Meeting Reports

Wednesday 24th January 2018
Crossrail, Moving London Forward
Patrick Griffin

Richard Storer, from Crossrail, attracted another large attendance to County Hall on Wednesday 24th January, for his presentation ‘Moving London Forward’, the building of the new Elizabeth line, due to open later this year.
The evening was full of interesting factual information, Richard’s dialogue supported throughout by superb professional visuals. Several photos had been taken during the previous week, bringing the story right up to date.
Explanation of the actual tunnelling technique was fascinating, as it was to hear the extracted spoil was shipped to Wallasea Island, a landmark conservation and engineering scheme at Burnham-on-Crouch.
Many of the interesting facts became newsworthy events in their own right. As an example, the mass burial site at Liverpool Street where 3,500 skeletons, dating from the time of the Great Plague in 1665, were carefully excavated.
Squeezing new infrastructure into already highly developed central London, has been a real challenge, Richard masterly explaining how this was achieved, accompanied by some wonderful location shots.
Another fact, perhaps destined to become a quiz question for the future. Where in London does the Overground railway actually travel beneath the Underground railway? Answer - Whitechapel.
When the Crossrail project is complete it will increase London’s rail based network capacity by 10%.

Our thanks to Richard for a brilliant evening, much appreciated by everyone present.

Wednesday 13th December 2017
AGM followed by Bournemouth West to Gloucester, via London.
Brian Arman, RCTS President

Our December meeting included the Branch AGM. Reports were presented and the committee re-elected for another term with the addition of a new member. It has been a very successful year with a wide-ranging programme, two great outdoor visits and record attendances. One of nearly 100 could well be an RCTS record. The branch has made good progress since the dark days of a few years ago and we greatly appreciate the dedication of the committee and our members and supporters.

The AGM was followed by a presentation by Brian Arman, RCTS President, of an imaginary journey from Bournemouth West to Gloucester via London. Brian’s presentation included very many early colour slides which give a very different feel to the scene compared to the usual black and white.
From Drummond 4-4-0s to Britannias and Leaders, Brian showed a wide variety of engines and their trains and included a few SR, District and Metropolitan Electrics too. He revealed to us the direct link between the broad gauge single wheelers and the Brighton Atlantics but we only got as far as Paddington, so will be inviting Brain Arman back to complete the journey in our next season.

Wednesday 22nd November 2017
LMS Patriots
John Barrowdale

Chichester Branch welcomed John Barrowdale to speak at our November meeting on ‘The LMS Patriot Project’. John has a ‘hands on’ approach to steam preservation and is very actively involved, including both firing and silver-service waiting on the Mid-Hants. His subject is just one of nineteen ‘new-build’ steam locomotives currently on the go, but he reminded (and surprised) us that it didn’t start with ‘Tornado’: who remembers the ‘Locomotion’ and ‘Rocket’ replicas from the 1970s?
John took us through the history of this widespread and reliable 4-6-0 passenger class, otherwise known as ‘Baby Scots’, from their genesis as book rebuilds of the mediocre L.N.W.R. ‘Claughtons’ through to post-war refitting of eighteen with taper boilers and Stanier-style cabs, increasing their performance but drastically altering their appearance. Their eclectic variety of names, from war memorial to North Wales seaside resort via L.M.S. Officer, was also entertainingly covered.
John then moved on to describe the project to construct (4)5551, to be named ‘The Unknown Warrior’, in some detail. While the locomotive is being erected at Llangollen, parts have been sourced from all over the U.K. and there are a few original components, including a coupling rod from 45546 ‘Fleetwood’.

We thank John for a most entertaining and informative presentation, comprehensively illustrated with real 35mm transparencies.

Wednesday 25th October 2017
By Rail to Chichester, 1846-2016
Alan Green, local author and historian.

Our 25/10/17 speaker, well-known local historian Alan Green, enthralled a capacity audience of nearly 100 (a Branch record!) with his talk entitled ‘By Rail to Chichester, 1846-2016’.
In 1846 the LB&SC arrived from the East, later extending West to Portsmouth.
The heavily engineered Midhurst line arrived in Chichester from the North in 1881and Alan providing comprehensive details of the 3 stations en route - Lavant, Singleton & Cocking. Midhurst, a West Sussex market town, had two stations, the L&SW (branch from Petersfield) and the LB&SC (branch from Pulborough); a physical connection existed, only used by freight.
The last line to reach Chichester was the Hundred of Manhood & Selsey Tramway (later West Sussex Railway), built to standard gauge under a Light Railway Order, arriving from the South in 1897. It was renowned for frequent derailments, employing a boy to cycle up and down the line advising potential passengers of service failures! It remained an independent concern throughout but succumbed to road competition, closing in 1935.
The rail service to Chichester was electrified in 1938, but through freight services remained steam hauled for many years to come, as did some inter-regional passenger services (the last being on 30/04/1966).

A fascinating evening from a very accomplished and knowledgeable speaker.

Wednesday 27th September 2017
Airport Railways: A Global Survey
Andrew Sharp

The Branch launched its 2017/8 season with an absorbing talk by Andrew Sharp who is Policy Adviser to the International Air Rail Organisation.
He began by outlining the challenge of airport railways satisfying the conflicting needs of both local people (often airport employees) and visitors.
As impressive as our own Heathrow Express is in carrying 6 million passengers a year, Andrew duly put it into perspective by showing us the Hong Kong equivalent, which transports over 14 million a year!
Innovation was a common thread running through all railways connecting city centres with their airports. Amongst many examples covered were: air-rail code share at Frankfurt Airport where trains to Stuttgart are shown on the flight departure board at the Airport Station; in town check-in for flights at the many city centre stations; and grade separation at Hong Kong Airport station where incoming trains arrive at the flight departures level and departing trains leave from the flight arrivals level. Andrew gave some comparative figures of rail’s share of total passenger traffic ranging from as high as 53% at Copenhagen through to 37% at Gatwick and 28% at Heathrow.
Building rail links to airports seemed to be the classic ‘win-win’ situation where everybody benefited including the airports, the airlines, the railway operators, passengers and last but not least the people that lived in the locality of the airport.
Andrew Sharp quoted, with not a little disdain, the airline statistic that with 3km of runway you can fly anywhere in the world but with 3km of high speed rail you can only travel 3km. The fact that the entire Paris to Lyon TGV occupies less land than Paris CDG Airport was a telling counter argument!

Wednesday 31st May 2017
Black & White Steam. Another selection of David's excellent Photos
David Kelso

For our final meeting of the season our audience was fortunate to again have David Kelso bring his superb black and white photographs for a presentation entitled ‘South of the Border 1948 to 1960’. After Scotland, the family home was in the West Riding but with relatives in both Derby and London, as a youngster David was fortunate to be able to travel widely over the railway network.
So starting with a photograph taken from the top of the water tower at Willesden shed with his Box Brownie in 1948, we were treated to photographs of engines, often with their trains and in some fascinating locations which ranged from Patriots in Carlisle to an ex North London crane tank engine originally built in 1858. We saw summer Saturday trains at Mirfield, a very clean B17 Sandringham at Liverpool Street, a pigeon special at Bramhope tunnel, the Pehryn Quarry railway and a Schools and LSWR L1 on sets of ‘birdcage’ stock at Tonbridge.
As well as steam we saw the ill-fated Fell locomotive in Derby shed, a Liverpool Overhead train at Seaforth and Litherland, and Southern, Tyneside and Mersey Rail electrics.
It was a veritable feast, some in long lost locations and some in place which are little changed.

Wednesday 26th April 2017
The Hayling Billy
Alan Wallbank

It was standing room only as a record branch attendance of 60 people created a wonderful atmosphere in the larger committee room at County Hall, Chichester.
Alan screened three of his own highly professional self-compiled films. The first, and highlight of the evening, his wonderful hour long ‘A Never Ending Love Affair’ the story of the Hayling Billy.
The charm with which the backing track and commentary, where appropriate, blended perfectly with photos and film of the Hayling Island to Havant railway line, together with comments and interviews with people who had used the line, captivated the audience, recalling memories of childhood prior to the lines closure in November 1963.
Modern day images of an array of local locations enhanced the films content, providing a good marker of how things have changed over the intervening years. Very little in many respects, but the opening film shots of the remains of the wooden bridge, over which trains once passed from the Mainland on to Hayling island, are a sad, but reflective sight.

In the second half, Alan entertained us with two shorter films ‘Portsmouth Trolleybuses’ and ‘Cuba’s Sugar Railways’. The former brought back memories to many local people in the audience and once again the location shots and fascinating insight into the history and subsequent demise of the trolleybus network, ironically also in 1963, had the audience enthralled.
Finally another short film taken in Cuba, where most were not so familiar with the locality, was an ideal finale. The sight and sounds of steam locos working heavy sugar cane trains was a formidable experience. Many working practices had the audience on the edge of their seats and certainly wouldn’t be tolerated under current legislation in the UK!

We are extremely grateful to Alan for showing us his highly professional films which are worthy of a wider audience. The faces and comments from the audience at the end said it all really, A truly wonderful evenings entertainment.

Wednesday 22nd March 2017
40 Years of Service
Terence Jenner

Terence Jenner began his working life in the railway industry as an articled clerk, or more precisely an ‘officer cadet’, a job title which reflected the military ethos that prevailed in the railway industry well into the nationalised era. He retired 40 years later as Chairman of BRB (Residuary) Limited which was the successor to the British Railways Board after the latter was formally wound up in 2001. Such a length and breadth of service was well reflected in Terence’s fascinating insight into the profound changes that have taken place on our railways since 1948.
Terence recalled how powerful the individual Regions were in the early British Railways era where one General Manager justified having eight chauffeur-driven cars at his disposal! He went on to describe his central involvement in rail privatisation and said he was often asked whether the renaissance of the industry and its privatisation were coincidental. Terence said that factors such as a significant rise in numbers attending tertiary education, prohibitive insurance costs for young drivers and increasing road congestion would on their own have led to a growth in passenger traffic. He added that Government money now flowing into the privatised industry at record levels coupled with a longer planning horizon has undoubtedly helped the revival in the industry’s fortunes.
We thanked Terence for an insightful analysis arising from his long years of distinguished service on the ‘inside’.

Wednesday 22nd February 2017
Strictly Freight Only - Part 1
Brian Ringer

A capacity audience at Chichester Branch were delighted to welcome Brian Ringer to give a presentation entitled ‘Strictly Freight Only Part 1’ at our February meeting.
The speaker is a retired railway manager who spent his entire career on the freight side, and was therefore uniquely qualified to explain the enormous changes which took place from the late 1950s, when virtually all goods traffic was wagon-load, until the ‘80s when block trains had become the norm. He started with an entertaining description of the bureaucracy and operations involved in moving a load of guano from Cornwall to East Anglia.
The introduction of the first block trains was then covered, including the famous Tyne Dock – Consett iron ore, Annesley – Woodford Halse ‘windcutter’, and ‘Condor’ express freight services. Why those dreadful Metrovick Co-Bos were chosen to haul the latter remains an unanswered question to this day!
Later developments described included freightliners, ‘merry-go-round’ coal operations, iron-ore trains in South Wales using (filthy) triple-headed class 37s, and the rise and fall of the ‘Speedlink’ network. The talk was well illustrated with real slides (a rarity these days) including some of the less successful or downright money-wasting diesel types introduced such as the Clayton type 1s and the ‘Teddy Bear’ class 14s.

We look forward enthusiastically to the second part of Brian’s talk.

last updated: 31/01/18