Meeting Reports

Thursday 13th December 2018
A Years Travel on the Rail Network 2016
Terence Jenner (Northampton)

On December 13th our guest was Terence Jenner to present The Rail Network in 2016.
He started by outlining his background having joined the then British Rail in the legal department, which was comparatively small compared to the present set up, and served over 38 years including on the BR Board and was responsible for the disposal of non-core assets such as Sea link and BR Hotels.
We started locally at Norwich with diesel locomotive hauled service to the coast and then commenced a journey around England and Wales. Many locations were visited including Knaresborough, Redditch, Wrexham and Ebbw Vale where the virtually new Funicular railway is proving somewhat unreliable. Other locations included Wakefield Kirkgate and Penarth and also the East Midlands area which has been relatively untouched since privatisation. Not all the images featured a train and the only steam locomotive seen was on the ex-BR Vale of Rheidol network in Wales.
The story of saving Marylebone from closure was related and the comparison with today shown, including the new service to Oxford Parkway.
The contrast of forward planning on Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham tramway networks was highlighted, although it appears that the much delayed Sheffield train-tram project is working well. Re-use of redundant railway assets was featured with an example being the redundant signal box at Torquay now a wool shop.
Finally there was a discussion on the merits or otherwise of railway privatisation.

This was an interesting comparison with rail and tram networks of today.

Monday 10th December 2018
AGM followed by “Nine in Ninety”

Our Branch AGM was held on 10 December with 33 members present, our highest AGM attendance in many years or perhaps they were attracted by the festive goodies on offer later.
All the committee were re-elected on bloc and we then proceeded to our presentation Nine in Ninety where members had ten minutes on their own railway subject.
First was The Medloc Railway describing a journey by troop train from Dieppe to Toulon in the fifties followed by Darlington North Road Museum and Hopetown Works to see the P2 Mikado under construction. The rail network of both islands of New Zealand was featured prior to the break including former BR Mk2 carriages that worked our local Inter City services until 2004.
Afterwards we saw steam on the Mid Suffolk Light Railway showing all locomotives on the preserved line since 2002 and a Scandinavian Sojourn featuring a Great Railways tour around Sweden and Norway last summer including the heavy iron ore trains in the north.
Next was The Statfold Barn Railway, a two foot narrow gauge network located on a farm near Tamworth, showing operations and static exhibits on one of their enthusiast days where you must apply to be invited and then a retired fitter related problems with the early diesel locomotives on the Felixstowe Branch especially Class 15 Paxmans.
Our penultimate presentation was from Wenecja do Rzymu (Venice to Rome) on the six hundred millimetre narrow gauge network and museum in Poland featuring many of locomotives and rolling stock located there.
We concluded with Railways in Winter featuring local, national and international locations including the Settle and Carlisle line and The Harz Mountains network.

An excellent evening and our grateful thanks to both contributors and John Day for compiling the programme.

Tuesday 13th November 2018
(To) Tebay on EBay
Dave Pearce (Norwich)

On November 13 our guest was Dave Pearce to present Tebay from E bay. This was a selection of mainly b/w images purchased from the on line auction site featuring the UK rail network over many years. Bidding can be very competitive for the above with three figure sums not unknown and Dave had missed out on some items as bidding was too high.
We started and finished in the Tebay area and the ascent of Shap where panoramic views were shown from the 50s and 60s including the former North Eastern branch to Kirkby Stephen showing mainly steam workings, some taken from what is now the M6. Some of the negatives were in a somewhat sorry state with no date and location given, but with modern software processing and some research, the end results were very pleasing.
Other locations shown included the ECML, the Bradford and Leeds area and also the Alnwick branch not forgetting the former GC route from Marylebone and also the Lancashire and Yorkshire areas in the steam era.
Some atmospheric night images included a passenger train at Bury Knowsley Street, a Black 5 being prepared at Patricroft shed, and also industrial steam at the Pilkington Glassworks, and vintage scenes at Lowestoft Sleeper Depot.
Panned shots were also shown,some taken by professional rail staff, who used their unique trackside access to good effect.
Scotland and Wales also featured including the Barmouth Viaduct and a railtour at Kyle of Localsh.
The oldest image was from 1924 showing the WCML near Hatch End with the LT Metropolitan route in the background.
Colour images included Euston approach in 1969, a Class 40 on the Waverley route and a 4TC set near Weymouth just prior to the end of steam in 1967.

We look forward to the sequel.

Thursday 25th October 2018-
Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt

On 25 October our guest was Bob Gellatly to present Retford through the lens of the late Keith Pirt.
Both of the routes that converge on the town were covered extensively in a series of high quality images of steam workings taken lineside during the late fifties and early sixties. The former GC route from Sheffield to Lincoln crossed the former GN route on the flat at the southern end, the routes being connected by sharp curves at both ends of the station. The adjacent signal box, Retford South, must have been extremely busy until the crossing was replaced by a dive under in 1965 to cater for an increase in coal traffic to the new power stations by the River Trent.

   Class A1 60120 "Kittiwake" departs Retford with the up-Yorkshire Pullman in June 1961   Keith Pirt
A wide variety of workings featured many of the classes then active, particularly the variants of the ex Robinson and Gresley 2-8-0 freight locomotives, Keith wishing to highlight the detailed differences of these and other classes and also special and diverted workings such as holiday extras, football specials and rail tours, one of which featured haulage by a clean Robinson Class 04 2-8-0.
The local freight yards, track and signalling diagrams also featured, along with the many fine bracket signals in the area and also a comprehensive look at the ex-GC loco shed at Thrumpton but the ex-GN loco shed adjacent to the station did not feature.
The GN route showed many of the usual express passenger and fast freight workings, some taken in slightly cool conditions, concentrating on the southern section which included some at his favourite locations crossing the River Idle, the climb south up Gamston Bank and the summit at Askham tunnel. The signal

Monday 8th October 2018
The Waverley Route
Dennis Lovett (Somerset)

On October 8 our guest was Dennis Lovett who presented The Waverley Route.
The North British Railway constructed the 98 mile route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle from 1849 onwards notwithstanding delaying tactics by the Caledonian Railway over running rights around Edinburgh. There were 28 stations, some in very rural locations and three major loco depots at St Margarets, Hawick and Carlisle Canal along with sub sheds supplying banking engines for the major summits at Falahill and Whitrope.
It was controversially closed to all passenger traffic by British Rail in January 1969 although local freight lingered on for a while longer, and there was subsequently a population drift away from the area as a result. A small section still survives to connect various industrial outlets to Carlisle Kingmoor yard.
However in 2006, after a sustained campaign led by a lady named Madge Elliot MBE, the Scottish Government authorised the reinstatement of nearly 40 miles of track from Newcraighall near Edinburgh to a new station at Tweedbank north of Melrose. Construction began in 2010 and it is said that the whole population of Galashiels witnessed the arrival of the track laying machine in 2015 to prove to themselves that it was really happening. Some of the original infrastructure such as the Lothian viaduct was still extant and in good condition but some stations were relocated as close as possible to their original site. Local roads were altered and properties acquired and demolished so that the route could follow its original alignment. It was finally reopened in September 2015 and traffic levels since then have far exceeded expectations despite much of it being single line.
The ambition is to reconnect south to the towns of Melrose and Hawick and ultimately Carlisle although there are some challenging infrastructure hurdles to overcome.

Monday 10th September 2018
50 Years of Scottish Railways Part 2 – Dundee to the Far North & Kyle
David MacLean (Gissing)

On September 10 our guest was David MacLean to present From Dundee to the Far North & Kyle of Localsh.
Our journey commenced at The Tay Bridge with a Class 40 hauled passenger service and we saw various images taken in the area over many years from on train and trackside. The 1879 Tay Bridge disaster was recalled featuring the recently dedicated memorial to the victims and scenes on Dundee loco shed in both the steam and diesel era including many A2 Pacifics, various mixed traffic classes and even a P2 Mikado. Diesels included the unsuccessful North British Class 22/29 which were common in the area, Class 47s on push pull services and more modern traction.

   Class 67 on a pipe train at Laurencekirk   David MacLean
Moving north towards Aberdeen a variety workings were seen including the West Coast Postal hauled by an ex LMS Black 5, Class 68 at Arbroath and a Colas Class 60 on a cement working to Dunbar.
Many of the scenes at Aberdeen featured the three hour express services to Glasgow hauled by the surviving A4 Pacifics contrasting with modern refurbished HST sets on crew training duties and also the now replaced numerous signal gantries on the approach to both ends of the station.
Also Ferryhill and Kittybrewster depots were shown featuring both steam and diesel traction including an A4 Pacific and ex LMS Duchess Pacific on shed together, and many Type 2 diesel locomotives.
Moving North West towards Inverness, evidence of investment on the route includes new sidings at Dyce for the oil industry, the doubling of six miles of track west of Dyce and a relocated station at Forres. We also saw views around the locomotive works at Inverurie closed in 1969.

We ran out of time so the remainder of the programme will be shown at a future date. Highly recommended!

Monday 14th May 2018
'A Modern Traction Journey - Panzance to Bristol then the rest of the UK'
Paul Chancellor (Colour Rail)

On 14 May Paul Chancellor presented A Modern Traction Journey - Penzance to Bristol - then the rest of the UK.

   Ex GWR 4978 Westwood Hall at Newton Abbot 12 December 1962   ColourRail
After advice regarding safe storage and preservation of individual slide and photographic collections, our journey covering a period of nearly sixty years showed the route in transition from the steam workings in the fifties, featuring both ex GWR and BR Classes, Gas Turbine Loco 18000, to early North British and BR hydraulic classes including shunters, Warships, Westerns and Hymeks. These were subsequently replaced by diesel electric traction such as Peaks, Brush Class 47s and EE Class 50s, which were themselves superseded by the HST and Voyager fleets. Also the DMU changes as regards both mainline and branch line services were shown. A railbus at Boscarne Junction ,the first Class 08 shunter at Swindon Works and failed HST sets being rescued by unusual traction such as a Class 58 at Exeter St Davids were featured, with the early traction classes sporting green livery without yellow ends.
The numerous classes, not covered earlier, were then shown including Class 01 shunters at Holyhead Breakwater, ex-LMS and SR diesel shunters, together with BR modernisation plan traction, including locomotives such as the North British Class 22 and Metrovick Class 28, which along with many others had only a short period of operation.
Prototype locos seen included Falcon Lion, DP2 GT3 and Kestrel HS4000 which was exported having completed its trials on the BR network. The 1950s built DMUs were seen including a Metro Cammell unit at Walsingham on the Wells next the Sea branch line and early ex SR and LMS Electric units also featured with the ex SR 4SUB units having three different body designs.
The evening concluded with atmospheric images of steam workings on the heritage railway network.

Monday 9th April 2018
'Mail Rail - A History through the Archive'
Chris Taft (The Postal Museum)

On April 9 Chris Taft, Head of Collections at The Postal Museum presented Mail Rail to a season record attendance.
Chris outlined the background to this major attraction which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 2017. The two foot gauge underground network was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1913 and construction started soon after. It ran between Whitechapel near Liverpool Street and Paddington with several intermediate stations and a northern detour to the major centre at Mount Pleasant where the engineering support workshops were also located. Construction was suspended during WW1, although the trackless stations and tunnels were used for safe storage of the nations art treasures and after 1918 the project faced abandonment but was eventually completed, opening in 1927. The network was powered by third rail 440v DC except in the workshops, and operations at each station were described including the two main line termini, the initial build rolling stock being replaced in 1930 and in subsequent years, access to street level facilitated by a shaft at Mount Pleasant. Trains were unmanned except for three battery powered locomotives for engineering and emergency duties and there was a two hour system maintenance window from 0800 to 1000 each day.
The system declined from the early nineties with mail exchange being prohibited at the main line termini and the opening of the Willesden Railnet hub. The closure of many intermediate stations reduced traffic, culminating in closure in 2003.
However in 2013 Royal Mail, who still own the whole system, was given permission to open a 1km section based at Mount Pleasant, which Is proving a very popular attraction and there is a waiting list to ride on the trains at peak times.
So the earlier you book the better!

Thursday 22nd March 2018
'Black and White Steam South of the Border'
David Kelso (Broadstairs)

On 24 March David Kelso presented Black and White Steam South of the Border 1948 to 1960.
Starting at Willesden, a 1948 image of an unrebuilt Patriot was seen and we toured many areas of the country including Derby Works where Stanier 8F locos repatriated from Suez were awaiting overhaul, one of which is now resident on The Severn Valley, and the experimental Fell diesel was under repair. Also Garratt locos were noted at Clay Cross and Burton- on -Trent together with passenger and freight trains on the now closed Peak Forest route in Monsal Dale and the unique Lickey Banker, Big Bertha, near Bromsgrove.
Also featured was the Turbomotive Princess 46202 at Crewe a few months prior to the Harrow tragedy, and scenes from the Carlisle area included Citadel Station and Penrith to Keswick branch operations.

   Class C15 4-4-2T locomotive 67438 at Bradford Exchange   David Kelso
We visited the Lancashire area with major stations in Manchester shown including banking operations at Manchester Victoria, steam services from London Road and electric trains from Bury Bolton St.
The Llangollen area was shown which also featured piggy-back operations on the Narrow Gauge slate quarry networks together with images from the preserved lines.
In the east both the Woodhead and Tyneside electric services were seen and also steam hauled local and holiday traffic at York and West Yorkshire via Huddersfield and the Calder Valley route.
Hadley Wood on the ECML was shown prior to the 1958 widening and also Britannia Pacifics on the Great Eastern.
The Southern network included first generation electric units and a Bulleid Q1 on a passenger service at Tonbridge.
Much of the non railway infrastructure seen has also now changed including the massive Ind Coope brewery building at Burton-on-Trent.

An afternoon of pure nostalgia and highly recommended.

Monday 12th March 2018
'Swindon Works - The Golden Years (1880 - 1924)'
Rev. Canon Brian Arman, RCTS President

Society President Rev.Canon Brian Arman paid his first visit to the branch and presented “Swindon Works – The Golden Years 1880 – 1924”
Although Brian expressed some concern on giving a presentation on the Great Western Railway in Great Eastern territory he was well received and given a very warm welcome.
Outlining the coming of the railway to Swindon in 1840 with the first locomotive built in 1846, the site steadily grew from employing 1500 workers in 1849 to 16000 in 1921.
In its heyday 200 locomotives were built each year together with 50000 wagons repaired.

   Preserved GWR Class 2800 2=8=0 2807 approaching Levisham from Grosmont on the North York Moors Railway on 26 September 2014   Bev Steele
Wide facilities were established for employees and their families with the provision of houses, a hospital, playing fields and a cricket pitch.
It was interesting to learn that although 1892 is widely regarded as the passing of the broad gauge, the last new broad gauge engine was built in 1891!
Contrary to popular opinion the majority of broad gauge locomotives and coaches were not scrapped but were converted to standard gauge (early GWR tradition – waste not want not!).

This was a remarkable evening and we are looking forward to another visit from Brian in the not too distant future

Monday 12th February 2018
'North Woolwich - Palace Gates - a Photographic Journey'
Jim Connor

On 12 February Jim Connor presented North Woolwich to Palace Gates-a Photographic Journey.

   1st generation DMU at Silvertown Station in 1960   Jim Connor
Our journey on the twelve mile route commenced at North Woolwich, once the temporary site of the Great Eastern museum and we saw all the stations both from platform and street level with many looking somewhat austere as the area suffered from damage during the blitz in World War 2 owing to its proximity to the London Docks.
Branch lines to the now closed Beckton Gas Works, reputedly the largest in Europe, and Gallions left at Custom House station with the works having its own industrial network.
The route had interchanges at Stratford Low Level and Seven Sisters until the latter closed with the opening of The Victoria Line in 1968. Services were both steam and diesel operated with Class L1 and N7 tank engines used and later diesel locomotives and units.
In WW2 a connection was built to link with the GN at Bounds Green but saw limited traffic and was subsequently lifted.
   Palace Gates station   Jim Connor
The section north from Stratford to Palace Gates closed to passenger traffic in January 1963 although freight services continued for a while. Services continued south of Stratford but the route was somewhat neglected until electrification followed in the eighties for Richmond services diverted from the soon to be closed Broad Street terminus.
In 1984 4472 Flying Scotsman was seen at Stratford Market on a gauge clearance special.

Today the route is unrecognisable from its previous existence with the opening of the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway and benefiting soon from the Cross Rail network. The dramatic transformation has to be appreciated especially comparing the old and new stations such as at Canning Town and Custom House and even Lea Bridge station, north of Stratford has recently reopened.

Thursday 1st February 2018
'Next Train Gone'
Adrian White (Stevenage)

On 1st February Adrian White from Stevenage presented Next Train Gone. This was a selection of high quality images taken in the UK, Europe and the USA inspired by the photography of Colin Gifford with many taken from unconventional angles with the frontage view not that dominant, a favourite being the going away image depicting a train disappearing into the mist or dark.
We started at Ipswich and toured both the mainline and preserved networks throughout the country including the Severn Valley, Mid Hants, North York Moors and Bluebell lines in particular. A sequence on the SVR showed the variety of views possible from one short length of track in clear and murky conditions. Some images were reflective, some with glint, atmospheric night workings and trains silhouetted against the sunlight .

   A4 class 60009 "Union of South Africa"crossing the Digswell Viaduct with RTC Xmas White Rose special on 14th December 2013   Adrian White
The latter was highlighted to perfection with ECML workings crossing Digswell Viaduct and the GN main line featured prominently in the programme.
The last hauled train on the Croxley Branch was shown together with final workings before overhaul of both A4 Sir Nigel Gresley and the ex GE Class N7 tank engine at Codsall.
Royal Scot was shown at Gleneagles and Kings Cross and St Pancras stations were seen totally transformed from their ugly duckling status.
In Europe, DB steam included double headed Class 01 Pacifics and Class 44 locomotives working scheduled passenger and freight services during one of their Plandalf celebrations, and Swiss Railway workings through The Alps.
In the USA steam workings on The Silvertown Railroad were shown together with many others.
The human aspect was not neglected and featured staff and passengers as the subject, with the railway as a backdrop.

Over four hundred images were featured and the programme is highly recommended to other branches.

last updated: 09/01/19