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BRANCHES

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NEXT FIXTURES

MARCH

Thursday 23rd: North West Branch Meeting ‘China - Steam in the 21st Century’ by Geoff Coward.

Monday 27th: Brighton Branch Meeting ‘Photo’s from the Ken Nunn Collection’ by Mike Hudson.

Thursday 30th: Croydon Branch Meeting: ‘AGM & Members pictures’, conventional & digital projectors available.

APRIL

Tuesday 4th: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘The GN and LNWR Joint Line’ by Robin Cullup.

Tuesday 11th: North London Branch Meeting
‘Running steam specials and the locomotives’ by Matthew Hill.

Wednesday 12th: Dorking Branch Meeting
‘The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway’ by Roger Fagg.

Thursday 13th: St Albans Branch Meeting ‘Addleston to Beijing’ by Andy Davies & Irene Rabbits.

Tuesday 18th: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘Quiz v RCTS’ at Bedford, note this quiz will only now take place once a year alternating between Bedford & Northampton.

Friday April 21st: Central London Branch Meeting ‘Before the war; pictures from the Ken Nunn Collection , Pre WW1 gems’ by Jeremy Harrison.

Monday 24th: Brighton Branch Meeting
‘The Patriot Project’ by John Borrowdale.

Thursday 27th: North West Branch Meeting
‘AGM then Members & Visitors Slides & Digital Photos’.

Thursday 27th: Croydon Branch Meeting ‘Railways of the Isle of Wight, before 1966’ by Stuart Dennison.

MAY

Tuesday 2nd: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘ All Change at Cricklewood’ behind the scenes in Midland Railway days by John Downing.

Tuesday 9th: North London Branch Meeting ‘ How Steam was my Valley part 2’ by Chris Jones.

Wednesday 10th: Dorking Branch Meeting ’ Narrow Gauge in Saxony Part 2’ by Robert Jackson.

Thursday 11th: St Albans Branch Meeting ‘AGM followed by The Work of the Railway Heritage Trust’ by Andy Savage, Executive Director RHT.

Friday May 19th: Central London Branch Meeting ‘British Railways Western Region HST driver training in the 1980s’ by Dennis Flood.

Monday May 22nd: Brighton Branch Meeting ‘ BR, the last 35 years’ by Colin Burnham.

Thursday 25th: Croydon Branch Meeting ‘The Work of the Railway Heritage Trust’ by Andy Savage , Executive Director RHT.

JUNE

Tuesday 6th: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘South of the Border – Black & White Steam in the 50s and 60s’ scenes in England & Wales by David Kelso.

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

BEDFORD:


David Cross paid his first visit to the Branch on 7/2, bringing a selection of slides taken by his late father Derek. The very loose theme of the evening was a journey round the M25. Every theme has its variations and the journey began at Paddington. It soon reached Iver and the spot where the M25 now crosses the railway, continuing via Sonning Cutting to Westbury and Merehead.

Most of the shots had been taken in 1959 or 1960 and it was clear at once how manicured and accessible the railway was in those happy days. The trip continued via the Southern at Brookwood and Battledown, moving via Croydon into Kent, across the river to the Great Northern main line near Potters Bar and ending on the West Coast line in north-west London after a visit to Watford Gap and a very new and empty M1.

Although Derek clearly preferred steam, with creditable foresight he was not afraid to capture some early diesels – here a Baby Deltic, there a Warship and even one of Bulleid’s efforts hauling commuters into Euston. It was not only those machines which have long been consigned to memory but such sights as hop-pickers’ specials, quad-arts, a bulled-up Schools taking Pullmans and the Queen to the Derby and long freight trains. Such nostalgia and sheer quality often prompts a murmuration among the audience and this evening was no exception. In his thanks to the speaker

Chairman Bill Davies paid tribute to the foresight of David’s father in gathering a fine collection of images and felt sure that David would be visiting the Branch again.

Frank Banfield returned to the Branch on 7/3 with two projectors and a large bag of films. It is fitting that the collection of 8mm cine shot by the late Brian Lockey should have been entrusted to Frank’s care and Frank regaled a populous audience with a selection fairly representing the work of its creator. The first reel visited Ampthill at the time of closure in 1959, moving swiftly on to Napsbury, St Albans, Luton, Dunstable, Tebay, Blackburn and Sharnbrook.

Before tea time there were visits to places including Wallingford, Shanklin, Bletchley flyover, Oxford, the Talyllyn and the lines to Brecon on the snowy day that they closed. For light relief there was even a shot of a car transporter wedged under a bridge. The audience applauded after each film and offered loud advice as to locations, most of it to each other.

Sadly the 8mm projector failed to replay most of the soundtracks but the voice of Mr Lockey and the guitars of ‘The Shadows’ made sporadic appearances. After tea came an interesting BBC film on the life of Brunel narrated by Sir John Betjerman in his archetypal rhyming-couplet style, a 1940 LMS film on building an 8F and a 1947 film about the driver of a Jubilee from St Pancras to Manchester, oddly preceded by Fyfe Robertson advertising an airline. Finally came some trailers and other snippets.

The Branch thanks Frank for another fine evening’s entertainment and looks forward to welcoming him again.

Brighton

On 27/2 due to our advertised speaker having to receive "works attention" Brian Boddy came along to present ‘A Continental Miscellany’. During 2016 Brian had visited 7 European countries during the year and this was a chronicle of his travels. Starting off at the Baie de Somme Railway's "Fete Vapour" Brian took us on to Berlin with a side trip to Prague. Switzerland was next, before going on to the Netherlands and then on into Belgium. A quick trip into Luxembourg came next with our journey terminating in Paris.

The entire show was well illustrated with not only a wide variety of railway vehicles but also funiculars, a miniature railway, trams and buses. Brian also showed us the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie with suitable advice on how to get good shots without tourists.

Brian Jackson presented ‘Photo's from the Bill Jackson Collection - Part 2’ on 23/1. Brian had selected photographs from 1953 and what a treat.  Much of what his father Bill had taken was Southern based but included everything from oldest to newest and mundane (for the period) to unusual. A key activity had been to record the various locomotives that had been transferred in from other regions to cover for the Merchant Navy's which had been stopped due to faults on their axles.

A holiday in Scotland that year enabled us to enjoy a rich selection of stock and locations from that area. Stopping off at some collieries in the Ashington, Northumberland area, primarily for ex Southern loco's. Bill had also taken a variety of industrial types which added a good deal of interest.

We are indebted for the efforts that Bill made to record the railway scene over 50 years ago, and of course to Brian who has done much work to put together a most excellent and highly recommended presentation with a detailed commentary.

Central London:

The branch welcomed back Jeremy Harrison on 17/2 with a presentation entitled ‘Swanning Around Part 2’. The railway scenes around London in the mid 1990’s were illustrated with slides, and the audience were reminded about how much has changed since then. Steam specials included Britannia at Clapham Junction, and Waterloo was host to Clan Line, Duchess of Hamilton and Sir Lamiel. Many shots of ‘Steam on the Met’ were shown at locations including Uxbridge, Neasden and Amersham.

There was also the ‘North Pole Special’ shuttle hauled by 46521, which ran between Clapham Junction and North Pole Junction. There were some slam door electrics and Metropolitan A and C stock still running. The livery at the time was Network South East stripes.

All generations of diesels were shown, including the early single and 2 car dmu’s on the Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction service. Eurostar trains ran from Waterloo, and there was a connecting service from Fishguard using cl158 dmu’s. The gasometer and Battersea power station were derelict and there were no high rise blocks in the Vauxhall area. The post office railway was still in use. The audience was very engaged with the presentation, judging by their additional information and comments. Thanks to Jeremy, and for the excellent quality of his slides, mostly taken in sunshine.

The branch welcomed the former custodian of the Ken Nunn photographic collection, Graham Stacey on 19/1 with My Black and White Southern pictures 1952-65. In an extensive look at the former BR Southern Region from Ramsgate to Padstow the content was mainly, but not entirely, steam locomotives with many classes dating back to pre-grouping days.

Among the many excellent pictures shown, too numerous to mention individually, there were some of particular interest to this writer. Examples included BR 4MT 76025 crossing Canute Road in Southampton, 34051 hauling Sir Winston Churchill's funeral train in 1965, 70014 Iron Duke at Tonbridge in 1957, unmodified Merchant Navy Pacifics 35027 Port Line at Sevenoaks, 35005 Canadian Pacific at Axminster, and Brighton Atlantic 32424 at Victoria, also in 1958 .

There were some branch line views such as Adams Radial 4-4-2T 30583 at Exmouth as well as scenes of the Somerset and Dorset at Evercreech Junction plus several railtours. There were a couple of surprisingly early 'last day of steam' views, one over the Alton-Winchester line in November 1957 and another at Paddock Wood in 1961. Several pictures were taken near Graham's home in Egham, such as 70020 Mercury at Virginia Water on a 1964 railtour, 35027 passing Egham in 1959 and 34037 Clovelly at Staines in 1958, the latter two on Royal Train workings.

Graham's National service days gave him access to the Longmoor Military railway so views of WD 0-6-0ST and WD 601 2-10-0 at Longmoor were noted. All the pictures were accompanied by Graham's hallmark detailed commentary, showing a remarkable memory and recall, all the more noteworthy because many scenes were recorded easily three generations ago. The Branch extends grateful thanks to Graham for such a brilliant start to the New Year.

Croydon:


The speaker for the meeting on 23/2 who was to have given a talk on ‘Transforming Victoria Underground Station’ was unable to attend.
So Jeremy Harrison stepped nobly into the breach with a selection of Ken Nunn photographs from ‘Before the War’ the war in this case, being the 1914 - 1918 conflict. Thus the pictures covered the Edwardian period with the engines of the day being mostly, four coupled for passenger work and 0-6-0s for the goods trains. The photographer lived near Brentwood so we saw numerous GER, often very clean, engines at work on the then two track only main line; but later in the display we moved further north although mostly still on the east side of the country.

A list would be tedious but there is no doubt the Ken Nunn Collection offers a wealth of interest and enjoyment to browsers made more interesting by its age and quality. Many thanks then to Jeremy for filling the vacancy and for his work on the computer in selecting and presenting the display. The branch hopes the talk about Victoria will be given at a later date.

The meeting on the 26/1 was a talk entitled "London to Velke Kapusany: a 21st Century Odyssey" and comprised a well prepared, digital slide show by David Jackman depicting his many travels in Western Europe since 2000. The main theme was to describe the principal types of engines and units in use now in near Europe and show how the rail services have been modernised in the EU (and slightly beyond) in the same way as trains at home have been continually improved.

The speaker had done his research well so we were given plenty of important detail such as installed power, builders' name and date and the number of machines in traffic and the services they worked. The present day trains in about eight countries were explained using high quality photographs delivered electronically without at hitch. Thanks then to David for a well presented and interesting talk.

Dorking:

On 8/2 past chairman David Potter took the Branch on a ‘Journey through Cornwall’. After a brief history from the early Cornwall and West Cornwall Railway days through the Great Western and British Railways to the privatised GWR of today, his presentation took the form of a journey from Penzance to Plymouth looking at the stations, structures and train services over recent years.

As well as the expected HSTs, Voyagers and DMUs, a variety of diesel locos on rail tours was shown at Penzance, whilst Braunton and Nunney Castle were also seen on rail tour duty. Semaphore signals and signal boxes were still in use around St Erth and Truro and visits were made to the St Ives, Falmouth and Newquay branches and the embryo heritage line at Helston.

A visit to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway enabled some of that line’s West Country associated steam power such as a GWR 2-6-2T, a L&SWR T9 and a Par Harbour shunter to be shown. Facilities associated with china clay traffic were shown at Burngullow, Goonbarrow and St Blazey, whilst further east a more detailed look was taken at the attractive Looe branch and in particular the reversal at Coombe Junction Halt.

The main trip concluded with the crossing of the Royal Albert Bridge into Plymouth but to round of his presentation, David showed West Country railway scenes at Teignmouth and Dawlish and on the South Devon, Paignton & Kingswear and West Somerset Railways. David was warmly thanked by his audience for his informative presentation illustrated with his customary excellent photographs.

Regular speaker Donald Wilson returned to the Branch on 11/1 with a presentation on ‘Railways of Greece’ based on a tour in 2013 with some additional scenes from 2016. Prominent in his pictures were many EU funded enhancement schemes which seemed extravagant in the light of the modest levels of traffic and which had slowed or stalled as a result of the Greek economic crisis.

Starting in the north at Thessaloniki, Donald showed the upgrade works on the main line to Athens and on the former metre gauge Thessaly Railway, now converted to standard gauge, from Volos to Kalambaka as well as the tourist operation on the 60cm Pelion Railway to Milies.

Moving south, the main part of the talk was taken up with a tour of the lines in the Peloponnese area. Starting with the ‘main line’ from Athens to Patras on the Adriatic coast, Donald illustrated the protracted work on upgrading and gauge conversion. Part way along this line is the 75cm gauge part rack worked branch from Diakopto to Kalavryta and numerous views were shown of this very scenic line.

Apart from a short suburban operation around Patras, the remainder of the extensive metre gauge network was suddenly closed in 2010 although upgrading had been taking place. However, Donald was able to travel these lines on a rail tour with many views of the attractive scenery as well as a number of dumped steam locos and the open air museum at Kalamata. As always, Donald’s talk was enlivened with stories of his experiences on the trip and he was warmly thanked for a most entertaining evening.

North London:


The branch welcomed back Geoff Brockett on 10/1 with a presentation entitled ‘Locomotive hauled passenger trains since privatisation’.
The talk was illustrated with slides from the UK rail network. I shall concentrate on the excellent photographs from the London and the South East.

Kings Cross was the starting point with illustrations of the GNER class 89 locomotive. The livery was deep blue with the GNER Logos and the coaching stock bore the GNER coat of arms. Geoff included details and photographs of rail replacement services including the time when class 86 locomotives were used by Hull Trains during a shortage of their normal stock.

Moving across to Marylebone he mentioned the Wrexham and Shrewsbury Railway their trains were headed by class 67 locomotives with class 82 DVT’s at the rear. Liverpool Street with Abellio Greater Anglia Trains has its share of loco hauled stock in the form of class 90’s with DVT’s at the rear.

What has become clear from the talk is the way in which liveries have been abandoned in favour of adopting a corporate colour scheme. For instance, when National Express were granted the franchise for services on the Liverpool Street to Norwich Line they imprinted National Express in a central strip. The style was adopted by Abellio on their succession to the franchise.

Moving further north Geoff included a slide of the temporary Bletchley to Bedford Service during improvements when Class 37 locomotives were in operation topping and tailing the train. It was of special interest to me because I had travelled on the same coaching stock from Holyhead to Crewe in a similar situation.

Staying in Wales Geoff included Diesel Class 57 hauled Pendolino trains in service between Crewe and Holyhead demonstrating the amount of detail attained. The afternoon finished with a sparkling array of steam hauled charters at many locations. The best way to experience the presentation is to invite Geoff along to your branch. The audience would like to thank Geoff for a fascinating and detailed look at the railway of the recent past and the railway of today.

North West


On 23/2 the arrival of storm Doris did not prevent the branch meeting from being entertained by Doug Capewell who came to give his digital monochrome show ‘Just Pacifics - at home and abroad’. In the early 1960's Doug was fortunate in having both a car and a camera capable of producing good images of fast moving trains. As a consequence of this, and of his dedication to capturing steam hard at work in splendid surroundings, we were able to enjoy a magnificent record of the largest BR express types in full cry.

A novelty was that the show was arranged in reverse date order of the introduction of the classes concerned, thus we started with modern DDR 01.5's, Indian WL's, Clans and Britannia's and ended with some of the oldest narrow gauge types abroad such as ex Bengal - Nagpur CC No 676 on a Bankura - Rainagar train and a 10CR at Loraine Gold mine in the Orange Free State. This format gave the show an interesting element of surprise as the screen switched from the UK in the 60's to more recent shots in any one of some ten countries including India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia and South Africa.

On BR there was much dramatic action on the WCML with Duchesses, Britannia’s, Clans and even A2's, whilst on the East Coast line and the Glasgow to Aberdeen route we saw the splendid A1/2/3 and A4 types. On the Southern the various rebuilt and unrebuilt Bullied pacifics were superbly captured as they sprinted on the Waterloo to Weymouth route and also on diversions over the Portsmouth direct and Alton lines.

Highlights were far too numerous to recount whilst nostalgia abounded with the sight of numerous named trains and iconic locations such as Shap, Beattock, Gleneagles, Hilton Junction, Relly Mill, Plawsworth, Wembley, Winchfield and Worting Junction. Doug's show, coupled with his interesting commentary provided a splendid evening's entertainment and deserved a much larger audience. He was warmly thanked both for the show and for travelling to the North West from Shropshire in somewhat uncertain weather conditions.


On 19/1 a disappointingly small audience gathered for Ian Pilkington's digital presentation ‘Steam and Diesel in the Northern Fells’. Ian is a renowned follower and photographer of main line steam workings and his selection, taken over the last eight years, was of the highest quality. The area covered included the Blackburn - Hellifield - Carnforth route, the Cumbrian Coast line, the West Coast over Shap, the Newcastle line near Carlisle and of course the Settle - Carlisle line.

Ian has an encyclopaedic knowledge of photographic locations on these lines and hence what followed was a magnificent record of charters and regular workings over the period, all set against the splendid scenery of the Dales, North Lancashire and Cumbria.The variety of locos on display was something of an eye-opener with no less than 28 different machines in action including representatives of each of the Big Four companies and BR.

The liveries on show were equally varied ranging from BR Brunswick green, Apple green, lined and unlined black and red to LMS red and black and LNER Garter blue. The regular services of the area were also seen including the 37's on the Cumbrian Coast passenger services, the Colas operated log trains, the GBRf and DB gypsum trains, the West Coast route intermodals and the faithful 6K05 Carlisle - Basford Hall engineering service.

Ian saved four of his own favourites until the end, the last of which was a shot of a lifetime view of a brilliantly lit, red "Galatea" in full cry with billowing white exhaust against a black sky and a full rainbow - a fitting end to a superb show for which he was most warmly 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.