Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Thursday 11th April 2019

The North British Loco Company at War

John Ross

Our well-attended April meeting featured John Ross from Elgin with the presentation “The North British Loco Company at War”.

The company history, Neilson/Neilson Reid, Dubs & Sharp Stewart was outlined. The 20,000th locomotive was constructed in 1913. Articulated locomotives, 600mm/24” gauge were constructed for the trench network during WW1. Locomotives for use in the Empire, India, Africa, South Africa and Australia continued to be built: of 1400 produced, 700 were for commercial customers, the remainder for the war effort. NB Loco produced Shells, Mines, Tanks, Torpedo Tubes, Gun Carriages & Trench Howitzers, producing 6,000 High explosive shells per week. NB participated in building the BE.2 Aircraft during WW1.

Women were employed producing shells, and in locomotive finishing off, e.g., coupling rods, axleboxes, and in Dubs Drawing Office as tracers.

The well appointed Drawing Office operated as Springburn Red Cross Hospital from December 1914 until 1918, 8,000 + soldiers successfully receiving treatment. Artificial Limbs were designed and produced, though slightly cumbersome.

This was a most educational and enlightening presentation, incorporating many facts your scribe is unable to include because of space limitations. At the meeting’s conclusion, Ken Falconer thanked the Meeting Chairman, Dr Peter Howell, on his retiral after 45 years service.

Thursday 14th March 2019

“Sketching Scotland by Rail”

Leo Du Fu.

Our March meeting saw a healthy turnout for the presentation “Sketching Scotland by Rail”, by artist Leo Du Fu.

Mr Du Fu is Artist in Residence for Scotrail. On leaving Art College, a proposal to become an Artist in Residence, including some expenses and a Scotland wide Travel Pass was submitted to Scotrail. A reduced scale travel pass exploring the Aberdeen-Inverness route resulted. A number of photographs, sketches and paintings were produced and displayed locally a short time after. The work has taken him to many locations, sketching stations, their environments, rail lines in the landscape & mountainscapes, and on occasion, a Scotrail passenger train. Wildlife, including Ravens, Red Deer, Golden Eagles, Puffins, Razorbills and Buzzards have formed part of the resulting images, some being utilised as publicity material. Locations ranged from the Borders Railway to the Horseshoe Curve north of Tyndrum, Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve, Helmsdale, Wick, Thurso, and an excursion to John O’Groats. A variety of media are utilised, including pen and ink, watercolour, etc.

This was a different type of presentation, proving a most interesting and entertaining subject for the audience that evening.

Saturday 9th February 2019

'Electrification of the E & G route”,

Dr.Ann Glen

Our February meeting saw a very healthy turnout for the presentation “Electrification of the E & G route”, by Dr Ann Glen.

EGIP [Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme] history was outlined, it being a desire of Transport Scotland for a number of years to electrify the E & G via Falkirk High and associated possible diversionary routes, that contribute to the Edinburgh-Glasgow route system.

Unforeseen problems with faulty bridge piers at Larbert contributed to the increased total project cost. Winchburgh Tunnel has had drainage improvements to reduce its dampness issues, not assisted by adjacent former brickfields now forming a nature reserve. Bridges were modified or removed to enable ample overhead wire clearance.

The Electrification HQ at Cadder Yard oversees Overhead equipment & infrastructure supplies, the work executed primarily during overnight possessions. Differing soil types had to be accounted for. Track in Cowlairs Tunnel has been replaced, overhead conductor wire installed & new signalling commissioned at Queen Street. Track has been renewed at Eastfield & Springburn. We saw the wiring train, and staff installing mast support brackets on viaducts. Millerhill services Cl.385s, with new facilities, including sewage disposal from the controlled emission toilets fitted to current stock.

A most informative afternoon from an excellent speaker.

Saturday 19th January 2019

'Building Scotland's best railway

Alex Hynes, Scotrail Alliance

Our January meeting saw a very large turnout for the presentation “Building Scotland’s best railway”, from Alex Hynes, MD of the Scotrail Alliance, a partnership between Network Rail Scotland & Abellio Scotrail, the Scottish passenger train operator.

£2 Billion is being invested over 5 years, £1.5 Billion upgrading infrastructure, £475 Million on new Rolling Stock, services increasing from 2400 to 2600 daily. Electrification of Stirling, Dunblane, Alloa & Shotts routes was completed early & under budget: Aberdeen-Inverness and Highland Main Line upgrades are ongoing, 8 coach sets will be accommodated at Glasgow QS on completion of platform extensions. Upon delivery from Hitachi of the remaining Cl.385s, Scotrail DMUs will be refurbished and redeployed, boosting capacity in Fife and on the Borders Railway, whilst Scotrail HSTs replace DMUs on Inter-City routes.

Transferring 19 off-lease DMUs to Northern impacted on services, displaced Cl.365s being drafted in temporarily.

Mr. Hynes outlined the operational restraints imposed by infrastructure, i.e., the shortage of available rolling stock, limited driver & staff experience of the new stock, and the lack of driver/staff knowledge on the new routes, that are being addressed.

A very informative & interactive Q & A session, covering many topics, concluded the meeting.

Thursday 13th December 2018
'150 Years of Aberdeen Joint Station'
Keith Jones

Our December meeting saw Keith Jones, from Aberdeen, present “150 years of Aberdeen Joint Station” to a large audience.
The development of railways in/to Aberdeen was outlined, the original Station opening in 1850. Increasing demands on infrastructure and accommodation resulted in development of Craiginches sidings and Ferryhill depot in the early 1900s, the Joint Station, after discussion between the operating partners, being reconstructed from 1912 for about 3 years; during this time trains continued to operate.
Images illustrating services and events in the 1920s & 1930s were shown, including the LMS Turbomotive, a Silver LNER A4 and other locomotives attending an exhibition at the Joint Station in 1936.
The many changes to services and infrastructure in the station and Aberdeen area were covered, including the loss of the original south end signal gantry, the vintage arrival/departure board and Menzies bookstall were lamented.
DELTIC 9016 was named “GORDON HIGHLANDER”, with GNSR 4-4-0 “GORDON HIGHLANDER” in attendance, during 1964.
The 1992 125th and 2017 150thAnniversaries featured, the latter in the naming of one of the ‘New’ Scotrail HSTs as “Aberdeen Station - 150th Anniversary”.
Images of the double tracking to Dyce ended the evening.

An excellent meeting, full of interest.

Wednesday 14th November 2018
'Annual General Meeting of RCTS Scottish Branch'

The meeting was attended by over a dozen members. The business was transacted relatively quickly, the increased Branch membership due to the Free Membership offer being noted. The existing Committee were re-elected en bloc.
Following reports on the past year's activities, from the Chairman, Treasurer & Secretary, discussion turned to future meetings and events.

Upon conclusion of the formal business, members entertained those present with their digital and slide presentations, covering a variety of locations and themes. Messrs K Sanders, M Robinson, N Turnbull, S Malcolm, R Thorburn, J Harrold & K Falconer contributed.

Thursday 8th November 2018
'Ex-North British & Caledonian Railways in Granton and Leith'
Kenneth Williamson

Our November meeting heralded a record-breaking attendance of 71, hugely entertained by Kenneth Williamson with the presentation “Ex North British & Caledonian Railways in Granton & Leith”.
Summarising the railway history of Granton & Leith, the speaker indicated on the accompanying photographs, the uses the former railway buildings have been put to since closure of the lines in 1980.
Granton Harbour was opened by the Duke of Buccleuch in 1836 for the coal trade, the line extending in 1847 to Canal Street Station via Scotland Street tunnel, the latter now being a children’s play centre.
The City of Edinburgh & Northern Railway introduced the world’s first train ferry between Granton & Burntisland, “The Leviathan”, ceasing on the opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890.
The track linking the Caley & NB systems was owned by Duke of Buccleuch, providing income for his Lordship until the lines closed in 1980. The Caley’ Goods Station at Granton is still extant, used by a scrap dealer. Esparto grass for the paper mills and other commodities came into Granton Harbour.
The numerous businesses that existed, some supplying the railway with business, were highlighted.

An excellent evening of nostalgia, much appreciated by the large attendance.

Last updated: 13th August 2019