Meeting Reports

Monday 11th March 2019
Swindon Works -The Golden Years- Plus [From 1914]
Rev Canon Brian Arman (Bristol)

On March 11th Society President Brian Arman paid a return visit to present Swindon Works-The Golden Years plus(1914 onwards) .
We started with The Trip, a series of special trains run for employees during the works closure in the first week of July. The varied destinations included St Ives, Falmouth,Tenby and Birkenhead with others opting for day trips to places like Weston-Super-Mare.
During the Great War the works was heavily involved in the manufacture of Field Guns, munitions and also the conversion of coaching stock as ambulance trains for the transportation of casualties. Also some employees made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield especially in the 1916 Battle of The Somme.
Post war much of the GWR rolling stock fleet was in a run down state and with the grouping, more run down stock was inherited from the smaller companies, some of it out of use for many years. Charles Collett replaced George Churchward as CME in 1922 and endeavoured to reorganise the way overhauls were undertaken in order to minimise the period in works, sometimes having to repair stock before it was replaced. A royal visit in 1924 by the King and Queen was featured with the King being permitted to drive Castle Class Loco 4082 Windsor Castle from the works to the station. Collett was responsible for much updating of the GWR Locomotive fleet and introduced the Castles, Kings and Halls to replace earlier designs, as well as tank engines for South Wales rural and urban services in the region.
The locomotive exchange trials of 1925 and 1948 were shown including a Class A1 at Newton Abbot in 1925 and a King at Wakefield Westgate in 1948.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to complete the presentation so Brian will return next year.

Thursday 21st February 2019
Rain, Grain and Grime
Richard Adderson (Norwich)

On February 21st our guest was Richard Adderson to present Rail, Grain and Grime (BR Steam August 66 to August 68). This was a selection of scanned black and white images he had taken depicting the decline of BR steam traction in the country.
Starting on the south western route from Basingstoke to Waterloo, the surviving classes were shown on a variety of trains including top link workings, and was subsequently revisited, including the final day in July 67 where he travelled on the last up working having visited Weymouth depot to see the now redundant locomotives.
The final days of the Great Central were also shown with the reduced service from Marylebone to Nottingham in the hands of a neglected pool of Black Fives and also workings on the West Midlands and former Cambrian routes.
The swansong of the East Coast Pacifics and Britannias on passenger services in Scotland including the Northern Irish Boat train to Stranraer was shown together with local freight workings and visits to many of the surviving steam depots.
After recording the final steam workings in the north east, the north west area was highlighted depicting the many workings before their demise in August 68.There were favourite locations such as Carnforth, Preston where two steam operated pilots still found work, and Carlisle where the overnight sleeper was used to travel around, a favourite train being the Britannia hauled 8.32pm mixed train to Perth.
The Shap and Grayrigg banking locos were seen together with many visits to the local steam depots to record the neglected surviving classes. A memorable trip was a Preston to Barrow service with a Fairburn tank replacing a failed diesel unit. Both the traction and stations looked uncared for and this was reflected in the images.

Sad but very nostalgic.

Monday 11th February 2019
The Harwich Branch
Dave Goodyear

On February 11th our booked speaker was unable to attend, so John Day stepped into the breach to present Ipswich-A Railway Junction in the East.
From Sproughton in the north to Brantham in the south and the Felixstowe Branch, the whole area was extensively covered over the past sixty years using a selection of high quality colour images and archive material from the local museum.
The station approaches and tunnel at the south end featured and also outside the station which has been extensively remodelled over many years to cater for increased passenger flows post electrification in 1987.
The docks ceased to be rail served in the early nineties and the now lifted Lower Yard, which once employed three shunting locomotives, were shown together with the recently modernised Top Yard used for the stabling of Freightliner services.
The site of the original station at Croft Street, the Griffin Wharf Branch and the recently opened north curve were also featured.
Among the many firsts, were new electric passenger and freight services in the eighties, Class 150 Sprinter units and the new Class 66 for Freightliner operations.
John's extensive contacts ensured coverage of many unusual or special workings including a Class 315 EMU, a short lived Class 92 hauled Freightliner, and numerous steam hauled workings over the period.
Many images were taken from Belstead Bank to the south, and above the southern portal of the tunnel, with some locations now precluding a repeat visit owing to vegetation growth.
The area continues to evolve with complete replacement of the passenger fleet this year and the proposed transfer of the locomotive stabling point to a site adjacent to the Top Yard.

Our grateful thanks to John for stepping in at such short notice

Monday 14th January 2019
A Modern Traction Miscellany (Full title to be Announced)
John Hooson (Gt Baddow)

On 14 January our guest was John Hooson to present A Modern Traction Miscellany.
We started with an Inter-City Class 47 hauling a diverted West Coast Main Line service on the Settle and Carlisle route and BR sectorisation workings were the predominant theme of the evening.
More diverted workings were seen and also some of the gypsum and other freight services hauled by then new Class 60s together with what would now be called heritage traction taken from familiar locations.

   37073 "Fort William" passes Stowmarket wth a Doncaster-Harwich Enterprise service on 24th May 1997   Bev Steele
Locally the Felixstowe and Harwich branches featured Speedlink, Intermodal and car transporter workings workings hauled by both electric and diesel traction, many of which do not exist today. The final days of the Speedlink network in the March area also featured including a train loaded with military vehicles on the final day and oil workings from the now closed Shellhaven refinery in Essex hauled by sector dedicated traction.
At Pangbourne we saw a variety of workings including Class 47 hauled cross country services, IC HSTs and numerous freights, the images taken from the high overbridge near the station, together with scenes at Slough and Didcot and NSE workings in the Salisbury area.
In Cornwall China Clay workings were seen on the mainline and Fowey Harbour branch, being mainly Class 37 worked, with some images taken from unfamiliar locations.
On Teeside, the metals and mineral workings hauled by Class 56s with the transporter bridge in the background.
The North Wales Coast route and the Marches route through Shrewsbury featured the now discontinued Class 37 hauled through services from Euston to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli and also the steel traffic to South Wales. At least the semaphore signalling network at Shrewsbury is still extant.
A virtual GM free evening with only a single Class 66 seen.

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!

last updated: 13/03/19