Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Tuesday 22nd October

Leicester & Swannington Railway

Bill Pemberton of the Leicestershire Industrial History Society

On 22 October Bill Pemberton of the Leicestershire Industrial History Society presented the “Leicester & Swannington Railway” tracing the history of the L&SR. The line was built to connect the Leicestershire coalfield with the City and replace the Charnwood Canal which had been closed following flood damage. Although built primarily for coal passengers were carried from the opening from Leicester West Bridge to Bagworth in July 1832 and from Bagworth to Long Lane (later Coalville) and on to Swannington in November 1833 becoming the fifth passenger line in the country. There were rope worked inclines at Bagworth and Swannington and a mile long tunnel at Glenfield. The L&SR did not build passenger stations but rented rooms in pubs near the railway where passengers could book tickets in advance to give us “booking offices”.

The L&SR was acquired by the MR in August 1848 and by the following year it was connected to their Leicester-Burton line at Desford Junction and Coalville. The line was doubled between these points and the Bagworth incline replaced by a deviation. Station buildings were also provided. Collieries at Swannington were closed by 1881 and the incline closed although reopened in 1892 for coal to be transported to Swannington to work pumps to prevent flooding from the old workings. The pumps were replaced by electric ones in 1948 and the incline finally closed. Passenger services to West Bridge closed in 1928 and the line from there to Desford gradually closed 1966-67. The Leicester-Burton passenger service ceased in 1964 and following colliery closures is only used for stone traffic from Bardon Hill.

Bill then took us along the route with images of what remains and is accessible including the west end of Glenfield Tunnel. Visits can be arranged to part of the tunnel from June to September and a show of hands indicated that there was interest for summer 2020.

Tuesday 8th October

Branch AGM

The branch held its AGM on 8 October with a total of 22 members present, a slight increase on recent years. The Secretary announced updates to the annual report including a further increase to the membership to 134 and conclusion to the arrangement of the display of the branch D10 nameplate at Quainton Road and MR 2P number plate plus East Midlander headboard at Wirksworth.

Members enquired as to the possibility of summer outdoor visits in addition to the informal line side programme at major stations. It was agreed in principle subject to volunteers making the arrangements. A request to increase the number of afternoon meetings from 2 to 3 was agreed for the first meeting in December subject to the availability of our meeting venue.

The existing committee were again elected en-bloc.

After a short break Brian Beer showed a compilation of more than 20 old film clips on DVD starting with coal sorting at Shipley Colliery and hump shunting in Toton yard. Other clips included the opening of the new Calverton Colliery, Rugby Testing Station, Kings Cross and the 1925 S & D celebrations. Rare locomotives included LNER W1 before it was rebuilt, 6399 Fury, LNER P2, LMS 6202 Turbomotive and gas turbine 18100. Brian agreed to find some more clips for the AGM next year.

Tuesday 10th September

An Eighth Colour Rail Journey

Paul Chancellor, Colour Rail

Paul Chancellor opened the new meeting season on 10 September with “An Eighth Colour Rail Journey”. The theme for the evening was based on the year 1959 starting with locomotives built in that year. An image of one of the last BR 9F’s built for the Western Region was followed by various early diesel and electric classes from 01 to 81.

At the opposite end we saw examples of classes which became extinct in 1959 across all regions including SHT 1142, LSWR 0395, L&Y 52044, LNER B2, Service locos LSWR C14 and LNWR CD3 plus early diesels 10800 and 11001.

The first of class to be withdrawn included members of A2/3, A3, Hall, Castle and 1500. The last of the Merchant Navy class to be rebuilt was followed by the first West Country to be similarly treated.

Preserved CR 123, GNSR 49, HR 103 and MR 1000 were reinstated to operate railtours and similar duties.

Line closures during that year included most of the M&GNR, the Higham Ferrers, Moretonhampstead and Southwell branches.

The evening concluded with a selection of what Paul described as “odd bods” then a tour of some principal stations with then and now images.

Tuesday 23rd April

'O.Winston Link and the North & Western Railway'

Bob Gellatly

Our speaker for last meeting of the season on 23rd April was Bob Gellatly with “O. Winston Link and the Norfolk and Western Railway”. Starting with the history of the N&WR Bob explained how it was the result of a number of mergers of small companies to become a large company covering most of the Virginia coalfield. Although part of one line was electrified in 1915 it returned to steam by 1950. The N&WR continued to use steam locos after the rest of the lines in USA had moved to diesel traction as it had a modern fleet comprising of 5 classes which were designed for particular types of traffic and continued in use until 1959. Each type ranging from 4-6-2 to 2-8-8-2 were described in detail.

In part 2 Bob covered the work of photographer O Winston Link who wished to record the steam scene on the N&WR before it disappeared. He decided that the only perfect light for his photos could be achieved at night with elaborate use of lighting equipment. In partnership with the railway, who used the arrangement for publicity purposes, he created a wonderful collection of scenes including many stage managed poses of rail staff or members of the public.

The images and short film sequences were an excellent conclusion to the 2018-9 season.

Tuesday 9th April

'Diverted - Wakefield - Leeds via Huddersfield, Barnsley & Castleford'

Phil Lockwood & Enid Vincent

On 9th April Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent presented a further instalment in their “Diverted” series. This time travelling from Wakefield to Leeds via Huddersfield, Barnsley and Castleford with photos taken from 1975 to 2019 showing the changing scene of locomotives, traffic and surrounding infrastructure.

We were taken inside Procor Wagon Works, reducing use of Healey Mills yard and down the remains of the LYR Dewsbury branch to the cement depot. Pausing at Mirfield with the changing layout and additional platform before an explanation of the changed junction at Heaton Lodge, then on to Huddersfield and west as far as Standedge tunnels.

After returning to Huddersfield our tour took the line to Penistone with the tall viaducts then down to Barnsley calling at the former Court House station now a pub. A further reversal up to Crigglestone for a visit to the Bombardier (Charles Roe then Procor) works showing refurbishment of tube stock and 220/221 Voyagers. A second visit to Wakefield Kirkgate then as far as Burton Salmon before returning to Castleford for the last lap to Leeds but only after a diversion to Pontefract. In Leeds visits were made to Freightliner Midland Road (ex Barms Road Goods) depot and Holbeck shed.

Another fascinating rail tour highlighting what has disappeared. Phil and Enid advised those present that they have one more “Diverted” to entertain us in the future.

Tuesday 22nd January 2019
'Toton Marshalling Yards'
Phillip Burton

Our largest audience for some time welcomed Phillip Burton on 22nd January for his presentation of “Toton Marshalling Yards”. The yard started in 1856 with up (full loads) and down (empties) sidings for coal from collieries in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire using horses or gravity for shunting. By 1882 up to 12 horses were in use when locomotive shunting commenced and traffic grown to 120 trains despatched each day.
The main route for coal was down the Midland main line to Brent sidings for distribution across London. The Midland used two 0-6-0s, a policy continued by the LMS until the introduction of the Beyer-Garratts in 1927, which did reduce manpower but not coal consumption. The Garratts were replaced by BR 9Fs in the 1950s.
The Down Yard was rebuilt with fully mechanised hump shunting in 1939 using LMS diesel electric shunters and the Up Yard in the 1950s.
The reduction in demand for household coal, the concentration of coal production at a smaller number of large collieries and the introduction of merry-go-round trains ended the need for hump shunting and the yard reverted to a limited number of up and down holding sidings.
Closure of the remaining UK coal mines and the gradual reduction in the number of coal fired power stations has reduced traffic to a few trains each day.

What next for Toton? HS2?

Tuesday 8th January 2019
'Steam on the main line – Part 3 2004 and onwards'
Roger Jones

On 8th January Roger Jones opened 2019 with a further selection of his collection of steam hauled trains on the main line. This time covering the period from 2005 to 2010 with scenes the length and breadth of England and Wales. He pays particular attention to the location of each shot often views from a distance or height. Use of natural light to provide a different image can sometimes be thwarted by a sudden change of the weather as the train approached his chosen position.
His interest in manual signal boxes and semaphore signals is apparent in many slides and he commented on many that have now disappeared from the railway.
The growth of trees and bushes now prevents many locations being used again and the onward march of the palisade fence is another obstacle to line side photography.
He also commented that a number of lines covered in that period are now not available for steam specials. One particular frustration is the current restrictions on the use of the Derby to Stoke-on-Trent line which still has a number of North Stafford and LMS signal boxes and semaphore signals, although Roger included a number taken before track work in Meir tunnel imposed a height restriction.
The varied selection of locomotives was appreciated by those present.

Tuesday 18th December 2018
Members evening with coffee and mince pies

On 18th December the branch held its annual members evening with mince pies and coffee/tea.
We were entertained by slides covering:- Welsh narrow gauge and the Isle of Man railways; GNR lines in the Kimberley area including demolition of the large brick built viaduct on the Pinxton branch; Nottinghamshire collieries and Spain in 1988; the Manx Electric Railway in 1968 and finally early slides from 1961-4 including a double headed football special near Ravenstone Wood Junction, the RCTS Border and East Midlander 5 & 7 railtours.
Our thanks to the five members presenting the slides.
The seasonal flavour included a raffle of items left over from the Nottingham Mechanics Christmas Fayre the previous week.

Last updated: 27th October 2019