A Tour led by John Downing

by John Morgan unless stated otherwise     

The tour started with a look inside St. Pancras station to compare how the new facilities fit in-to the existing structure.

This included a chance to admire the impressive original staircase that leads up to the new hotel rooms, and the original booking hall now part of the Gilbert Scott restaurant.

We then moved outside and walked between St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations to see what remains of old railway buildings that have survived the huge re-development - quite a lot it turned out.

The canal side Kings Cross coal office - and the facia of the Midland Railway coal drops.

Then across to see what remains of the first Kings Cross station - it's now a Waitrose supermarket. Photo shows old potato warehouse and the new Waitrose - the original framework is behind the top of the glass on the right.

Interior of the Waitrose store showing the original spandrel beams from the 1850 Kings Cross (temporary)

On to Gospel Oak station where we boarded 172 007 to go East. Still (just) Diesel, there’s already electric in those wires’ only a few years late. [Bryan Cross

On to Barking via a stop at South Tottenham where the old Great Eastern signal box remains. [Bryan Cross

Unfortunately there were now train delays which curtailed our stop at Barking - quite a large station - and Southend and Shoeburyness bound trains still use opposite sides with underground trains running through the centre section.

We then travelled back to Blackfriars on the Metropolitan Line noting on the way that some intermedi-ate stations still retain some L.T.&S.R. castings in the roof supports.

Once again a very entertaining and incredibly informative tour with John.


No 4 “Doll” basks in the sunshine with our headboard a Pages Park. Bill Davies

This was the first event in our celebration of the Branch’s 60th anniversary. We travelled on the Leighton Buzzard Railway to Stonehenge and back then had a cream tea in the Buzzrail Café. Bedfordshire is not blessed wih many steam railways and this is the best by far.

The train spent quite a time at Stonehenge which enabled us to visit the various exhibits in the yard plus the craft shop. We even had time for a group photo. Back at Pages Park the Café was nearly exhausted of toasted Tea-cakes – but everyone had a good time.

Most of the party pose in front of “Doll”. Crew Member

by John Morgan and Geoff Biggs

On Thursday 19th.April a group from the LCGB Bedford branch visited the London Post office Museum. The museum is divided into two sites. The first an exhibition with a history of the post-al service from the time of Henry 8th. to the present day. It has a cafe and gift shop.

Then to the Mail Rail site, a station on the now completely disused system which stretched from Paddington to Liverpool St. Visitors are taken on part of the original underground route in a new purpose-built battery-powered passenger train

It's a tight fit for passengers !!

The journey includes stops along the route where different films are projected on to the tunnel wall with historical scenes, (Here is a young Princess Elizabeth, our future Queen, opening a birthday card from an admirer.)

and of the life underground, with workers’ commentary.

Next to the railway is a display of engineering artefacts including this old mail train
. The centre shoe for current collection is highlighted.

CHAIRMAN'S MARSTON VALE TRIP - Tuesday 15 August 2017

The photo by Steve Lacey shows most of the party at Bletchley about to return to Bedford
We caught the 1055 train to Ridgmont from Bedford but before that the excitement started with the Oxwellmains to Tilbury cement special pausing at Bedford’s Platform 1 for or a crew change. 70802 was in charge. Oxwellmains is near Dunbar between Berwick and Edinburgh.

At Ridgmont we took an hour until the next train to savour the Tea Room, Museum and Shop before the next onward train to Bletchley. Ridgmont is a great place to visit.

At Bletchley we spotted the usual mix of Pendolinos, Class 350s and container trains.

Thanks to Chairman Bill Davies for looking after us on this entertaining trip.


SaturdayJulay 15 2017
Report and photo by John Morgan

The trip began with a walk from St. Pancras past the remains of the Somers Town goods offices. A bus then took us to the Kentish Town area and the remains of the the ex Midland MPD. A kindlly security guard let us get to positions where the remains of the shed buildings and infrastructure could clearly be seen. Thanks to Murphy's, the site owners, care seems to have been taken not to completely add new buildings at the expense of old where possible.

(See photo above)

We then travelled to the Gospel Oak area taking in the former sites of both high and low level Highgate stations. After a walk with a bit of John Betjamin history included an indoor cafe stop was made to shelter from the heavy drizzle that had plagued the morning. We then returned to Gospel Oak station and travelled with an Overground train to Willesden Junction. John's detailed description of the history of the complex layout of the railway here was invaluable.

A short walk towards Old Oak Common as far as the Grand Union canal took us past rows of terraced railway cottages and cobbled streets aptly LNWR named - Crewe and Webb place for example.

From Willesden the overground took us to Kilburn where the original platform-facing side of the station entrance is fenced off and appears to be under repair. The train then took us to Euston where we said farewell to John.

Our thanks go to John for a another humorous and fact packed guided trip that never lacked interest.
computer controlled bell code repeats and replica train movement display. All in all 2/12 hours of pure nostalgia.


Monday May 15 2017
report and photo by John Morgan

Click to see more photos

On May 15th a group from the LCGB Bedford branch visited the preserved St. Albans South signal box and our thanks go to the volunteers who provided an informative and entertaining afternoon.

The visit started with a brief history of the box when in use and in preservation. A smaller version of the box was built in 1867 and then enlarged to the 40 lever building it is now.

Adjacent to the box is a garden that contains much MIdland Railway memorabilia and a lever frame that operates a ground signal. There are also examples of full size signals including a replica of an original Midland Railway home signal with a white disc rather than the later vertical band.

The visit continued to the ground floor of the box which doubles as the volunteers mess room and small gift shop. Also included are donated signal box equipment, posters, models and loco name , number and shed plates.

Finally to the first floor and a very entertaining real time demonstration of how to handle seven trains in twenty minutes via computer controlled bell code repeats and replica train movement display. All in all 2/12 hours of pure nostalgia.


Saturday 12 November 2016.

Fourteen people gathered on a dark and wet morning for this visit conducted by Operations Manager Robin Morel. Robin opened proceedings by explaining about the box. Although only opened in 1981, this power box with a wall-mounted track diagram will disappear in the next few years. The area it controls will be taken over by new-style “Signalling Centres” which cover vast areas and have people looking at computer screens.

There followed a talk about future developments in the area including a new station at Brent Cross and changes in the Bedford area in connection with the East – West Link. It was then time to go up to the box itself. A vast illuminated panel covering 54 miles from Kentish Town to Sharnbrook is watched over in semi-darkness. Lights on the panel indicate the position of trains and the routes to be followed.

There was a finale in the form of the arrival from the North and departure the same way of the Rail-Head Treatment Train. It was a fascinating and worthwhile visit and thanks are due to Network Rail and in particular Robin Morel for making it happen.

In Rob Scudamore’s photo, Robin Morel (in shirtsleeves) is thanked by a group of participants.

Report and photograph - by Bill Davies


Tuesday 16 August 2016

'Didn't we have a loverly time the day we went to Bletchley'. Trains running on time refreshments very good at Ridgmont and a reasonable selection of trains to observe plus the sun shone. LCGB Branch Liaison Officer Robin Patrick came all the way from York to ensure that club behavi oral standards were adhered to. Good to see you Robin and everyone else who came including a contingent from Kettering to swell LM's coffers taking their conductors by surprise.

In future years can we perhaps anticipate a trip to Oxford but looking at the rust on the track up to the flyover it seems a long way away before that can be contemplated.


Saturday 23 July 2016
Led by John Downing, this expedition set out to view the lines by which the North London Railway reached central London in the early days.

Broad Street opened in 1865 but from 1850 passenger trains ran from the North of London to Poplar on the way to London Docks then by the London and Blackwall Railway to Fenchurch Strret.

Most of the route is still used today, and we progressed from Highbury to just outside Fenchurch St stopping to visit buildings and other installations, including a preserved scrapyard.

Much of the route is now used by the Docklands Lght Railway.

We rounded off the day by travelling on the remains of the Broad Street line, now used by Overground trains from Wapping to Highbury & Islington.

It had been an enjoyable and instructive day conducted by our genial and very knowledgeable host John Downing..

More photos here


Tuesday 18 August 2015
On 18 August (his Birthday) chairman Bill Davies led us on the annual "Trainspotting" trip.

Leaving Bedford at 1055 we first made the short journey to Ridgmont.

Here is the Marston Vale line's Visitor Centre with Shop, Museum and Cafe.

The shop, manned by our Bryan Cross sold many pencils and notebooks.

Jack Turner showed us the Museum which takes the shape of a booking office.

The Cafe did a roaring trade from our group and others and the hour to the next trai to Bletchley had soon passed.

Here we observed the workings until it was time to go home.


Report and photograph - John Morgan


Saturday 20th June

Factory Junction – this train has just joined from the left

Despite the Thameslink engineering work that prevented travel to St.Pancras Bedford club members made it to London on time travelling via the ECML via Biggleswade and Arlesey.

John Downing – our incredibly knowledgeable and genial guide for the trip – met us at St.Pancras and the circumnavigation began at Highbury and Islington.

Stops were made at various points of railway interest including Canonbury and Hoxton. Lunch was taken at the excellent pub at Denmark Hill that used to be the large booking office.

The journey continued via Clapham Junction and Willesden finishing at West Hampstead.

Marston Vale Day

On Tuesday 12 August 2014 twenty five members and guests joined our Chairman Bill Davies on our third annual visit to the Bletchley Branch.

Last year we christened Ridgmont's Marston Vale Visitor Centre. The highlight this year was a visit to the line's Signalling Centre,, luckily also at Ridgmont. A very interesting and informative visit to the signalling centre was enjoyed by all so thanks to signallers Les and Eleanor for making us welcome and answering many questions as well as being splendid hosts.

We then refreshed ourselves in the Visitor Centre Café. A visit to Ridgmont Station Café and museum is always worth it if you are in the area.

After Ridgmont we continued to Bletchley to observe workings on the West Coast Main Line. Traffic was intense, but there weren't as many freight trains this year, apparently due to Felixstowe container trains going via the new Bacon Factory Curve at Ipswich instead.
Thanks to all Network Rail and everyone else who helped for a good day


Geoff Biggs

On Friday 21 March 2014 we visited the Victoria Line's Driver Training Cab Simulators and Service Control Centre at Northumberland Park in North-East London.

The simulators are real cabs and we all had a go. Here is Outdoor Events Sec. John Morgan driving manually, as would happen if there were a problem. All trainees must demonstrate competence here before being let loose on the real thing.

Led by former Victoria Line Upgrade Manager Peter Neal, we went to the Victoria Line's Kings Cross Northbound platform where we met three of Peters' ex-colleagues.

The visit began straight away with the party members dividing into groups of three and boarding the next four trains for a cab ride to Seven Sisters.

At Seven Sisters the group re-formed and changed platforms to board a staff train to the Depôt.

The whole passenger line is under the ground so we left Seven Sisters on a branch line to the surface.
Braking to a halt at Highbury and Islington

In the simulator area Peter spoke:- The Victoria Line opened in two stages around 1970.

It was the first tube line to be built for 25 years and was automatic from the start, with the "operator" only pushing buttons to open doors and "close doors and go".

Usage has steadily increased and it was decided to upgrade the line to increase its capacity. One billion pounds were spent divided between trains and infrastructure. (One train cost £1m!).

Osborne house houses the Control Centre. Here we were greeted by Manager Abdul. Although the upgrade gives 33 trains per hour, the line's ever-increasing popularity means that control measures like slowing escalators down and closing station entrances have to be employed:- the Centre doesn't just control trains. It is so important that it has its own simulator!

This was an excellent visit and a real privilege to spend time with professional railwaymen. Thanks to all LUL people who were involved but especially to Peter Neal who masterminded the whole thing.


On Tuesday 10 September 2013, our Charman Bill Davies led us on a “trainspotting” trip to Bletchley by train. By sheer coincidence this was the opening day of Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership’s Visitor Centre in the restored Ridgmont Station. Naturally we stopped off for an hour.
Thus, apart from one early arrival, the LCGB Bedford party christened the place! Alighting at Ridgmont we found that the station building had been splendidly refurbished from its previous decrepitude. Inside we bought tea and cakes in the tea room. Some invested in sandwiches. We also visited the gift shop and inspected the display of artefacts.
The photo by Stan Barnes showsRidgmont’s restored Station Building.

Tuesday 18 June 2013 EVENING at OLD NORTH ROAD             - Bill Davies

The Branch visited Old North Road Station, which was on the Oxford Cambridge line. We went to see what the current owner has created from the station building and yard area. Remarkably he has done a considerable amount representing a house to live in, the former station house and booking office, the type five L&NWR signalbox and a fairly modern building which houses an eclectic collection of artefacts relevant to this country station. .
We had a very enjoyable visit thanks to the current owner who went out of his way to look after us and supply us with answers to our many questions.

Trainspotting at Bletchley. Thursday 23 August 2012

On Thursday 23 August, members of the Bedford Branch travelled by train to Bletchley where there relived their past. Here, two participants photograph 66433 on an up Intermodal. Geoff Biggs

London Overground’s New Cross Gate Depot – Tuesday 12 July 2011

On Tuesday 12 July 2011 a party from LCGB Bedford visited London Overground's depot at New Cross Gate on LOROL’s East London Line. Our guide for the visit was LOROL's site manager Dave Grey - a time-served Underground man who cut his teeth at Northumberland Park Depot.

Dave was most informative throughout our visit and explained at length the operations that the immaculate depot performed to keep the East London Lines operating. Bombardier supplies not only the units but the staff to maintain them.

The East London Line is run as an independent operation where all trains are set up for 650V dc third-rail electrification only. But they contain all the internal equipment to run on 25kV ac as well – only a pantograph would need to be added.

The Depot also does contract work on the ac/dc trains that run on the Richmond/Clapham Junction to Stratford line. Their home Depot is at Willesden.

Visiting the control room we saw how a very comprehensive overview was kept on all stations and trains.

LOROL staff share the room with Network Rail people who operate all signalling both on the depot and out on the line.

In the whole depot there were only three units under maintenance and another as a 'hot' spare: even that was in use for driver training!

Six extra units were currently being delivered. These will bring the complement up to 32 four-car units, being needed for the forthcoming Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction extension.

When open, (target late 2012) the East London Line will employ 120 drivers and will help to complete London’s “Outer Circle”.

Altogether a fascinating tour enjoyed by all, bringing us up to date with today’s operations on a comparatively new railway, which already has proved a great success by providing another vital link across London with simple changes.

We look forward to the next stage of the line opening and thank Dave and his staff for welcoming us throughout our visit.

Bill Davies - LCGB Bedford Chairman

Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway
Wednesday 23rd June, 2010

On Wednesday 23 June 2010, a special train was run on the Leighton Buzzard Railway in memory of Peter Bland. All the proceeds went towards the care of Peter’s favourite engine “Pixie”, in whose restoration Peter was heavily involved.

The train was filled with members of the various organizations with which Peter was involved, including LBR, LCGB St Albans and LCGB Bedford.The photos show-

Left – Peter Pan at Pages Park with LCGB Bedford headboard and

Below – A selection of participants.
Photos – B.Cross Collection

Our members can join other Branches’ visits. Here is a view from a recent St Albans Branch visit to St Albans South Signal Box.

We organise occasional visits etc. to places of interest.

This photo was taken ona visit to Brush at Loughborough, which was held jointly with the St Albans Branch.


47828 at Brush, Loughborough

by Brian Cross