Meeting Reports

Monday 8th January 2018
Trains to the Lincolnshire Seaside
Alf Ludlum and Phil Eldridge

A welcome return to Sheffield by Alf Ludlum and Phil Eldridge on 8th January for their presentation of "Trains to the Lincolnshire Seaside".
The resorts visited were Mablethorpe, Sutton-on-Sea, Skegness and Cleethorpes. All were relatively small places until either a railway company or businessman started to invest in the sites to provide suitable accommodation and entertainment for the workers of the period. This led to railway connections being provided for the visitors who tended to come from the nearest industrial area, such as Sheffield to Cleethorpes and Nottingham to Skegness and even today there are through trains on both routes. Cleethorpes was largely promoted by the Great Central Railway who even built the pier and other attractions. Ever increasing traffic to the resorts led to the provision of extensive sidings and servicing facilities as up to ten excursions could arrive on any one day.
The presentation was enhanced by many pictures, both black and white and colour covering the period from the late 1800s to the present day and included scenes of the devastation caused by the 1953 floods. The presenters' research had been extensive and they had collected records of newspaper reports over many past years and interviews with former staff and local residents some of which were included in the presentation. Particularly interesting were the antics on some of the last trains on the feeder branches. The locomotives shown ranged from GNR singles to Class 47s and also the types of DMUs used in the area were seen.
The history of the routes to the resorts was fully explained and what was highlighted was the gradual increase in the facilities provided at each resort to their probable heyday in the 1950s followed by a gradual decline and loss of most of the infrastructure to the minimal facilities provided today for the services available.

A thoroughly entertaining afternoon provided by two knowledgeable speakers with their superb quality pictures and amusing anecdotes which were greatly enjoyed by the 36 strong audience.

Monday 11th December 2017
Annual General Meeting and Christmas Social Evening
Ken Grainger

Thanks to the brave stalwarts who in spite of the very cold weather attended the branch AGM on 11th December. The chairman, Alan Lovecy, presented his annual report in which he stated that the branch finances were stable and the branch would be able to carry on for a few more years. He thanked the other committee members for their efforts in keeping the branch running. All existing committee members were re-elected and retain their posts. The treasurer Alan Hardman presented his report stating that the branch funds were £719.60, a slight increase over the year of £5.43. The suggested voluntary contributions at meetings remains at £2 for members and £3 for visitors. The meeting venue stays the same as no other venue was offered for consideration.
The members present put forward suggestions for future speakers and there were discussions on a possible outdoor visit, the branch nameplates currently on display, and the relationship between branches and the Society Management Committee.

After closing the meeting, the now customary seasonal refreshments were enjoyed and a raffle held, but unfortunately there were not prizes for all. Again many thanks to all the members who attended the AGM and provided the refreshments and raffle prizes.

Monday 27th November 2017
Manchester to Liverpool via the CLC route
Ken Grainger

A welcome return visit to the branch on Monday 27th November by Ken Grainger to deliver the evening's entertainment entitled "Manchester to Liverpool via the CLC Route". This was composed of a superb collection of pictures both black and white and colour from the 1890s to the present day. The "route" part of the title was expanded to include the branches to Skelton Junction, Wigan, St. Helens, Southport, the Liverpool dock area. and the Warrington and Widnes cut offs.
Starting from scenes at the various Manchester stations, the programme included locomotives from the M.S. & L. era through to the modern DMUs working the route shown at many different locations along the line. Most stations were depicted, often in a then and now format. Surprisingly most retained nearly all of their original buildings including the drinking fountains which had been provided from the early days and showing a date of 1872.
Whilst most of the route can be travelled today, the branches have gone as have the terminals at Manchester Central (still there but non railway use) and Liverpool Central. The re-alignments necessary to give 70 feet clearance over the Manchester Ship Canal were fully explained and shown.
The locomotives shown were largely from old photographs of M.S.& L. and G.C products, accompanied by Ken's not too complimentary views on later replacement chimney styles.
What soon became apparent was that whist the passenger stations have survived, the massive goods stations and associated sidings, particularly at Liverpool, have largely disappeared, highlighting how the railway network has now become mainly a passenger system and has lost the original purpose of carrying freight.

Our many thanks to Ken for a thoroughly entertaining, nostalgic and educational evening, on a route not often in the limelight, accompanied by excellent pictures and his knowledgeable commentary on the history and infrastructure of the line.

Monday 9th October 2017
Sir Thomas Bouch, Hero?, Villain?, Victim? Or bad PR?
Bill Jagger

An audience of 17 members and guests welcomed Bill Jagger to Sheffield to present his illustrated talk entitled "Thomas Bouch, Engineer" with an interesting subtitle of "Hero, Villain, Victim or just Bad PR".
Born in 1822 at Thursby near Carlisle, Thomas and his siblings were interested in engineering in its many forms. He started work for Cowan Sheldon but soon graduated to higher things, assisting in surveying the route of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway. He also got involved in the building of dams some of which collapsed many years later.
By 1848 he was working in Scotland on the Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway and succeeded in improving its financial state. His roll on/roll off ferries across the river Tay were particularly successful, transporting 29000 wagons in six months. He was good at providing rail lines at lower costs per mile than other surveyors and engineers, although many lines required substantial improvements later as traffic increased.
He was involved in many Scottish lines,and in England his work on the structures on the route from Darlington to Penrith are still noteworthy.
He was sponsored by several prominent engineers of the time for his membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers. His versatility was shown by his involvement in several street tramways and the building of Portobello pier. He even took shares in some projects in lieu of payment. Not all were successful.
The presentation of bills to parliament for authorisation was a particular speciality and required the opening of a London office. In 1870 his plans for the Tay Bridge were approved and the bridge opened in 1878 which led to his Knighthood. His career effectively ended when in an horrendous gale, the bridge collapsed with a train on it on 28th December 1879. An inquiry was swiftly set up in 6 days with three panel members, the lead member being a lawyer. Eventually there were two reports published, one by the two engineers who listed several faults and failures in the design and construction, but did not apportion blame which had not been part of the remit of the inquiry. However, the minority report by the lawyer, specifically named Thomas Bouch as being responsible for the failure of the bridge. Work ceased for Thomas and his plans for a Forth Bridge were cancelled in 1880.
He died in Moffat on 30th October 1880 and his obituaries from his fellow engineers were of a generous nature.
Bill gave an expert and entertaining presentation with digital images obtained from contemporary sources and had obviously spent many hours researching the subject. Our many thanks to Bill for coming to Sheffield to give his talk, but we are still no wiser as to whether Thomas Bouch was hero, villain or victim. Being named in the minority report leads to the conclusion that he was a political scapegoat and any other persons contributions to the failures in design and construction were overlooked.

Monday 25th September 2017
The Peter Fox Collection – The 1990’s
Andrew Barclay

Monday 25th September was the start of the 2017/18 indoor meeting session for the audience numbering 18, when Andrew Barclay presented more of the slides from the Peter Fox Collection. This time, as he was suffering voice problems, Robert Pritchard ably assisted by providing the commentary.
Peter had travelled widely to European countries as well as to large parts of the UK. Unfortunately Peter had sometimes not left adequate records as to the locations or subject. The audience were asked to assist in providing any possible information which would provide better identification for any future presentations.
The slides shown covered all types of traction from buses and trams through to all varieties of units and locomotives and were from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s. Countries visited outside the UK were Germany, Austria, Portugal and Eire.
Altogether a varied selection of subjects kept the audience alert as they did not know what might come next, Peter had the knack of finding the unusual subjects in unusual locations.
Our many thanks to Andy and Robert for the evening's entertainment and to Doreen Fox for allowing the collection to enter the public domain.

Monday 24th April 2017
Out and about in the UK and Europe 2014 - 6
Robert Pritchard

The last meeting of the 2016-17 session was held on 24th April when Robert Pritchard gave a presentation entitled "Out and About in the UK and Europe 2014-16" which was attended by a below par audience of 17.
After starting near to home with some scenes in the Sheffield area, followed by a quick visit to Kings Cross, we were then taken across the channel to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As the pictures shown were mainly in date order, scenes from the UK and Europe alternated at frequent intervals.

   Ploshchad Revolyutsii is one of the most famous stations of the Moscow Metro, located in central Moscow under Revolution Square. On 3 September 2016 a Metro train arrives at the ornate platforms, which feature chandeliers and murals on the walls and ceilings.   Robert Pritchard
The content consisted of trams old and new, metro systems, depots and main line trains. The trams and units were obviously electrically powered but a few diesel and steam locomotives did appear on main lines and preservation sites for contrast.
The range of subjects was immense from the Moscow metro system to Berney Arms station in Norfolk. Other countries systems shown were Germany, Poland and Belarus.
Robert's knowledge of events and the unusual, led to rare depot visits and scenes of locomotive hauled trains such as on the Cumbrian coast and those operated by Chiltern Railways. The new units coming into service in the UK were also featured.
An excellent range of subjects, well presented and enhanced by Robert's expert commentary. We are now much better informed and acquainted with the trams and metros of eastern Europe cities, which seem to have adopted them more enthusiastically than the UK.

Our many thanks to Robert for the superb evening's entertainment which was a fitting end to the season. May he have many more "out and abouts" which we may be permitted to see a future date.

Monday 10th April 2017
25 Years Ago
Keith Marshall

The audience of 16 members and visitors at the penultimate meeting of the 2016/17 session on 10th April were entertained by branch vice chairman Keith Marshall with his slide show entitled "25 Years Ago". Keith started the presentation by describing how his parents advised him to take a hobby which turned out to be "railways"; a hobby which has continued to date.
Looking back to 1992, the first slide of the show was taken on 17th April and from the 1200 taken before the end of October, Keith had brought 200 to show. They were mainly of locomotive hauled trains, freight and passenger, highlighting the many classes with their varying liveries which were still in service.
His travels in this relatively short period of time took him (and the audience) to many parts of the system, ranging from Scotland to South Wales stopping at many locations in between. Keith's interest in the unusual and rare happenings resulted in capturing the floodlit Forth Bridge, a Black Cat DMU railtour, interesting diversions, and many railtours in all parts.
Somehow Keith also found time to record the local scene in the Sheffield area. The changes in the railway system and network since 1992 have been considerable, and were well demonstrated by the audience comparing the scenes Keith presented, with what there is to be seen today.
In all a good look at what was operating in 1992, excellently photographed and presented with Keith's usual expert commentary, enlivened by his personal reminiscences and anecdotes.
Our many thanks to Keith for selecting the 200 slides from his collection, for sharing his dedication to his hobby with us, and the excellent entertainment provided..

Monday 27th March 2017
Recent Digital Experiences
Steve Batty

On Monday 27th March, a below par audience of 18 welcomed Steve Batty for his digital presentation entitled "Recent Digital Experiences".
The first section of the show concentrated on locations in Steve's local area of West and North Yorkshire and commenced with scenes on the ECML between Doncaster and York with all the current services and motive power shown. Amongst the other locations were Healey mills, the S & K at Moorthorpe and even to Goole for a shot of a Western class 1000 diesel hydraulic working a charter special. The decline in freight traffic in the area was particularly noteworthy.
A short tour of the country then followed to catch up with current events, changes to motive power, and the new units coming into service. Typical locations were Ayr for class 380 EMUs, High Wycombe for Chiltern Class 68 powered trains, Redhill for a class 700 EMU and Twyford for class 800 unit on test.
A quick look at Barnetby, before and after the re-signalling, was followed by visits to Europe. Included were Cologne with the walkway alongside the railway bridge over the river festooned with coloured padlocks and steam in the Hartz mountains.
Finally there were scenes on both standard and narrow gauge preservation railway sites.
Overall something for everybody, as Steve brought us up to date with the new locomotives and units, changes in traffic patterns and infrastructure.
The photographs and their presentation were excellent and were accompanied by Steve's excellent knowledge and descriptions.

Many thanks to Steve for the entertaining and informative evening and also his dedication to the cause as it is not often we get a picture of a class 142 in slight fog.

Monday 13th March 2017
A History of DMUs
Colin Boocock

On Monday 13th March, 29 members and guests enjoyed an excellent presentation by Colin Boocock on the subject "A History of DMUs".
Sticking to the UK and Ireland, the range of vehicles shown was very impressive and ranged widely from Gardner/Walker small bus type vehicles on the Donegal Railway to the Meridians in use today. Colin started with the first ‘DMU’, an LMS 4 car diesel electric of 500HP built in 1926. The show then progressed through the many diverse Irish units from the 1930s to the current scene there, the LNER and GWR vehicles of the 1930s, BR units from the modernisation plan of the 1950s, the second generation vehicles from the 1980s and finally to the Voyagers and Meridians in service today.
One interesting vehicle shown was an LMS concept, which featured a conventional road coach also fitted with rail wheels for road/rail operation and carrying five headlamps.
The range of vehicles produced in Ireland was fascinating in their variety and the ingenuity shown by the designers and builders, with some units even being capable of freight haulage. The audience were surprised to find that there have been many prototypes which, for various reasons, were not proceeded with into production runs.
A full range of manufacturers and liveries were seen and also conversions of vehicles for parcels traffic and for use as departmental vehicles.
Altogether a thorough and comprehensive history of the many and varied DMU vehicles produced from 1926 to today and well presented with a knowledgeable commentary. It was pleasing to note that Colin while showing many of his own pictures also acknowledged on the screen the other photographers and sources where known.

Our many thanks to Colin for coming to Sheffield to give us an educational and entertaining evening.

Monday 27th February 2017
Ten Years of Digital Photography
Anthony Hicks

A below par audience of 18 attended on 27th February to receive a digital presentation by Anthony Hicks entitled "10 Years of Digital Photography".
Anthony invited the members to select topics from an on screen menu to give the evening a pick and mix flavour. First out of the box was a journey from Thorne to Cleethorpes, followed by "10 miles from home". This took us from Anthony's home area of Garforth 10 miles in all directions to cover Leeds, Church Fenton, Burton Salmon and many points in between.
Next was a visit to Scotland with the Oban line and Inverkeithing to the fore.
For a complete contrast, Cornwall was next covering many locations from Calstock to Penzance.
Not to be out done, Wales featured next, going from South Wales to Holyhead.
Scenes of the southern part of the Cumbrian coast line was followed by a few pictures in the Dublin to close the show.
The period of 10 years covered many types of locomotives and liveries as Anthony tended to look for the unusual workings such as Network rail trains, diversions and rare freight services.
The photography was excellent, and Anthony's dedication to the cause was exemplified by one round trip of hundreds of miles for two shots of a freight on Barmouth bridge, his ability to get up early when necessary, and also his choice of unfamiliar locations.
Altogether an excellent evening's entertainment of superb photographs (with some taken with the camera on an extended pole) and a knowledgeable commentary.

Monday 13th February 2017
Excursions from Sheffield
Roger Hepworth

There was a feast of nostalgia to enjoy for the good number who attended Roger Hepworth’s talk to the Branch on 13th February.
Hailing originally from Ossett and with tracks running close by his childhood home, it was no surprise that Roger became captivated by the passing railway scene. He showed us his first experiments with a box camera capturing local scenes and then moved on to more assured images taken over the years in West and South Yorkshire.
Roger’s talk was titled ‘Excursions from Sheffield’ and he addressed this brief by taking us along the lines radiating from the city with photographs spanning the demise of steam and the early years of diesel traction.
To begin with the speaker concentrated on the Midland route between Sheffield and Leeds and as well as tarrying at places along the line. Scenes of dilapidation at Normanton were particularly striking and we saw named trains (the ‘Thames-Clyde’ and ‘The Devonian’ featuring several times) powering along the metals. From Leeds we moved on to Keighley and Skipton visiting Bradford en route. Returning to Sheffield, the final pictures before the break took the road north through Moorthorpe and also showed Leeds - Doncaster services.
A light-hearted interlude of buses in the Wakefield area, was followed by a closer look at Wakefield Westgate station, now being expensively renovated. Roger brought us back to Sheffield once more and this time followed the Huddersfield line calling in at Clayton West with pictures of the closure.
The final images of a full evening were of York, whence we had travelled via Pontefract.

Although we ended the show at that point, it was clear that the speaker had many more pictures that he could have shared with us and the interest of the audience suggested that they would be keen to see more of Roger’s collection at a future meeting.

last updated: 13/01/18