Wednesday 22nd January 2020
The branch AGM took place on 22 January. The Committee members elected to serve for the coming year were John Godfrey (Chairman and Secretary), Peter Ifold (Treasurer), Dave Doulton (Internet), Mike Green and John Goodrich (Ordinary Members).
Wednesday 15th January 2020
With 31 December 2019 marking the 70th anniversary of the closure of Southampton’s tram system it was fitting to mark the occasion with a presentation on the system by Martin Petch. It was fascinating to see the main roads and landmarks at the turn of the 20th century and compare them to the modern day.
A major landmark in Southampton is The Bargate which formed part of the city walls. This has a low central arch which trams used to pass through, with the adjoining walls and buildings either side of the structure only being removed in the 1930s. Prior to the Second World War the tram system was owned by Southampton Corporation and was profitable, but the Council did not reinvest the profit in the system, preferring to use it to limit local taxes or spend the money elsewhere. There was no money for making good war damage to the run down system, making closure inevitable. Fortunately a small number of trams survived such as summer houses. Tram 45 was sold for preservation by the Light Rail Transport League in 1949 and is now located at Crich. Numbers 11 and 57 are undergoing restoration in Southampton by a small band of volunteers but are not generally available for viewing by the public.
Our thanks to Martin for his presentation on a local system.
Wednesday 18th December 2019
The December meeting of the Solent Branch was the traditional evening of short DVDs which this year followed a continental theme. The first country visited was Switzerland for a tour through the new Gotthard base tunnel which opened in 2016. The next port of call was Italy to look at the narrow gauge Genoa - Casella line, before moving on to the German state of Saxony. Our chosen location was near the border with the Czech Republic so there was plenty of international traffic on view. A short hop to the Czech Republic to view freight and passenger traffic, including local services formed of a very basic 4-wheel railcar and push-pull locomotive operated trains was followed by visits to Slovenia and France and the classic Paris - Dijon line before we returned to north Switzerland.
Wednesday 20th November 2019
'Mid Hants Galas 1989-2019'
Our November meeting was an exercise in nostalgia as Tony Storey gave a comprehensive illustration of steam galas held at the Mid-Hants Railway between March 1989 and October 2019. Tony is a photographer for the Mid -Hants Railway and this enabled him to gain access to locations which were out of bounds to the general public. There were generally two galas a year, some of them themed to mark anniversaries such as the 40th and 50th anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern. The locomotives used on gala days included ones based at the railway at the time and guest locomotives from a variety of other preserved lines. In the photos of the earlier galas it was noticeable that the coaching stock was in a variety of liveries, but in later ones the rakes were of a uniform livery. Passenger workings dominated the galas, but a number of demonstration freights were run. Thanks to Tony for recording the galas held at our local preserved line.
Wednesday 16th October 2019
The October meeting began with the sad announcement by the Branch Chairman of the very recent death of the Branch Secretary, Ted Vaughan, at the comparatively young age of 76.
The subject of the meeting was preparing St Pancras station for HS1. The presentation was given by the project’s Delivery Manager, Mervyn Dunwoody, who began by giving a short historical background to the station. By the 1960s the station was very run down and only just survived closure proposals. However, the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1) breathed new life into the station. Rebuilding was necessary to remover over 100 years’ worth of soot and corroded metal and extend the main train shed to accommodate the long Eurostar trains. English Heritage dictated that as far as possible the restoration should follow the original style.
The condition of parts of the original building such as the pillars in the undercroft were very poor as illustrated by Mervyn’s slides. Great care had to be taken in restoring Barlow’s arched roof to ensure that excessive loads were not placed on the structure with precautions taken including the weighing of the workers and counting them in and out. Detailed slides were shown of the work carried out to restore the roof and gable ends.
The Midland Mainline trains could not be accommodated within the main train shed with the Eurostar trains and domestic services that use HS1. They are located in an extension on the west side of the building. It was not practical for this and the northward extension of the main shed to continue the arched roof of the original building.
For those who like facts and figures, 1 million bricks were used to replace damaged originals and construct the extension.
We thank Mervyn for his informative presentation.
Wednesday 18th September 2019
Our intended speaker from South Western Railway, Phil Dominey, was on other Company business and Mark Youngman gave a presentation instead. With an interesting job title of 'Customer and Communities Improvement fund manager' Mark explained that under the franchise agreement SWR had to provide a fund of £5.3m to be spent on projects put forward by local bodies and societies. This might mean improving access to a station by removing overgrown shrubs or providing a childrens play area overlooking a station to try and encourage youngsters to see people using trains. This idea has been put forward for Ropley station on the Mid Hants. Projects totalling £15m have been put forward.
Of the numerous commitments in the SWT franchise agreement one involved modernising and upgrading the Isle of Wight line. Shortly before the meeting
a decision on this was announced. Class 230 units will be provided, likely to be called class 484, to be introduced in May 2021. They will be electric trains.
The expected passing loop at Brading is included in the plans as is a second platform at Ryde Pier Head. The Island Council are providing funds towards the improvements.
On the mainland the class 701s should be in full service the autumn of 2020.
With audience involvement the subject turned the morbid subject of suicides and their effects on staff, passengers and witnesses.
An interesting and thought provoking evening and we thank Mark for his time.
If you wonder why class 484, the present stock is 483 and the earlier tube stock 485.
Saturday 10th August 2019
'Arlington Works Visit'
This was a good visit in that the weather stayed dry until we were leaving, although it was a bit windy. There was a lot to see as shown in the list below.
EASTLEIGH WORKS STOCK LIST 1
Kof II Shunter
EASTLEIGH WORKS STOCK LIST 2
ADB 975974 (T5)
ADB 975978 (T5)
Diesel Loco 9
Wednesday 19th June 2019
The evening was not one to encourage many members to observe trains at Eastleigh. Dismal weather and a strike by some SWT staff meant reduced activity. One northbound Freightliner appeared behind 66587 carrying its shocking pink (and white) ONE livery. ONE being Ocean Network Express.
Wednesday 15th May 2019
'Czech it out!'
To close the season Chairman John Godfrey spoke on the Czech Republic. The Czech Railways came into being in 1993 and John made his first visit four years later. Since then the railways have seen significant change. As the photographs showed liveries have multiplied. In early days drab green was common, with or without embellishments added by individual drivers. Private operators add colour with their own liveries. Cross border trains bring locos from Poland and Slovakia into the country. Whilst in his early visits John found these locos regularly came off their trains at border stations to be replaced by Czech locos, they now work further into the country. For passenger trains loco haulage was the subject of most photographs. On some services the diesel loco was hauling two or three 4-wheeled trailer coaches from a DMU unit. On some rural lines single car diesel units sufficed.
With John planning another visit shortly we will have the story brought up to date before long.
Wednesday 17th April 2019
April brought Martyn Davies with a selection of transport slides. Whilst railways dominated the evening we also found aircraft, shipping and buses on the screen. Possibly a first ever for us Martyn included hot air balloons in Switzerland.
Wednesday 20th March 2019
'An Evening of Nostalgia'
Mike Ellis gave an evening of nostalgia at our meeting on 20th March. Extracts of Mike's video films are included on commercial videos and some of these form the basis of the evening.
The first half of the evening comprised extracts in the form of still frames with short videos in the second half.
After the break we started and finished with trams in Blackpool. Heritage vehicles still ply the Promenade but we also ventured to Fleetwood with conventional street scenes.
Venturing to the Settle and Carlisle line we found The Great Marquess on a special working, whilst another special was headed by a pair of Black 5s.
Living in Morecambe it is inevitable Mike has filmed the Cambrian coast line, mainly class 37s on the passenger workings. These were also seen heading along the West Coast line. In this area if there was no attraction with the trains there was always the scenery behind.
Our thanks to Mike for a relaxing evening.
Last updated: 24th January 2020