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Meeting Reports

Friday 5th January 2018
‘Swindon Works 1922-41 Challenge & Change’
Brian Arman, RCTS President

The Society President, Rev Canon Brian Arman, on 5th January presented the next part of the history of Swindon Works. 'Swindon Works 1922-1941 Challenge & Change' covered the years when Charles Collet was CME. Born 1870, he started in the Drawing Office and graduated in 1901 to being Assistant Works Manager. He became CME in 1922. He was a very formal man, not a people person and when he became CME, the works employed 16,000 workers. Brian described each class commencing with the 7-9 for the Vale of Rheidol. Most of the Welsh companies absorbed 1922 had seen the writing on the wall and so had kept maintenance to a minimum so that most had to come to Swindon for major repairs leaving South Wales short of serviceable motive power. The MSWJ and RR were exceptions and handed over locomotives in good condition. 1935 arrived the first of the AEC railcars and a Garratt - a double ended King - was considered for iron ore to Ebbw Vale steelworks but the 9F eventually arrived for this task. The Zeiss Optical Alignment device for lining up cylinders, frames and axle boxes was explained. Brian gave an enormous volume of facts about the works and its expansion including the 7 1/2-acre expansion to the carriage works in 1929 In this period there was the trip weeks when 20,000 employees and families would go away on holiday. The works at its peak in 1935 covered 200 acres. The evening ended with the Armistice gathering 11th November 1938. The attendance of 46 experienced a special evening full of facts and figure including the human side of the Swindon family.

Friday 15th December 2017
Christmas Buffet & Quiz
set by Branch President Arthur Turner

The Christmas Buffet and Quiz took place 15th December under the guidance of branch President Arthur Turner alias the Headmaster. 35 students sat the examination which consisted of 80 questions designed to test to the full their memories of which class, what name, where is it and a myriad of similar aspects of the railway. The winner was 'Professor' Dale Robertson with 73 answers, Runner-up David McCollum 66 answers and joint 3rd Stewart Jolley and Andrew Davison with 64 answers. To avoid embarrassment, no one was bottom and in view of the majority scoring over 40 correct answers, everyone had a free book from the rubbish box. A hot/cold buffet with crackers, tea/coffee/fruit juices was served and 'After Eight' mints were served courtesy of Michael Wyatt. Happy Christmas in retrospect.

Friday 1st December 2017
'Titans of the Tracks'
Terry Nicholls, Branch Vice-President

Branch VP Terry Nicholls delved into his cine store on 1st December with 'Titans of the Track'. First was the 10k long Meng Jai Wang incline in the Gobi Desert with giant QJ 2-10-2, over 5000 built, double and triple heading enormous freights and the occasional passenger service. They had a driver and two firemen over the sinuous single track which later was doubled in the diesel era and is now electrified. South Africa followed with giants of 4-8-4 on 3'6" gauge track at locations such as Johannesburg, Kimberley and De Aar. 3450, 'The Red Devil', made an impressive sight as for 4 minutes Terry filmed it at speed from an adjacent car in which he was a passenger. Reel 3 was the UK where in various weather on the S&C we had Jubilee, Black 5, Duchess, Evening Star, City of Wells, V2 and in both vile weather and sun, 53809. The audience of 61 had their evening completed with a mainly GWR miscellany of 6000 at Abergavenny, 3440 Plymouth to Penzance and return, 7029 at Marsh Brook, 75069 in the Stroud Valley and finally City of Truro between York and Scarborough. Titans of the track in full cry.

Friday 3rd November 2017
'The Regional Railways Story'
Alex Green

Alex Green came 3rd November with 'The Regional Railways Story'. Three periods of Provincial 1982-90, Regional 1990-94 culminated with Privatisation 1996. In an attempt to reverse the decline of the railways, five business sectors were created of which one was Provincial. Fares covered only 25% of cost, the infrastructure was dilapidated, and the trains worn out. ScotRail 1982-85 was a business pioneer creating 25% growth which laid the foundations for privatisation. The introduction of RETB saved signalling expenditure in rural areas. Every 2 coaches were replaced by 1 new coach giving a reduction in coaches from 4000 to 2500 including 334 Pacers. There was a near end to locomotive hauled passenger services and every mile of infrastructure became owned by a specific sector. This lead rise to some line closures where no one sector was prepared to take on ownership. Manchester Airport station created too many trains with few passengers on each, but the overall business expanded. Bob Reid 11 came from SHELL with a consolidated business approach which created a Board for each sector. Gordon Pettit arrived as Provincial MD and branding of trains, stations and literature encouraged passenger growth, but this soon slowed. Following the Government saying that they had to separate infrastructure from the train companies, Railtrack was born although the EU said that it was only accounts for infrastructure and train companies which had to be produced. The era of contracts arrived together with the companies no longer admitting liability. Rolling stock became owned by private companies with infrastructure including stations to Railtrack. Privatisation commenced in 1996 and passenger figures quickly expanded. Unfortunately, rail engineers left Railtrack and were replaced by road engineers which lead to Hatfield and Southall accidents formulating Network Rail with a culture averse to risk. This increases the cost of projects. Urban growth has been spearheaded by PTEs demanding low fares to reduce traffic and this has given a future to the regional and urban train lines. A fascinating evening enjoyed by the attendance of 47.

Friday 1st September 2017
'The Robert Winfield Collection, Steam 1948 - 1958'
Peter Berry

1st September an audience of 44 welcomed Peter Berry with 'The Robert Whitfield Collection, Steam 1948-1958' Taken with 120 film on a Kodak bellows camera, the quality is incredible. Many views were Pacifics leaving Liverpool for Euston and throughout the show most images had the rods in the lower position. Of special interest was 46202 as Turbomotive and as rebuilt 25 days before the Harrow accident. Helsby was a favourite location and 10201/10202 on the Royal Scot indicated what may have been. The Welsh Dragon with two 412xx at Rhyl may have been the shortest official named train. 25297, the last Precursor, came from another era. The Locomotive changes brought A4 60034 onto the Royal Scot. Waterloo, Leeds City and Bristol glimpsed the other Regions. 9202x, a Crosti at work, 90686 at Chester and a J10 banking from Dee Marsh gave impressions of the less glamorous services. Semaphore signals in abundance, track superbly maintained and telegraph posts indicated a past era but the lasting impression was of superb quality images.

Friday 7th April 2017
'Westwards from Dover looking for Steam around 1960'
Peter Groom

Always a pleasure to welcome Peter Groom, he presented on 7th April 'Westwards from Dover looking for steam around 1960'. Dover did not have ro-ro but train ferries still operated with B4 30034 shunting the yard. We called at Ashford Steam Centre, Three Bridges with Q1, a class famed for starting but not stopping, Brighton Works with the works Terrier and a 'School'. Lancing Works yard, Fratton and then to the Isle of Wight. Ryde Pier Head with a O2 was followed by a glimpse of this fascinating railway including Ryde to Smallbrook Junction which in summer was double track but in winter was two single tracks after switching out of Smallbrook signal box. Returning to the mainland we visited Eastleigh shed and works with their wide assortment of visiting classes. Panniers on the Weymouth Quay brought back memories and the evening closed with images of the last Saturday of steam on the North Kent line including an un-rebuilt Bulleid pacific on the 'Golden Arrow'. The audience of 42 enjoyed not only an interesting range of images in the latter years of the Southern Region but had the enjoyment of Peter at full regulator describing the reason for some locomotives having three rivets instead of four and other variations which are always a joy to hear explained by Peter.

Friday 3rd March 2017
AGM and Member's Evening

The AGM took place 3 March with 39 members and visitors and satisfactory reports of the branch's activities were received. The book sales were healthy and the Officers and Committee were re-elected. Kenneth Nutter proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee. This was followed by member presentations. Firstly slides, Stewart Jolly took us in 1991 to Aggra and Goa, India where metre gauge YP and YG steam and YDM4 diesels could be found, David McCollum searched the Wirral and North Wales.(part 2) for LNER interlopers which included D9/D10/D11 on Manchester-Chester services and O4, later the O1 on iron ore trains to Shotton steel works and Roger Newman visited Greece in 1963 finding steam on four gauges including the SPAP at Kalamata which gave the excuse to provide Kalamata olives with the interval coffee. The second half digital presentations started with George Hargreaves covering locomotive development of the L&NWR including inside views of Horwich works and the Hughes 2-4-2T with water scoops for both directions of travel, Ian Jones looked at the last ten years at locations as far apart as Patchway in the snow, Beamish, Long Marston and the Shanghai Airport line at 437kph in levitation, and to complete the interesting evening Paul Udey showed images which had been too good to be included in the RO including the Gwili Railway and industrial locomotives at Bitton. An evening of variety.

Friday 3rd February 2017
'Midland Division Steam in Action'
Arthur Turner - Branch President

Branch President, Arthur Turner, 3rd February presented 'Midland Division Steam in Action' which was a journey over the Midland Division commencing with Caprotti 44757 at Temple Meads. Using his own and purchased slides we headed northwards seeing 41535 on the High Orchard branch at Gloucester and on Lickey a variety of 4-4-0s, Jubilees and the infamous 'Big Bertha'. Over the top we called at New Street seeing the calling on signals frequently used because of the short platforms. From Nottingham we journeyed south on the GC to Marylebone to see Midland presence in Poplar Docks, Moorgate and around London. Returning north, activity at Uppingham with ex LT&SR 41975, Leicester West Bridge and then to Derby with an immaculate 58271 and the colourful 4-4-0 with the yellow Andy Capp Blackpool special livery. Is it true that Little Eaton Station SB had the first lady signaller? The ascent of the Cromford & High Peak is always fascinating to the Little Rocks area which produced considerable freight. Through Edale to roofless Hasland MPD and then the S&C Carlisle completed the tour. Locomotives were predominantly ex Midland and LMS with a few LNWR and others thrown in when on Midland lines. Arthur's knowledge from his days in Midland Control added much fact to the enjoyment of the audience of 50.

last updated: 16/01/18