo”, and possibly that of the driver......

Further shots adequately covered the shed at 50A, and a further short 1945 film showing the servicing routine of a local B16 4-6-0 actually showed that steam locos were actually rather more expensive in terms of “time on the road” versus revenue earning movement than we had perhaps tended to believe in our youth!

As the ever popular Chris had to suffer a “double booking” and had to dash off earlier than he had originally intended, it should be pointed out that, in the manner of 2.15pm kick-offs before floodlighting, it was often considered that the best method was to “turn straight round”, which was effectively what he did, so a grand afternoon was still to be had by all.

Monday 25th March 2019

‘North Staffordshire Railway Part 2’

Tommy Tomalin & Brian Sullivan

Despite an enforced change to our Programme, occasioned by a loss of digital material, our ever reliable super-subs, Tommy Tomalin and Brian Sullivan, stepped in with “one they had made earlier”. This was Part 2 of “The North Staffordshire Railway”.

So, only a few weeks after seeing Part 1, we were presented with Part 2, which comprised of approximately 200 colour slides showing maps (Brian’s standard), colour and black and white slides (Tommy’s and Brian’s standard). These were backed up by black and white slides from the cameras of many well known photographers stretching back into the later days of the last but one Century, all of which were properly acknowledged. Additionally, slides showing the script were included, which made life easier for the audience, and certainly assisted Brian, who had acquired a nasty cold somewhere along the line.

A few weeks after their well received Part 1, we knew what to expectand we were not disappointed. We arrived at Crewe and Derby by virtue of running powers of the North Staffordshire Railway over Midland and North Western metals via a multitude of stations.

Highlights included how British Railways coped with the opening out of the Harecastle tunnels without closing the line for twenty years! Others of note covered the “Tutbury Jennie”, Horninglow station, a shot of an Egginton Junction station name board from 1974, looking suspiciously as if it had been deposited for “collection later”, views of the Foxfield Railway operating in preservation days, a surprising shot of a Crewe to Derby train headed by a borrowed Clan pacific, 72005, an engine which your reviewer to this day continues to be disappointed by the three occasions he saw a “Clan” – each time 72005.

A shot of a NSR 4-4-0 taking over a London Euston to Manchester express in 1910 at Stoke reminded the audience that the NSR worked closely with the LNWR at that period.

This short review does not do justice to Tommy’s efforts over the years, nor Brian’s since, and a much better idea would be to see the presentation in the flesh.



Monday 18th March 2019
'1960’s Steam in the East Midlands Area'
Michael Clemens

A joint afternoon Meeting with the Milton Keynes branch was held at Roade on 18th March 2019. Over 50 Members and friends attended to see a selection of photographs and cine films, most of which were the work of the father of Michael Clemens, who presented the show under the title “1960s steam in the Midlands area”.
Michael explained that his father enjoyed forays far and wide with his circle of like-minded friends, and, in the fullness of time the youthful Michael was able to join them, eventually leading to a substantial number of his own pictures. Most enthusiasts of the period tended to spread ripple-like from their home town, their horizons steadily widening.

  
   Ex GWR 4-6-0 7022 "Hereford Castle" outside Worcester MPD (85A) in August 1964 where it was retained as a stnby for the newly installed diesels on the Worcester to Paddington route.   Alan Maund
The “Midlands” referred to in the title did not necessarily match what we would later come to understand from the local TV companies, so shots at Swindon, Verney Junction, Crewe, Sheffield and the Woodhead route could be described under “penetrating lines”, to use an early BR term. In between, Worcester (local 7022 nearing its’ end in immaculate condition), Oxford (Winston Churchill’s funeral train), Crewe (45552 showing how good was the Brunswick green livery, and how we now view the original “electric blue with white roof on E3005 nostalgically).

Cine films included on board runs out of Marylebone station behind various Class 5s. Also a lengthy film of a northbound Great Central line train heading north from Lutterworth, parallel with the newly opened M1 motorway, including a station stop at Ashby Magna, where the car driver had to invent a hard shoulder emergency in order the include the stop. He would probably be surrounded by “authority” within seconds had it been 2019 rather than the late 1960s.
Local in the audience would have been grateful for the views of the industrial ironstone workings around north Northamptonshire at Brixworth, Hanging Houghton, Scaldwell and Lamport in mid 1963. Even in 1963, these locations were somewhere in another world for many a Duston West based enthusiast, so everyone present would have been grateful for the efforts of Michael, his father and his friends in those far off days. The first class programme was presented without a hitch.

As an aside, Michael showed us how he managed to digitally identify a Western Region “County” 4-6-0 as “County of Pembroke”, the photograph of which was seemingly taken in conditions suitable for a dark, wet night such as we all remember. His efforts time-wise would not have been for the faint-hearted!


Monday 11th March 2019
'Ramblings around the UK 1962/3'
Brian Holland

Approximately forty Members and friends were at Weston Favell on 11th March to see a presentation by Brian Holland, assisted by Michael Chapman, entitled “Ramblings around the UK 1962/3”.
Having been a early teenaged photographer from around 1954, Brian reached the end of 1961 and realised that his Brownie 127 camera was perhaps not quite up with modern practice for railway photography, especially in that he could see the writing on the wall a little more as he became older. His solution came in the shape of an Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera, which he realised would have films capable of providing 36 exposures before he had to spend more money on another film. However he had first to find the cash to obtain the camera, which, with a case would cost in the region of £14, this in early 1962, whilst earning £4 per week.
Having done the deed, he then proceeded to take his camera with him on his cycle ramblings around the East Midlands from his Leicester base, as well as on forays further afield using rail and sometimes car and family holiday travel.
He first showed some shots at Leicester shed (15C) and a Jubilee (45562), passing through the Midland station with a southbound fitted freight. By April he found himself in Durham, followed by Coalville, Burton, Derby works and Derby loco. By then about twenty Jubilees, redundant in the main from Midland division sheds had been foisted onto Burton shed, and he was glad to be able to photograph what he considered very welcome additions to the depot. These included 45561, 45575 and 45648, but 45532 of Nottingham would also have been very welcome.
Brian’s show went on via Oxenholme, Carlisle Upperby, onto the Western Region at Swindon, Oxford and the Newton Abbott of August 1962, which he had been reliably assured would be a steam-starved station, which actually was nowhere near that dire prophesy. At Exeter St. David’s, his highlight must surely have been the regular sight of non-stop expresses bursting between Southern and Western expresses held at their platforms to allow them on their way.
September 1962 found him on the Western Region again, hoping to see the last workings of the “King” Class. The paucity of reliable, up to date information, compared with today, meant that his hopes were probably not achieved, although the picture of 6018 running southbound through Leamington bound for Swindon and withdrawal, allegedly having failed further north, would eventually become a valued memory.

  
   B1 4-6-0 61074 at Skegness Station heading the final train departure to Peterborough. The loco is from 34E New England Shed, Peterborough.   Brian M. Holland
Scenes at Leicester Belgrave Road station, and onwards to Skegness on the last day such trains ran, and the chaotic goings on at Grantham shed , and station on Christmas Eve 1962, when there was still a mix of steam on the main line, which allowed him shots of a large number of classes of ex-LNER classes. There was also a shot of Deltic D9005.
Like many of us sharing our own very similar memories and feelings of those days, I wager that he felt guilty when he pressed the shutter for that one, but I bet he doesn’t actually still feel that way!

This was an afternoon of pure nostalgia and was well presented; Brian as Lead Singer, with Michael on Lead Guitar – a very good team!


Monday 25th February 2019
'All Things Great Western'
Bryan Benford

Bryan Benford is well known to Northampton branch for the excellent quizzes that he taunts us with at our regular meetings with the Kettering & District Locomotive Society and LCGB Bedford branch.
On 25th February he presented not a quiz, but a fascinating programme entitled "All things Great Western". The assembled throng may well have been glad that this was not a quiz, as scores would have been somewhat low.

  
   GWR 2-4-0 1335 originally built for MSWJ in 1894   Bryan Benford Collection

Bryan split the show into 2 sections, firstly GWR and its grouped additions from 1923, followed by GWR and British Railways from 1923 to steams finale on the Western Region.
As well as the common scene, he has also obviously studied the unusual, for he was able to regale the audience with locos, stations and scenes which were a mystery to most, as well as a myriad of early post-nationalisation colour schemes which seemed often to owe a little to the painter’s regrets about nationalisation!
Minor differences between ostensibly identical locos were shown, as were major differences, such as 2-6-2 tanks of the same class having different sized driving wheels in the quest for more rapid acceleration.
  
   GWR 4-6-0 6023 King Edward II at Old Oak Common on 10th. August 1955. It was vbuilt at Swindon in 1930 and withdrawn in 1962 and moved to Barry scrapyard. It has been rescued and restored at Brunel Restoration at Bristol and is certified from March 2018   Bryan Benford Collection

As is usual with Bryan's slides, it was well worth looking at the whole of the slide. Your reviewer was amazed that what was obviously a BR Standard 78XXX buffered up to an elderly GWR loco at a, not surprisingly, Cambrian section shed in the very early days of the 78XXX class.

In all this Bryan was assisted by his wife, who was as good with the slide projector as was he at letting us know how little we actually knew. The Quizzes are always a highlight of our Season, this was different, but up to the normal standard of Bryan's always well researched efforts.


Monday 11th February 2019
'I belong to Glasgow'
Dave Carson

Our Meeting on 11th February 2019 brought Dave Carson from Glasgow via Stowmarket to show how he managed still “to belong to Glasgow”

  
   The original St. Enoch station and Glasgow Underground headquarters was built in 1896. It was closed in 1977 but retained as th underground headquarters, being a listed building. It was refurbished in 2009 with the Nero coffee shop added.   Dave Carson
The first half of his session was a hard look at the cable operated Glasgow District Subway, which after London and Budapest was the third underground railway line in the World. It was built by the ”cut and cover” method similar to the first lines in London. It was the result of Glaswegians wishing for a somewhat smarter speed of travel round the inner city, and opened on 14th December 1896, although various difficulties on the first day caused a temporary closure until 21st January 1897, with the clientele apparently gnashing their collective teeth over Christmas and the New Year period.
  
   Typical Glasgow Underground train at Ibrox station. This station is extremely busy on match days as it is close to the Rangers Ibrox stadium.   Dave Carson

Although a small railway compared with London, a regular service comprising of a circular route through the very compact central area. There were many pictures of the underground cars in use over the years, including a number of survivors now lovingly cared for in preservation.
Dave also photographed station entrances, and it seemed that these edifices were not as well kept above ground as they were underneath, until perhaps the late 1960s. Today they are the very picture of clean, attractive modernity as befits the city of Glasgow.
After half time, Dave showed us a selection railways that he had seen and photographed whilst on sea cruise ports of call. There were so many that some of the gathering might have wondered how they had missed them on their own cruises!
He then went on to show us a good number pictures of his imaginatively named “Piers of the Realm”.

Your reviewer recollects that the highlight of his first visit to Glasgow in 1963 was to discover Royal Scot 46102 out of service, minus nameplates, at Corkerhill on a truly “dreicht” July day. The Subway went un-noticed! It took until 2002 before the nameplate was tracked down, in company with one from a Deltic, at the Museum in Perth.


Monday 21st January 2019
'Engine Sheds Part 11 – Stourbridge to Truro'
Chris Banks

When one door closes another often opens – so it was at the meeting at Weston Favell on 21st January. Chris Banks was unavailable and the “evergreen” Tommy Tomalin, with a Works Plate of 1925, and his friend Brian Sullivan filled the breech with a talk and slide show entitled “The North Staffordshire Railway Part 1. This covered the various routes from and around northwards of Uttoxeter – Rocester - Ashbourne – Buxton (LNWR), and to Leek and North Rode, and lines in between to Hulme End, Oakamoor and Ipstones. On this occasion Tommy was firing, with Brian taking the regulator. The bulk of the photos were Tommy’s, with a helping hand from Ben Brooksbank, and Brian.

  
   BR standard 4MT 4-6-0 75018 with a Stoke - Congleton freight train approachingt Black Bull Station on April 29th 1967   Tommy Tomalin

Tommy’s first offerings dated from summer of 1962 up to the present, whilst Brian covered more modern times from the late 1980s. Tommy has always been a keen and careful recorder of byways, as well as the highways, of the BR system. His slides, studied carefully by the rapt audience, showed evidence of more than one visit to many a location, as there was often only one train to have been photographed per day, requiring a further visit travelling the same route, but possibly in the opposite direction. Having the railway to himself, as Tommy puts it, tended to get the local railway men interested in his interest in them – a handy by-product being a goodly number of footplate or guards-van rides on normal service trains at a time when many of us, admittedly a little younger, were still chasing photos of re-built Scots etc locally to Northampton.
The wider railway was yet to open up to us only once steam finally departed Northampton loco in 1965. The super D had almost disappeared from our home territory, but Tommy more than got his fill of Ds, as well as “big tanks”, Crabs and even Stanier 8Fs, BR 9Fs and the odd diesel during his forays into the distance.
How lucky, at this distance in time, we are at RCTS Northampton to have Tommy, maps and all, augmented by some real ones of Brian’s.

Parts 2,3 and 4 are looked forward to, so that we may see more of what we have missed!


Monday 7th January 2019
'A Patriot Re-born'
Richard Sant

Our first meeting of 2019 was entitled “A Patriot Re-born”, which was expertly delivered by Richard Sant to a large gathering of Members and friends at Weston Favell on 7th January.

  
   Nearly complete newly built Patriot class locomotive 5551 to be named "The Unknown Warrier" at Crewe on 10th November 2018   A Laws/LMS Patriot Project
The presentation and Richard’s easy paced delivery took us through the story so far of what is clearly destined to be one of the most successful of “new build” projects. This was the view from the floor, with Richard not needing to push the point. The mixture of “old parts as well as new”, being obtained , donated or purchased , and including parts from LMS Jubilees and Royal Scot locos, as well as original Patriots, allied to the new options now available or required means that the new 5551 may well be a better locomotive than the old one!
The money involved and the care with which it has been spent was described. The difficulties inevitable with such a project were also detailed, and it certainly seems that, despite some of these causing delays to the revised timetable, completion should be possible for 5551 “THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR”, with the preserved “Edith Cavell” van, to re-create the November 1920 journey of the unknown British soldier to be interred in Westminster Abbey.

An excellent presentation of a subject worthy in more ways than one.


Monday 17th December 2018
Branch AGM and Christmas Evening

This Meeting was our AGM, to be followed by a Members evening.
Approximately 25 members were present for the AGM, and there was more discussion than has been the case in previous years.
Consequently, after we had worked our way through our traditional Christmas fare and collected Norman Dunkley’s also traditional cryptic list of hidden locomotive depots on our last Meeting before Christmas, there was hardly time for a Members Evening.
The thirty five minutes or so that were available were covered by a Tommy Tomalin quiz regarding, we think, closed stations near to the point where the old M&GN line crossed the old GNR mainline near Little Bytham, followed by various guesses, some serious, others not so, as to the whereabouts of “end on” junctions.
This was then followed a selection of transparencies left by our late Member, Brian Denny, showing parallel boiler Patriots around our shared stamping grounds near Duston West. This served as a “trailer” for our next meeting, on Monday, 7th January at Weston Favell starting at 2pm. A very small number of slides followed, showing just what we used to see when the “Sunday main was on” at Duston West in the days before modernisation showed its unwelcome head.
The clock then beat us all!

Monday 10th December 2018
'The Hope Valley Line'
Stephen Gay

On Monday 10th December we welcomed back to our Wellingborough Museum Meeting Stephen Gay from Sheffield, who provided us with a “blow by blow” account of the Hope Valley Line, from its effective start at Dore & Totley, as far as the western end of Cowburn tunnel, after which the line reached Chinley Junction.
Stephen’s presentation, backed up in equal measures by a selection of his own high quality slides, his concise descriptions of the views and his faithful assistant, “Wragby”, his German Shepherd dog, who is unfortunately no longer with us and clearly sadly missed. We were left almost “knowing” the route as well as Stephen.
The Hope Valley line has in recent years suffered some rationalisation, but is substantially intact. A true photographer, prepared to venture out in, literally, all weathers, at any time of the day or night, so as to catch the mood of the scenery, Stephen presented snow, sun, fog, mist, and rain in almost equal measure, many of his shots clearly showing that a great deal of thought was involved. Some shots included his assistant, who also clearly understood when to be behind the camera!
Interludes showing the remains of trackwork from the years of building the reservoirs of the areas, and of the now unused workings of the Blue Circle Cement works at Hope were very welcome.
His final shot looking into the maw of Cowburn Tunnel, showing the 700 feet of ground above the tunnel was a highlight in both senses.
This was another Meeting where a mass slides of the local WCML was not missed, welcome as they often are.

The presentation had excellent support, and a future similar one will “HOPE fully” attract an even higher attendance. We look forward to a further visit from Stephen and his camera and brilliant comment.

Friday 7th December 2018
'Quiz versus Kettering &District Locomotive Society (away)

Monday 3rd December 2018
'Funeral Trains - the Untold Story'
Nicholas Wheatley

Nicholas Wheatley came to our joint Meeting with RCTS Milton Keynes branch, held at Roade village hall on 3rd December. His subject was “Funeral Trains – the untold story”. This could be seen as a rather ghoulish subject, but it soon became evident that our Speaker had tasked himself, as a self-described non railway enthusiast in the accepted sense, with a subject having a wide open field for both himself and his audience.
He told us how it was the arrival of the railways that facilitated people to be interred further away from their birthplace than had previously been the case. This situation eventually led to inner-city expansion and required the use of the railway for the removal of persons long passed on to be transported elsewhere, and at the same time, required larger burial sites to be provided, outside of London in particular. This led to the creation of the Necropolis Railway, which had its own direct line in from the LSWR main line, serving the new Brookwood Cemetery. There was also a similar new Cemetery in North London, but this one was served by sidings only, unlike the Necropolis. The funerals of various public figures were also described in railway operating terms.
His research is in support of a book which he is writing for future publication, which we await with interest.
As a venerable Member said afterwards, it was a “dead interesting” meeting”, and so it was. This was an out of the ordinary subject, and although Nicholas was impressed with the attendance, it truly deserved better, as do many Meetings.

Monday 19th November 2018
'“The Ashes” Quiz versus LCGB Bedford'

Our Meeting on 19th November welcomed our friends from The LCGB, Bedford branch for our regular Quiz, thanks, as usual to the efforts of Bryan Benford, without whom there would be no Quiz.
As usual Bryan had prepared more than enough transparencies, mostly of steam locomotives in their normal, and perhaps less normal, habitats, each of which produced a question (worth 2 points for the receiving team, or, in the case of a wrong answer, a very welcome bonus of 1 point should the opposition come up with the right answer.
It sounds simple, but all had to keep their ears and eyes open for all questions, in case a bonus point became available, and their answers discreetly quiet until everyone in the team was ready to announce their answer. Sometimes each team would have a simple answer to give if the question “fell right”; at other questions they might be so far away from their comfort, that mutterings of “haven’t got a clue” could be heard. Example questions, such as a loco with a Z in its name, seemed easy until the question asked was “name an engine with 2 Zs in its name”. The Bedford boys who only knew Jubilees, until the Royal Scots, Patriots and Britannias arrived on the Midland, lashed home 2 points with “Zanzibar”, which would equally have suited the home team who would have seen 45638 more than a few times on the West Coast. Another question referred to locomotives 34110, 35030, 72009 and 60162. The anticipated question failed to arrive, but when delivered was “which of these 4 was last to enter service”. Each number could be heard being bandied about, but eventually had to be swept up for a bonus point, helpfully after the elimination of one of the possibilities. Readers might like to work this one out themselves………
A wonderful afternoon was had by all, even by those who were happy to just watch the procession of random slides hitting the screen. The protagonists were equally agonised by some of the unexpected questions, but all were united in their thanks to Bryan for the obvious effort he as (always) puts into his subjects and his questions.
Where else could you spot an immaculate Pacific fresh off Doncaster works, followed by a GWR 51XX tank engine, which needed someone to know “what’s different about this one?” In the end, the home team crept home by a point, or was it two!

Bryan, please do it all again for us.

Monday 5th November 2018
'Disused Stations'
Alan Young

RCTS Member Alan Young came to Weston Favell on 5th November to highlight the RCTS "Disused Stations" website, which he "looks after".
He took us on a tour of the site, during which he highlighted a large number of disused stations and outlined the methods used to provide as much concise detail as humanly possible. These included the use of OS maps, as well as hand-drawn maps, with area and route maps. Timetables are also routinely used to check dates of opening and closure, where such data may be in doubt. Stations large and small, old and not so old, as well as those which never actually opened as per plan, and even some that closed but have now been re-opened.

  
   The station at Oundle in Northamptonshire on the Northampton and Peterborough line was built in 1845 to a design by J.W.Livock in a Jacobean style. The line was closed to passenger traffic in May 1964 but continued to be used by Oundle School for special railway trip. It finally closed in 1972.   Alan Young
The difficulty of getting a description to cover the station in question does not get in the way of providing information, nor does the country involved within the British Isles.
This report does not mention locomotives, nor any of the hundreds of stations that can be visited on the website, but we can leave that to a "visit".
Alan presented a possibly "dry" subject that certainly is not, in a lucid manner that will have many of us renewing or making a new acquaintance with the site.

Afterwards there was a little chat, concerning where else there might be 3 successive stations, all of which were relocated for improved operational reasons more than a few years ago. This refers to Roade, Blisworth and Weedon, Northamptonshire.


Monday 22nd October 2018
'UK Railways in the 21st Century'
David Smith

David Smith visited us again on Monday 22nd October, showing a vast number of transparencies covering his title “UK Railways in the 21st Century”.
He split the slides into various categories which inevitably blended together occasionally. It would be easier to write of what he did not show, but the fact is that it would be very difficult to think of an omission. Every angle of the BR corporate livery that survived into the current century was covered, and although it is not necessary to list all of these, nor many a livery that has, due to privatisation, arrived and departed during the century to date, he almost did!
David “owned up” to the fact that an odd one or two of the pictures did just pre-date the new century starting on 1/1/2001. However, the sheer number of liveries, rolling stock, stations, goods depots, traction depots, servicing facilities and track layouts that are no longer with us today were amply covered, and the old saying about “history starts now” was never more amply illustrated.
One or two slides deserving of special mention for their novelty value. A BR Class 87, still in its corporate blue livery was found operating in Bulgaria during May 2010, still identified as 87004 “Britannia” was a pleasant surprise, as was a Class 66 in BR large logo blue – retro of the highest order.
Bin trains, and a nuclear flask train with 4 times as many locos as wagons, plus railtours, including the odd steam loco, were also covered.

  
   47782 departs Dawlish station with a failed HST set 43026 which it dragged from Castle Cary - Plymouth on 28/6/03....   Dave Smith
David showed us that, despite the often heard “there’s no variety today”, the truth is actually the opposite. There is probably as much variety today as there ever was; the absence of steam traction being the main problem – something we really must learn to live with.
Finally, your reviewer was glad that our visiting 21st century observer was heard to bemoan that the “overhead going up all over the place” was making life more difficult. I was immediately taken back to when those of us recording Northampton in the late 1950s and early 1960s had the same legitimate grouse!

Brilliant presentation, we look forward to the next visit.


Monday 8th October 2018
'Flying Scotsman - Steam, Sweat and Tears'
Mike Corbett

Mike Corbett visited the Branch to enlighten 24 members and friends on the subject of the recent history of 4472 “Flying Scotsman”, under the title of “Blood, Sweat and Tears”.This proved to be a very apt title as Mike took us through the numerous hoops, some large, and some not so large.
He set the scene with a quote that went ....”in railway preservation, all takes longer than planned, and when you are 75% completed, you still have three quarters to do”. Needless to say, the problems met, were resolved with flying colours, but, the intricacies of dealing with the red tape which, as we all know, has increased over the years despite our being led to believe otherwise.
The major contractor appointed was Riley and Son (E) Ltd. of Bury with 15 further stakeholders. This truly was a blow by blow account of all the problem solving methods, and whatever problems we may have heard of from the multiplicity of groups or organisations involved, in keeping their individual preserved stock in proper condition. They were all encountered in one fell swoop by the persons briefed to put 4472 back on the road.

  
   Rebuilt Flying Scotsman 4472 outside Riley and Son (E) Ltd. at Bury ready for commissioning trials in November 2016   Mike Corbett
Your reviewer was not alone in the admiration we must all feel for those who solved, and will need continue to solve these problems, even if our hopes for the future can sometimes be a little despondent.
Mike truly had the story under control, and there was no sign of rancour or mud-slinging, although I felt that the NRM version of “serviceable” matched that which may have been the BR Running Shed foreman’s 1960s version, rather than that of the 21st Century Health and Safety community.

This was definitely a presentation that all who have waited and then complained about a “special” that failed to arrive, or just failed, should listen to.


Monday 24th September 2018
'The Railways of Northamptonshire Part 4 – Developments around Northampton'
Robin Cullup

As has been the norm in recent years we commenced our indoor meeting programme with Robin Cullup’s wonderful continuation of the late Ian Lyman’s series of “The Railways of Northamptonshire Part 4 Developments around Northampton”.

  
   Train in Market Harborough station hauled by a Midland 2-2-2 on a snowy day in 1860. Picture painted by F.J.Scott  
Around 1850 large deposits of ironstone were found in the “Shire and the LNWR together with the Midland Railway were keen to exploit this by building a line south from Market Harborough to Northampton Bridge Street (Castle was then a minor station). When the line opened there were only 3 intermediate stations, subsequently others were opened but all were closed by 1960. After some year the line was re-opened to through traffic with final closure coming in 1981. Part of the former trackbed is now part of the linear park and the home of the preserved Northampton and Lamport Railway.
The Midand Railway ventured into Northampton in 1872 from Bedford and into a purpose built station of their own at St. John’s Street. This station was closed in 1939 as part of an LMS cost-cutting exercise which diverted trains into nearby Castle Station although the stations on the line remained extant. A useful cross country route during wartime but by the 1960s passengers were in decline and despite the introduction of diesel rail-buses the 3 stations were closed in 1962 passengers and freight ceased in1964. Traffic continued to the MOD depot at Yardley Chase until the early eighties.
The Northampton Loop was built in 1882 to incorporate developments at Northampton and is a deviation of some 23 miles from Hillmorton Junction (Rugby) to re-joining the WCML at Roade. The 6 intervening stations are all now closed with the exception of Long Buckby and Northampton.
Weedon – Leamington Spa (Avenue) line (Marton Junction) was a rural branch line built with economy in mind and single track throughout, being built in two phases 1888 and 1895 and closed in 1958. Some motor services on this line actually ran to terminate at Northampton Castle by reversing at Blisworth.

Saturday 22nd September 2018
'Visit to Basford Hall, Crewe'

Saturday morning 22nd September 2018 saw Branch members eagerly gathering at Northampton station for a previously postponed visit to the Freightliner, at Basford Hall, Crewe.

  
   General view looking towards the small Freightliner maintenance depot. Class 66,86 and 90s in view. 86229 on the left, moved from Long Marston since last year but doubtful if in working order.   Brian Sullivan
During the purchase of rail tickets we were informed of bad news “No northbound trains due to an incident” and then almost in the same breath good news, “You can travel south to Milton Keynes and use Virgin Trains”. This we did and arrived at Crewe some forty minutes earlier than we had anticipated, in fact just in time to comfortably see “Flying Scotsman” depart on a special to Holyhead. 60103 was due to depart just ahead of our original arrival time, it’s an ill wind…..etc.!
We then walked to the Freightliner Depot buildings to be joined by many, who were also enjoying a visit! We were conducted around the small maintenance facility and extensive yards by an extremely knowledgeable Freightliner employee.

Saturday 11th August 2018
Visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth

Great disappointment greeted the news of the intended ‘Derby Blockade’ as it coincided with our visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway by train to Duffield. However, where there is a will there is a way, and with great ingenuity our organisers found a way around the problem to avoid a ‘bus trip’ albeit with three changes of train on the outward journey and four on the return, not a problem to rail enthusiasts of our calibre! Of the 9 mile long railway, the branch was built in 1867 by the North Midland later the MR out of rivalry with the LNWR. The presence of the line in the area was ideal for the development of the Limestone industry in and around Wirksworth.

  
   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway ex-BR 73210 diesel-electric locomotive at Wirksworth heading a train to Duffield on 11th August 2018   Jack Knights
  
   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway ex-BR 33103 diesel locomotive in depot sidings at Wirksworth on 11th August 2018   Jack Knights
Our visit coincided with a ‘Diesel Gala Day’, on arrival at Duffield we changed to the EVR and were confronted by a most odd combination of train which consisted of a 3 car DMU, Class 73 (73210) and a Class 33 (33103). At Wirksworth we were given an excellent tour of the yard and Depot which helped make a splendid day.

Sunday 29th July 2018
Visit to the Ise Valley Railway, Finedon

On Sunday, 29th July, a limited number of Northampton Branch members were invited to visit the 7” gauge, privately owned, Ise valley Railway at the home of one of the branch members.
The week and days prior was spent worrying whether it would be a steam or a diesel day after a spell of particularly hot dry weather. In the event our worries were unfounded, for on the morning of the 29th the heavens opened!

  
   7 inch guage train hauled by loco No.5 Cobber on the Ise Valley Line.   David Pick
Fortunately, by lunchtime the weather had cleared enough and, after a short safety briefing, operations were able to go ahead as timetabled. Everyone travelled the length of the line as a passenger, before being served tea and cake at the conservatory.
  
   7 inch guage model of GWR Express Parcels Van W34W for the Ise Valley Line.   David Pick
After tea, a demonstration freight train was operated as well as the new addition to the fleet the GWR parcel railcar (W34W).
The final ride (of an afternoon which all too quickly came to a close) was a ‘Track-bashers’ special which covered all the sidings and deviations!

A wonderful afternoon enjoyed by all who participated, not forgetting the five helpers, without whom, the railway could not be operated so efficiently.


Saturday 30th June 2018
Guided tour of London Underground stations of interest by Brian Boddy

Following on from the highly enjoyable trip to London in the summer of 2017, a follow up tour under the guidance of Brian Boddy and friends took place on Saturday 30th June 2018.
The current spell of hot weather was even then under way and 13 members and friends left Northampton and Milton Keynes wondering if "the tube" was going to be stiflingly hot. Luckily it was relatively cool, as well as less than "ragingly busy", probably due to Londoners keeping above ground to enjoy their weekend.

  
   Wapping Underground Station murals   Haydon Davies
Our group gathered with our guides at Euston at 10am. and headed underground, where we were treated to many examples of surviving and restored items of the underground system. Old, covered and probably forgotten signage has been brought back to life, and is as useful as it ever was. Most non-Londoners, would, I suppose, probably sleepwalk through the system, not even caring or noticing what they could see, thinking only of getting to their destination, be it a seaside-aiming Waterloo station, a business meeting or the next "shed". This is a mistake I own up to, but our trips of 2017 and 2018 changed a few attitudes.
Our call at the ground level Barons Court station, from where we ventured outside to see a time capsule comparison of 2018 with 1910, differing only between dress and traffic styles.
  
   The original North London Railway Highbury Station   Hayden Davies
Our itinerary included bus, walk and the aerial journey over the Thames, and ended with a final rail trip from Stratford into Liverpool Street behind Class 90 90001, which was heard to be described as a "real train".

We look forward to a third trip doing something we ought to have done long ago - thanks to Brian and company for waking us up.


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Last updated: 21st May 2019