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BRANCHES

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NEXT FIXTURES

SEPTEMBER


Monday 25th: Brighton Branch ‘Das Rhb – The Rhatische Bahn’ by Ted Vaughan.

Thursday 28th: Croydon Branch ‘BR 1962-68 Steam Railway slides’ by Tom Jedski, the pictures taken by Richard Biddick.

OCTOBER

Tuesday 3rd: Bedford Branch ‘The East Lincolnshire Railway: its Origins, Development and Decline’ covering Grimsby towards Peterborough by Mike Fowler.

Tuesday 10th: North London Branch ‘AGM plus The Chairman Entertains’.

Wednesday 11th: Dorking Branch ‘Railway History of Paris’ by Mike Bunn.

Thursday 12th: St Albans Branch ‘Adrian’s Career on the Railway’ by Adrian Vaughan, Railway Author and Signalman.

Tuesday 17th: Bedford Branch: ‘AGM & My Travels with the late David Eatwell’ by Ray Schofield as he looks back at a lifetime hunting steam with David.

Friday 20th: Central London Branch ‘AGM & Members Evening’ slides & digital pictures welcome.

Monday 23rd: Brighton Branch ‘The Railways of Paris Part 1’ by Mike Bunn.

Thursday 26th: Croydon Branch ‘History of the RPSI’ Leslie McAllister tells the story of The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Thursday 26th
: North West Branch ‘Memories of Steam in Turkey’ by Norman Mathews.

NOVEMBER

Tuesday 7th: Bedford Branch ‘The Hitchin South Diaries 1906 – 1968’ George Howe recalls some of events recorded by signalmen in Hitchin South Box.

Wednesday 8th: Dorking Branch ‘How Steam was my valley’ by Chris Jones.

Thursday 9th: St Albans Branch ‘Railways of the Isle of Man’ by Geoff Brockett.

Tuesday 14th: North London Branch ‘Swiss Transport’ by George Howe.

Thursday 16th: North West Branch ‘35mm BR blue to digital Large Logo’ by Roger Sutcliffe.

Friday 17th: Central London Branch ‘Restoration of 34081 92 Squadron’ by Steve Lacy.

Monday 27th: Brighton Branch ‘Branch AGM’s and Photographic Competition’

Thursday 30th: Croydon Branch ‘Railway Preservation in the ex-Communist States’, Stephen Wiggs & John Jones tell what’s been happening in Eastern Europe.

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

Bedford

On 5/9 former Branch secretary Richard Crane, lately chief Bedford – Bletchley Rail User, presented his exploration of ‘The route of the Master Cutler’. This quickly turned out to be a user-friendly overview of the Great Central route from Sheffield to London, first shared with Richard’s evening class in Surbiton. Richard began by explaining the various incarnations of the Master Cutler, from prestige business train on the GC, through Pullman on the GN and finally to its several guises on the Midland.

He went on to present an illustrated guide to the route, its traffic and motive power starting at Sheffield Victoria and moving steadily south to Marylebone. Some of the photographs were taken by the speaker, the rest coming from a multiplicity of sources. Repeated copying and reformatting had done some of them no favours but they were more than sufficient to convey a clear impression of the 19th century’s final main line and the traffic which flowed over it.

The 1960s saw determined efforts with questionable justification to exterminate the line. Nonetheless, much remains visible with significant parts still in some sort of use. Marylebone station, once threatened with closure, is now thriving thanks to the enlightened management of Network SouthEast and Chiltern Railways. An attentive audience showed its warm appreciation, confirming the view of the Branch that it can always rely on this speaker for a good evening’s entertainment.

Chris Youett, slide collector extraordinaire from Coventry, returned to the Branch on 4/7 after a lengthy absence. He showed a remarkable selection of images majoring on the ‘Midland and Great Northern’ and garnered from sources both familiar and unfamiliar, giving a typically pungent commentary despite suffering from a frog in the throat.

Although some of the slides were not of top quality they more than made up for this in rarity value, evoking the long-gone summers of the 1950s when seemingly everyone went to holiday camp by train. Only during a short and concentrated peak was the M&GN busy, being distinctly under-patronised for the rest of the year and rendering almost total closure inevitable. This was emphasised by the use of the expression “middle of nowhere” to describe several locations.
Refreshingly different was Chris’s informative observations on some of the coaching stock featured, though the wide range of motive power employed on the M&GN was by no means neglected. A recurrent theme was the use of ex-LNER locomotives on trains of ex-LMS coaches and vice versa. The Branch thanks Chris for his presentation and nostalgic memories of the M&GN.

Brighton


Our final show on 26/6 before our summer break, was entitled The Mid Hants - Its history and operation, presented by Brian Dalton. Brian charted the fall and decline of the line from the arrival of the London and Southampton Railway in 1858, the opening of the Alton, Alresford and Winchester Railway in 1863, to closure in 1973. Traffic was never that prolific, being mainly rural in nature, and the abundance of watercress grown in the area giving the line its nickname.

The challenging gradients in the Medsted area earned the nickname of The Alps. Upon closure the Hampshire County Council paid to ensure the track wasn't lifted to enable the fledgling Mid Hants Railway to start up. Initially the 3 miles from Ropley to Alresford was operated. County council funding ceased in 1985 and the track was lifted. It took another 9 years to relay the whole 7 miles of track costing 1 million. By 2002 the debt was paid off and a period of painful acrimony was finally laid to rest.

Today's railway continues to prosper. It has a very good loco works facility, and Brian paid a great tribute to the many devoted volunteers who help to make the line what it is today. A good story well told.

On 24/4 John Borrowdale gave a talk on the ‘LMS Patriot Project’. The talk was a mixture of the history of the class and current new build project. We started off with the history of the class which originally started as a rebuild of Claughton 4-6-0's and were known as Patriot's from 1937 when the first was named. 52 were built of which 42 were named and we saw various slides from the 1950's and 60's of the class at work.

However, the Patriot was the only LMS 4-6-0 which was not preserved which has led to the new build. The new build was started in 2008 and is currently being constructed at Llangollen. It will be in the LMS crimson livery and will be called ‘The Unknown Warrior’ after being chosen by the public in a competition in Steam Railway magazine. It is hoped it will be ready to steam in 2018 and will eventually run on the main line.

John showed us a number of slides of the building project as it has progressed and we thank him for his interesting and informative talk.

Central London

Central London had a gratifyingly good attendance on 18/8 for ‘Members' Slides ‘ which included of course digital images. As expected, the content was varied and international. The presentations began with excellent video pictures, taken earlier this year, of the Harz metre gauge railway in Germany, with views of steam at Schierke and the Brocken summit station. Also shown were scenes taken in 2016 of a steam rail tour in Sri Lanka with the tender tank locomotive and fascinating scenes recorded from just behind the driver of a tram ride through the narrow streets of Lisbon.

Still images followed with scenes recorded at the Winnipeg Railway Museum in Canada and on the Sandstone Railway in South Africa. It was then guess the location and date of scenes recorded by the late Jim Simpson. Jim spent much of the 1980s and 90s photographing almost everything in steam on both heritage railways and the mainline. BR Cl. 4MT 75069 was surmised to be on a line in central Wales and Stanier Pacifics 6201 'Princess Elizabeth' and 46203 'Princess Margaret Rose' were observed in splendid action the Settle and Carlisle line.

The evening concluded with a look at Cl. 33s and Cl.50s on the Waterloo to Exeter main line in 1991, a 1994 winter Plandampf in former East Germany, main line steam at the 2010 Dordrecht steam festival and V2 'Green Arrow' in action in 1987 on the Marylebone main line. Grateful thanks go to Chris Capewell, Brian Garvin, Rob Mearman and the branch Chairman for their contributions to a successful and enjoyable evening

. We welcomed the Chairman of the Bedford Branch Bill Davies on 21/7 with ‘Aspects of a footplate career in the London area’. Bill has a great ability to tell a good tale interspersed with hilarious anecdotes. Bill began his career in London at Kings Cross on the Cambridge and Peterborough link in the days of Deltic’s, class 47s, blue and grey Mk II d coaches, class 31s and the last two baby Deltic’s.

Later on Bill transferred to the SouthEastern division of the Southern Region. However he moved to live in Bedford where he could afford to buy a house. During his time on the Southern he drove 4EPB units which he praised as never failing whilst in his charge. The 4CEP had their speedometers marked in kilometres per hour. Training took place at Victoria and Waterloo, the latter place chosen to train drivers in the use of the highly effective Westinghouse brake.

This was a highly entertaining and educational presentation from one who spoke from experience. It was much appreciated by a grateful branch. He will return!

Croydon


The last meeting before the summer break took place on 29/6 when Mike Peascod gave a well prepared digital based talk on the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway entitled ‘Rails through Lakeland’. Mr Peascod is a trustee and the publications manager of the Cumbrian Railways Association a group of some 450 members devoted to study of the railways in the Lakeland area. Little remains now in the area apart from the coast line from Carlisle to Barrow but the speaker showed numerous photographs of the area when it was alive with railways carrying lucrative mineral traffic.

The demise of the CK&P was described where Keswick lost "The Lakes Express" and its impressive station. The speaker handed out a well drawn map - a great help to those who were unfamiliar with the area. The branch enjoyed a well presented historical talk so we thank Mr Peascod for his story and wish his Association prosperity.

On 25/5 the branch enjoyed a talk by the Andy Savage, Executive Director of the ‘Railway Heritage Trust’ on the work of the trust. A body set up to ensure "our railway heritage is properly retained and preserved for future generations". The activities of the trust are well described on their Website so will not be detailed here. Mr Savage gave an appraisal of the objectives and achievements of the organisation as seen by a career railway civil engineer who was a Fellow of the ICE and had been President of the PWI, (amongst other achievements), so there was little he didn't know about BR, its history and inheritance.

The speaker's slides illustrated the Trust's various achievements and projects and gave the audience some very interesting insights into why and how the many restorations were undertaken. An excellent and informative address slanted towards the essence of the railway, the engineering, so many thanks to Andy Savage for his visit.

Also at this meeting a short EGM concluded formal business left over from the AGM

Dorking

On 12/7, Rupert Shingleton, Head of Quality and Assurance for Costain Ltd, gave a presentation to the Branch on the ‘Redevelopment of London Bridge Station’ Before looking at the works at London Bridge, Rupert gave on overview of the Thameslink project as a whole. This aims to increase rail capacity across London and reduce overcrowding and includes rebuilt stations at Farringdon and Blackfriars, a connection from St Pancras to the East Coast Main Line and a new depot at Three Bridges.

At London Bridge itself, the station is being rebuilt with a new low level concourse and nine through and six terminal lines in place of the previous six through and nine terminal lines. Together with the new Borough Market viaduct and the Bermondsey dive-under, this will increase capacity by eliminating conflicting movements between the Southern, Thameslink and South Eastern services.

Rupert described and illustrated in detail the issues involved in the rebuilding including the constrained nature of the site within the existing footprint, the staged construction from south to north which enabled the station to be kept operational, the deep piling required into the river gravels and the works to the existing viaduct arches. The works are due to be completed on 30/11/17 with a month for testing before formal opening on 3/1/18. Rupert was warmly thanked by his audience for a most informative talk on this complex project.

Regular speaker Ray Schofield returned to the Branch on 14/6 to give a presentation entitled 'Southern Region - Shed by Shed' This took the form of a tour of the former Southern Region of British Railways following the order of its locomotive sheds from 70A Nine Elms to 75G Eastbourne looking at the lines which were served by each shed.

Ray's presentation was illustrated with pictures of preserved steam on the main lines and on the heritage railways which have taken over a number of the branch lines. Locomotives seen ranged from native 'Merchant Navy' Pacifics to Beattie 'Well Tanks' plus more exotic visitors such as 'Jubilees' and 'A4' Pacifics. Starting at Waterloo (70A) Ray first followed the South Western lines towards Eastleigh (71A, later 70D) and Weymouth (71G/70G) including the Mid-Hants and Swanage Railways. then the line through Salisbury to the principal West Country shed at 72A Exmouth Junction, Next the South Eastern lines from London (73A/75D Stewarts Lane) were taken to Ashford (74A/73F) and Ramsgate (74B/73G) The tour concluded with the lines between London and Brighton (75A) including the Bluebell Railway.

Ray's commentary included some of the history and operating features of these lines and observations from visits in the early 1960s. He was warmly thanked by his audience for an interesting and informative presentation.

In the interval of the meeting, cards signed by Branch members and by the MC and others at the Club AGM were presented and a cake cut in celebration of the 100th birthday on 21st June of Branch member John Haynes.

North London

Branch Visit to Kent and East Sussex Railway 11th July 2017.
The meeting point for the tour was at St Pancras International to catch the 09:37 to Ashford International, which left on time. The next stage involved a 45-minute bus ride to Tenterden Town Station some 300 yards from the bus stop. It should be noted that the walk involves crossing a relatively busy road and there is no pedestrian crossing nearby.

The departure for Bodiam was at 1.15 pm to be hauled by GWR 1638. Immediately prior to departure myself and other members of the group were treated to a shunting display whereby our locomotive moved a rake of coaches between parallel tracks before joining our train. The coaches were of the Metropolitan Line style including, Metropolitan first-class coach number 353. The operation was reminiscent of a time when carriages or goods vans could be added to trains at the end of many branch lines. The train called at Rolvenden, Wittersham Road, Northiam and Bodiam.

The line meanders through the Kent and East Sussex countryside allowing passengers to experience the feeling of being involved in a country branch line which of course they are. The return was made on DMU Class 108 M50971 with E51571, even this was unique because as in the past you can look over the driver’s shoulder and see the train being driven. The most striking feature for me was to see the exchange of tokens, how often do you see the physical handover on heritage lines? The main workshop at Rolvenden has plenty of locomotives on display as you pass by. At Bodiam the Edith Cavell Coach is displayed and the National Trust owned property Bodiam Castle is nearby the station and is open to visitors.

The KESR museum is located at Tenterden Town Station. The motive power in use on the day, Swindon Built Class 16XX 0-6-0 PT 1638 introduced in 1951 designed by F W Hawksworth and s two car DMU Class 108 formed with DBMS M50971 and DMC E51571. My overall impression of the day is that it was a chance to experience the charm of a branch line approaching the 1960’s. If you have not travelled on the KESR I suggest you put it on your “to do” list, as you could be missing out on something that is quite special.

On 13/6 it was a member's afternoon. The contribution of those exhibiting was varied. Five people showed photographs in three different formats, slides digital slides and video. We visited several different parts of the UK and travelled to Australia and the USA (photographically of course).

John Curry showed a selection of slides which had been taken in the USA concentrating in California and moving on to Colorado. His photographs then moved on to Australia and New Zealand he showed some interesting shots not only of railway operation but also of the local scenery.

Ray Stratford presented his selection of photographs taken mainly in North Wales last year. He presented scenes of Llandudno Station with Arriva DMU's. There were also photographs of 46115 'Scots Guardsman' which subsequently failed at the head of the North Wales Coast Express. Ray also included shots of the local landscape including the Alice in Wonderland sculptures that inhabit the town.

Alan Sturrock presented a selection of black and white photographs from Germany, France and Stratford (East London). It was a bit mean because these photographs were selected purely at random by a third party. Alan couldn't identify all the photographs but he was aided by a helpful and enthusiastic audience. The final selection in the first half was by Tony Stratford. The photographs included mainline steam visitors to Potters Bar including Tornado, Duchess of Sutherland and Princess Elizabeth. He then moved on to Darlington (incorrectly captioned as Durham oops). It was part of the LCGB visit organised by Bob Stonehouse to see progress on P2 2007 'Prince of Wales' which is entering a very interesting phase. Tony completed his selection with Ken Nunn's photographs of the Kent and East Sussex Railway to where the branch will visit in July.

Bob Stonehouse was the penultimate presenter with a choice of 200 slides. His presentation commenced with photographs from the 1960's, the remainder of his contribution was based on the S.L.O.A tours of the 1980's. With glorious colour shots of an "A4", a "Duchess" and "Bulleids" 34092 'City of Wells' on the Cumbrian Mountain Express. It reminded us of the time when enthusiast specials were run for enthusiasts and not as a commercial enterprise. Bob punctuated his talk with anecdotes and his life experiences. Jim Pentney completed the afternoon's event with a video taken at various locations during the year. Amongst them were the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Epping and Ongar, Mid Hants Railway and trams in Sheffield and Birmingham. The most interesting finds of the afternoon in my view were the LEB1 and AC cars both on the North Norfolk Railway.

Thank you everybody for making a valuable contribution to an interesting afternoon. Perhaps the underlying message from the event is that wherever we take our cameras we are creating memories and it is a pleasure to be able to share them.

On 9/5 the branch welcomed the return of Chris Jones with ‘Steam in the Valleys’ a selection of photographs from Wales, up to and including the 1960’s. The photographs were part of Chris’s personal archive plus shots from published sources. Most photographs were monochrome interspersed with some colour shots. Each photograph was described in full and Chris was happy to respond to questions and comments from the audience.

The presentation was further illustrated with maps of the valley lines. Most of the lines illustrated have now ceased and therefore the material presented is of historical interest to many enthusiasts. Many of the photographs shown were of a personal nature of either of Chris as a young man or sometimes with family members. Overall it was an interesting look at the Welsh railway scene of the 1960’s and earlier through the lens of Chris Jones and others.

More material could have been shown but it was in the wrong format for our system. In the circumstances, Chris provided an interesting insight into the railways of Wales for which the Branch would like to thank him.



North West


The Branch AGM was held on 27/4 following which four members showed a wide selection of digital photographs from the UK and overseas.

Neville Bond started with a range of scenes from 2006 covering England, Wales and Scotland illustrating many liveries which are now only history and in the process included many wry and amusing captions. Moving abroad we saw various RENFE locomotive and multiple unit scenes in the areas around Seville and Cordoba in southern Spain.

Geoff Monks then revived memories of main line steam excursions of the 1970's and 1980's with nostalgic pictures of many engines which no longer work on BR including ‘Cookham Manor’, ‘Burton Agnes Hall’, ‘Evening Star’ and ‘Hardwick’. Amongst the numerous memorable scenic views were shots of the Midland Compound and ‘Leander’ in West Cumbria and ‘Duchess of Hamilton’ on specials at Marsden and Blea Moor.

Moving abroad again, Norman Mathews recalled the October 2016 IGE tour around the Alps which had involved no less than 16 different steam locomotives and five countries. Notable types included both rebuilt and original German 01's, the Swiss based 141R, Italian 685 196 and 625 100 and the former JZ class 25 now numbered as FS 728 022. In Slovenia the Ljubljana Railway museum was visited and in Austria various OBB and DR types were used including ex Romanian locos now numbered as class 38 and 657. Perhaps the most remarkable part was the transit of the Gotthard behind 01 202.

John Sloane then showed a selection of international shed scenes starting with then and now shots at Oberhausen, Osterfeld Sud shed and progressing to Hamilton in New Zealand, Cuba, southern India, South Africa, Chile, Poland and Goa covering a wide variety of types in the process. He then finished with some recent scenic shots of mainly loco hauled services, both freight and passenger, in the Perpignan, Cerbere and Port Bou areas of France and Spain.

On 23/3 the Branch received a reminder of what it was like to experience big steam when Geoff Coward came to give his digital show entitled "Chinese Steam in the 21st Century". This recorded a tour by a small party in late 2002 and consisted of still pictures in the first part and sound/movie in the second. Starting with an introduction to the main classes seen working, QJ, SY, JS and C2,

Geoff then moved on to the locations visited where steam was still active. Chengdu saw only a solitary JS in steam but saw SY's pounding up stiff grades with heavy trains of up to 1800 tons. At Anshan, the largest steelworks in China, some 14 SY's were very active in the dramatic surroundings of the blast furnaces.

The coal mining system at Tiefa saw some atmospheric sunrise scenes together with more SY's on freight and the substantial passenger services. Out of steam awaiting repair was SY 1772 built at Tangshan in October 1999 and hence this was the Chinese equivalent of our "Evening Star".Dramatic scenes then followed on the Ji-Tong line between Tongliao, Daban and Jing Peng before the tour returned to Beijing to visit the National Railway Museum where a host of classes are displayed. Those seen included a KD7, a PL, an SL pacific, a GJ tank, the Chairman Moa JS and a loco in an amazing bright red livery.

The final still shots were at the short Dahuichang Limestone line where a couple of C2 0-8-0's were illustrated one of which was No4 which now resides at Boston Lodge for modification to fit the Ffestiniog loading gauge. Following the break Geoff showed some spectacular sound and movie footage of the Tiefa system and of QJ's attacking the long and heavy grades on either side of Jing Peng pass. The icy winter conditions, billowing exhausts and incredible soundtrack completed the drama and atmosphere of a splendid evening for which Geoff was duly thanked.

St Albans


St Albans Branch: were able to welcome a distinguished visitor to open their 2015/6 season when Chris Green, the former MD of Network SouthEast, gave a presentation on 10.9 entitled 'The InterCity Story', based on the book of the same name. Mr Green's presentation was divided into four parts, namely the roots of using InterCity as a brand name (1960-1982), Sectorisation (1982-1994), Privatisation (1994-Present) and Conclusions. Mr Green said that in the early days, much emphasis was placed on raising the average speed of the passenger trains involved, a process which was aided by the introduction of new technology, in particular the High Speed Train fleet and main line electrification.

At the time of writing, frequency of service is the main selling point, with a miscellany of timetabled services being seen on all major trunk routes. Mr Green followed his talk by a question and answer session, during which time many topics, including HS2, were aired. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Mr Green for a lively and thought provoking evening's entertainment.