Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Wednesday 27th November 2019

'50 Years Ago'

Stephen Miles

“Fifty Years Ago” was the title of local boy Stephen Miles’ presentation at the Branch’s second meeting in Swansea on November 27th.It comprised Stephen’s railway photographs from 1969 to 1971 in and around Swansea, and on his travels which extended from South Devon to the Scottish Highlands.

In Swansea we enjoyed the array of semaphore signals, complex trackwork and the variety of motive power. Less enjoyable, but equally interesting, were many examples of the rationalised and abandoned former extensive network. Steam traction was well represented by working steam at various collieries and by preserved steam on the narrow gauge and at several heritage sites. Railway infrastructure was also well represented: The splendour of Wemyss Bay Station provided a vivid contrast to the condition of a number of closed stations, years after their tracks had been lifted.

It was also interesting to see the arrangements for handling coal in Swansea Docks.

Altogether we saw examples of the majority of locomotive classes ranging from Class 03s to 86, plus a good variety of DMUs and steam.

A bigger audience than first time round enjoyed a first rate show which made it a very enjoyable and successful evening.

Wednesday 13th November 2019

'50 Years on the Beaten Track'

Geoff Atkins

Local member, Geoff Atkins gave a superb presentation to the Branch in November, witnessed by a record audience of 71. Its title was ’50-Years On The Beaten Track’ and Geoff gave the description of five decades of exploring abandoned and forgotten railways on foot.

The show was split into two halves, the first being a light hearted look at this branch of our hobby, In it he introduced us to the main protagonists, all colleagues of his at the BBC in Cardiff. In the second half, Geoff took us on hypothetical walk upon part of the former Barry Railway between Barry and Penrhos Junction (near Caerphilly), where we saw pictures of how a particular location looked in Barry Railway days and how it looked at the time of his walks. The overwhelming impression your reviewer had was that much of where he had been was now either a road or a housing estate. Geoff described the many obstacles they came upon including missing bridges, blocked-off tunnels, private land and major roads. The presentation was illustrated profusely, sometimes accompanied by music.

Geoff is a consummate professional, erudite, humorous and his audience was spellbound throughout. A wonderfully different, skilful and interesting presentation.

Wednesday 9th October 2019

'Another Evening With My Father's Slides - Scotland

David Cross

The name of the late photographer, Derek Cross is synonymous with superbly crafted railway images; his son, David made a second visit to the branch in October to show us a selection of Derek’s slides taken in Scotland between 1959 and 1984, the year of his untimely death. We were treated to a comprehensive tour that included some iconic locations such as Kyle of Lochalsh, Gleneagles, Glasgow St Enoch and Edinburgh Waverley. There was a good mix of steam, diesel and electrics on the national network and some industrial shots. David’s commentary added much to the presentation, especially as he had been present when some of the images were captured.

Your reviewer visited Scotland a couple of weeks previously and to see the changes that have occurred at such places as Gleneagles and Kyle of Lochalsh are quite daunting, a reduction in track layout and a big increase in greenery growth.

Space unfortunately, permits few of the many high points shown. One in particular was a shot of Derek, David and his younger brother watching a Class 40 diesel, all photographed by David’s mother, now aged 96!

A fabulous evening, David, you would have made your father very proud.

Wednesday 25th September 2019

'Reflections of a Railway Enthusiast'

Jeff Morgan

This was the first of our quarterly meetings in Swansea to which 12 members and guests heard Jeff Morgan's autobiographical journey through his railway pleasures. Starting at age 5 watching trains at Dyffryn Yard having bunked off his grandfather's funeral his journey took us to Mountain Ash, where his mother's side of the family lived, then a veritable railway town with two stations Oxford Street and Cardiff Road, to his first Southern and Eastern Region locos (a U class and a B1) to Barry Scrapyard. His show featured Cilfynydd and its associated colliery and Walnut Tree Viaduct with an interesting photo of the walkway underneath the tracks. Then and now photographs of Queen Street and Pontypridd, both showing the extensive changes made concluded the Welsh steam section and his concluding images featured hydraulics and the end of steam in Lancashire with a number of the Miles Platting bankers which never seemed to bank! A thoroughly enjoyable show by a professional presenter who is a regular at branch meetings and who also organises the Barry and Penarth Railway Society.

Wednesday 11th September 2019

'Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape'

Stephen Gay

September’s meeting was well attended with 28 members and 22 visitors to experience Stephen Gay’s seventh visit to our branch, his subject was ‘Railways In A Yorkshire Landscape’. Much of the presentation was devoted to an in-depth look at the Doncaster to Hull line followed by a few images from the S&C line.

Stephen’s presentations are inimitable, we saw numerous slides, all well captured, regaled with wonderful anecdotes and histories, all topped-off with relevant self-penned poems. Not only did we see subjects of railway interest, but many wonderful churches and minsters en-route, and there was but one picture of his beautiful German Shepherd dog, Wrawby (lying down next to the signal box at Broomfleet), who sadly died a couple of years ago.

So many interesting facts could be commented upon from the presentation, but just one will suffice in this review: Hull had a railway station that was built by the MS&L in 1880, it closed in 1981, having never once did it see a train. It was of course the one situated at Corporation Pier in connection with the ferry service to New Holland.

As ever Stephen, a superb show!

Before the presentation the branch commemorated the 90th birthday of Ron Collins (72-years as a member of the Society); he is an example to us all.

Wednesday 12th June 2019

'My Railway Career in South Wales'

David Maidment

The founder of the Society’s nominated charity, The Railway Children, David Maidment made a third visit to our branch in June and gave the audience of 50 an informative and humorous account of his railway career in South Wales and beyond as he rose through the ranks.

During his time as Area Manager in Bridgend he was often called to derailments of freight workings in the Valleys, David summed-up the Class 14 diesel hydraulics as being neither strong enough to pull anything uphill nor stop anything going downhill.

During the aborted attempt to introduce the APT when he was Chief Operating Manager of the LMR, David told us that the shortest time between London and Glasgow with an APT was 3-minutes faster than the best Pendolino time more than three decades later.

We were told anecdotes about the times when he was Officer-in-Charge of the Royal Train and how its speed was kept to an approximate maximum of 75mph so as to prevent tea spillage.

His final BRB position was as Reliability Manager and this led to him giving lectures to railways overseas. It was as a result of what he saw in India that made him found the charity that now does so much for less fortunate children!

Wednesday 8th May 2019

'The Railways of Glamorgan and the Valleys'

Stuart Warr

Our May meeting coincided with the local Radyr & Morganstown Festival and the subject of the illustrated talk by our Branch Secretary, Stuart Warr was ‘The Railways of Glamorgan and the Valleys’. Stuart chose to confine his presentation to the area marketed by the former British Rail as ‘Cardiff Valleys’ starting and ending at the station nearest to our meeting place, Radyr.

The hypothetical journey covered the valley lines to Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and included the freight branches to Ynysybwl, Hirwaun and Cwmbargoed, then the lines around Cardiff to Penarth, Barry Island and from Bridgend to Tondu and the lines that radiate from there. Radyr was then hypothetically reached via Coryton.

Stuart dug into his large collection of images that covered the area from the early 1970s to the present day, featuring timetabled services and excursions, both diesel and steam hauled.

The biggest surprise was the variety of liveries on locomotives and units seen, something that has largely disappeared in the area in recent times. Also of great interest was the way in which the infrastructure and greenery has changed over the years.

Wednesday 10th April 2019

'Charter Trains in the 21st Century'

Iain Pate

The April meeting brought Iain Pate’s humorous and delightfully illustrated talk entitled ‘Charter Trains in the 21st Century’.

He has been involved in the preservation movement for over 40-years and we heard about his involvement on the front-line since the Millennium. There had been many highlights during this time. He told us of some of them through pictures and anecdotes.

We started by looking at the S&C and how it copes with steam-hauled excursions, such as platforms that are too short or unsafe after dark and the logistical problems of watering and servicing steam locomotives. In Iain’s expert opinion, the ideal steam traction on the S&C is the LMS 8F, small driving wheels, never quiet and strong looking.

Other highlights included being involved with some of the last steam workings on the Folkstone Harbour branch and running three-day excursions to Scotland.

We heard of the foibles of human nature on excursions, that brought much laughter from the audience.

Iain spoke at length about 34067 ‘Tangmere’ and its support crews. They are often forgotten, but we saw pictures of the inside of their coach, heard about the characters and admired the unstintingly long hours they devote to their part of this hobby.

Superb presentation!



Wednesday 13th March 2019
‘From Railways to Royalty'
Jack Boskett

An audience of 52 were entertained by Jack Boskett's presentation entitled "From Railways To Royalty" at our March meeting in Cardiff.
Jack is something of a rarity within our hobby, he is young and has been a professional photographer for almost 10-years. We saw both railway and non-railway subjects, those images of railway subjects were superbly crafted with imaginative and innovative compositions, some were monochrome and many others, colour; Jack uses theatrical props and volunteer actors to enhance the atmosphere of his images.
He does freelance work for publications such as Rail and The Railway Magazine, the Telegraph, the Times, publicity work for Pathfinder Tours and GWR. In addition he has photographed stars of stage and screen, such as John Bishop, Rachel Riley and Tim Vine; also, he has captured excellent images of members of the Royal family when there is a railway connection.
We saw some superb silhouettes of railway subjects, many taken close to his home in Tewkesbury, and he is an advocate of using monochrome to produce timeless images. His range of subjects included his "house" rabbit who even has a railway themed name, Brunel!

Throughout his presentation, Jack talked effortlessly and with great humour, all without notes. A thoroughly recommended presentation.

Wednesday 13th February 2019
‘'Ramblings of a Francophile Ferrequinologist'
John Davies

John Davies, the much respected former BR manager visited our branch again in February, his talk, entitled ‘The Ramblings of a Francophile Ferro-equinologist’ entertained an audience of 57.
The show began with a look at a map of France and John identified the four regions, pointing out some of the many locations we would see. John has visited France on numerous occasions since 1958 and we saw images from that time through to the present day. His talk clearly showed the passion he has for the country and its railways, though this passion did not blind him to the shortcomings of the rail network and its management.
Whenever John visits us, we are entertained with wonderful anecdotes, many are very humorous; his knowledge of the network is extensive and he talks authoritatively without notes, a rare skill.
During the talk, John made comparisons between the French rail network and our own. One in particular, brought a smile to our faces regarding the uncomfortable seating on many French trains and compared that to the similar situation on the IETs being introduced in the UK.

A final comment is that John’s photographs were superb, showing not just the trains, but the infrastructure around them.

Wednesday 9th January 2019
Annual General Meeting, followed by ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’
Nigel Wassell.

Our January meeting started with the branch AGM, another successful year reported and the committee re-elected en-bloc.
This was followed by Nigel Wassell’s excellent presentation entitled ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ with a sub-text of ‘A celebration of the photography of Peter Grey’. Nigel has been collecting copies of the late Peter Grey’s colour transparencies for a number of years and, as ever, the research that Nigel had done prior to the show added much to the captions provided by the great man himself.
He started with a brief history of Peter’s photographic life and the first image seen was taken at Penzance, to be followed by a hypothetical journey east including many of the branch lines encountered. Peter was a superb photographer; that reputation drew in an audience of 56 and we saw images taken from 1958 onwards, predominantly steam subjects with a few early diesels.
In the reviewer’s opinion, the individual highlights included a photograph taken at Moorswater shed in 1960, a few images of china clay trains and some excellent night shots including one of the Royal Albert Bridge lit to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 1959.

Well done, Nigel, a fabulous show enjoyed by everyone.

Wednesday 12th December 2018
‘Steam in a Different Light’
Richard Gaunt

For our December meeting, Richard Gaunt provided a show entitled ‘Steam in a Different Light’, it had a sub-heading of ‘Railways in the north-east of England during the 1960s’.
Your reviewer is a railway photographer of around 50-years and a lifelong fan of Colin Gifford and his ‘alternative’ style exemplified in ‘Decline of Steam’. Richard’s style is very similar and to an equally high standard.
We saw dark, gritty, urban and industrialised images, many from around the Darlington area, though other locations such as Durham and Sunderland were visited, as was the sprawling NCB site around Philadelphia.
Richard’s commentary was humorous, insightful and full of anecdotes. One that stuck in my mind was about gaining a full day’s access to Darlington’s Bank Top station, a platform ticket permitting 15-minutes access cost 2d (less than £0.01), a half-fare return to nearby North Road cost 1/2d less, he would then argue the ‘toss’ with station staff!
His preferred weather condition was after snow had fallen, photographic subjects gaining a new dynamic. We also saw many social history images, one showed railway staff putting out a fire in a litter-bin(probably caused by a cigarette butt) using a kettle of water.

A truly magnificent show.

Last updated: 30th November 2019