Meeting Reports

Monday 11th February 2019
'Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt'
Bob Gellatly

The afternoon meeting on Monday 11th February drew 35 members and guests for Bob Gellatly's presentation entitled "Retford through the lens of Keith Pirt". Bob started by profiling Keith's life and his love of railways and living locally, the Retford area was one of his favourite haunts. All the pictures shown were from colour slides, digitally enhanced where necessary.
Following a short history of the railways and industries of the town, we commenced on a journey along the former GC route from west to east. All the pictures were of steam locomotives form the latter days of their operation. A mixture of freight and passenger services gave us shots of B1, J6, J11,K1,K3, O2, O4 and WD 2-8-0 locomotives, with a V2 and a 4MT 2-6-0 as a bonus. Evading the shed foreman, we then managed a quick tour of Thrumpton shed.
Following a short break, the GN route was then traced from north to south. Similar locomotive classes were shown, with the addition of all the LNER Pacific classes, with more V2s and an L1 and B16 for good measure. The presentation was accompanied by many detailed maps, recent short video clips, an explanation of the 02 and O4 sub classes, and following a shot of 60034, an opportunity for the audience to identify all locomotives associated with the Henderson family. The presentation showed how complicated the track layouts were at Retford which led to some very interesting signal arrangements.

Our many thanks to Bob for a thoroughly entertaining and educational afternoon which was excellently presented.

Monday 28th January 2019
'West Coast Railways'
James Shuttleworth

James Shuttleworth came to the Sheffield branch on Monday 28th January to give a talk on West Coast Railways subtitled "Running Steam Locomotive Services in the Modern Era".
West Coast Railways were one of the first private rail operating companies and led the way in shaping the legislation and licences in use today. James explained that you need an operating licence, a safety certificate and a multiplicity of access agreements. These include for Network Rail, stations, workshops and depots. Having obtained the necessary paper work, you then need depots. locomotives, coaching stock and staff before you can run a charter service.
When a charter has been obtained or proposed, 14 weeks are currently required to sort out the route and timings. Then the locomotive(s), coaches and staff have to rostered to get them in the right place at the right time, which will include ECS movements. Consideration has to be given to refuelling for diesel operation, and coal and water for steam locomotives.
James then outlined the requirements to maintain depot facilities and to keep locomotives and coaches in good and safe running order. Finally, after James explained how his operating staff managed to keep up to date with route knowledge, he described a few of the many charters which either ran exceptionally well or caused severe problems.
After a short break, James professionally dealt with many questions thrown at him and did not refuse to answer those what might have been awkward or considered confidential. The 30 strong audience went away a lot more knowledgeable on how to organise and run a charter train with all the attendant problems.

Our many thanks to James for the enlightening and informative talk. .

Monday 14th January 2019
'A Cinder Path leads to the Shed'
John Hunt

John Hunt made a welcome return to Sheffield on Monday 14th January to deliver his presentation entitled "A Cinder Path leads to the Shed". This was the first afternoon meeting of the 2018/19 session and drew an audience of 42 members and guests.
John started by explaining how his interest in railways started, followed by pictures of the enthusiasts vital books including the shed directory which led to the title of the show. What then ensued was an excellent selection of black and white pictures, digitally presented with an expert commentary. John admitted that some shots had been digitally enhanced to improve the quality. This did not detract from the content as we were transported around the country in the early 1960s, chasing the end of steam.
Areas included were Leamington Spa and the Western region, followed by Wales, Scotland, the Southern region, the North East and finally the North West. Many classes of locomotives were shown on various types of trains, on depots and in main works.
Altogether a superb collection of pictures with something for everybody, whatever their particular interest.

Our many thanks to John for the excellent entertainment and apologies for a certain amount of overcrowding as we could not use our normal larger room. However everything went well and I am sure did not spoil the nostalgia and the enjoyment.

Monday 10th December 2018
Annual General Meeting and Christmas Social Evening

The meeting on Monday 10th December was split into three parts.
Firstly Jim Bryant gave a short presentation on "Railway Parcel Stamps", a first on this subject for the branch. Originally planned for the 2017/18 indoor meeting session but technical problems caused postponement. Jim commenced by outlining the background to this subject which led to the railway companies being allowed to charge for the carriage of newspapers, letters and parcels. The talk was well illustrated with the many variations in style and colours used by the pre-grouping companies, continued by the "big 4" formed in 1923, and ultimately into BR days. Jim explained that whilst the subject was very much a specialist fringe one, even smaller specialities appeared with some persons concentrating solely on one company or topic. Thanks Jim for the excellent presentation.
This was followed by the branch AGM. The minutes of the 2017 AGM were accepted. The chairman gave his annual report, highlighting the increase in membership and the gradually declining meeting attendances. He also thanked the committee members for their work and support in keeping the branch functioning. The treasurer gave his report and stated whilst the funds had decreased, the branch was still viable. All branch officers were re-elected. The voluntary meeting contributions remain the same, as does the venue.
After the close of the AGM, members were able to enjoy seasonal drinks and refreshments.
Many thanks to all the members who provided these and also the raffle prizes.

Monday 26th November 2018
'Shot in the Dark'
Peter Holden

The branch welcomed Peter Holden on Monday 26th November when he gave his digital presentation entitled "Shot in the Dark". Peter started by explaining how he came to be interested in night time and dark situation photography when he was told how difficult it could be, so he set out to prove them wrong. How well he has succeeded.
We were told to expect mainly images of trains at night, predominantly in stations with a few trams and foreign locations thrown in. The presentation lived up to the description as we were transported to Europe, Egypt, Canada and many other locations with a good number of trams shown. The trains were almost all diesel and electric including multiple units and locomotives.
The external scenes of the stations showed them in a different perspective and highlighted the superb architecture of some of the continental buildings. Not content with stations, Peter also showed scenes at traction depots and workshops. So something for everybody from many parts of the globe and the UK.

Our many thanks to Peter for his dedication in pursuing night time shots and for the excellent presentation accompanied by his expert though sometimes biased commentary

Monday 12th November 2018
'Diverted!!. Leeds to Swinton via Selby, York and Pontefract Baghill'
Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent

On Monday 12th November, Branch members Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent took us on more of their diversionary routes. This time we went from Leeds to Swinton (S.Yorks) via York, Selby and Pontefract Baghill. Visited en route were stations, sidings, motive power depots, power stations, collieries and industrial sites.
The slides shown covered the period from the 1980s to the present day. The full range of locomotives and units operating in the area appeared with their many changes of ownership and liveries. Passenger, freight and charter services appeared and, by use of charter trains and society visits by Phil and Enid, we were afforded internal scenes of collieries and industrial premises.. Something rarely seen at our meetings, if at all, were shots of engineering work taking place. The slides were of excellent quality and largely blessed with fine weather. They were accompanied by a very well researched and thus educational commentary, shared by both presenters.

Our many thanks to Phil and Enid for their hard work in compiling the presentation, particularly the informative commentary. Although the time taken using the diversion far exceeded the direct time taken by Cross Country services, it was well worth it. We look forward to possibly being diverted again in the future.

Sunday 11th November 2018
'Remembrance Sunday'

At the kind invitation of the Great Central Railway Society, several members of the Branch attended a ceremony at the Sheffield Holiday Inn war memorial which honours the 1304 employees of the Great Central Railway who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war. Towards the end of the ceremonies, the Branch Chairman Alan Lovecy laid a wreath on behalf of the Branch and the Society.
On display was the superbly restored MS&L/GCR 6 wheel carriage number 946, which is dedicated as a war memorial in its own right. The original siting of the memorial was on Victoria station and unveiled in 1922. Following closure of the station, the memorial was moved to a site under the Wicker arches and re- commemorated in 1971. Here the memorial was unloved and badly deteriorated. Members of the GCRS were appalled by the neglect and after much fund raising, they obtained ownership and with the consent of the Holiday Inn were able to secure a prominent site at the Inn, where it is well maintained. The Sheffield Branch had made a modest contribution to the fund and members were delighted to attend the further re-dedication in 2003 and many have done so every year since.

Monday 22nd October 2018
'Railways around London and the South East – a Contemporary View'
James Sutcliffe

London and the South East was the subject of the presentation by James Sutcliffe on Monday 22nd October. An area not often brought to the branch and sometimes felt to be full of non descript EMUs. James soon showed how wrong some persons could be as the variety presented was excellent.
Covering basically the last ten years, the many changes in the EMU and DMU classes with their varying liveries were shown.
The wide variety of freight passing through London which was shown was a testament to the research carried out by James to photograph these services particularly on curves and chords not used by regular passenger services.
All operating companies made an appearance including London Underground and Overground. Of particular interest were the changes over the period in the North London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking route. Also shots of trains in underground stations were another rarity for the branch.
The locations visited included main line and suburban stations, stabling sidings and freight yards.
Our many thanks to James for crossing the Pennines to give us a superb selection of his pictures complemented by a very knowledgeable commentary on the services, infrastructure and the locomotives and units.

Keith Marshall in his vote of thanks said that the presentation highlighted the huge investment in the area shown, compared to how little there has been in the North of England.

Monday 8th October 2018
'Me and My travels'
Ken Horan

On 8th October, the branch welcomed Ken Horan for what he stated was for his final presentation show selection. After much previous discussion, we had agreed on the title of "Me and My Travels". Fortunately this turned out to be appropriate as the subject matter was so varied that a more specific title would not have done the show justice.
Commencing in the 1960s, Ken's footplate career allowed him access to many steam depots in their final years with a predominance of those in the Sheffileld area. Not content with just portraying locomotives, the mundane but such necessary activities as ash disposal and smokebox cleaning were shown. As a valuable historic record, two pages of Ken's 1965 diary were shown indicating which services and locomotives he worked on.
Ken was attracted to other countries' railways and we spent some time looking at scenes from France, Austria, Germany, the USA and China together with scenes from around the UK. Coping with very low temperatures in China, some superb action shots of steam hauled freights were seen. Looking at the local scene there, the intense poverty was shown, highlighted by families living in makeshift accommodation under railway tracks.
Other subjects covered were preserved and heritage lines, charter trains and a tour of the Forth Bridge.
With Ken's expert and sometimes biased commentary, the 22 members and guests present were thoroughly entertained by the superb pictures, some of which were of an "arty" nature, and the variety of subjects, all leading to severe bouts of nostalgia and memories for the audience.

Our many thanks to Ken for compiling the collection and sharing his obvious railway enthusiasm from the 1960s to the present day with us, altogether being a superb evening.

Monday 24th September 2018
'The Peter Fox Collection – The 1990’s'
Andrew Barclay

The subject of the first meeting of the 2018/19 indoor meeting session was a further selection from the Peter Fox collection again ably presented by Andrew Barclay. The advertised "The 1990s" in the title was turned into from the 1960s through to the 2000s for the slide show.
Peter was fortunate in his employment with BR at Derby and involvement with Platform 5 to gain access to sites and events not normally open to others. Hence the range of subjects shown was extensive as Peter had a knack of finding and recording the unusual.
Although Derby and the Sheffield areas featured strongly, all parts of the UK were visited with forays into Europe and America. No subject in the transport field was neglected so the audience saw shipping, an hovercraft besides numerous bus, tram and rail vehicles. Steam, diesel and electric traction in the UK, Europe and America were shown, with a large number of tram systems featuring. Record keeping was not one of Peter's strong points, so again the audience was asked to provide additional information on the slides shown as to location, year and occasionally vehicle.
Once again Andrew's selection had something for everybody in the rather lowturnout of 15 members and guests.

Thanks to Andrew for the evening's entertainment and thanks also to Doreen Fox for allowing us to enjoy Peter's collection.

Monday 9th April 2018
The Railway Photographs of Ken Boulter
Ted Hancock

On 9th April, 22 members and guests were taken on a nostalgic journey from Woodhead down the line to Sheffield by Ted Hancock with his presentation based largely on the photographs taken from the 1930s to the 1960s by Ken Boulter. The title however was expanded to include other photographers' work with an extended time period as well.
To put the audience in the mood, Ted started with a 1902 film of a tram ride into Sheffield. There were fascinating scenes of oncoming trams, wandering pedestrians and the buildings on the route which have long since gone. Some of the audience were able to place some of the locations.
Back to the railway theme, our journey commenced at Dinting and followed the route down to Sheffield Victoria station. All the stations were shown in various dates from the 1930s together with scenes of the infrastructure and the locomotive classes which worked the route. These ranged from M.S.& L, GC and LNER steam classes through to the DC electric class 76s and 77s.
Deviating down the branch to Wath, the highlight was several shots of the same train with two locomotives at the front and two bankers, all 2-8-0 types. Industrial locomotives from the various establishments on the route were shown.
Finally a few pictures taken of Midland Railway and LMS locomotives at Sheffield Midland station concluded the show. The great loss of this route from the railway, known and loved by the local members of the audience, was apparent and particularly emphasised by a series of pictures from the 1970s showing the deterioration and subsequent dismantling of the stations and associated infrastructure.

Our many thanks to Ted for a very nostalgic evening enhanced by the many knowledgeable comments from the audience and also to the photographers who took the pictures which gave the audience so much pleasure.

Monday 26th March 2018
60 Years of Railway Photography
Les Nixon

Most photographers tend to go out when the sun shines, so the audience of 24 members and guests looking forward to a presentation by Les Nixon entitled "60 Years of railway Photography" were surprised to find the show could have been titled "Railways in the Snow".
Starting in the 1960s with the final years of steam locomotive operation, the early scenes were local to the Sheffield, Hope Valley and Peak Forest areas.
Later we were transported around the world to Turkey, the USA, Chile, Argentina, Peru, South Africa and China, the latter including a series of shots of the same train curving and climbing towards the photographer in freezing temperatures. Even in the countries visited, snow was to be found.
Finally on returning to the UK, Shap and Scotland featured. Les finished with the only slide not containing snow but of a burning building to warm the audience up again.
Les has always liked to gain height for some of his shots and even when snow was on the ground, he still climbed various structures for several of the excellent shots shown. Also, as usual, the pictures shown by Les portrayed the railway in the general environment and did not just concentrate on the locomotive.

Altogether a superb evening's entertainment with a knowledgeable commentary. Our many thanks to Les for not only the excellent pictures but also for his determination to go out in the cold snowy weather to reach the remote places shown and surviving his climbing escapades.

Monday 12th March 2018
Leicester to Sheffield via Prague
Jason Cross

On Monday 12th March, the 19 members of the audience were taken on a journey from Leicester to Sheffield via Prague by Jason Cross when he made a welcome return visit to the branch. As far as we know this route is not on the authorised list.
The superb pictures were digitally presented on a continuous timed system, interspersed by video sequences with appropriate sound. Starting in the Leicester area with scenes on the GCR, at the Brush works and on the Old Dalby test site, we then went South to look at scenes in the London area. These were mainly based on the London Transport underground and overground systems, with Croydon trams and main line termini thrown into the mix.
Then off to the continent, passing through Belgium, France, Germany, down the Rhine, Austria and finally arriving at Prague. The pictures covered steam, diesel and electric traction and many shots of the various tram systems en route.
We arrived back in the UK to visit the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway, followed by Didcot, the Birmingham rail and tram systems, Merseyrail, the Isle of Man and the Cumbrian coast, before reaching our final destination at Sheffield.
By this time, the audience was breathless as was Jason in trying to keep his excellent commentary in synch with the photographs. Jason explained that to get some of the pictures, he had resorted to mounting his camera on a long pole and the ensuing results were excellent.

Our many thanks to Jason for the return visit and in keeping the audience enthralled and entertained. We look forward to another visit sometime in the not too distant future.

Monday 26th February 2018
Railways in Warwickshire – 1963 to the Present Day
Anthony Hicks

The cold weather and threat of snow on Monday 26th February reduced the audience to 14 for Anthony Hicks presentation "Railways in Warwickshire", a subject not having been covered at Sheffield before.
# Anthony commenced with showing a map of the railways in the county and explained that the digital presentation was formed 50/50 of his own and his father’s slides. The period covered was from the early 1960s to the present day and almost became a "then and now" show.
Starting at Leamington Spa and the converging routes, scenes at Stratford-on- Avon and Rugby led to the conclusion at Nuneaton. Shots of Pete Waterman's 1960s model layout of Leamington Spa was interspersed with real 1960s views and both contrasted with the shots taken over the subsequent decades to show the gradual decline of the infrastructure and loss of routes and a station.
Anthony pointed out that it is now impossible to use some of the same locations as in former years and this often resulted in mounting his camera on a pole to get the picture he wanted.
The LMS, GWR and BR steam locomotives, diesel locomotives from Hymeks to Class 68s and the DMUs which worked through and in the county were thoroughly covered and Anthony's father had even managed to catch the prototype HST power cars hauling a dead APT through Rugby. Altogether a comprehensive collection of the changes in the motive power, operating companies and infrastructure in the county over the last 60 years.

Our many thanks to Anthony for making the journey from Garforth to Sheffield to give the audience a very entertaining and educational evening.

last updated: 14/02/19