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East Midlands

Meeting Reports

Tuesday 19th December 2017
Members evening with coffee and mince pies

Members attending the annual Christmas coffee and mince pies meeting on 19th December were entertained by short slide presentations covering various steam and diesel sheds, the Isle of Man prior to closure of the Peel and Ramsey lines, Severn Valley Railway and Germany, Cambrian Coast and Llangollen, East Germany and Littleton Colliery, Finally sites of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway which is nearing 200 years since opening.

Tuesday 12th December 2017
'Manchester to Liverpool by CLC'
Ken Grainger

On 12th December Ken Grainger reprised “Manchester to Liverpool by CLC.
Ken gave a brief description of the CLC lines and associated branches then starting at Manchester Central station in Victorian times progressed along the chosen route. Images of early well maintained MSLR classes were noted before reverting to London Road station which was the starting point for the service before Central station opened. Taking the MSJAR our route west continued via Oxford Road and Deansgate (originally Knott Mill) before joining the CLC proper before Trafford Park.
Along the way we saw Sacre, Pollitt and Robinson designs together with later steam classes and current DMUs, whilst stopping off at stations of interest where buildings have been restored to varying degrees of acceptable style. At Glazebrook East Junction we diverted to Skelton Junction before returning to Glazebrook where we diverted again at the West Junction to the GCR line to St Helens Central and Wigan Central. At Warrington we saw the magnificent CLC goods depot and views of the now closed avoiding line. Widnes also had an avoiding line which is the current route with Farnworth station renamed to Widnes. The loop through Widnes was built for the GCR/MR only with the GNR having no interest.
Continuing west, a further diversion was made at Halewood towards Walton on the hill and Huskisson goods then Aintree Central and the long lost extension to Southport Lord Street. The final stretch from Hunts Cross took us to our destination at Liverpool Central along the reopened third rail electric Merseyrail although the current station is below ground and all that is left of the original terminus is the former Parcels office in use as a café.
Locomotives on shed were not overlooked, with views at Trafford Park, Walton and Brunswick, and who could forget that view of the latter when you opened the door from the adjacent road.

Yet again an excellent presentation from Ken.

Tuesday 28th November 2017
'The Regioal Railways Story'
Alex Green

Alex Green was our speaker on 28th November with “The Regional Railways Story”. By 1982 the BR market share had fallen and a decision was made to do something different with station closures down to virtually none following the Beeching and later cuts and over subsequent years some 250 have been opened/reopened. There was a search for a profitable railway, and financial analysis showed the areas that were profitable and those losing money. The business was divided into 5 sectors including Regional Railways which incurred 70% of total costs and 60% of the total subsidy.
Chris Green creates Scotrail, and with innovation on finance, purchasing and promotion, a 25% growth in rail travel is recorded. In addition cost savings were made on rural lines with the introduction of RETB.
The Provincial Sector obtained its first new trains in many years with the introduction of class 150 dmus to be followed by other classes 141-144, 155, 156 and 158.
The reopening of lines, the opening of new lines and the extension of service on some routes, led to substantial improvements in finances – income + 43%, train miles + 15%, costs - 25%, subsidy -13% and 88% of trains less than 8 years old.
The Provincial brand was replaced with Regional Railways, and the best organisation that BR had was replaced, as the government wanted a different model with privatisation. The last part to be privatised was RRNW in 1997.
A fascinating insight on the turn round in BR fortunes was thoroughly enjoyed by our largest audience of the season so far.

Tuesday 14th November 2017
'Restoration and operation of GWR 2-8-0 2857'
Simon Marshall

“Restoration and operation of GWR 2-8-0 2857” was presented by Simon Marshall on 14th November. Starting with a brief story of the development into of the 28XX class he explained the group who decided to purchase 2857 from Barry scrapyard.
The loco was moved to Bewdley in 1975, stripped down, repainted and although some parts were obtained some had to be made. The tender was moved to the Wagon Repairs depot in Stoke (in the former Kerr Stuart factory) for restoration.
During the restoration the cylinder block was found to be cracked but was repaired, so by 1979 the first steaming took place. The work had been carried out, largely in the open, by the volunteers in a siding at Bewdley. However the cylinder block cracks were worse than originally thought, so the spare was refurbished and installed. The chassis was reunited with the boiler at Bridgnorth and loco completed for steaming in August 1985. The first main line trip to a display in Newport with SVR wagons followed by fine tuning of some parts and replacement of others.
At the end of the 10 year boiler certificate the loco was stripped down for refurbishment. Simon gave a very detailed description of the repair and replacement of parts as the group had learned lessons from the first refurbishment. The tender tank was replaced and the loco returned to service.

Those present appreciated the detail provided and the “warts and all” information of what is involved in loco restoration.

Tuesday 24th October 2017
'Westwards from Doverlooking for steam around 1960'
Peter Groom

Peter Groom returned to the Branch for his third visit on 24th October to present “Westwards from Dover looking for steam around 1960”.
His aim was to complete the journey to Wadebridge but that the clock might beat him. Starting with B4 30084 at Dover we progressed through Folkestone Junction, Ashford, Three Bridges, Brighton, Lancing Carriage Works, Hayling Island, Fratton, Isle of Wight, Eastleigh, Southampton Docks, Lyme Regis and Exmouth Junction before time ran out.
Along the way he described the various classes, from the smallest tank engine to largest tender engine, including various detail differences of individual members of a class. Of note was the cut down cab and boiler mountings of R1 tank which had worked the Canterbury & Whitstable line, the numerous variations of the Terriers and the Drummond boiler which was used on a number of Isle of Wight 02s. He also posed the question “when is a dome not a dome?”

Those present appreciated the detailed description and look forward to Peter’s next visit when we might be Scotland bound.

Tuesday 10th October 2017
1900 Branch AGM followed by at 2000 Branch Member Stephen Harrison presenting rare cine films

The Branch AGM was held on 10th October when members heard updates from the committee on the reports issued with the annual mailshot. 14 members have joined since the last AGM and the average attendance at meetings slightly increased again to 39. Book sales at exhibitions and meetings were strong and bolstered by the acquisition of substantial additional stock of second hand books this year. Whilst there was additional help with major exhibitions the committee would appreciate volunteers to publicise the branch and take over responsibility for web reports. The committee was re-elected en bloc with the vice chairman taking the vacant chairman position.

After the break Stephen Harrison showed vintage 8mm films with sound but due to an equipment malfunction the evening was brought to a premature close.

Tuesday 26th September 2017
'Strictly Freight Only'
Brian Ringer

Brian Ringer presented “Strictly Freight Only” on 26th September covering the history and development of the rail freight industry over the last 60 years as to why things happened and strategic decisions made.
He illustrated steam and diesel hauled freight trains in the late 50s and early 60s with the variety of loads in local pick-up and through services. The only block trains carried coal. He gave an example of how a goods clerk would have dealt with an order from a local business, using the cumbersome process to get the load en route to its final destination. At that time the freight revenue was twice that from passenger traffic and one third of the freight income was from coal.
The Modernisation Plan created a number of large marshalling yards and the closure of many small local yards, although subsequent change to mainly block trains meant that the new yards had a short life.
Numerous new diesel classes were ordered, without adequate testing of the prototypes, and being designed for the small yards and wagon load traffic also led to early withdrawal. Brian cited four classes as particularly poor choices – Metro Vick, Clayton, NBL class 22 and class 14.
Most loads were still carried in small unfitted wagons and even the fitted wagons were small without roller bearings requiring regular stops to check for hot boxes.
The development of train load freight and block trains replaced the loss making services by more efficient faster handling, and the use of larger fitted wagons with roller bearings developed new markets carrying oil, coal to power stations, steel and to a wider variety of ports.

Those present look forward to Part 2 of this fascinating story.

Tuesday 12th September 2017
'Life with Tornado'
John Rawlinson, 60163 Tornado Trust

John Rawlinson, 60163 Tornado Trust, opened the new season on “Life with Tornado” on 12th September.
He explained the decision to embark on the ambitious project to build a new steam locomotive stemmed from the scrapping of the last A1, 60145 Saint Mungo, which left the family of LNER Pacifics incomplete. The new locomotive was to be certified to run on the main line and it was therefore necessary to employ modern equipment and design changes to meet the requirements of current regulations. Although most drawings were available at the NRM adjustments were required to tolerances.
Construction started in 1994 with the cutting of the frame plates which were assembled at Tyseley and parts fitted before being placed on show at the NRM and then on to Hopetoun Works in Darlington.
John described the manufacture, machining and finishing of parts including the boiler assembly in Meiningen, Germany.
The tender was redesigned to provide greater water and less coal capacity and space for modern electronics.
On completion it was tested on the GCR being the only heritage line with 60mph capability and passed a comparison test with 70013 Oliver Cromwell. It entered service on main line rail tours and visits to heritage lines. He explained the vital role of the support crew and the use of the support coach. The locomotive received necessary maintenance including boiler repairs in Germany.
We saw examples of recent outings including film of the 100 mph main line run.

Members wished him well with the project including a rare visit to the East Midlands on a Railtour in October.

Tuesday 25th April 2017
Bristol to Didcot
Richard Binding

Richard Binding returned to the branch on 25th April to explore a further stretch of the GWR main line towards Paddington, this time from Bristol to Didcot. He explained the historical background to Bristol as a sea port including scenes of the arrival of a derelict SS Great Britain and its subsequent restoration also views to and from the Clifton Suspension Bridge showed the steep gorge and the line to Portishead.
We were treated to a tour of Temple Meads station from early drawings of the Brunel terminal, its subsequent extension, the Bristol & Exeter building and the later Joint Station including steam and diesel images of Bath Road shed.
Our journey towards London commenced pausing at many stations, signal boxes and tunnels in both steam and diesel eras. At Swindon Richard included steam classes and 18000 in the scrapyard, steam and diesel in and outside of the erecting shop, then over the Cheltenham line to the shed. At the shed one slide of 46251 City of Nottingham and 7022 Hereford Castle brought back memories to those present that were on the East Midlander No. 7 rail tour on 9th May 1964.
The final stretch included a 47xx derailed at Shrivenham, the wayside stations and on time arrival at Didcot.

We look forward to Richard’s next visit with progress towards London or is it Oxford first?

Tuesday 11th April 2017
"The Friargate Line"
Keith Blood

More than fifty members and visitors attended the branch meeting on 11th April to hear Keith Blood present “The Friargate Line”. He explained why the GNR chose to expand westwards in to Derbyshire to tap the coalfields and the beer traffic from Burton. Local businesses in Derby were concerned with the MR monopoly and many supported the GNR scheme. Unfortunately the topography of the area with river valleys largely running north to south and the route east to west meant that it was necessary to build expensive bridges and viaducts, two tunnels, cuttings and embankments. The course of the line resulted in the demolition of many properties in Derby and although a grandiose station was planned a more modest four platform station was all that could be afforded.
He showed photographs depicting the route from west of Ilkeston to Ettington Junction, both during its working life, and then what remains in more recent times since the final closure in 1968.
Derby Friargate station area was covered in intricate detail, including the extant but derelict large Goods Shed and Engine (power) House.

He concluded with some general interest photographs including former staff and a display of tickets.

Tuesday 28th March 2017
"MML Electrification and Derby Re-modelling"
Kevin Newman, Network Rail

On 28th March, in a change to our programme, Kevin Newman from Network Rail explained details of the Midland Main Line Electrification and Derby Remodelling projects. He gave us an overview of NR’s operations and the need for greater capacity with a doubling of passenger numbers over the past 20 years and projected to double again by 2041.
He described the various types of overhead line equipment and that deemed most suitable for the MML with its numerous curves compared with the straight GW main line.
The electrification project involves the erection of overhead equipment from Bedford to Sheffield and branches to Corby and Nottingham, with completion to Corby scheduled for 2019 and Sheffield by 2023. It includes reinstatement of four tracks from Bedford to Kettering North Junction to provide additional capacity, raising of bridges for the electrification and provision for the largest containers, and straightening of the layout at Market Harborough and extending platforms along the route to cope with 11 coach trains.
The Derby remodelling involves major revision of the layout, particularly at the southern end, to segregate the various routes. A blockade in the summer of 2018 will include re-signalling to replace Derby PSB, the completion of a new island platform on the eastern side, platform extensions and the elimination of the bay platform.

A Q & A session included the sensitivity of improvements at Belper and the bottleneck from Syston to Wigston which is not included in the current programme.

Tuesday 14th March 2017
Railways in a Cornish Landscape Part 3
Stephen Gay

Stephen Gay returned to the branch to present “Railways in the Cornish Landscape part 3” on 14th March. Stephen takes great care to find the unusual subject or location and this talk was no different.
Starting at Bude, where nothing remains of the station, exploring along the canal he found evidence of the former Sand Railway. Turning inland by bus he asks the driver to stop at the roadside to take a photograph of a modern road sign, clearly showing the location as Camelford Station. The station in private use is located further along the road. Unfortunately for Stephen the next bus was three hours later.
Continuing our tour around Cornwall, we saw the Royal Albert Bridge from different angles, the Looe, Newquay, Falmouth and St. Ives branches with road and rail signs depicting steam locos or requesting a whistle, as well as some of the many viaducts in the county, some clearly showing the remains of the earlier Brunel structure.
Investigating the remains of the Redruth & Chacewater Railway, he discovered the scene of a derailment which cost the life of a railway employee and traced the church where he was buried. After patiently waiting for the sun to be at the correct angle, the gravestone clearly showed the employee to have been called Stephen Gay!
Our tour finished in Penzance and then Penlee with poignantly the closed lifeboat station.

Tuesday 28th February 2017
The amusing exploits of having the best job in the world as chief Engineer at NRM
Richard Gibbon OBE

The branch welcomed Richard Gibbon OBE, retired chief engineer at the NRM, on 28th February to present what he described as “it shouldn’t happen to an engineer (or fifty years of fun)”.
He showed a photo of himself trainspotting at Warrington Bank Quay, then traced his career starting as an apprentice engineer at Metro Vick in Manchester working on power station projects. He moved to the Merchant Navy with The Blue Funnel Line, then Ferodo to work on brake linings for the APT and on to Kelham Island Museum and as a volunteer at Bala Lake Railway before joining the NRM in 1989.
He described the various activities at each with amusing anecdotes particularly with some of the correspondence from the public dealt with at the NRM.
After the break he showed an eleven minute film of an iron ore narrow gauge railway in China with the track in an atrocious condition which made the large audience wonder how the trains remained upright.

The amusing and informative evening concluded with a Q & A session.

Tuesday 14th February 2017
Developments on the Welsh Highland and Festiniog Railways
Peter Johnson

On 14th February Peter Johnson’s topic was “Developments of the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways”.
He described the difficulties in reconstructing the WHR and the revised layout and station at Porthmadog to facilitate both services.
We were treated to inside views of Boston Lodge Works with new construction and refurbishment for locomotives and coaches including contract work for other railways.
The Landmark Trust leased an empty workers’ cottage as holiday accommodation with an idyllic view of the railway. The former Bryngwyn branch has been converted into a leisure walk, although there is a possible long term aim of also reinstating the track.
Visiting locomotives often form part of special promotions which also include vintage and goods trains. Resident locomotives have been converted back to coal firing and other innovations include the use of sleepers made from recycled plastic.
He gave details of other developments: - a new shed at Minffordd for the storage and restoration of wagons, redevelopment at Boston Lodge to include a larger workshop and new road access, a new build to replace Earl of Merioneth, restoration of the goods shed at Minffordd and the redevelopment of Caernarfon station.

Tuesday 24th January 2017
'Bulleid's Other Locomotives'
Colin Boocock

The theme on 24th January changed from GWR to SR as Colin Boocock replaced the Society President and covered “Bulleid’s Locomotives”. He described the engineer’s career from GNR apprentice to CME at SR then CIE before progressing through classes delivered whilst he was at the helm.
At the Southern he inherited only 16 big engines, Lord Nelsons, and virtually no new designs, as the legacy of the 1927 Sevenoaks crash had occupied the railway in preventing a recurrence, in addition to further electrification of the system.
Colin described the locomotives designed by Maunsell but delivered after Bulleid had taken up the post. He modified members of the Lord Nelson, King Arthur and Schools classes with double chimneys to improve performance, but the aesthetic effect was not necessarily improved.
Continuing through the classes designed by Bulleid, Colin explained in great detail the different and often novel working parts particularly with the Pacific classes and the experimental Leaders.
After his move to CIE, he oversaw the introduction of diesel locomotive and railcar classes as well, as another experiment. This time it was the “turf (peat) burner” initially with a hideous conversion of a K3 2-6-0, before building a prototype eliminating a number of the faults with the Leader.
After he retired, many of SR Pacifics were rebuilt, and in Eire the A and C classes were rebuilt with GM engines and gave many years of further service.

Colin also gave a short presentation on the work of the Railway Children charity in which he is also involved and was presented with a cheque to them from the Branch in lieu of a fee.

last updated: 21/01/18