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BRANCHES

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NEXT FIXTURES

MARCH

Thursday 21st North West Branch: L & Y Locomotives: PT 3 by Paul Shackcloth
Monday 25th Brighton Branch: Images of the LBSCR by L. Marshall
Thursday 28th Croydon Branch: AGM and Members’ Slides

APRIL

Tuesday 2nd Bedford Branch: The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway by Peter Groom
Tuesday 9th North London Branch: British Industrial Steam by John Sloane (LCGB NW Branch)
Wednesday 10th Dorking Branch: Kent & East Sussex Railway by Doug Lindsay
Thursday 11th St Albans Branch: Tracks in the Mist by Colin Brading
Thursday 11th North West Branch: AGM and Members/Visitors’ Photographs
Monday 15th Brighton Branch: Photos from the Bill Jackson Collection: PT4: 1955 by Brian Jackson
Tuesday 16th Bedford Branch: Quiz vs RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans
Thursday 25th Croydon Branch: Steam South of the Border in the 1950s & 1960s by David Kelso
Friday 26th Central London Branch: LMS 10000 by Mark Walker

MAY

Tuesday 7th Bedford Branch: The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway by John Hastings-Thomson
Thursday 9th St Albans Branch: AGM & New Zealand: Rimutaka Incline by Ross Middleton
Wednesday 8th Dorking Branch: Train Operators Since Privatisation by David Potter
Tuesday 14th North London: The Peter Bland Collection Part 2 by Bryan Cross
Friday 17th Central London: An Eighth Colour-Rail Journey by Paul Chancellor

 


NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

Bedford

On 5/3 Jack Boskett visited the Branch for the first time. It was clear from the opening salvo of a corporate style video that Jack’s photographic interests range far and wide with railways forming but a part. Jack, from Tewkesbury, took up photography at the age of five.

Although largely self-taught, he benefited from the stern mentoring of his father and set up in business as a photographer at nineteen, applying innovative techniques to such areas as weddings, fashion and architecture and making the most of every opportunity laid before him. Soon he was offered commissions and retainers from businesses and magazines, some quite challenging, and made the most of the favourable impression that a smart suit often conveys.

This led to privileged access to formal occasions, in many cases involving the Royal Family and senior political figures. In turn this led to further opportunities for his work to be seen. On one notable occasion the same image appeared on the front page of the Daily Telegraph and page 12 of the Times, which perhaps goes to show that if you do not ask you do not get!

The quality and scope of the images laid before us by Jack can only be described as remarkable and it is salutary to note that he was the youngest person present by a significant margin. This is something on which the Club would do well to reflect.

On 5 /2 Brian Ringer returned to the Branch with the second part of his presentation Strictly Freight Only. He began with a brief look at train ferries, their traffic and their origins as part of the supply chain to the Western Front. This was followed by a review of the structure of rail freight at the time of sectorisation in 1984, by which time wagonload traffic was all but gone.

Privatisation reared its head in 1993, when train load freight was divided into three geographically based companies with the intention of fostering competition. This went out of the window when all three were acquired by Ed Burkhardt’s Wisconsin Central under the EWS banner, followed soon afterwards by Railfreight Distribution and the short-lived rail operation of National Power.

Thanks to a competitive management buyout Freightliner remained independent and prospered by embracing international container traffic. Railtrack and its successor Network Rail fostered the growth of other operators, such as GB Railfreight and Colas, by offering regional contracts for civil engineering traffic and encouraging investment in new motive power.

Brian leavened his lucid explanation of the complex structure of the industry by well-chosen references to the roles that he played and illustrated key points with a fine selection of his own photographs, which had the undoubted merit of featuring viewpoints other than the all too common front three-quarter. The Branch thanks him for an instructive evening.

Brighton

For our 1/19 meeting our site facilities manager, Keith Carter, forsook the teapot for the projector to present an American Adventure - Coast to Coast, very much a travelogue style of presentation rather than full-on railways.

This was Keith's first visit to America with a friend. They had used the services of Ffestiniog Travel to plan their trip and arrange all transportation and accommodation. The journey took place during 9/17 and the first leg was from London Gatwick Airport to New York JFK. Here Keith had expected the much vaunted grouchy service at Immigration but the officer was very chatty and friendly, even giving helpful advice.

The stay in New York was for 3 nights; having done all the touristy bits a visit was made to Grand Central Terminal. Keith showed shots of this magnificent station and the very small doorway that actually leads down to the platforms. Keith wasn't that complimentary about the Metro, his view was that it wasn't a patch on the London Underground. Lured by a sign for the Roosevelt Island Tram, Keith was a little disappointed to find it was a cable car!

The next leg of the journey was by train departing from Penn Station down to Washington DC. A city much more to Keith's liking. Again, all the tourist places were visited and the facilities of BigBus were used to get around.

From Washington it was up to Chicago on the overnight sleeper where Keith showed us some views of the roomettes aboard. Chicago sights were done and a trip up the Sears Tower enabled shots of the vast marshalling yards below. Keith then took us to Union Station, then onto the El. Here we went to Quincy Station on the Loop, a totally unrefurbished station.

On the Sunday morning Keith visited Le Salle Station to find in this sleepy backwater one locomotive. Apparently nothing much happens on a Sunday before 11am.Onward from Chicago to Denver where the highlight of the whole trip was a day-long minibus tour up into the Rocky Mountains National Park.

The next leg was from Denver to San Francisco on the California Zephyr overnight in roomettes. Keith showed shots of the observation cars and commented on how friendly the fellow travellers were. The train doesn't actually go to San Francisco but stops at Oakland, across the bay so it was a bus trip over the bridge to get to the city and hotel.

Keith did the trips over the Golden Gate Bridge and out to Alcatraz then along to Fishermans Wharf to try out the cable cars. Although Keith didn't get time to ride the PCC tram cars, he nonetheless got several shots of them. The cars have been acquired from various sources and they run in a variety of liveries from cities all over the world. Then it was back to Oakland and on to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight. Here Keith spent a night aboard the Queen Mary and was astounded to find electrical gear by Allen West, a very big company in Brighton at one time.

The next leg was overnight to Flagstaff for a trip up to Williams and thence to the Grand Canyon. Here Keith showed us the views of this amazing place.Returning to Flagstaff it was then homeward bound flying to Phoenix, in what Keith described as like being in a noisy small bus, and thence an overnight flight back to Heathrow, Would he go back? Yes! We thank Keith for sharing his experiences with us.


For our 2/19 meeting we welcomed our good friend Derek Osborne. Derek is a former British Rail and Bluebell Railway signalman who has been converting his films from a variety of formats to modern projection standards.As is the way with modern technology the first film Derek had lined up didn't want to play but as Derek had far more material on hand he selected another show and off we went.

His first film had been taken a couple of days before the Mid-Hants Railway Gala in 2009. In this section we saw a variety of locos from the home side and visitors being shunted around, positioned and coaled. A mechanical shovel taking the back-breaking work out of coaling whilst the application of water from a hose had all the appearance of the operative having a need to rid himself of the excesses of the Strong Brewery product! 34007 Wadebridge and a DMU unit formed the days passenger workings whilst 850 Lord Nelson and 92212 moved around the yard area. Also seen were A4 4492 Bittern and 7F 49395 which demonstrated how big this loco is.

Derek's next film had been taken at Horsted Keynes when 45231 The Sherwood Forester was present for a photographic charter and what a magnificent sight it made. Derek explained the organisation behind the charters before showing the S&T staff using a road railer crane to shift a very elderly signal post. After the break it was off to the Tanfield Railway. Some members were quite familiar with this little gem, others not so. Here we saw number 20 Tanfield, WB 2779/1945, in action demonstrating the power of one of these industrial locos on this sharply graded line. A quick look in the Marley Hill signal box and a wander around the yard concluded our visit.

The next film was taken in 2015 when Derek and friends went up to Appleby for the running of the Dalesman and Fellsman specials. We started off with 45699 Galatea working the Dalesman, eagle eyes noting a pair of Met-Cam Pullmans in the rake of coaching stock. As there was a considerable time before the appearance of the Fellsman, Derek had arranged a taxi for a bit of a run round. At Warcop former CEP 2315 was noted in preservation. On then to Settle to view operations there and then onward to Orton on the WCML. Here a friend had a house very close to the line which afforded views of a good selection of the traffic using the line, both passenger and goods. It was then back to Appleby where 46115 Scots Guardsman drew up to take water. Mission accomplished, we were treated to a rather fine departure.

To conclude the evening Derek had a short film taken at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway. Here No. 7 Beatrice (HE 2705/1945) was in charge of the day’s trains and demonstrated the pure grunt of these industrial locos. Those who had been here expressed their satisfaction with this relatively small outfit and despite the station being a way out from Skipton the local taxi drivers offered particularly good service and reasonable fares. Our catering officer, who is prone to a nice cake, was suitably impressed by the loco headboard for the afternoon, Cake Express! In summary we had been treated to a most interesting evening and the format allowed us not only to see the locos in action but to hear them as well. Thank you Derek, we look forward to seeing you again.

Central London

We welcomed back Nick Lera on 15/2 with his presentation British Veterans at Home and Abroad. Nick began by showing the inaugural run, under the supervision of the late John Bellwood, of the NRM's Stirling 8' single on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough in 1981. This elegant machine had to run tender first on its return run from Rothley to Loughborough with hand sanding of the railhead to avoid that big driving wheel slipping.

In Paraguay there were scenes, amongst many, of a Yorkshire Engine Company 2-6-0 in action on a railway that had clearly seen no maintenance for many years. The action around the basic ferry terminal Pacu Cua was of note with the international coach from Argentina being shunted by steam.

In Peru, Hunslet locomotives were in seen in action and these worked up to the early 1980s. Products of Beyer, Peacock were also seen with their activity recorded in 1962. A work assignment in Lagos in Nigeria in 1970 gave Nick the opportunity to record the products of Hunslet and the Vulcan Foundry in service at a time when, it is surmised, very few other British enthusiasts did so. Pakistan produced some superb footage of HGSs in action on the Khyber Railway in the early 1990s. This railway was constructed to suit the capability of the Kitson-built 2-8-0s which worked in top and tail mode up to the end of the line at Landi Khotal. Alas, this railway has since been washed out in places and it is unlikely to be restored in the forseeable future.

A visit to the splendid Gävle museum in Sweden in 2015 revealed locomotives built by Naismith Wilson and Beyer, Peacock. The oldest locomotive was No 3 Prins August built by Beyer, Peacock in 1856. There was also one diminutive little 0-4-0ST built by Henry Hughes of Loughborough. Nick gave the Branch a superb evening's entertainment and its reception was clearly indicated by the capacity audience. For all this, the Branch gives grateful and appreciative thanks.

The Central London Branch welcomed Donald Wilson on 18/1 with My Wanderings in South America. Don had the opportunity to take an effective gap year in 1989 and took full advantage with a tour including Argentina, Guatemala, Patagonia, Paraguay and Ecuador.

Starting in Buenos Aires the first slide, of a suburban EMU, stimulated discussion regarding its origin. It was later concluded to be a Metropolitan Vickers product of 1930-31. Don also rode on a steam railtour hauled by No 11 Yatay, a Neilson 4-4-0 of 1888.

The railways of Paraguay were notably run down at the time of Don's visit.

The scenes from Ecuador were of interest especially for the spectacular views of the Guayaquil and Quito railway where Don had walked to some of the highest altitude locations anyone is likely to photograph steam trains on. As a result, the Devil's Nose location sequences were particularly noteworthy.

The scenes in Guatemala showed an attempt to reconstruct a container-carrying railway to transport freight from the Pacific to the Atlantic, funded by one Henry Posner III. The present fate of this railway is not known. However, Don's visit did find a working 2-6-0 locomotive, No. 205 built by Baldwin in 1948. Don provided us with a real feast of superb railway pictures taken in diverse landscapes, along with traveller’s anecdotes, for which the Branch gives grateful thanks. We look forward to his next contribution.

Croydon

For their meeting on the last day of 2/19 the Branch was pleased to welcome Mr Lester Hillman who gave a talk entitled 150 years of St Pancras Station. Using some well designed digital displays the speaker explained many of the features and developments of the KX/StP site, in particular illustrating how the area has been changed over the years, most of it at the behest of railway development.

In particular we were shown the area as it was after King’s Cross was opened in 1852 but before the Midland arrived in 1868. The speaker also explained the effect of building the CTRL and converting the, by then, tired and neglected Midland terminal into a transport complex. Also mentioned was a plan, using a southerly approach, to bring HS1 into underground platforms beneath the GNR terminus. So there was plenty of railway and historical interest in the area for an absorbing talk and we thank Mr. Hillman for his presentation and for bringing written material for distribution to the audience.

For their first meeting of 2019 on the last day of January the Branch welcomed David Jackman on a return visit to give a talk entitled A 21st Century Odyssey Part 3: Palermo to Zajta. In recent years the speaker has made many trips to Europe, travelling extensively by train, using ‘go at will’ tickets and photographing the present day railways and their trains.

In a sparkling digital display we visited Sicily, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia where David showed the various units and locomotives now in use. Train colours were bright, complicated and varied and privatisation rife, but many of the trains were standard European designs and sometimes similar to the new deliveries in the UK.

The talk brought the audience up to date with operations in the countries shown with a well researched commentary which made for an informative evening, so thank you David Jackman for this further visit to Croydon. (DAB)

Dorking

The talk at the Branch meeting on 13/2 was given by retired structural engineer and sometime guide for Great Railway Journeys Alan Jackson and reflected these two aspects of his life. In the first part, he looked in detail at his favourite trip, that in the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt. After a brief history of the first part of the journey over the tracks of the Rhaetian Railway, Alan described some of the engineering features including the Albula tunnel, the spirals between Bergun and Preda and the spectacular Landwasser viaduct, also the Bernina line, the highest and only open air crossing of the Alps.

The route of the Glacier Express was then followed over the Oberalp Pass and through Andermatt and the Furka tunnel, the longest on a metre gauge railway, down to Brig from where the journey climbs to Zermatt and the Gornergrat line for a view of the Matterhorn.

After the interval, Alan turned to structural engineering and in, particular, bridges and the work of Brunel. He described the way in which different parts of a bridge structure are subject to forces of compression or tension and how bridge design and the characteristics of different materials can be used to overcome these.

The many bridges on the Great Western main line from Plymouth to Truro showed how well Brunel had understood these principles, in particular at the Saltash Bridge where a combination of beam, arch and chain had been used to achieve the height and span required and had even included the use of elliptical tubes to reduce wind forces. Alan was thanked for a most interesting evening which demonstrated both the beauty of the Swiss Alps and the importance to railways of sound engineering.


Donald Wilson paid his regular January visit to the Branch on 9/1, on this occasion taking his audience Up the Khyber to view the railways of Pakistan as, with one exception, they were in 1986. After his customary introductory views of the country, its people and its railways, Donald started his visit with scenes at Mirpur Khas in the south of the country, on the only metre gauge line, where the local trains were in the hands of YD Class 2-8-2s. Via a variety of scenes, including the 2ft gauge Changa Manga forestry railway, still operating as a short tourist line,

Donald next arrived at Malakwal from where radiated several broad gauge branch lines worked by SPS 4-4-0s and SGS 0-6-0s of classic British design, all kept in excellent condition. The remaining area visited in 1986 was around Quetta in the west where both broad and 2ft 6in narrow gauge lines, the latter operated by ZB 2-6-2s, ran through a remote and mountainous area near the border with Afghanistan.

The one exception to Donald’s 1986 travels was when he joined a special trip in 1996 to travel the famous Khyber Pass line which ran through spectacular scenery with 1-in-30 gradients, three reverses and numerous bridges and tunnels to Landi Kotal, the fortified station on the North West Frontier. In deference to the nature of the line and the tribal area it runs through, the train was topped-and-tailed by HGS 2-8-0s and pushed a barrier wagon for safety.

As always, Donald’s photos included fascinating scenes of life around the railway as well as the trains themselves and he was warmly thanked for a most entertaining evening.

North London

On 12/2 the North London Branch was pleased to welcome back Geoff Brockett. The subject of Geoff’s presentation was the railway scene in the London area and just outside in a few cases. Geoff showed a variety of slides of locomotives hauling mainly freight but also departmental trains and some specials, in a variety of locations.

Of note were the overnight sleeper trains from Scotland which had diverted to King’s Cross and Cl. 20 locomotives hauling ‘S’ stock trains to the London Underground. Many other trains were featured including some top and tailed specials and empty stock moves preparatory for steam specials. Generally, they were hauled by West Coast Railways vintage diesels such as Cl. 37 and 47.

One or two steam locomotives also appeared right at the end to provide some contrast. Geoff has travelled far and wide to secure his photos and included some he had taken near the Crossrail tunnel portals at Abbey Wood, Paddington and Stratford. It is remarkable how many different liveries adorn the locomotives. Most are kept clean, but some unfortunately are stained when operating in the leaf clearing season. The Branch thanked Geoff for a fascinating and informative afternoon in the usual way and looks forward to inviting him back in the future.

On 8/1 the North London Branch audience were introduced to the work of Ivor Harding (1943-2016), with a presentation divided into two parts.

Part 1 consisted of slides from China in the 1980s, part 2 was devoted to films shot by Ivor from three continents.

The talk included an introduction to the life and career of Ivor Harding. Ivor worked for a butcher initially but after some parental persuasion he became an apprentice toolmaker; after completing his apprenticeship, he took the next logical step and joined the railway. He started as a booking clerk; working at several stations on the GN Enfield loop, before getting a junior post at Liverpool Street control. He moved through various posts, including as a wagon controller and working on the introduction of TOPS. He was also noted for commuting to Europe for short weekend trips.

As a railway enthusiast he was a member of several railway groups including the LCGB, where he served on the committee of the Central London Branch eventually becoming chairman in the 1970s. Ivor was a worldwide traveller and fortunately for us he took his cameras everywhere. The show was based on material obtained from Chris Capewell who was in contact with Peter Banks, of the “Tuesday Club” who transcribed slides and cine film to digital media.

The first part of the presentation was based on a selection from 700 plus Chinese slides in the 1980s. The difficulty for the presenter was not to what to include, but what to put aside for a future date. The presenter included as many different locomotive classes as possible ranging from steam locomotives that were about to be scrapped, to the latest diesels and electrics. It would be folly to try and include all the classes in this report however one Chinese locomotive class stands out namely the QJ. Ivor devoted 117 photographs to the class.


Moving on to the film collection there are some 63 films in the collection, most of them were shot by Ivor, many of which have sound. As with the still photograph collection the choice of material available is overwhelming. In order to demonstrate the diversity of the collection, excerpts were taken from six of the films.

The first of two films shot in the UK had footage from the 1960s including Nine Elms Depot at work, and the Euston and King’s Cross lines. This film also included general street scenes from around London evocative of the 1960s. The second film had footage from the Severn Valley Railway taken on a steam gala day, featuring the Longmoor Military Railway locomotive Gordon in action. The next film was shot in the USA, on the narrow-gauge Durango and Silverton Railway in Denver. This included shots of the railway at work and many excellent scenic views. We then moved on to Hungary with scenes from the MAV and CFR Railways featuring steam hauled service trains at work.

Our next location was split between Austria and Germany. With familiar looking narrow-gauge tourist trains in Austria and fireless locomotives at work in the local fuel depot. In Germany, more fireless locomotives were seen at work and completing the excerpt we saw steam hauled narrow gauge tourist trains. Finally, we returned to China where we were able to view large Chinese locomotives at work including the fabled QJ class.

Thanks to the efforts of Peter Banks, his colleagues and Chris Capewell, we were able to share in a rich legacy from a railway enthusiast and professional. The Branch extends its sincere thanks to everybody involved.



North West

The Branch meeting of 17/1 took the form of a digital presentation by local author Steve Leyland entitled It's a 127 World. This title referred of course to the film used in the Box Brownie camera used by Steve to take the pictures in the show.

The scenes commenced in 1963 at Ludlow with Castle 5085 Evesham Abbey working a Manchester to Plymouth train and stayed on the Western for views at Shrewsbury, Whitland and Aberystwyth followed by King’s Cross and the Southern in London. Steve's home area of Bolton naturally featured strongly together with Manchester and the WCML at Leyland.

Further family holidays provided opportunities for shots at Bath and at key locations in the South-West including Par, St Austell, Wadebridge and Exeter with both steam and diesel hydraulics in evidence. A visit to Scotland saw plenty of steam variety still in evidence including LNER Pacifics and several pre-grouping types.

Further enthusiast trips covered the Westbury, Swindon, Crewe, Leeds, Chester and Shrewsbury areas before an extensive tour of the North-East saw the remaining Pacifics together with B1s and the long lived J27 and Q6 machines. Other visits of note took in South Wales where the final rites of steam were recorded, the Taunton area for more Warships and Westerns, and Highbridge to Evercreech Junction for S & D steam.

Between these excursions Steve had maintained a comprehensive record of steam activity in both the Bolton area and in the wider field of the North-West. We were thus shown workings at his favoured location of Leyland together with scenes at the likes of Wigan, Merseyside, Preston, Hellifield, Grange and Hindley North.

Notable pictures included the Horwich branch trains with Standard class 2 Tanks in charge, the last day on the branch with 42634, a late visit through Bolton of B1 61021 Reitbok on a York to Blackpool excursion and various views of Jubilees and A1s at work on the WCML.

A wide selection of other types was in evidence such as Britannias, Clans, Crabs, Jinties and the usual other Stanier and Standard classes. As a result this was a most nostalgic show which, despite the occasional limitations of the camera, produced some remarkable and fascinating images. Steve's well informed commentary complimented the pictures and led to a well received and most interesting evening's entertainment for which he was warmly thanked.

St Albans

On 14/2, the St Albans Branch was pleased to welcome career railwayman Adrian Shooter for a talk entitled 50 Years A Railwayman. Mr Shooter began by pointing out that although he had ‘only’ completed 49 years’ service on the national network, he had also put in a few years working as a volunteer on the Ffestiniog Railway, his first turn as a fireman being with legendary driver Bill Hoole.

Giving a potted history of his pre-Chiltern Railways career, Mr Shooter joined BR in 1970 at Derby, in the position of an Engineer Graduate Trainee. He moved to Bletchley in 1974 to become an Area Maintenance Engineer and then to similar roles at Heaton, Carlisle and Croydon and then Area Manager at St Pancras in 1986. He then explained about his role as MD of the Chiltern Railways (CR) TOC from 1994 onwards. Although one of the smaller franchises in term of track mileage and assets, Mr Shooter and his team drew up grand plans for CR, the aim being to carry their customers ‘faster and further’.

The plans included the birth of what became the Turbostar DMU, together with other schemes such as track and signal renewals and station upgrades. One of the major projects was the building of additional platforms at London Marylebone, a long way from the dark days of the 1980s when the station could have become a bus terminal. Mr Shooter commented that the present-day CR passenger loadings are fifteen times what they were at the start of the franchise period. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Mr Shooter for a fascinating talk, delivered without the help of either slides, a PowerPoint presentation or notes.

On 10/1, the St Albans Branch welcomed Professor Nick Tyler, who gave a presentation entitled The Art of Boarding and Alighting. The ‘boarding and alighting’ referred to getting on and off trains. Professor Tyler works for the Centre for Transport Studies, which is based at the University College in London. The lecture was focussed on research that is carried out into how customers get on and off trains; as part of the research, factors such as the width of doors and the positioning of adjacent seating can affect passenger behaviour.

Professor Tyler’s department carry out work on behalf of many different railway companies, two of the current customers being Transport for London and Crossrail. One aim of the research is to find out how dwell times at stations can be reduced, thus increasing a line’s capacity. A laboratory is used for ‘on the ground’ research, within which replicas of full-sized carriages have been built and human volunteers are recruited, to recreate real-life situations.

A current project is based around the new Siemens deep-level tube train. One carriage of this new stock is expected to be shorter than current carriages at around eleven metres long. To compensate, there are two sets of doors on each side of the carriage that are much wider than current trains. Professor Tyler and his team are currently researching as to whether this new carriage and its layout will speed up customer boarding and alighting, and if this will improve the running of these lines. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Professor Tyler for highlighting a subject which has much more to it than most people think!