RCTS Logo

Branches

Northampton

Meeting Reports

Monday 5th February 2018
Engine Sheds Part 10 – Ryde (IOW) to Stoke on Trent
Chris Banks

It is with sincere regret that the Branch reports the passing of Barry Freeman (9th August 1937 to 24th November 2017). Aged 80, Barry was a regular attendee at Northampton Branch meetings until overtaken by illness and in fact made a presentation to the Branch on "Railway Art". He was well known both locally and nationally for his meticulously detailed railway paintings, many of which became the subject of 1,000 piece jigsaws. His eye for detail on locomotive classes made him a keen contributor to our meetings. His brilliant painting on behalf of and at the request of the preservers of 46203 and 46233 on the up main line at Roade, was "word perfect", if slightly unlikely in terms of any particular happening.

Our Branch meeting on 5th February was Chris Bank's 10th presentation of his series on A to Z of locomotive sheds. Chris mentioned in his preamble that he had now gathered sufficient material for at least a 13th "edition", but that he would probably refer to it as 12A, inciting murmers of "Kingmoor", with the odd "Upperby " from those of us "going back" a little further. Either way, it was his usual quality presentation, covering sheds from Ryde to Stoke.

  
   Stockport Edgeley locomotive shed (9B). Photo taken by Chris Banks on 19th June 1960   Chris Banks
Notable scenes were many, but of particular note to this reviewer were two "Coronation" pacifics, at the time of the photographs, not unusually resting on Stirling shed midway through turns on the 1960s car-sleeper train to Stirling.
LNWR 0-8-0 49141 in ex-works condition at Stockport Edgeley shed, was another. Super Ds amongst the GWR locos at Shrewsbury also produced a few (unbiased) murmurs. Note that the Western Region 2-8-0 4705 resting from its night labours at home at Southall, reflects the lack of regional bias...........

Monday 22nd January 2018
Herbert Nigel Gresley the Engineer and his achievements
Chris Nettleton

  
   Sir Nigel Gresley statue on Kings Cross Station concourse unvieled on 5th April 2016, the 75th anniversery of his death   Gresley Society
Our afternoon meeting at Weston Favell on 22nd January was presented by Chris Nettleton. 50 or more Members and friends were given a blow by blow account of the achievements of "Nigel Gresley the Engineer".
The title did not mean that his personal life had to be ignored. He was variously referred to, depending on his relationship as Herbert, Nigel/Nige, and it soon became clear that he was destined to do well in the career in which he travelled.
His successes were well documented and although we cannot record them all here, the wonderful A1/A3/V2 and the later A4 cannot be missed from the roll of honour.
  
   LNER Class V2 2-6-2 4826 (renumered 60855) at York   Gresley Society
His career path, which included time under F. W. Webb at Crewe and as Running Shed Foreman at Blackpool, led eventually to the Great Northern. What followed is now hallowed history, but his private life, which was described respectfully by Chris, was not so different to many other private lives. It was a pleasure to hear of his marriage and family life, and it was sad that the name Gresley did not follow through from his children.

An absorbing afternoon, and, like many, a fine presentation, and one that could be listened to again and again.


Monday 8th January 2018
Steam in South Africa 1980
Roger Whitehead

Our first meeting of the new year was a Weston Favell evening one on Monday 8th January.

  
   Presentation of the "Keith Locke Trophy" to Brian Sullivan by Keith Sykes   J. Knights

Prior to the commencement of the meeting a short presentation in the form of “The Keith Locke Trophy” was made to Brian Sullivan by Branch Chairman Keith Sykes. The award is made annually for the best presentation by a Branch member and voted for at the Branch AGM.

Local member Roger Whitehead kept us entertained for two hours with the large selection of transparencies he had taken on RCTS tours of South Africa during the early 1980s. Although many were obtained whilst travelling on the tours, a good number were the result of ensuring that he and his friends got their hired car to the right spot at the right time. Naturally most of the shots were of steam hauled passenger trains, but freight did get a look in.

  
   South African Railways Class 15F 4-8-2 2943 'Bloemfontein' at Kimberley in April 1980. It was built by North British Rail, Glasgow in 1938 and delivered to S.Africa in 1939   Roger Whitehead
The massive proportions of the locos belied the narrower gauge than we are used to in the UK generally, but the shots from both close up and away from the trains during photo stops were of high quality, showing steam as it was, not necessarily "bulled up". The general black liveried locomotives and the red and cream of the carriages stood out well in the harsher terrain than the greenery of the UK. Shots in poor light or into the sunset produced artistic red hues by the score.
There were about 2 ,700 steam in SA in 1960, but by the time of Roger's forays some twenty years later, this had fallen to nearer 1,700, of classes too numerous to mention, but that needs to be seen in the context of a country somewhat larger than the UK.
Roger showed two trains, apparently running over half an hour apart on a zig-zag line used to climb a steep incline on the Berkley East branch - in the same frame! It was apparent that the locos seemed always to be working hard, with poor quality coal creating huge quantities of black smoke which seemed not to be the subject of any "Clean Air Act". Beyer-Garrats, triple headers, De Aar shed, storage lines at Beaufort West, a loco named MILLIE above the smokebox door, blue smoke deflectors, a 180 miles branch line to Jamestown, a beautiful late evening shot of trackwork, the pounding sea viewed from Table Mountain, topped by a wonderful sunset.
Magical !

Monday 4th December 2017
Branch AGM and Christmas Evening

The Branch Annual General Meeting on 4th December was attended by approximately 30 members, the business part of the evening taking less than 40 minutes to complete. As is the norm these days at more and more clubs and institutions throughout the country, the current standing committee was retuned en bloc.

Festive fayre was then taken during the natural break in proceedings before four members contributed diverse, but equally satisfying presentations, which well-illustrated the spread of interests within the membership.

  
   1964.Class 7200 no 7218 at Cohens locomotive scrap yard at Cransley, near Kettering   Colin Horne
Colin Horne led with a fascinating selection of steam locos in various scrap-yards but mainly the local “Cohen’s” at Kettering, during the late 1960s. There is clearly a full presentation in the making, which we are already looking forward to.
Equally enjoyed was Richard Deacon’s somewhat shorter version of his earlier presentation of the historic sites still to be seen above and below the London Underground system, enabling us to revisit even more of the sights of the sites.
Then, just to keep us on our toes, Tommy Tomalin presented us all with a “ticket” bearing the name of various stations and junctions along the Midland mainline between Wellingborough and Leicester and Melton Mowbray. The only instruction was to “get into lines corresponding to the proper order”. It was hilarious watching the extremely knowledgeable congregation slowly dissolving into doubters of their own abilities! Great fun, no prizes!
Order was restored when Roger Whitehead showed a series of scenes of steam in the USA over recent years. The length and difficult operating conditions on the preserved lines made us realise that railways overseas were both different and similar to our own. Another full presentation beckons!

Monday 27th November 2017
Planning a Railtour on the Mainline Network
Matthew Hills

Around 35 Members and friends were at Weston Favell to be enlightened on events surrounding the organisation of a "Rail tour" by Matthew Hills. Unsurprisingly, most of the listeners were familiar only with the aspect of "turning up on the day".
The early history of non-timetabled rail travel was described, such as Thomas Cook's first foray to Loughborough in 1841, at a one shilling charge, which included food "all round" during the journey.

  
   BR Standard 70013 Oliver Cromwell makes a spirited departure from Ely with the Cathedrals Express excursion to Oxford on Thursday 8 December 2011   David Goddard
By 2015 we were told, 600 Railtours, excluding those falling by the wayside before actually setting out, were mooted nationally across the spectrum of groups wishing to organise their very own tour. Matthew proceeded to show how profitable rail tours could be, provided that is, that the tour ran to time without breakdown or any other issue that might cause problems to the railway system as a whole, whereby seemingly huge penalty payments could arrive, eating away at the profit, or worse.......
The organisation, not fully detailed here, would eventually lead to the trip itself, and Matthew then took us on a series of steam-hauled Railtours that he had been involved with in some form, many from the footplate. The locomotives mentioned were a mouthwatering list including (4)6201, 46233, 60019, 70000, 35028, 46115 and 45690.
This was an altogether thought provoking presentation which, whilst very enjoyable might have made more than one of those present think that they did not possess the patience required to "see it through". Luckily Malcolm and other like-minded individuals did, or do, possess the relevant qualities, clearly indicated by his patient presentation of the organisation of something that would beat most of us!

Monday 20th November 2017
Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt
Bob Gellatly

Monday afternoon 20th November brought about one of the two yearly meetings held jointly with the Milton Keynes Branch, with Bob Gellatly being the chosen presenter.
Bob commenced by saying that his programme “Retford through the lens of Keith Pirt” was a presentation of two distinct halves and it certainly was! Keith Pirt was a first class railway photographer and well-remembered for his photographs taken in the Retford area.
Retford, well known to rail enthusiasts for the crossing of the East Coast mainline on the flat by the Great Central Railway, until 1964 when a dive under was built.

  
   Class B1 no.61056. Footex with Norwich City flag on front of loco. Possibly Sheffield United v Norwich City in FA Cup on 17 Feb 1962. Built July 1946, withdrawn April 1964.   Keith Pirt Collection
The first half of the show concentrated on the flow of traffic to and from Manchester and Sheffield to Lincoln, Scunthorpe and Grimsby. The day to day operations on this line usually produced a variety of Classes B1, D11, K3, J11 and WD together with a whole gamut of what we called “Mexborough Pacific’s” (2-8-0s of Classes O1and O4 and their various sub divisions). A further highlight was a number of photographs taken at Thrumpton GC shed.
  
   Class V2 no.60858. Built May 1939, double chimney fitted Oct 1961, withdrawn Oct 1963. Retford (Thrumpton) shed.   Keith Pirt Collection
After the interval, concentration was on the ECML, with many excellent photographs of real Pacific’s in harness, and of course, a visit to the GN shed.
  
   E0315 Class A2/2 no.60502 Earl Marischal. Approaching Retford with the down "Queen of Scots". Replacement for a failed EE Type 4 at Peterborough. Gresley P2 2-8-2 built Oct 1934, rebuilt by Thompson as A2/2 in Sept 1944, withdrawn July 1961. Date August 1960.   Keith Pirt Collection

This magnificent show was produced from two magazine trays of cast off Keith Pirt slides, superbly edited and photo shopped by Bob himself.


Monday 13th November 2017
Part 2 of the Peter Bland Collection
Bryan Cross

Our old friend (and occasional adversary) Bryan Cross came to show Part 2 of his collection of photographs of his late friend Peter Bland. This part of the collection comprised mainly industrial locomotives and scenes, which, to aid continuity, included some from his own collection. Bryan had clearly spent much time and effort in researching his descriptions of the black and white collection dating from the early 1950s.
For the many of us who tended to concentrate on the plentiful supply of main line steam, the show opened a whole new doorway to locomotives of great age, great antiquity, novel working systems, rebuilds and even rebuilds of rebuilds. The fascinating point was that they all appeared to be doing a valuable job for their owners.

  
   Ex LNER C13 4-4-2 Locomotive 67411 at Barnsley on 6th July 1953. This class was built by Robinson for GC as class 9K in 1903-5 and mainly used for suburban passenger traffic.   Peter Bland Collection
Beacons of interest were many, but scenes taken from the air at Staveley Ironworks were an eye opener as regards industrial pollution! The desolate state of the run-down, closed, narrow gauge lines showed how brave were the efforts the fledgling preservationists in the late 1940/50s.
Main line devotees were not entirely overlooked, but most impressive was the picture of countless American-built S160 moguls awaiting their "postings" from a siding "somewhere in England"(or was it Wales?) that gave an insight into what was, in 1944, still to be achieved.

An excellent presentation all round.


Monday 30th October 2017
The Norfolk & Suffolk Joint Railway Company
Brian Sullivan

Local member Brian Sullivan stepped in at short notice to cover the originally planned speaker, who was indisposed. Luckily for the 30 or so Members and friends, Brian is always ready with a pre - planned presentation to cover just such an eventuality.
His choice was "The Norfolk & Suffolk Joint Railway Company, sub-headed, one title, two lines and 3 companies". Brian described in great detail events centred on North Walsham, Cromer and Sheringham and all places in between these towns. With the hindsight with which we are all today imbued, it became clear from Brian’s research that there was probably too little traffic, passenger or goods available in the area when the lines were first conceived. This did not seem to deter planning and eventually, construction, but there then unfolded all the same sort of shenanigans that had occurred in many a much larger plan than this one. Tales of the "daggers-drawn" relationships between the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint, the Midland and Great Northern and the Great Eastern Railways seemed to show oblivious disregard for the satisfaction of shareholders. A prime example of the devil-may-care attitude, as we might today see it, was the line connecting Cromer Newstead Lane junction with North Walsham via stations at Overstrand, Trimingham, Mundesley, and Paston and Knapton to North Walsham. Any for or against the line would surely have raised the question of likely traffic volumes.

  
   Class D16/3 62619 prepares to leave Cromer (High) station with a train for Norwich. May 24 1952. The station closed to passengers two years later in September 1954 as part of an early rationalisation scheme, and all traffic was concentrated on Cromer (Beach) station.   Brian Sullivan
Brian also showed what looked like busy scenes with two trains, even if few passengers, all of which were very nostalgic. Apparently the large scale hotels around Overstrand may have produced potentially well-heeled clientele, but not necessarily ones who might use the railway regularly. Mundesley was described as a town where there was nothing material then, since or now.
Brian did make the point that today the surviving lines are carrying more passengers commuting to Norwich, which is pleasing. The whole presentation, supplemented by maps and photographs old and more recent was very well made and received, and Brian clearly did more research than the builders of the lines.

Monday 23rd October 2017
Blue Diesels
Mike Robinson

"Blue Diesels" was the title of Mike Robinson's excellent presentation on 23rd October 2017 covering the period following the end of steam and into the 1970s.

  
   The train is a Sheffield to St Pancras leaving Derby towards Trent and Leicester in 1976. In the background a train of limestone from Wirksworth headed by a pair of 20s awaits departure towards the Birmingham line which diverges to the left.   Mike Robinson
The journey started at Derby, where Mike, a career railwayman worked in an office overlooking the station and we saw many panoramic shots of Class 45 and Class 47 diesels interspersed with Class 20,25,37 and 40. One memorable image of Flying Scotsman steaming into Derby for overhaul following its sojourn in USA looking work worn and rusty, but still serviceable.
We travelled northwards to North Derbyshire with panoramic shots in the Autumn and Winter snow and backdrops of our industrial sites such as Clay Cross Ironworks and Avenue Coking Plant all now a distant memory.
After a brief stop in London we travelled southwest where we saw a maroon Class 42 Warship and Class 50s at Penzance.
We were given a glimpse of the commercial side of railway operation in South Wales where the coal traffic into Port Talbot Steelworks which amounted to 25000 tons per week and required 1220 tippler wagons and 5 Class 37 locomotives was deemed to be inefficient and too expensive as each wagon took over a week to make a round trip! Mike explained that his proposal to use 90 higher capacity mgr hoppers and 2 Class 47s never came to fruition because of the lack of investment in unloading facilities at Port Talbot.
The ECML then beckoned and we saw Deltics in their heyday at York, Darlington with the power station in the background , scenes at Newcastle and then finally into Scotland where we saw a Glasgow Blue Train and the old order of Class 24, 26 and 27 on the West Highland Line and at Inverness, Thurso and Wick.

All in all a very enjoyable afternoon.


Monday 16th October 2017
A Years Travel on the Rail Network in 2016
Terence Jenner

‘A Years Travel on the Rail Network in 2016’ was the title for a refreshing change of emphasis in the talk and pictures provided by Terence Jenner.
He, usually in conjunction with his brother, took trips on 33 days, covering over 5800 miles, using approximately 50 trains, operated by 15 different TOCs.
As a privileged holder of the means to travel cheaply and in comfort, Terence was at some pain to express sympathy with rail users running the gauntlet of finding, or being directed to, the cheapest available tickets!
He informed us that he was not a typical railway enthusiast in that he even now takes his pictures using a mobile phone, and doubted his ability to "name a Jubilee with the same first and last letter ". Five examples immediately arrived from the audience, but the double whammy of 45629 got only onto the reviewers scoreboard!
Getting into his stride Terence went on to show scenes that many of us might have been aware of, but would probably not have considered recording. Likewise some comments, unrecorded on his phone, but mentioned, may or may not have been considered worthy by many an enthusiast. Not a complete list by any means, but the hidden benefits to the TOC having to replace a DMU with a top and tailed Cl. 37 may not have been universally appreciated. One day at Acle produced in 10 minutes 2 x Cl. 68, 2 x Cl. 37 and A1 60163, which proved that the enthusiast of old could still find his pleasures.
Surprising survivors such as Skegness, a mural by Eddie Pond on Saltash station and the Great Eastern War Memorial at Liverpool Street. Even the acknowledgement that the HST Cl. 41 fleet, still going strong after over 40 years, was possibly British Railways greatest achievement. A not so popular problem is the noted shortage of seats on many inter urban routes.
Terence even managed to record on his trusty phone, the green countdown timer on a Nottingham City Tramway vehicle, which helped timekeeping. This was a real change of emphasis which was - as it could only have been - thoroughly appreciated by all present. There should now be some different views recorded on many a tour of old BR in future.
Finally a number of preserved Northampton Corporation Transport double-decker buses sent us home in good heart.

Monday 2nd October 2017
Steamy Memories of a Mis-spent Youth
Godfrey Gould

Around 40 members and friends gathered to hear and see Godfrey Gould entertain us with his "Steamy memories of a misspent youth". His selection of photographs certainly did not appear misspent, even if they were steamy.
Godfrey told us of his first efforts with a box Brownie with rolls of 8 frames per film which were always quickly developed. The printing may have waited for weeks, months or years later and this was familiar territory to more than a few of the audience! Much of his early output was obtained at stations such as Penrith, Tebay and Appleby. Naturally, bearing in mind his then young age, much of it was comprised, as he put it, of "big engines with names".
Eventually, like most of us, he gravitated from the pre 1939 Jubilees, Patriots and class 5s, to gems such as a pair of LNWR Cauliflower 0-6-0s on the Lakes express when it divided at Penrith. He then compared the difference in cab protection on the Cauliflowers versus the LNER J21 that came over Stainmore to the West Coast Line.

  
   LNER B1 1217 resplendent in apple green livery two weeks after commissioning. It is seen at Carlisle heading a train to Newcastle on 12th August 1947.   Godfrey Gould
After 1945 his range widened and he was able to take in locations such as Carlisle, Newcastle, York, Leeds, and his introduction to the 26000 class of electrics to be found at Sheffield Victoria.
Eventually he was able to reach London, and he gorged himself on all that was to be found at the main line stations.
He had a store of anecdotes, one of which was the advice he received to the effect that the best camera to use was the one with the best lens, and that the then rare instances of built-in light meters and flash equipment only served to put the price ot the camera out of range. Again, advice that might ring a few bells.
Although much of Godreys offering was more LMS/LNER based, he did make forays throughout the UK, and perhaps he could return to enlarge on the SR/GW subjects with which he tantalised us.

He finished his presentation in style with a shot of a big merchant ship aground off the north east coast in February 1947, and a Brighton bus with a full size picture of himself at a much later date!


Monday 25th September 2017
The Railways of Northamptonshire Part 3 – The Midland makes for London
Robin Cullup

The 2017/18 programme of indoor Meetings got off to the good start as was to be expected with Robin Cullop giving us Part Three of "The railways of Northamptonshire", from the original idea of Ian Lyman.
After the railway mania of the 1840s had subsided, the county had a line between Market Harborough and Sharnbrook, built on a budget of £1 million for the 60 or so miles.
Robin noted that the crest of the Midland Railway included the crests of Derby, Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham, Leicester and Lincoln. During his research for the talk, Robin unearthed the first plan for St. Pancras station. It was intended that those six destination cities would be prominently visible on the main concourse. The first drawings managed to omit the three Ls! Luckily the edifice never appeared as planned.

  
   Ex-Midland Railway 4F 0-6-0 44574 ex-works at Wellingborough depot 15A on 30th June 1960. This loco and its sister 44573 were kept mainly for passenger work.   Colourail
In addition to the history of the line, Robin produced a large number of photographs showing the huge variety of power used over the ensuing years. The procession of coal trains included Midland 0-6-0s, Beyer Garratts, Stanier 2-8-0s and BR Class 9 2-10-0s. Novelties included the testing of a V2 2-6-2 after the LMS 19 series of sheds transferred to the Eastern Region in 1958(19A, B and C – Sheffield, Millhouses and Canklow respectively).
We do now, of course, have fond memories of the "Peak" class diesels on the express passenger services, but Robin reminded us that most of us would have actually spent more years watching "Peaks" than we did Jubilees.

Cue wry shakes of many heads at the end of a thoroughly entertaining evening.


Monday 11th September 2017
Lineside observation at Harrowden Junction

Our line-side meet at Harrowden Junction on 11th September brought forth a cold, wet and windy Autumnal evening with a meagre attendance, matched only by the meagre fayre on offer. Seven up trains (all St. Pancras bound), matched by seven down trains heading for such illustrious destinations as Corby, Derby, Leeds, Lincoln, Nottingham and Sheffield. The only break in the routine diet of Class 220s and 221’s and HST’s was provided by a Class 66 on the Luton to Peak Forest stone empties.

Saturday 12th August 2017
East Anglia Day Ranger

12th August was the East Anglia Day Ranger travel day the idea being “to hop on and off” trains all day. Meeting at an unmanned Stamford station at 8.30 station we were confronted by having to purchase two tickets to begin the day and a recalcitrant ticket machine. However, with all the group having purchased just the day return to Ely, it was decided we would have enough time at the latter to make a purchase from the manned facility there. On boarding the 09.00 Cross Country service we were surprised to be joined by a further group of Branch members who were already on the train and had started their day some two and a half hours earlier at Northampton, travelling via Nuneaton. Arriving at Norwich we found the advertised loco hauled 12.18 to Great Yarmouth was in fact a Class 156, which demanded a slight change of plan, with lunch now being taken at Great Yarmouth instead of Norwich.

  
   The 13.55 Great Yarmouth to Norwich on 12 August 2017 which was top and tailed by Class 68 locomotives 005 and 028. Super power indeed for three coaches!   Terry Wise
In order to regain our schedule we returned to Norwich on the 13.55 Greater Anglia service which was loco hauled by 68005/68028. We then travelled back to Stamford via Lowestoft, Ipswich and Peterborough arriving at 20.04. A day in which involved 8 trains, over 200 miles of rail travel and all for under £24, excellent value!

Saturday 8th July 2017
Visit to Tal-y-llyn Railway

On 6th July a group of 20 members and friends from the Northampton Branch left at the crack of dawn by train to Birmingham International and on to an Arriva Wales train to Tywyn for a day’s visit to the Tal-y-Llyn heritage railway.
At Tywyn station the party was met by the Tal-y-Llyn Visitor Administrator and led the third of a mile to Tywyn narrow gauge terminus where we were given a short history of the 2’3” railway.
Originally in 1865 it was built to transport slate from a quarry at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn Wharf, the original name of the terminus, for onward distribution by sea. The slate quarry finally ran out in 1902 and the railway closed. A group of local enthusiasts re-opened the section from Abergynolwyn in 1951 as an heritage railway.

  
   Tal-y-Llyn train at Tywyn Wharf station headed by 0-4-0T locomotive No.4 Edward Thomas that hauled our service train to Pendre station,   Jack Knights
After a few minutes we were taken by service train to Pendre Station where we were shown around the loco running shed, repair and service shed and the carriage renovation area. Each of the buildings appeared to be of 19th century construction using local stone and slate with the facilities modernised to comply with modern “Health and Safety” requirements. All manner of engineering is undertaken often using antiquated equipment but boiler servicing was done elsewhere by boiler specialists. After visiting the signal box and having information on the single line “token” system explained we returned to the Tywyn terminus to indulge in lunch at the station café.
  
   A group of Northampton Branch Members are pictured at the Nant Gwernol Terminus having just enjoyed a trip on the Tal-y-Llyn Light Railway from Tywyn Wharf station. Simmering away in the background is the 0-4-0T locomotive 'Douglas' that hauled our train,   Keith Sykes
The afternoon consisted of travelling in reserved seats to Nant Gwernol, the current final station, opened in 1976, for the inevitable group photograph followed by the return journey to Tywyn. The whole day was very interesting and well organised by the heritage railway for which we offer them our heartfelt thanks.

Wednesday 14th June 2017
Evening visit to Leighton Buzzard Light Railway

On Wednesday, 14th June a special evening train was hired jointly between the Northampton, Milton Keynes and Watford branches to traverse the nearly 3 mile long length of the Leighton Buzzard Railway.

  
   A group of Northampton Branch Members are pictured at the Pages Park Terminus having just enjoyed a round trip on the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway. Simmering away in the background is the locomotive that hauled our 3 coach train, built in 1912 by Orenstein and Koppel ,Berlin Works No. 5834. It is a 0-4-0 Well Tank named P.C.Allen after the late Sir Peter Allen who bought it to the UK from a chemical works in Torrelavega, Spain where it spent its working life.   Keith Sykes

Originally this 2 foot gauge line was built after the First World to convey sand quarried locally and used in the production of armaments .

  
   Picture of the driver getting a drenching from the water pipe during Northampton Group visit!   Keith Sykes

The traffic was soon lost to road haulage and the line closed in 1969, going immediately into preservation. Operations were not steam hauled but by Bedford produced Simplex diesel locomotives.
Steam only came on preservation and what a wonderful collection they are today!

Saturday 10th June 2017
Visit to MOD, Long Marston

On 10th June 2017, a warm bust blustery day,14 participants travelled across the county border into Warwickshire to visit the former MOD at Long Marston now used by many businesses such as Logistics, Car and Van Storage (6000 vehicles on site) and because of its rail link there are currently over 600 rail vehicles on the complex. These include locomotives Class 08, 20 and 86 and Industrials, EMUs Class 319 and 321, former Midland Metro and Manchester T68 Trams, Ex Virgin West Coast DVTs, former LT "D" Stock potentially for conversion to Diesel or Battery powered units by VivaRail, and literally 100s of freight wagon some of which are being refurbished for future use. New sidings are also being laid for extra capacity and in addition 2 new concrete based tracks for tram testing. Around 3 to 4 hours are needed to cover the whole site and your correspondent walked over 4 miles across land ravaged by rabbit holes, vegetation and spent ballast.

Saturday 13th May 2017
Tour of London Underground stations of interest
Brian Boddy

On Saturday, 13th May 2017 thirteen of us joined forces with Brian Boddy at Euston station for a much anticipated "tour" of some of the more interesting parts of the London Transport underground system, as well as some of the open air sections. Brian was following up on his talk at Weston Favell during the winter. He was ably assisted by his friends Haydn Davis and Howard Smith and they were all fountains of knowledge of the system and it's surroundings.
From Euston, via the Victoria Line to Finsbury Park, then via the Piccadilly Line to Arnos Grove, where we viewed the well preserved station designed by Holden, as well as an exhibition in the booking hall. We continued to Cockfosters terminus, via Oakwood station. Both of these were also designed by Holden/Foster.
Leaving Cockfosters, we alighted at Finsbury Park, from where we took the Great Northern after carefully going down a spiral staircase! Alighting at Drayton Park, we then ventured further on ex Great Northern metals to Moorgate. Here there was a short discussion on the 1975 disaster, and the understandable reason why no memorial was to be found at the actual collision site.
The Northern Line then took us to Bank station, from where the Waterloo and City Line led to Waterloo, where we took lunch. Waterloo was notable for the number of platforms being out of action with no appreciable impact on the services. We also discovered that the public address system was of inaudible quality, a sort of cross between Crewe station of old, and Kenneth Williams with a nasty nasal problem!
After lunch we ventured above ground to make foot and bus journeys covering the lift used to place stock into and up from the running lines of the Waterloo and City Line, the Old Vic theatre, Somerset House and down the steps to Thames embankment to see where the trams, which ran their last turns in 1952, used to enter the Kingsway subway.
A further combination of walk, bus and underground then enabled us sights of closed station sites at Aldwych/Strand and Down Street, closed in May 1932, but fortuitously still available for use by the Railway Executive Committee and Mr. Churchill's War Cabinet.
Walking along Tottenham Court Road, the huge underground shelter at Goodge Street could have easily been missed but for Brian Boddy's careful shepherding! The tunnelling shield invented by James Greathead was worthy of the statue found at ground level near Bank station, and the final, well needed "push" covered sights of Mornington Crescent, Liverpool Street, Farringdon and Euston Square, nearby to where a well earned liquid intake took place.
Amongst many other aspects on view, it was impossible not to be impressed by the quality of the extremely aged tiling in the colours and styles of such lines as the Metropolitan and Circle Lines. Should readers consider this a rather lengthy precis of our trip, they would be right, but it can hardly do justice to Brian and his friend’s efforts on our behalf.
He has offered us a further trip, and anyone lucky enough to have been on this one will undoubtedly make sure they are on the next one. This was truly a trip of all trips.

Monday 24th April 2017
Mostly Local Steam followed by
Robin Puryer followed by Richard Deacon

A goodly crowd was at Weston Favell, Northampton on 24th April for the afternoon meeting which featured two local members.

  
   Ex-GWR 4-6-0 7029 "Clun Castle" approaching Northampton hauling a private hire train on 27th March1965. This was an unusual sight on the West Coast main line as the GWR cylinder alignment was not appropriate to the route.   Robin Puryer
Robin Puryer was first, showing a selection of his colour transparencies taken during the years from 1961 to steam’s end. They covered both local and distant UK scenes and were of a high standard of both composition and exposure, at a time when light meters were not an accessory that it is the standard feature today. 80 or so slides make it difficult to select highlights, but my "winner" was an unidentified Coronation Pacific surrounded by steam and the gathering darkness of a winter Sunday afternoon at Crewe North during the well remembered winter of 1962/63. A picture showing life just as it was in those dark days.
Robin's slides also covered Swindon in 1962 with 0-4-2 tank 5818 patiently awaiting the end. Another shot worthy of mention (well, they all were!), was a pristine D1000 in its startling livery alleged to be called "desert sand", which Robin considered to be about right!
Freight trains, some taken during the Arctic weather of early 1963 were also exceptionally well taken, considering the amount of white that was about. This was altogether a good advertisement for actually coming to see the presentation, rather than reading about it later.

The second presentation, by Richard Deacon, which discussed in word and picture the changing scene around Kings Cross and St Pancras from the early 1960s through to the emergence of the magnificent St Pancras International station of today.
The trials and tribulations that Richard described, resonated with most of the audience, and we were left with a little more understanding of what we long ago, expected to lose, but must consider ourselves lucky to have seen saved and improved.
This was during a period when destruction was the norm. Many of Richard's pictures, old and new, could be pinpointed to either their former location or their future one. This was another instance where the relationship between the locations and the lack of steam locomotives on view could be fully appreciated.

Truly a good afternoon all round.


Tuesday 11th April 2017
Quiz versus LCGB Bedford for 'The Ashes' Trophy (Away Leg)

  
   Bedford LSGB Chairman, Bill Davies, hanging on to the 'Ashes' trophy with Keith Sykes, the RCTS Northampton Branch Chairman.  
The away leg of this long running quiz for “The Ashes” (of Ravenstone Junction signal box on the former Midland Railway between the two towns) between LCGB Bedford and RCTS Northampton was competed for on 18th April.
Northampton, currently on a winning streak, managed to gain victory by the smallest of margins, that was very nearly undone in the very last round. The excellent digital presentation compiled by Chairman Bill Davies assisted by Secretary Bryan Cross consisted of some 50 questions covering such diverse subjects as Berkley Stoker fitted 9Fs, tunnels on the Settle and Carlisle and cryptic Locomotive Depots.

Monday 3rd April 2017
Members Evening

The Northampton meeting on Monday 3rd April consisted of four presentations by Branch members.
Leading the presenters was Colin Horne with a slide review entitled “Last Days of Steam in the North East” which consisted of mainly black and white pictures of ex-NE 0-6-0 locos hauling freight trains, mostly coal, over the moors of North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland. The quality of the pictures was first class and showed both the trains and the scenery to perfection.

Colin was followed by Tommy Tomalin, the Branch Honorary President, with a colour slide presentation entitled “Great River, Great Railway” the river being the Severn and the railway between Gloucester and Cardiff along the South Wales coast most of the locations near Lydney. The majority of the shots were of DMUs in about 1990 but also included the occasional freight train. The track was quite close to the river edge but did not suffer from the water problem of the GWR section at Dawlish.

After the refreshment break we changed to computer based LCD presentations, the first being by Chris Clayson, Branch Treasurer, entitled “East German Steam” that was a review of the state of the railway on the East German side of the border shortly after German re-unification. The locos were both steam and diesel and appeared to be of pre-second world war vintage and not to have been updated. The track and the railway facilities appeared to be fairly rudimentary.

  
   The loco is Wabtec MP36 No.109 waiting at Sante Fe Station with a New Mexico Rail Runners Express Service to Albuqueque 24th October 2012   Keith Sykes
The final presentation was by Keith Sykes, Branch Chairman, entitled “Nine States and Three Provinces” and was a review of a number of USA railway companies and rolling stock. Nearly all the camera shots were of modern US diesel hauled trains although many US towns and cities have static examples of earlier steam locomotives. The trains themselves were mainly freight with multi-hauled coal trains, a mile or more long, being important to the survival of railways in the US. There is still a number of long distance passenger trains although these are sparsely used, as air travel is more convenient for the distances involved.

Monday 27th March 2017
Metroisation
Stuart Cheshire - Passenger Services Director, Govia Thames Railway

The first of the 2017 two regular joint meetings between Milton Keynes and Northampton Branches took place on 27th March when we welcomed Stuart Cheshire, Passenger Service Director, Thameslink/Great Northern to talk on Metroisation, the development of Thameslink around the introduction of the new Cl.700 class of units, and all the infrastructure changes taking place especially around London Bridge, and the introduction of ATO signalling through the Core in London to enable a service of 24 trains per hour to travel over the line at peak times.

  
   700101 The first of the new Siemens Class 700 to be delivered to GTR to provide the services from Bedford for Thameslink and Cambridge for Great Northern. They consist of fixed unit configuration, 55 being 12-car and 60 being 8-car  
Stuart then showed his audience through a series of digital images of how GTR were working towards this goal, not only with motive power but changes to the timetable, which eventually will lead to 4 trains per hour coming into the Core from Peterborough and Cambridge using the new link from the ECML at Belle Isle outside Kings Cross. It was very interesting to see that Thameslink in the future will also cover services as far out as places such as Littlehampton and East Grinstead, with some of their trains going into London Victoria, taking over from services currently run by sister company Southern.
The introduction of the new Cl.700 units has not been without its troubles, as this is the first class to adopt the fly by wire operation, which has encountered a few problems which had not been anticipated by the manufacturer Siemans, and has resulted in a casualty figure of currently only 4,100 miles per fault. Stuart is confident that when both drivers and maintenance staff get more used to using this new type of unit, things will improve.
With the infrastucture changes at London Bridge coming to a conclusion at the end of 2017, it is hoped then to work towards the target of getting 24 trains per hour in 2019.

Monday 20th March 2017
The Baie de Somme Railway
Mike Bunn

The afternoon meeting at Weston Favell on 20th March brought about the third visit to Northampton of Mike Bunn, an expert on delivering presentations on French railways to the uninitiated.

  
   The Diner a Bord train waits to depart from Noyelles Station on the Baie de Somme Railway on 29th September 2014. Locomotive No.15 'Noyon-Guiscard-Lassigny' built by Haine St Pierre in 1920, with kitchen car and 3 'Somme' coaches.   Michael Bunn
This time he went narrow gauge and preserved with the “Baie de Somme Railway” and what a revelation it turned out to be! Superb pictures, and a first- hand intimate knowledge of the railway, made for an captivating afternoon on a little known subject.
Part of a group of 5 lines which circumnavigated the Bay, the section Cayeux to Noyelles was brought back to life in 1971 and has since become one of the major tourist attractions in the Picardy area. There is a section of dual gauge track which forms part of the 5 lines, some of which have remained extant throughout the closure of others. The lines originally carried large tonnages of sugar beet from the surrounding farmland to a shredding factory at Lancheres and galets (flint pebbles) for the ceramics industry.
Mike’s superb presentation wetted the appetite of the audience for a visit to the railway, which is situated approximately 70 miles from Calais.

Monday 6th March 2017
The Cromford & High Peak Railway - Part 4
Brian Sullivan

Local member Brian Sullivan presented the final part of the subject, which had originated with an idea from the sorely missed Ian Lyman.
Over a number of years, with the able assistance of Messrs Tomalin and Sullivan, Ian had explored the route from High Peak junction for the whole 35 miles or thereabouts, northbound to Whaley Bridge.

  
   This is the northern end of Burbage Tunnel which pierced Burbage Edge to the west of Buxton. This was part of the C & HP line that opened in 1831, the tunnel, which was 580 This is the northern end of Burbage Tunnel which pierced Burbage Edge to the west of Buxton. This was part of the C & HP line that opened in 1831, the tunnel, which was 580 yards in length and cost 5200 to build, being on the section from Ladmanlow to Whaley Bridge that was closed and abandoned in 1892. Due to its early closure no known photographs exist although this wash drawing by Brian Fawcett is considered to be a very realistic representation of a locomotive that worked the line, an LNWR 1846 Crewe Goods 2-4-0, leaving the northern end of the tunnel and heading for Whaley Bridge.   Brian Fawcett
Over the years he had amassed a large number of transparencies and photographs, including many of his own, showing the line in use from its early days, through and beyond the lines closure.
By a careful comparison of OS maps and satellite images, it was possible to compare the deviations put in by the LNWR during its tenure. These enabled the line to run somewhat more directly, with gradients that would have made the motive power cough, perhaps more than it would have on the originally laid down canal route, which was the first plan.
Ian's trips with his co-partners amounted to at least 20 trips to the line. Allowing for the long journey to the line from Northamptonshire, the need for refreshment can be appreciated, and quite a few of the images bore testament to that important part of the task! Part 4 was the last part and was, as usual, expertly portrayed by Brian.
I am sure that Parts 1 - 3 are "still available", and if you haven't yet "got the set", don't miss out whenever they come round again.

Monday 27th February 2017
Railways Remembered - Cine
Rob Foxon

A bumper attendance for more of Rob Foxton's "old railway film show" was very contented with his latest offering.
It was narrow gauge railways doing, as he described, what they were designed and built for - the movement of goods and passengers. It also covered areas where the major standard gauge lines were possibly wary of involvement.
Rob's 8 reels comprised scenes on The Corris Railway in about 1920, before the GWR stepped in, abandoning the passenger side of the job.

  
   Double Fairlie 0-4-4-0 "Earl of Merioneth" on the Ffestiniog - Portmadoc 1'11" gauge 14th June 2009 after conversion from oil to coal burning.   Ffestiniog
The Talyllyn railway, The Southwold Railway, of happy memory long before most of us living today came along, and The Leek and Manifold Railway, which Rob said was an English line built to look like a colonial railway. It did, and it also reminded a few of us who "E.R.Calthrop" actually was. The Lynton & Barnstaple line then appeared, with a fascinating sequence showing a Southern Railway lifting of the last loco to leave the line after closure. Whilst it was not quite Laurel and Hardy, it was closer to these gentlemen than to a copybook example of best practice Health and Safety! The loco in question was "LEW", which has since disappeared!
The Jersey Light Railway followed, which was closed before the Germans arrived in WWII, reopened by them, but was later re-closed.
Slate quarrying at Dinorvic in north Wales, The Welsh Highland and The Ffestiniog followed, then came an element of early preservation in the shape of the first ever train operated by volunteers, by members of the Birmingham Locomotive Society, on 14th May 1951, in colour.
The Welshpool & Llanfair, and the local Kettering Furnaces line followed on, and the last scenes of a very crowded afternoon ended with a glance at the Groudle Glen line in the Isle of Man and a short film of the early days of the preserved Talyllyn line, from an American viewpoint, ended the show.
Not a Pacific to be seen, and a worthwhile presentation, very well received.

last updated: 09/02/18