Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports



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.

Tuesday 11th December 2018
'Two Hundred Years of the railway line from Mansfield to Pinxton 1819-2019'
Dr. David Amos

Our largest audience of the season so far welcomed Dr. David Amos on 11th December for “Two hundred years of the railway from Mansfield to Pinxton 1819-2019”.
David described the original tramway in detail, rising uphill from Pinxton Wharf, adjacent to the arm of the Cromford Canal, to Kirkby, then downhill to Portland Wharf, Mansfield. The tramway opened in April 1819 to serve local collieries and transport the coal for onward shipment by canal. A number of the collieries had their own feeder waggonways to the M. & P.
Acquired by the MR it was rebuilt partly on a new alignment and connected to the line from Nottingham at Kirkby and the Erewash Valley line by a branch from Pye Bridge Junction. The actual connection at Kirkby was to the north of the station, necessitating at change at Sutton (Junction from 1892/3) if travelling from Pinxton to Kirkby. This was resolved by a deviation in 1892 leaving a stub siding at the north end.
In Mansfield a through route to the north opened in 1875. The Pinxton line closed to passengers in 1947 and the Nottingham to Worksop line in 1964. The level crossing was replaced by a new alignment linking the Pinxton line to the GNR route and through the site of Summit Colliery to the MR to the north of Kirkby station in 1972. When the line from Nottingham reopened a new connection was made using the former GCR and GNR routes but at a different level.
David described the run-down of the coal mines in the area and the rationalisation of sidings following the introduction of merry-go-round trains. The Pinxton line is currently only used as a diversionary route, one regular stone train, and trains to and from the High Marnham test track.
The main structure remaining from the original route is the stone Portland viaduct which will no doubt feature in the anniversary celebrations in April 2019.

Our thanks to David for another informative talk using his wide local knowledge.

Tuesday 27th November 2018
'Bennerley Viaduct – history, construction and future preservation'
Kieran Lee, Sustrans

“BennerleyViaduct, history, construction and future preservation” was Kieran Lee’s subject on 27th November.
He explained the development of transport in the Erewash valley with the opening of the Erewash Canal in 1779 on the west side and the Nottingham Canal in 1796 on the east side to transport coal from the expanding Nottingham and Derbyshire coalfield. The canals were gradually reduced in importance with the arrival of the MR Erewash Valley line but the resultant monopoly lead to discontent by coal mine owners. Competition came with the GNR opening the “Friargate” line but unlike the MR this had to cross the valley requiring a 1452 foot long viaduct built with wrought iron and closed for passengers in 1964, freight in 1968 and the track lifted in 1970. There were moves to demolish the viaduct, often lead by hostile local councils and press. Other similar viaducts in Britain were demolished leaving only Bennerley and Meldon surviving today.
An opencast coal mine was developed to the north of the viaduct and an application to the south was opposed by local groups and refused at an enquiry. The viaduct was granted Grade 2* listed status.
In 1998 Sustrans proposed a plan to develop the viaduct and area, but it took until 2014 for the project to be prepared and funding sought. Kieran joined Sustrans and promoted the project for the viaduct as a cycle/walk way as part of plans for the Friargate route at exhibitions. The land surrounding the viaduct was to be converted into wildlife and wetland areas with connecting access between the canals and the viaduct.
Sustrans withdrew in early 2018 and Kieran now works with a local project group to progress development starting with a smaller budget for remedial works in 2019.

Members look forward to progress with this worthwhile local project.

Tuesday 13th November 2018
'High Speed Testing in the UK since 1970'
Dave Coxon

On 13th November Dave Coxon described “High Speed Testing in the UK since 1970” with high speed defined as 125 mph and above. High speed could have adverse effects on the track, particularly dipped and worn joints, existing signalling, trains passing and pressure waves, especially in tunnels and the comfort of passengers with emphasis on those standing.
Locomotives were modified to improve performance and reduce adverse effects as the tests progressed. He covered the use of flexi coil springs on the class 86 used in the first tests which improved riding, and rubber cushioned SAB resilient wheels which also made significant improvements and lead to all of class 86/2 being similarly fitted. Various improvements to the pantographs were tested and B4 bogies fitted to coaches and test vehicles.
The West Coast main line was used for the tests at Cheddington, Watford (for the tunnel) and Lockerbie and speeds of 110 then 125 were achieved.
Tests were carried out with the prototype HST breaking the world speed record for a diesel train at 143.2 mph on 12th June 1973. This was followed by gas turbine APT-E reaching 146, APT-P 164, HST power cars 148.5, 91010 161.7, Eurostar 208, Pendolino and Javelin class 395 154. Current tests on class 800 IET have reached 140 mph.

Dave’s explanations of the modifications to the equipment of locomotives, coaches and test vehicles was appreciated by those present.

Tuesday 23rd October 2018
'Strictly Freight Only Part 2'
Brian Ringer

Brian Ringer returned to the branch on 23rd October to present “Strictly Freight Only – Part 2”. Starting with a history of the train ferry services which commenced in WW1 to supply British Forces and then peace time versions provide by the GER and SR. British Rail concentrated on the service on the Dover to Dunkirk route but were hampered by the need to use locked docks at both ports to cope with the rising and falling tides. With an eye to the future opening of the Channel Tunnel BR/SNCF introduced a modernised service to promote the cross channel transport of freight by rail. A purpose built faster ship and the use of flexible links at the docks meant that up to four return trips could be made each day.
The promise of intensive use through the tunnel did not materialise due to the early fire, delays and damage to container contents caused by illegal immigrants, French railway strikes and the unwise decision by the operator to jack up charges to an uneconomic level.
Brian explained the development of container traffic from pure import/export to internal traffic, particularly for long distance supplies for the large supermarket chains.
Under BR we heard how sectorisation in various forms helped to modernise the business, but wagon load traffic proved to be loss making and Speedlink and Enterprise services closed. Railway privatisation soon brought the near monopoly for EWS, but other companies were encouraged to enter the market which is now lead by GBRf. New loco classes have been introduced but a number from six earlier classes continue, notably the 50+ years old 20s and 86s.

A fascinating insight into why and how the modern freight service has evolved.

Tuesday 9th October 2018
Branch AGM followed by at 2000 Video/Film presentation by Brian Beer

The Branch AGM was held on 9th October when members heard updates from the committee on the reports issued with the annual mailshot. 59 members have joined under the 90th anniversary “free scheme” increasing the total to 163. Book sales at exhibitions and meetings were strong and bolstered by the acquisition of substantial additional stock of second hand books again this year including a collection of 165 Bradford Barton titles.A branch version of the Society folded leaflet was printed and distributed for members to arrange display at libraries and similar venues to publicise branch meetings and membership. The committee welcomed the addition of two members to their ranks, although there was still no volunteer to take over responsibility for web reports. The enhanced committee was elected en bloc and then it was agreed that John Hitchens should become Honorary Branch President in recognition of his many years on the branch committee.

After the break, Brian Beer showed digitised versions of old railway films starting with the opening clip of “Oh Mr. Porter” then publicity clips of Silver Jubilee, Coronation Scot, Devon Belle, Golden Arrow, Elizabethan Express and “How to Run a Railway”.
The second film was a compilation of scenes shot by the SR, the only active railway film unit in WW2, covering various locations including some on the LMSR. Later scenes in the 1950s included R1s on the Folkestone Harbour branch and Adams tanks on the Lyme Regis branch.

No surprise that Brian has been booked for the 2019 AGM.

Tuesday 25th September 2018
Building Britian's most Powerful Steam Locomotive - 2007 Prince of Wales
John Rawlinson, A1/P2 Presentation Team

John Rawlinson’s third visit to the branch on 25th September provided details of “Building Britain’s Most Powerful Steam Locomotive – 2007 Prince of Wales”. He described the original six P2 2-8-2 locomotives built in 1934 and 1936 all of which had variants to valve gear and 2003-6 were built streamlined, like A4s, and 2001-2 were then similarly modified. However when Thompson took over from Gresley all six were rebuilt to A2 un-streamlined Pacifics.
The current project is to fill a gap in the succession of LNER design with a widely available 75 mph locomotive capable of running 110+ miles between water stops. The project team have collated over 400 photographs and rare cine films of the original six plus drawings and similar information.
The new locomotive will be based on the original un-streamlined 2001 with improvements necessitated to eradicate known weaknesses of the original design, modern construction techniques and the need to comply with current and future industry standards of loading gauge and signalling technology. The cylinders will be slightly smaller but increased boiler pressure will provide a higher nominal tractive effort.
John described in great detail the construction so far, including that the boiler will be identical to “Tornado” which although shorter the full length will be maintained with a longer smoke box.
He explained the various methods of funding this £5 million project to enable the completed locomotive to begin trials and main line testing in 2021.

After the A1 and a P2, the proposal is to build V4, V3 and K3 locomotives all sadly missed from preservation.

Tuesday 11th September 2018
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Anniversaries and projects
John Hastings-Thompson

John Hastings-Thomson opened the new season with a double bill on 11th September. He started with “Ecclesbourne Valley Railway anniversaries and projects” outlining the history of the Wirksworth branch with paintings of scenes on the line and period photos. Originally conceived as a double track line to Manchester for the Midland Railway as they were concerned with the LNWR having access rights to the then Ambergate to Rowsley branch. However the LNWR lost interest and the line was completed as a single track branch but track bed and bridges built for double track proved to be of benefit in the preservation era providing space for passing loops and other facilities without major reconstruction.
The local quarries provided traffic for the line until it was ‘mothballed’ in November 1989. Although the regular passenger service ceased in 1947 trains for ‘Well Dressing Days’ and other specials continued until the 1980s. John outlined the progress in the preservation era until the opening through to Duffield with passenger interchange with East Midlands Trains services in 2011. Since then the temporary facilities at Duffield have been replaced by suitable permanent buildings and the railway is currently carrying out similar improvements at Wirksworth. Other projects include the erection of a steam shed, improved signalling and to have a resident BR steam loco.
John’s second instalment was an update on the project to build Patriot 45551 “The Unknown Warrior”. He explained the background of the delay in completion following the decision in Crewe to cease contract work and the subsequent move of the boiler to new contractors and their recent move to larger premises near Liverpool. It is anticipated that the locomotive will be completed in 2019 and available for a re-enactment of the transport of the body of the Unknown Soldier in the Cavell van in November 2020.

Last updated: 7th July 2019