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2nd January Bedford Branch A Tour Around the Railways of Wales
Chris Jones examines the traffic and topography which made these varied railways so special - coal to early potatoes, tanks to fish, slate to showgoers and milk to bananas, plus a few shaggy dog stories!

Tuesday 9th:
North London Branch ‘Vintage DVD’s’

Wednesday 10th: Dorking Branch ‘Incredible India’ by Donald Wilson
Thursday 11th: St Albans Branch ‘Diaries of a Train Spotter’ images from the late Peter Bland’s collection by Bryan Cross.

Thursday 18th: North West Branch ‘A European Steam Miscellany’ by Peter Malone.

Friday 19th: Central London Branch ‘ Ian Silvester Presents’

Monday 22nd: Brighton Branch ‘Branch Lines on Film’ by Keith Carter.

Thursday 25th: Croydon Branch ‘A 21st Century Odyssey, part 2 Germany’ by David Jackman who recounts travel through the country.


Tuesday 6th: Bedford Branch ‘ Cromford & High Peak Railway Part 4’ by George Sullivan.

Thursday 8th: St Albans Branch ‘ A History of Eastleigh Locomotive Works’ by Colin Boocock.

Tuesday 13th: North London Branch ‘ The Peter Bland Collection’ by Bryan Cross.

Wednesday 14th: Dorking Branch: ‘Steam on Video’ by David Heal.

Thursday 15th: North West Branch ‘L&Y Locos at Work – Part 2’ by Paul Shackcloth

Friday 16th: Central London Branch ‘'French Nostalgia' presented by Peter Lemmey

Thursday 22nd: Croydon Branch ‘History of the RPSI; The First Fifty Years’ story of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland by Leslie McAllister.

Monday 26th: Brighton Branch ‘ Steam Specials’ by Tony Sullivan.


Tuesday 6th: Bedford Branch ‘Strictly Freight Only Part 1’ freight traffic on BR over the last 60 years by Brian Ringer.

Thursday 8th: St Albans Branch ‘ London Bridge Station Redevelopment’ by James Elford, Costain Project Manager.

Tuesday 13th: North London Branch ‘Eastern European Heritage Railways’ by Stephen Wigg & Gordon Rushton.

Wednesday 14th: Dorking Branch ‘Docklands Light Railway’ by Mark Davis.

Thursday 15th: North West Branch ‘L&Y Loco’s at work’ by John Sloane.

Friday 16th: Central London Branch ‘Southern Steam Childhood’ by John H Bird.

Thursday 22nd: Croydon Branch ‘AGM & Members Pictures’ slide & digital, note earlier date to avoid Easter.

Monday 26th: Brighton Branch ‘India’ by John Beckett.



The tradition of the Branch Christmas meeting was maintained on 19/12.
In the absence of Alan Ledwick and his Stinker Quiz, chairman Bill Davies offered what he chose to call a ‘Simple”quiz’, won by Richard Crane.

Those who answered the call to bring and project 10 slides included Geoff Kingham with pictures from Germany in 1971 and San Francisco in 1969, Steve Nakoneczny with some preserved industrial steam, Geoff Biggs with Spanish steam, Ted Burley with silhouettes and glint, Bryan Cross with some early colour views of local scenes and Roger Whitehead with 1997 steam in Colorado.

At half time dinner arrived from the local chippie. Those who decided not to eat had a Railway Roundabout DVD to watch. After dinner Peter Crossman showed some evocative 1960s cine film converted to DVD. After last year’s disappointment the evening concluded with two Tom and Jerry cartoons, sending the small but appreciative audience on its way rejoicing.

On 6/12 the advertised speaker was unfortunately indisposed. He was replaced at short notice by Colin Boocock who presented an ‘illuminating study of Bulleid’s locomotives’.
Oliver Bulleid became CME of the Southern Railway in 1937 after serving as assistant to both Ivatt and Gresley on the LNER. In his new role he first tinkered with some of Maunsell’s products before revealing his capacity for radical innovation. After three diesel shunters came the Merchant Navy class, officially mixed traffic locos to permit their construction in wartime but clearly intended for prime passenger work. In common with his other designs they saved weight but other features gave trouble that only rebuilding in the 1950s would resolve.

His Q1 was the most powerful 0-6-0 ever to run in Britain whatever might be said of its appearance. The need for bigger engines west of Exeter was met by the West Country and Battle of Britain classes. Maybe his ground-breaking Leader, conceived as a replacement for the M7, was a step too far for the ever-imaginative Bulleid but the only example steamed did not long survive his departure for CIE in 1949.

There he oversaw dieselisation, successful with the railcars but with such catastrophic results as regards locomotives that CIE was driven to persuade General Motors to re-engine its fleet. Bulleid then concentrated on turf burning engines which required complex technology to cope with the vicissitudes of the fuel. Although the prototype was deemed a success, CIE decided to stick with diesels after Bulleid finally retired. The Branch thanks Colin warmly for a fascinating presentation.

On 7/11 the Branch welcomed George Howe ‘The Hitchin South Diaries 1906 – 68’, a retired signalman from Potton. George is no stranger having ably deputised in the past for other speakers at short notice. His acclaimed presentation on the Hitchin South Diaries is a fascinating set of observations on life on and off the railway between 1906 and 1968 compiled by those who manned the box, though not by former telegraph lad George Howe!

The three battered notebooks – occurrence books - were rescued by one of the last to work the box and were passed to George many years later. His presentation was a pot-pourri of snippets from the diaries illustrated with a selection of photographs from a multiplicity of sources. Even without the illustrations the snippets were fascinating and shed light on so many issues – rates of pay, the new fireplace in the box, tribulations of a steam railcar, the rigmarole of obtaining a replacement coal scuttle and a new tin of polish, new staff ‘taking on’ and a series of serious accidents, one of which took place close to the box on George’s third night there as a new telegraph lad and took out a bracket signal in the process.

Events as significant as the creation of the ‘Late and Never Early’ and, 25 years later, British Railways, were duly recorded alongside deaths of Kings and, in one case, a respected superintendent. Here and there the banter and workplace humour so typical of real life shone through. Branch Chairman Bill Davies paid tribute to George’s remarkable piece of research, a sentiment warmly endorsed by those present.


Our thinly attended AGM took place on 27/11 followed by our annual joint LCGB/RCTS photo competition, in which all three prizes (1st, 2nd and 3rd) were won by Michael Welch. His superb photos all featured modern traction, although dating from around the 1980s!

Central London

The branch year was brought to triumphant finish on 15/12 by Nick Lera with China, the last great steam show on earth. Nick Lera has an amazing ability to record and thus present the working steam scene in all its glory. The first video was made in the 1990s and showed mainly industrial steam in Inner Mongolia, west of Beijing, in locations such as Lanzhou and Baotou.

The narrative was greatly enhanced by maps which showed the location of the scenes recorded. At the time of making this video Nick captured eight different classes of steam locomotive including the ubiquitous QJ 'Advance forward' class, the last one of which was built as late as 1987.

A new railway had been built from Baotou to Bayan Obo upon which 20 steam-hauled trains of iron ore train were scheduled. The ore was of low grade so demand has since sharply decreased so the currents status if this line is not known. There was at least one location where Nick's video record of a QJ backing down on to its passenger train was actively blocked by the local police there was an army depot nearby!

Since this video was made China has changed rapidly and fundamentally so many of the railway and social scenes recorded are now history. The second batch of videos included scenes at least two open cast deep pit coal mines. The coal seams are accessed by terraces upon which the tracks are laid in order to take away the overburden and remove the coal mined. The trains were mainly hauled by SYs but in one mine the trains were electrically-worked by German steeple cab locomotives of a 1928 design, built in Berlin. Scenes at Shan Yang steel works showed the industrial might of China in all its filthy glory with SYs hauling tubs of molten slag to the tips.

Some of the final scenes, recorded on the Ji Tong line, showed QJ-hauled freights in almost white-out blizzard conditions complimented by QJ double-header freights in sunshine. These scenes typify, at least to this writer, the sheer magnificence of Chinese working steam which has been so faithfully documented by Nick and is now an historical record.

The Branch is very grateful to Nick for a superb evening's entertainment and education. The attention of the capacity audience said it all.


The meeting on the 26/10 was a comprehensive talk on the 'Railways of the Isle of Man' given by Geoff Brockett. Over the last 40 years Geoff has made regular visits to the island, so using some 200 slides he had taken on these visits he gave the audience a very interesting detailed history of the many railway attractions which have been preserved in this remarkable place. All the major attractions were covered in turn including the steam railway, Manx Electric, the horse tramway, Groudle Glen and the Snaefell Mountain line. Most were familiar to the audience but Geoff's explanation of change and development over the years was most interesting. We thank Geoff for this detailed and well prepared presentation.

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 8/11 the Branch welcomed Chris Jones who presented an introduction to the railways of South Wales under the title ‘How Steam was my Valley’ A pair of maps contrasted the present day network, primarily a passenger railway, with that of the past when a dozen or so companies competed for the lucrative coal traffic from the mines to the docks on the South Wales coast resulting in one of the most complex railway networks in Britain, frequently with lines up both sides of the same valley.

Chris showed the various routes approaching the area, starting with the former L&NWR Central Wales line, remarkably still open, from Craven Arms to Swansea Victoria, followed by the long closed Midland route via Brecon and finally the GWR South Wales main line through the Severn Tunnel or Chepstow to Newport. Within the Valleys themselves, illustrations ranged from the complex network in Swansea Docks to the remote lines at Glyncorrwg, all featuring the inevitable coal traffic.

Motive power shown included LNWR D 0-8-0s and LMS Black 5s but was dominated by tank engines ranging from a diminutive 0-4-0 saddle tank in Swansea Docks through the ubiquitous 0-6-2 tanks to the huge LNWR 0-8-4 tanks for the ‘Heads of the Valleys’ line. Chris enlivened his talk with many anecdotes and reminiscences of his own travels and a selection of sound recordings. He was warmly thanked for a most entertaining evening and the Branch looks forward to a return visit next year.

Regular visitor and expert on all things French, Mike Bunn, gave a talk to the Branch on 11/10 on the ‘Railway History of Paris’ The first railways opened in the 1830’s with the building of lines linking the mediaeval city to tourist attractions to the south and west. Main lines then gradually reached out to cities such as Rouen and Le Havre to the north west, Lille to the north east and Orleans to the south west, eventually connecting Paris to all parts of France. As with London, these lines had separate terminus stations around the city centre although, unlike London, an orbital railway, the ‘Petite Ceinture’, was built by 1869 to join up these lines.

Mike went on to describe the development of the Metro system which, again like London, saw the first lines constructed on the ‘cut-and-cover’ system following the streets with later lines built in tunnel. The first lines were built with ‘dumb-bell’ turning loops at each end but these were by-passed by later extensions which by 1910 had reached the outskirts if the city, leading to the eventual demise of the ‘Petite Ceinture’

More recent developments have seen the construction of a regional network connecting new towns and business centres with the city centre by a mixture of existing lines and new central links, as well as a number of new tramways. Mike illustrated his talk with a wide range of excellent pictures, both old and new, of stations, lines and rolling stock, including the iconic pneumatic tyred stock on the Metro, and was thanked for a very interesting and informative presentation.

North London

Annual Quiz entitled ‘Location, Location, Location’ on 12/12 with a brave audience defied the weather to participate in a quiz devised by Tony Stratford. The questions were based on the, “Ken Nunn Collection”. Participants were shown a series of 50 photographs selected entirely at random from the KN collection plus two photographs from the presenter’s collection. To gain points, the challenge for the audience was to identify the line on which the train was in operation and for a further point identify the station at which the train was photographed if available.

There were a few give-aways whereby a station nameplate was visible, or a recognisable landmark could be seen in the background. The theme of the quiz was not so much about what people knew about Ken Nunn, it was about observation within the photographs and what the audience recognised from their travels. The second half of the quiz was taken up with the answers. The answers were given by showing the same set of photographs with captions.

The audience were invited to shout out the answers which led to some debate about the locations seen. Notably somebody suggested that a photograph was of Durham when in fact it was Cork. The photographs in the collection are dated with the day month and year, the year being shown as, 30.5.16 equal to 30 May 1916 and so on. Imagine the confusion when a date was shown involving 1899. The penultimate shot was a photograph of the Network Rail HST baring the name Railway Observer at Darlington.

The last photograph was of a London Red Bus under a sign which said station. Readers may be wondering why a Red Bus was involved. The answer comes from the quiz title; the bus was being used on location as part of a major film production. The audience compared their answers and David Bosomworth emerged as the winner. There was a high standard achieved by all and they can refer to themselves as true railway observers. Everybody who attended in somewhat bleak conditions should give themselves a round of applause for making it a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. The work of the photographer Ken Nunn and his colleagues was acknowledged, along with LCGB’s Graham Stacey former Ken Nunn sales officer.

On 14/11 the Branch welcomed George Howe to undertake a presentation on ‘Swiss Railways’. His presentation was based on a video in colour and with sound he shot in Switzerland from the mid 1990’s. Whilst the video was playing he provided a narration from notes he had prepared previously. Several different locations were visited including city centres, lakes and unsurprisingly mountain ranges. The views captured were excellent and really helped to make the meeting an enjoyable experience.

We saw several standard electric SBB locomotives which included several different locomotive classes in the familiar red livery. George also captured locomotives in departmental use or engaged in freight operation. My favourite sequence was to see a 2-6-6-2 CE 6/8 crocodile locomotive in operation. There were also scenes of Swiss steam locomotives in use with the interesting proposition of parallel running on a public railway.

Moving in to the City, we saw train trams and trams in operation. An interesting thing to note was that the vehicles shared the same tracks and the same overhead power source. With everything running at street level and sharing stopping places it is an example of how a public transport system can and should be developed. However, George in my mind kept the best sequence to last. This involved a steam powered snow plough attached to the front of a locomotive. The steam power drove a propeller which chopped through snow, scattering it in all directions. A dramatic end to what proved to be an enjoyable and informative afternoon. We would like to thank George Howe for sharing his experiences with us.

Held their AGM on the 10/10. Following the usual pattern, reports from the Chairman, Secretary and finance were adopted. It was generally noted that the Branch in terms of finance and attendance remains stable. The existing committee consisting of C Appleby, R Stratford, A Sturrock and A Stratford were re-elected. One issue that was raised from a general discussion was how to encourage new speakers to provide presentations.

Bob Stonehouse represented the Management Committee with comments on the overall position of the club, for which the branch thanks him. The meeting concluded with a video of Steam Railways in the West of England. Should you wish to undertake a presentation please contact the Secretary North London Branch.

North West

On 16/11 the Branch welcomed Roger Sutcliffe for a return visit to his ‘BR Blue’ theme, on this occasion including more from that era and also some from into the digital period. Starting on home territory in the Lostock Hall area, Roger soon moved on to show a wide selection of bygone and endangered signalling infrastructure with scenes of many styles of boxes and signals together with their passing trains.

Stations then followed with locations ranging across the country from Inverness to Penzance and visits to many obscure places along the way. We saw North Sheen with its green Southern Region signage, Markinch and its working 06 shunter and steam age infrastructure, sad scenes at the old Godley Junction station and North Woolwich in the DMU period. Throughout, the range of loco types, multiple units and liveries which can no longer be seen was especially noticeable before the first part ended with a scene of a particularly violent shunting incident.

Back on the rails for the second part, the first section dealt with a handful of industrials and then moved to scenes from all around the country with Scotland, East Anglia, the South West, London and, of course, the North West all being visited. Amongst the many memorable views were ones of the Forth Bridge with a 47 crossing, a nostalgic and unmodernised scene at Kentish Town, an atmospheric passing view of Treeton Junction box, a class 40 rolling into Preston with a wonderful string of parcel vans, a splendid steam breakdown crane at Inverness, an early morning shot of a 50 at Starcross and a view of the lurid liveried 57601 at Cockwood Harbour.This was another superb collection of pictures all enlivened by Roger's informative and enthusiastic commentary and he was duly thanked for providing a most enjoyable evening.

On 26/10 branch member Norman Mathews presented his slide show entitled ‘Memories of Steam in Turkey’ which recalled two tours around much of that country. The first visit in 1977, commenced at Balikesir where Middle East 2-8-2's were in action and then continued to Manisa for an RS 2-8-2 and the green 4-6-4T. The lines east of Izmir were covered for more RS's, German built 2-10-2's and a Humboldt 2-8-0 seen on Dinar shed. The branches in the Gumusgum and Egredir areas were still worked by G8's and the main line at Afyon saw 2-10-0's and a 2-8-2 on a 12 coach service.

Moving further east, Mersin produced 2-6-2WT 5503, Kara Manis had a nice German class 24 lookalike on shed and Malatya had 2-10-0's and a Nohab 0-6-0T of 1929. Onwards to Samsum and G8/1's and an 8F were seen whilst on the Zonguldak line the VIW 2-10-0 "Skyliners" and Middle Easts were in action. At Canciri hand shunting was being carried out by staff whilst 0-6-0T 3304 simmered nearby following which the trip concluded with a visit to Adapazari for its 4-8-0.

The second part of the show covered the 1983 railtour jointly run by the Club and Eisenbahn Kurrier. Ankara was seen first with the miniature railway 2-8-2 in action and this was followed by a Krupp 0-6-0T at an industrial site, an 8F at Irmak and at Kirikkale munitions plant an ex TCDD S160 now numbered 45001. The following day at the busy Sivas Works another loco numbered 45001 wasseen under repair, this one being a Nohab 2-8-0 of 1927. Others present included an ex works Henschel 2-8-2 and a green 2-6-0T No 3405 whilst notable locos at the shed were 2-6-2T 3551, 2-10-2T 5701, an ex SNCF 150X and an ancient outside framed 0-6-0. Also present was one of the two Turkish 1961 built 2-10-0's No T56202 named "Boz Kurt".

The trip then continued amid spectacular and ever changing scenic locations to Malatya and on to Gaziantep with a Henschel 2-8-2, a Middle East 2-8-2 and later a 2-10-0. The following day the journey took in the Kara Manis branch with a 2-6-0 from Kopruagzi and the Henschel on to Adana via Fevzipasa where a shed visit was made. Adana shed provided a nice 4-8-0 for the return to Mersin after which the tour continued behind 2-10-0 56153 through more spectacular photo locations to Ulukisla where a coal burning "Skyliner" was photographed. Next were another Krupp tank at a sugar factory and an S160 at Kayseri whilst the journey to Sivas continued with a "Skyliner". Nohab 2-8-0 45038 then took the Samsun line and en route several industrials were seen including an RSH 0-6-0ST of 1947. At Samsun there was an 8F for a trip to the docks, a 2-6-2T and an 0-6-0T at the shed and an 0-10-0 on a service train before the tour returned to Malatya behind a 2-8-0. So ended the evening and a magnificent and most interesting photographic

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.