Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Monday 13th January 2020

Disused Stations

Alan Young

Many members will be familiar with the disused station website ( and so it was with eager anticipation that those attending our first meeting of 2020 waited for the formal announcements to end and the presentation by Alan Young to begin! Alan is one of the small but dedicated and hard-working group which has steered the disused stations project from its beginnings in 2004. He began by detailing what information might be found on the website and then tackled the knotty problem of defining what the term ‘disused station’ was taken to include. He illustrated the dilemmas of categorisation with examples drawn both from our own South Yorkshire area and others having a personal meaning for him (Alan originates from Tyneside but now lives in Lancashire). After visually illustrating the members of the website team and enumerating the resources and databases that they use to develop the site Alan took us on a long and ‘haphazard’ (his word) tour of station sites showing the sheer variety of railway architecture, stages of dereliction and geographical locations that had been covered.

It was a fascinating journey but all too soon he was beaten by the clock and we had to draw proceedings to a close. An excellent afternoon and one that we would enthusiastically recommend to other branches.

Monday 25th November 2019

'An Eighth Colour Rail Journey'

Paul Chancellor

Our last speaker for the autumn season was Paul Chancellor who presented his Eighth Colour-Rail journey. It had been some years since we last welcomed Paul to the Branch and by the end of the evening we were very glad to have asked him to return. He prefaced his talk with a plea that members would consider bequeathing their railway collections to an archive so that they might be enjoyed by others. Paul then took us on a tour that ranged across the whole country but all based upon the number/year 1959! This deceptively simple organising theme provided us with a hugely entertaining and nostalgic show taking in locomotive withdrawals and preservation, line closures, new liveries and many other subjects. There is endless scope for similar talks drawing on the immense collection now held by Colour-Rail.

Monday 11th November

'Sheffield and South Yorkshire - Past and Present'

Michael Eggenton

On 11 November Michael Eggenton made a welcome return to the Branch with a special programme tailored for our local audience. Taking us around Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Mike was able to show us images of familiar, and not-so-familiar, locations taken many years apart. The earlier pictures from the 1960s showed litter-free scenes with neat ballast, steam traction and complex track formations; the most recent images were dominated by lineside trees, much-reduced track work and signal installations and multiple units. Leaving aside the obvious comparisons, what emerged from the evening was the importance of recording the passing scene before it too entered history.

Monday 28th October 2019

'The 125 Group - Preserving the HST'

John Zabernik

At our second meeting in October we had a most interesting presentation by John Zabernik of the 125 Group. John, a nominee for the prestigious Train Driver of the Year Awards, and an enthusiastic supporter of the HST, finds time to promote the work of the 125 Group in preserving this key part of our modern railway heritage. He ably described the activities of the volunteers based at the Great Central Railway (North) in restoring the prototype HST as well as giving us a comprehensive history of its initial development.

Monday 14th October 2019

Audience Selection

Gavin Morrison

Our meeting on 14 October opened with the sad and unexpected news that Alan Lovecy, our Branch Chairman (since 2014) and longtime Secretary had died suddenly the previous week. Quite apart from our huge sense of loss at Alan’s passing, we realised that this would leave a substantial void in the running of the Branch. Accordingly Vice-Chairman, Keith Marshall, proposed, and it was agreed that the December AGM would be replaced by an EGM at which the future of the Branch could be exhaustively explored. The October meeting also received the melancholy news that Brian Staniland a former Chairman and loyal member of the Branch had also died following a long illness.

Gavin Morrison was our first speaker in October with a presentation in a novel format. Gavin had organised a large volume of images into numbered folders on his laptop, each folder containing a set of pictures around a separate theme, and members of the audience were invited to pick a number! In this way we ranged over a large number of topics, time periods and geographical locations to the great enjoyment of those present. Naturally the whole was greatly enhanced by the sheer quality of the material that Gavin had put together from his own collection which made the evening quite special.

Monday 23rd September 2019

'The Peter Fox Collection - Steam, Diesel and Electric Traction through the Decades'

Andrew Barclay

The first meeting of the 2019/20 session on Monday 23rd September was rather poorly attended by past standards. However Andrew Barclay's presentation of 200 more slides from the Peter Fox collection was well received by the audience. After a delayed start whilst the projector bulb was replaced. Andrew made up the deficit to record a slightly early finish. The slides were mainly from the early 1960's and Peter's home territories of Sheffield, Doncaster and Derby were well represented. Peter had not only concentrated on locomotives and rolling stock but also signal boxes and notices. Of particular rarity was a shot of a LNWR super D with a beaver tail coach on a railtour in Liverpool Docks. Preserved steam on railtours in Scotland featured with scenes of narrow gauge locations and the Isle of Man.The prototype DMU's and EMU'S such as class140.151.151 and 210 were shown. As in previous presentations, not all the locations and details were recorded, but the audience did their best to fill in the missing details. However they were not always successful. Once again our many thanks to Andrew for sifting through the collection and presenting a wide range of subjects for discussion.

Monday 25th April 2019

'Tram Operations of SYPTE'

Christopher Hopkinson

For the final meeting of the 2018/19 session, 20 members and guests assembled for a presentation from Christopher Hopkinson the SYPTE Tram Concession Manager on the Sheffield Tram system.

Christopher started by outlining the main characteristics of the system, the infrastructure and vehicles used. As the system has been operational since 1994, a rail replacement programme is in progress. A recent survey on the use and future of the system showed the majority in favour of continuance.

As most members of the audience were familiar with the original system, the presentation largely concentrated on the recent introduction of the tram/train extension through Rotherham Central to the Parkgate shopping centre. This extension came in late and well over budget. Linking a tram system with the National Rail network meant that many legislature and technical difficulties had to be overcome to satisfy all requirements. Determining the boundaries for OHL and track maintenance and signalling responsibility together with driver training were just a few of the problems faced. However the tram/train is now up and running and has been well received.

There were many questions posed by the audience which Christopher expertly handled, but not all the comments made were complimentary. Our many thanks to Christopher for the expert presentation and handling all the questions posed.

An excellent end to the indoor meeting session.

Monday 8th April 2019

'A trainspotter's Odyssey'

Brian Arman - RCTS President

On Monday 8th April, the branch was pleased to welcome the Society President Brian Arman who came to present his slide show on the theme of "A Trainspotter's Odyssey". This was to be a journey from Gloucester back to Gloucester via Bristol, the S & D, Bournemouth, Waterloo, the London area and Birmingham.

There was an unfortunate start to the proceedings when the slide projector blew a bulb. Luckily a spare was available and after running repairs, the show commenced. The delay enabled Brian to explain how his interest in railways started and how things developed from there.

The slides came from several sources and largely concentrated on the 1950s and 60s. They gave a very comprehensive overview of the main line, local, and freight services in the locations shown. The motive power depots en route were covered and also many sidings and short freight branches to industrial sites. The steam locomotives shown were a wide range of GWR, SR, and BR types with the occasional diesel locomotive, DMU and EMU appearing.

Of particular interest were 1937 colour slides of SR locomotives nearly all in green livery and an aerial view of Eastleigh depot taken in the 1955 ASLEF strike and completely filled with out of service locomotives. An excess of slides however meant that the audience of 22 was only able to reach Waterloo, which we hope will lead to a return by Brian to complete our journey.

Many thanks to Brian for making the long journey to Sheffield to provide an excellent evening's entertainment of nostalgia covering an area not too familiar to the branch members and with very interesting slides and expert commentary..

Monday 11th March 2019
'Ex BR Shunting Locomotives at Home and Abroad'
John Wade

A smaller than usual audience welcomed John Wade on Monday 11th March for his presentation on "Ex BR Shunters at Home and Abroad".
A keen collector of shunting locomotives, John showed his interest by showing examples of all the types of the shunters which had passed into private ownership. Only missing were the classes 12, 13 and the early former company locomotives, compensated by a shot of an LNER J94 steam locomotive.
The coal board had acquired many locomotives from BR mainly of classes 03,04, 08 and 14, and these were shown at many of the former UK collieries largely in run down condition in the 1980s, before and after the miners' strike. The privately owned locomotives were either kept in the BR livery or re-liveried in the company image, some of which showed pride of ownership. Several locomotives gained extra fittings such as lighting, air reservoirs etc. to suit their new operating requirements. A considerable number of the locomotives spent longer in private ownership than their time with BR, particularly the class 14s. Fortunately their time in private ownership allowed many to pass into preservation as BR would have scrapped them at the end of their useful life with BR.
All the slides were accompanied by John's expert knowledge on the classes and their movements after leaving BR. Some locomotives passed through several owners before ending up in preservation. What became apparent was the loss of so much of our industrial infrastructure.

Our many thanks to John for his many trips around the country which provided the audience with his slide presentation and knowledge on the subject of the humble but essential shunting locomotive.

Monday 25th February 2019
'Out and About in the UK & Europe 2016-18'
Robert Pritchard

Robert Pritchard made a welcome return on Monday 25th February to present more pictures of his travels at home and abroad, this time starting in 2017 and finishing in early 2019.
His travels gave him access to locations not normally available to the general population such as depots and workshops. The pictures were in chronological order so the audience were kept in suspense as to where they were heading next. 14 different countries in Europe were visited, which included England, Scotland and Wales in the total.
The range of subjects was vast, including locomotives, units, trams, buildings and the general scene in some of the towns and cities visited. What became obvious was the rapid change in rolling stock now appearing on our rail network with scenes of the new stock being built abroad and in this country.
A thoroughly entertaining and informative evening coupled with excellent photography enjoyed by the smallish audience of 21 members and guests.

Our many thanks to Robert for the presentation and may he continue his travels and come back to us in the near future with more excellent pictures.

Monday 11th February 2019
'Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt'
Bob Gellatly

The afternoon meeting on Monday 11th February drew 35 members and guests for Bob Gellatly's presentation entitled "Retford through the lens of Keith Pirt". Bob started by profiling Keith's life and his love of railways and living locally, the Retford area was one of his favourite haunts. All the pictures shown were from colour slides, digitally enhanced where necessary.
Following a short history of the railways and industries of the town, we commenced on a journey along the former GC route from west to east. All the pictures were of steam locomotives form the latter days of their operation. A mixture of freight and passenger services gave us shots of B1, J6, J11,K1,K3, O2, O4 and WD 2-8-0 locomotives, with a V2 and a 4MT 2-6-0 as a bonus. Evading the shed foreman, we then managed a quick tour of Thrumpton shed.
Following a short break, the GN route was then traced from north to south. Similar locomotive classes were shown, with the addition of all the LNER Pacific classes, with more V2s and an L1 and B16 for good measure. The presentation was accompanied by many detailed maps, recent short video clips, an explanation of the 02 and O4 sub classes, and following a shot of 60034, an opportunity for the audience to identify all locomotives associated with the Henderson family. The presentation showed how complicated the track layouts were at Retford which led to some very interesting signal arrangements.

Our many thanks to Bob for a thoroughly entertaining and educational afternoon which was excellently presented.

Monday 28th January 2019
'West Coast Railways'
James Shuttleworth

James Shuttleworth came to the Sheffield branch on Monday 28th January to give a talk on West Coast Railways subtitled "Running Steam Locomotive Services in the Modern Era".
West Coast Railways were one of the first private rail operating companies and led the way in shaping the legislation and licences in use today. James explained that you need an operating licence, a safety certificate and a multiplicity of access agreements. These include for Network Rail, stations, workshops and depots. Having obtained the necessary paper work, you then need depots. locomotives, coaching stock and staff before you can run a charter service.
When a charter has been obtained or proposed, 14 weeks are currently required to sort out the route and timings. Then the locomotive(s), coaches and staff have to rostered to get them in the right place at the right time, which will include ECS movements. Consideration has to be given to refuelling for diesel operation, and coal and water for steam locomotives.
James then outlined the requirements to maintain depot facilities and to keep locomotives and coaches in good and safe running order. Finally, after James explained how his operating staff managed to keep up to date with route knowledge, he described a few of the many charters which either ran exceptionally well or caused severe problems.
After a short break, James professionally dealt with many questions thrown at him and did not refuse to answer those what might have been awkward or considered confidential. The 30 strong audience went away a lot more knowledgeable on how to organise and run a charter train with all the attendant problems.

Our many thanks to James for the enlightening and informative talk. .

Last updated: 15th January 2020