West Midlands

Meeting Reports

Monday 18th March 2019
'M & GN'
CXhris Youett

On 18th March at Coventry Steve Armitage was unable to give his presentation due transport failure. Fortunately local stalwart Chris Youett was able to stand in and presented one of his many collations, this one centred on the M & GN during its heyday and latter days.
However we commenced locally in Coventry with a visit to Nuneaton and the West Coast line then on to Shakerstone eventually ending up in Lincolnshire to join the joint line and on to its stamping ground in Norfolk and the M & GN. Here we covered most of the Company’s route with fine steam and diesel shots and view of stations. The Company’s other joint lines were covered into Cromer and down via the coast to Yarmouth. The incongruous retention of the branch to Lenwade was explained. At Cromer Beach views of the shed, now a Morrison’s supermarket, were shown. Many shots depicted the myriad holiday specials to the coast from the Midlands which were a feature of the line in its heyday.

A nostalgic display for which we thank Chris for stepping into the breach at the eleventh hour.

Monday 4th March 2019
'Next Train Gone'
Adrian White

Adrian White from Stevenage came to the Birmingham meeting on 4th March with a digital presentation entitled “Last Train Gone”. This was a review of everything old and new on the railway s covering infrastructure, passengers, locomotives, trackside, and signalling.
However the main theme was railways in the landscape. We were treated to a whistle stop tour around Britain to almost every preserved system in the country.
After the break the journey continued to Europe and the USA before returning home.

This presentation was most interesting and is highly recommended and commended to all branches. The West Midlands Branch has already invited Adrian to return for the next seasons programme.

Monday 18th February 2019
'Railways In Southern Africa.'
Brian Acford

The railways of southern Africa are well known for having possessed a large collection of mighty steam locomotives for the 3’6” gauge.
At Coventry on 18th February we were given a fine insight to these by Brian Acford from Rugby. He presented a steam filled show from his visits in 1981/2/5. At this time steam was starting to decline but most of the larger locomotives were still to be found on freight and in use as shed pilot or trip workings.
Covering South Africa in a tortuous circle we visited several depots such as Germinston and De Arr. The Garratt locomotives from various builders were featured and well as locomotives running with condensing tenders or additional water tanks.
As well as depots, superb action shots were shown with requested steam effects by obliging crews. The Natal 2’ gauge was also featured and also the many industrial concerns at collieries and mineral workings, each with their own locomotives, many ex SAR, or on hire from there. The show was concluded by a brief visit to Zimbabwe and the coal traffic at Wankie.

A show recommended to those who have memories of the area and those who were not so fortunate.

Monday 4th February 2019
A Selection of Narrow Gauge Railways
Ken Johnson

For our Birmingham meeting on 4th February we welcomed Ken Johnson from the Nuneaton Railway Circle who presented a slide show featuring narrow gauge in North Wales. We were treated to some vintage shots taken prior to 2010 and reflecting the many changes which have taken place.
The show commenced on the Welshpool and Llanfair and went through to finish on to the Welsh Highland, each accompanied with a potted history.

We thank Ken for his fact filled presentation and look forward to a future update.

Monday 21st January 2019
Branch AGM followed by Member's presentations

The Branch AGM was held in Coventry on 21st January 2019. The attendance was low and with various situations to be resolved the meeting took longer than usual. The Committee was reappointed with Peter Smith returning to the fold.

After the formalities presentations were given by Chris Berridge, Peter Bellamy, Chris Youett, and Derrick Codling. These proved full of interest and nostalgia.

Monday 17th December 2018
‘Steam on the Main Line 2018'
David Richards and Karl Jauncey of PSOV.

Twenty-six members and visitors gathered at Coventry on Monday 17th December 2018 to welcome one of the PSOV team, the other being unable to attend, to present their programme “Steam on the Main Line 2018”.
Workings as far afield as Kyle of Lochalsh, the Settle and Carlisle, and Cornwall ( where 35028 was making its first visit) were shown, with a constant reminder of the teamwork needed to record the workings in detail. Although many of the scenes were made in sunny weather, some attracted conditions which any photographer or recorder knows too well, and the result were a credit to the photographers and equipment.
We were reminded that some thirty years ago equipment would have cost many thousands, but now similar results can be obtained for much less an outlay.

We look forward to the PSOV’s team visit with their 2019 survey. Perhaps the paucity of GWR locomotive will not be so evident.

Monday 3rd December 2018
'Pure Genius – Part 1'
Chris Youett

At the Birmingham meeting on 3rd December we welcomed Chris Youett who presented a slide show entitled “Pure Genius- Part One”.
This comprised a collection of selected transparencies covering locomotives and historic coaches reflecting his interest in the Southern Irish Scene. We were reminded that the main gauge there is 5’ 3”. He began with pre-1930 stock and motive power both on Irish standard and narrow gauges and continued up until the 1950s.
Members and guests enjoyed the enthusiastic commentary which accompanied the slides and rewarded Chris with well deserved praise at the end of the show.

We look forward to future presentation of Parts 2 and 3.

Monday 5th November 2018
'The Locomotives of China Series – A Venture into Self-Publishing'
Robin Gibbons

At the Birmingham meeting on 5th November Robin Gibbons came to Burney Lane to give us a presentation entitled “The Locomotives of China” and also outline his venture into self publication of the results of his travels.
In part one Robin outlined the formation of his company and the pros and cons of setting it up. Being the proud owner of the nameplate from Hunt Class 62775 “The Tyndale” he decided the company should be called Tyndale Publishing.
In part two he outlined the classes of steam power in China with some detail including examples of British built locomotives. The first three volumes of his published books provide many images from early years up to modern times including diesel and electric traction.

An interesting talk on an overseas subject recommended to other branches

Monday 15th October 2018
‘Class 230 Developments at Vivarail'
Chief Executive Adrian Shooter

The second meeting of the season in the new venue at Coventry on 15th October saw a large audience of members and visitors receive a presentation from Adrian Shooter Chief Executive of Vivarail. The subject was “Class 230 Developments, at Long Marston”.
The pending introduction of these units on the Marston Vale route from Bletchley-Bedford was explained in detail. Tests using 230003 are already providing training at night over the line. Two further units are due to arrive with passenger services starting with the December timetable. A battery unit, 230002, has gone to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway for trials and units for the new Welsh franchise are in the pipeline.
Time then allowed for discussion on events going on at Tyseley with Vintage Trains having now obtained their TOC approval. A test run using GWR 4965 ran to Stratford-on-Avon on 12th October. All being well a programme of trains should start before the end of the year.

We thank Adrian for his presentation and look forward to a future visit and perhaps a repeat visit to Long Marston in due course.

Monday 17th September 2018
‘Round the Regions’
local member David Walker

The first meeting of the 2018-2019 season was held in Coventry on 17th September at the new venue of the Coventry and North Warwickshire Sports Club, Binley Road, Coventry.
The well attended meeting was given a show by local member David Walker entitled “Round the Regions”. This consisted of digitalised shots from the slide collection of Ray Read. The collection of some 2800 images is now in the possession of the Society. A few of David’s own were added to provide continuity.
We were regaled by pictures of locomotives both on shed and on trains, both passenger and freight, from a wide area. As Ray was a local member much of the immediate area was depicted with some emphasis of the former GCR route via Rugby. Ray also had a particular liking for LMS Pacifics and these also featured highly some on special workings.
Classes of locomotives depicted were too numerous to detail and the afternoon was a feast of steam nostalgia. Further offerings are anticipated when David has time to sort through Ray’s vast collection.

Monday 3rd September 2018
'Open to Broadway'
Alan Bielby

On 3rd September Richard Johnson deputised for his colleague from the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway who was unable to attend.
Entitled “Open to Broadway” Richard began by summarising the opening of the line built by the GWR 1903-1906 and forming a second route Birmingham- Bristol. Finally closed following a freight train derailment in 1976 much of the track had gone by the time the G-SWR was formed following a Light Railway Order in 1983. Open in stages, the first section was Toddington-Winchcombe, in 2005 it was then extended south to Cheltenham Racecourse. Sections of the line were badly affected by landslips in 2008, 2020, and 2011 which were duly repaired.
After much opposition from local landowners and extensive works on the infrastructure and rebuilding of Broadway station at cost of some £2.25 million the first train north from Toddington arrived in December 2017 and was finally opened to passengers in March this year.
During the talk Richard revealed many interesting more facets of the line and its resurrection in a most excellent and recommended presentation.

Tuesday 15th May 2018
'Steam on the Main Line 2017'
David Richards and Karl Jauncey of PSOV

On 15th May David Richards and Karl Jauncey of PSOV presented their “Steam on the Main Line 2017” which had been postponed from December due to the snowfalls at that time. In 2017 the availability of locomotives was limited but we were still able view PSOV’s trademark sequences of steam in full flow around the country.
The show started with 2017’s “Great Britain XI” beginning with 60103 Kings Cross-York and ending after a succession of power with 45699 from Grange over Sands-Bristol. Other tours still managed to provide an array of interest with LMS locomotives predominating but GWR, LNER, SR, and BR also appearing in a very interesting nostalgic programme.

Wednesday 25th April 2018
Visit to the depot of The Midland Metro Alliance at Wednesbury Great Western Street

On 25th April a party of Branch members visited the depot of The Midland Metro Alliance at Wednesbury Great Western Street. We were conducted round by Derek Taylor their training manager who commenced by giving us a resume of the history of the Metro and its future development.

   Tram 25 in Depot for repair   Bob Barby
We then proceeded to the Workshops where trams 25, 26, 28, 30, and 37 were in for attention, 26 being fitted for battery operation.
   'Ernie' 4wBE shunter for wheel lathe unit   Bob Barby
The wheel lathe was inspected where shunting is carried out by “Ernie” a 4wBE unit.
   Depot Control Room   Bob Barby
Then upstairs to the control room where screens provide coverage of activities at each Metro station and contact can be made to each unit on the road.
   Tram 19   Bob Barby
We then passed outside where each member had the opportunity to drive tram 19 which is the next unit to be fitted with batteries. Also outside were trams 31, and 36.
   Tram 16. An original 1998 Ansaldo unit.   Bob Barby
Also tram 16, one of the original 1998 built Ansaldo units which was retained as an inspection car but is now to join the other 15 which are for sale and stored at Long Marston. Three road/rail inspection vehicles were seen. The tour concluded in the simulator room where drivers train or refresh on simulations of the whole system. At present the Metro has 21 CAF Urbos 3 five section trams numbered 17 to 37 delivered from 2014. The units not recorded on depot were all noted out in service including the first battery fitted unit 18. This was operating on battery power over a fitted section of track between Handsworth and Soho Road. Derek explained the two new extension being built, The Royal-Wolverhampton station and Grand Central-Centenary Square which will both use battery power. He also outlined further extensions for which up to 48 new trams will be required. A most informative and enjoyable visit.

Monday 16th April 2018
'Building the new Gresley P2'
John Rawlinson of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust

At Coventry on 16th April, John Rawlinson assisted by his technical man John Harratt, both from the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust presented a most detailed illustrated talk covering their latest project. This comprises building from scratch a seventh member of the LNER Gresley 2-8-2 P2 class to the original design of 2001, but with certain modifications to bring it within current loading gauge parameters for the main routes and also heritage lines. Completion is scheduled for 2020.
The presenters began by outlining the history of the six originals in their various forms. These locomotives were designed to work the heavily graded road from Edinburgh to Aberdeen but often ventured south to Kings Cross.
The first, 2001 “Cock of the North”, emerged in 1934 and 2002 followed soon A4 style styling was applied to 2003 to 2006 in 1936. The first two were streamlined later. All six were rebuilt to 4-6-2 Class A2/2 in 1943 to 1946.
We then followed through the planning and construction to the present day with the frames erected and the front end and cab installed. This most detailed, in depth technical presentation, illustrated the cutting of the frames and casting of various items including full coverage of the modifications to be made to the original design. The principal alteration is to the big ends which proved a recurrent problem in the originals. It was hinted that the next project would probably be an LNER V4!

This talk is recommended to other branches being most interesting and informative in emphasising the enormous effort of all involved in the project.

last updated: 21/03/19