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NEXT FIXTURES

JULY



Friday 20th: Central London Branch
‘ The London extension of the Midland Railway & the titled trains of the Midland Main Line’ by Ray Schofield.

AUGUST

Tuesday 14th: Bedford Branch 'Day out to Bletchley.

Friday 17th: Central London Branch 'Members slides & digital pictures'.

SEPTEMBER


Tuesday 4th: Bedford Branch:
'Border Raiders' exploring two North British Railway cross border routes by Dennis Lovett.

Tuesday 11th: North London Branch: 'Restoration of 6989 at Quainton Road' by Alan Sturrock

Wednesday 12th: Dorking Branch:
'Western Photos 50+ Years Ago' by Graham Stacey.

Thursday 13th: St Albans Branch: 'Disconnected! Broken Links in Britains Rail Policy' by Chris Austin OBE.

Friday 21st: Central London: 'More pictures from the Peter Bland collection' by Bryan Cross.

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

Bedford

The noted photographer Dr Les Nixon entertained the Branch again on 1/5, this time with ‘An anti-clockwise tour of Scotland’, beginning at the Royal Border Bridge and taking in the East Coast and Far North before heading down the western side of the country towards Stranraer and Carlisle.

The spread of time over which the images were captured enabled a wide variety of subjects and settings to be shown. The iconic Deltics were seen mostly towards the end of their heyday and the A4s in their Indian summer on the Glasgow – Aberdeen run, with a fine selection of preserved steam for good measure. This being Scotland, it was only right that the Class 26 and 37 diesels also received much exposure.

As the presentation progressed, it became clear that Les had chosen his vantage points with great care. He stressed the importance of placing the subject in a representative setting and pointed out that many of the locations he had chosen were no longer as he had recorded them.

To make the best of subjects which did not appeal to him, such as tender first steam locomotives and modern diesel units, he showed his approach to making full use of the landscape and silhouettes to achieve a pleasing image. Perhaps the finest images shown during the evening were those captured on the West Highland and West Highland Extension lines, where a train amid the remoteness of mountains and moors made for a most attractive picture. A late finish was inevitable and welcomed by all present. The Branch hopes to welcome Dr Nixon again in the not too distant future.

8/3 Brian Ringer paid his first visit to the Branch with the first part of ‘Strictly Freight Only’, the title being a tribute to Sir Bruce Forsyth, who like Brian was an alumnus of the Latymer School, Edmonton. He joined the railway in 1975 at Acton Yard and apart from a very short spell in the EWS charter unit had no involvement with passenger trains. Brian examined and illustrated the changes in rail freight, which at one time earned twice as much as passenger traffic.

Road competition was already eroding traffic when the 1955 Modernisation Plan was published. Brian regarded it as a missed opportunity. In his view, investment in huge marshalling yards such as Tinsley would have been better directed towards improved wagons, all with continuous brakes – air, not vacuum.

An amusing case study showed how the cumbersome handling methods of the day impaired efficiency. Beeching’s view was that the future lay not in wagonload traffic but block trains such as the Tyne Dock to Consett operation leading to the development of the merry-go-round coal train and increased carriage of iron ore and finished steel in bulk. He also set out the liner train concept which is still with us albeit in not quite the form originally proposed.

Brian was scathing about some of the less efficient diesel classes and the profusion of small shunters which he blamed on too much regional autonomy. The electrified West Coast Main Line provided much extra capacity, sufficient to accommodate what was left of the Great Central’s traffic. Time ran out all too soon. The Branch thanks Brian for a very interesting and informative evening and looks forward to more.

On 6/2 the Branch welcomed Brian, also known as George Sullivan once again with the fourth and final instalment of the presentation on the Cromford and High Peak Railway created by the late Ian Lyman
. Tommy Tomalin, who had played a key part in the fieldwork, was also present. An unfortunate technical hitch delayed the start of the meeting.

This instalment covered the section from Hindlow to Whaley Bridge. The complexities of the changes made to the railway after it had come within the purview of the London and North Western in 1862 stemmed from its original conception as a canal which had led directly to the alignment chosen. Much of the original alignment was replaced by deviations in 1876 and 1892 and then closed, only for partial re-opening to take place later as traffic developed.

These complexities were described with remarkable lucidity but the value of explanatory maps has seldom been greater. Photographs illustrated how visible many of the abandoned sections were after over a century of disuse – here a dry stone wall, there a sharp curve in the grass. Such fixtures and fittings as had existed were faithfully and comprehensively recorded, though not always without difficulty.

In thanking the speaker Branch Chairman Bill Davies paid tribute not only to Ian Lyman and his cohorts but to those whose vision created the railway and those who had the foresight to photograph the line in its heyday. Without them there would have been no presentation for those present to applaud warmly.

Brighton


For our meeting on 25/6 Club Chairman Paul Snelling presented ‘None of my own work’ a collection of slides he had purchased and which are kept usually as an emergency backup programme. The general theme was locations and stock which we rarely see.

We started with a bolshie ram being loaded at Bailey Gate on the Somerset & Dorset before moving to locations such as Mildenhall, several GWR branches, bits of the Midland and Great Northern Joint, the Welshpool & Llanfair pre-preservation and a number of London Transport locations including Mill Hill East and Ongar. Some old favourites such as Weymouth Quay and the Isle of Wight featured as did shots of now closed loco depots such as Tinsley and Thornaby.

For extra interest Paul included trams at the Blackwall Tunnel and in Greenwich. Paul had also chosen a range of different rolling stock including the GWR AEC/Park Royal railcars, Metropolitan Railway electric locos and a small selection of industrial locomotives. To the horror of steam fans he included a shot of Deltics in their lair at Finsbury Park!

Our tour terminated at Dover, once a busy railway location but sadly now just another through station. An evening of true nostalgia featuring the work of very accomplished photographers.


We enjoyed Paul Gosling’s unusual presentation of his ‘More travels in Scotland’ on 21/5. This slide show covered two rail tours of Scotland in April and June, 2000 which both started and ended in Kings Cross. During these tours, we saw a huge variety of liveries of both locos and rolling stock, at that time, as well as a Eurostar unit then being operated by GNER and in their livery.

The first tour was from 21st - 24th April 2000 and operated by Hertfordshire Rail Tours as ‘The Saint Columba’. During the journey from Kings Cross to York, the train was hauled by Class 90/0 electric loco no.90019 then in a red livery and carrying the name 'Penny Black'. The train stopped in York, Glasgow, Ayr, Maypole, Stranraer, Crianlarich, Oban, ferry to/from Craignure and back to London via Glasgow. During the Scottish section of the tour, the train was double headed by two Class 37 locos with at least one in the original EW&S livery.

In addition to the usual railway photographs, we were also shown pictures of the tourist sites visited during the tour. Tour participants visited Culzean Castle near Maypole and Torosay Castle. The latter is near Craignure on the Isle of Mull and, at the time, was served by the former 1¼ mile long (10 ¼” gauge) Isle of Mull Railway. This operated between Craignure Pier and the castle. We learnt that the railway closed in 2011, following a change of ownership of the castle. Its assets are now incorporated into the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway which is operated by Leek and Rudyard Railway Ltd and is near Leek in North Staffordshire.

After the interval, Paul showed us pictures of the second tour which was operated from 3rd - 5th June 2000 as the ‘Balmoral and Britannia Landcruise’ from Kings Cross. This stopped in York, then over the Settle & Carlisle Railway to Carlisle, Glasgow Central, Stonehaven, Tay Bridge, Edinburgh and back to Kings Cross. During the Scottish section, the train was hauled by Class 66 loco no.66017 in the later EWS livery.

We were shown pictures during a tour of Balmoral Castle grounds and of the HMY ‘Britannia’ which is now a visitor attraction moored in the historic Port of Leith. The latter was built in 1953 by John Brown & Co.Ltd in Clydebank, being decommissioned in December, 1997. We were also shown pictures taken during a tour of the vessel. A presentation in which we learnt a lot about some of the interesting places in Scotland which are not normally featured in railway slide shows.

Brian Jackson made a return visit on 23/4 with Photo's from the ‘Bill Jackson Collection - Part 3 – 1954’. As ever this was a superb evening with the quality and variety of shots shining through. Bill always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Brian has done a lot of research from his father's notes and presented the evening in his easy going but informative manner.

The majority of the views were taken around the Brighton area as, unusually, there weren't scenes from Bill's annual holidays for us to enjoy. It was then that Brian let the cat out of the bag, it was the year he was born and a holiday was out of the question. That aside Bill still managed to faithfully record the railway scene throughout that year. We could only marvel at the variety of traffic available at that time. Thanks Brian for another great evening.

Central London


The branch welcomed Chris Hayden-Jones on 18/5 with a presentation entitled ‘How Steam was my Valley’. Chris gave an illustrated talk of the railways in the south of Wales. He spoke about historical and current railway operations. There were many interesting facts from his research especially into aspects of signalling. Anecdotes were given from his own experiences including railtours in the 60’s and 70’s. South Wales was important for industry and mining, which meant that the railway network criss-crossed the region.

Of interest was the number of railway companies operating in the region, such as the LNWR reaching Carmarthen. Thanks to Chris for his presentation.

Thanks also to Jeremy Harrison, who showed some pictures of main line and preserved steam at the beginning of the evening. Some of these were on the Welsh theme, and included photo charters on the Welsh Highland and the Pontypool and Blaenavon railways. The composition of the pictures was especially notable.

We welcomed John H Bird on 16/3 with his presentation ‘Southern Steam Childhood’. Following WW2 John's late father worked as a booking clerk at the rather fine Netley station, on the line from Fareham to St Denys and Southampton. John grew up in Netley and became aquainted with the world of railways at an early age. He was allowed to visit and 'help' in the station signal box, which now resides at Ropley on the MHR. His first encounter with railway enthusiasts en masse was an LCGB railtour in 1961; one of the organisers was present in the audience! Locomotives seen on the line included T9 4-4-0 and a Brighton 'Atlantic'.

In September 1957, the Hampshire demu’s were introduced with a greatly improved frequency of service but with complaints about their noisy starts. Steam remained on some cross country, diverted and freight services for some time afterwards. There was a short branch line from Netley to the large Royal Victoria Hospital which was a quarter of a mile long and served by a station about three coaches long, to transfer military personnel returning via Southampton directly to medical care.

The presentation concluded with a magnificent record of the last year of steam working on the Southern Region by various photographers. All the steam classes extant on the Southern in 1967 were noted and they included not only 35030's memorable last run but also the very last recorded steam working, of 77014 on a mid-evening parcels on 9/7/67 from Bournemouth to Weymouth. Many of these pictures appear in John's new book ‘Southern Sunset 67’. The Branch is very grateful to John for an excellent and personal review of the Southern steam scene, now at least two generations ago.

The branch welcomed Peter Lemmey on 16/2 with French Nostalgia,
a look back at mainly steam on both standard and narrow gauges in France. The collection of pictures included scenes recorded by Lance King, Hugh Ballantyne and John Snell as well as Peter's own images. Main line locomotives seen included classes 231D 231E, 231G, 231K, 241P, 141R ,140C, 141TA and 141E. Of particular note was a 130B Mogul, rebuilt from an 0-6-0 design constructed in the 1850s.

Locations of steam action varied from Calais Maritime to the line from Marseille to Cannes and Nice with a 141R-hauled Le Mistral express recorded in the mid 1960s and Rennes in Normandy. The narrow gauge scene was well represented with images which included the Vivarais line, not far from Lyon, in its working days plus what is now the CdF de la Baie de la Somme and the PO Corrèze system. The 60cm line of the Pithiviers system, near Orléans was visited on the first day of the sugar beet harvest in 1962.

At the peak of its fortunes there were over 700 miles of 60cm lines in rural France to serve the sugar beet growers. The classic diesel railcars were also noted, as they were very much a part of the metre gauge passenger services. Of particular interest were modern pictures of a classic PLM french-style station, which was actually in Algiers. Likewise, a GM diesel at Oran station was compared with a much older image of a PLM-design pacific in the same location, showing not much had changed in many decades!

The last picture shown was appropriately one of the preserved 231 G 558 at Dieppe Maritime on a railtour similar to those in which the Club has participated in more recent years. The regular working steam-era of french railways is now a long time ago but it was good to see that it has been so well recorded for the benefit of future generations.

The Branch gives grateful thanks to Peter for a superb evening's railway entertainment.

Croydon

The meeting on the 31/5 the branch welcomed the RCTS's Photo Editor, David Kelso, who travelled across from his home in Broadstairs to give a digital presentation of his early photographs under the title. 'Scottish steam in the 1950s and 1960s'. As the pictures went back nearly seventy years and showed the railway when it was almost entirely steam powered there was much of interest in the well displayed monochrome views. The speaker knew the detail of each engine or location shown and many pre-Grouping engines were illustrated although on their last legs by then.

Perhaps most interesting were the photographs taken in the now closed Glasgow and Edinburgh terminals, but the changes throughout the railway have been continuous over the long years so the places pictured are nearly all remarkably different today. Mr Kelso is the king pin in the management of the RCTS 's extensive photographic achieve and a regular contributor to the Railway Observer so we wish him well in these tasks in addition, that is, to saying thanks for his visit to Croydon which was much enjoyed.


On the 26/4 a talk entitled ‘Transforming Victoria Underground Station’ given by Kathryn Waghorn, a civil engineer and Project Planning Manager for the company undertaking the enlargement of the 1968 station to included a northern entrance. Since then, traffic on the Underground has grown vastly and the original restricted access to the high capacity Victoria Line has resulted in congestion and queuing at busy times, where access routes rather than train capacity have limited the number of passengers who could be carried.

Using some excellent diagrams and drawings Ms Waghorn explained how the new entrance, enlarged existing ticket hall and new connecting passageways and escalators will improve egress into both the deep level tube and subsurface District line stations and ease the lot of passengers interchanging between both TfL lines and the main line terminals. Construction in a busy, congested area such as Victoria is by no means an easy task to plan with hazards such as sewers, services, listed buildings, foundations and access rights to be avoided and the speaker explained how these obstacles were overcome. An excellent detailed and enlightening talk and we thank Kathryn for her presentation.

The branch held its AGM on 22/3, a quiet and non-controversial assembly of about a dozen souls. The committee would benefit from more members but meanwhile Messrs Dennison and Harrison, having been re-elected, soldier on with monthly meetings to a high standard at a convenient and cosy venue. The various reports and accounts were approved by the meeting and thanks expressed for the work of the branch committee. To conclude the AGM some three members showed miscellaneous but entertaining railway slides. Thanks go to the committee and the photographers.

Dorking


Overseas Tours Officer Adrian Palmer spoke to the Branch on 13/6 on some of the ‘Overseas Tours’ which the Club undertook in 2017. All the tours have been reported in full in the ‘Bulletin’ so this report only includes brief summaries.

A joint tour with the Branch Line Society to the Hedjaz Railway in Jordan took place in May. A trip north from Amman was followed by four days travelling south past Ma’an and Wadi Rum and then down the line built in the 1970s for the potash traffic to the port at Aqaba. The majority of the trip was diesel hauled but with short sections of steam north and south of Amman.

In February, a tour took participants along the east coast of India from Mumbai to Cochin with visits to the 2ft gauge Matheran Railway, unfortunately closed at the time, and the metre gauge part rack operated Nilgiri Railway. That line provided the only steam haulage of the tour, the remainder on the broad gauge being either diesel or electric.

A two part trip in September organised by PTG included an optional few days in Panama followed by the main tour to Columbia enabled by the improved security situation in that country. In Panama the main attraction was the canal itself and the associated Panama Canal Railway whereas Columbia featured three days with trips in the Bogota area with preserved Baldwin steam locos as well as many plinthed or stored locos throughout the country.

Adrian concluded his programme with views of the well known Sandstone operation in South Africa taken on a tour in April, and was thanked for a well illustrated talk which excellently demonstrated the wide ranging of the LCGB’s overseas tours activities.



The speaker at the Branch meeting on 9/5 was Rowan Joachim from the ‘Rail Accident Investigation Branch’ who gave a comprehensive description of the organisation’s establishment, functions and operations. The RAIB was created under the provisions of the Railway & Transport Safety Act 2003 which followed increasing public concern over a series of railway accidents in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the recommendations of the Cullen Inquiry into the 1999 Ladbroke Grove accident.

Its function is to carry out an independent investigation into the cause of a railway accident, or potential accident, and to make recommendations aimed at improving safety and avoiding a repeat. The Branch has a Chief Inspector and Deputy, 5 Principal Inspectors and 21 Inspectors who work from bases at Farnborough and Derby, together with some 400 Accredited Agents from railway staff who act as on-site co-ordinators until an Inspector arrives. The Inspector will carry out an initial examination to determine if there are safety lessons to be learnt and, if so, undertake a formal investigation, which may include interviews and other relevant enquiries, leading to the publication of a report and recommendations.

The RAIB does not apportion blame or liability, any such action being the responsibility of the police or relevant safety authority, and although it does not have enforcement powers, its recommendations are virtually always accepted. In the course of her talk Rowan described a number of accidents, the safety issues they demonstrated and the resultant recommendations and, at its conclusion, was warmly thanked for a very informative talk on such a complex subject and one very much in the public eye.

On 11/4 the Branch welcomed John Barrowdale, the southern speaker for the ‘LMS Patriot New Build Project’, to talk on the history of the original locomotives and the project to build a new loco from scratch. Designed by Sir William Fowler as a lighter version of the ‘Royal Scot’ class with greater route availability, the first two were rebuilt from LNWR ‘Claughton’ class locos.

Although still nominally rebuilds, but in reality new locos, a further 50 were built before being effectively superseded by Stanier’s ‘Jubilee’ class. Patriot was so named in 1937 as the LMS war memorial engine and gave its name to the class. To provide the LMS with sufficient Class 7 locomotives after WW11, 18 were rebuilt with a larger taper boiler, new cylinders and double chimney.

The last original loco was withdrawn in 1962 and the last rebuild in 1965. As none of the war memorial engines built in the 1920s and 1930s and none of the ‘Patriots’ themselves have survived, a project was commenced in 2008 to build an entirely new ‘Patriot’ loco, albeit including a few original LMS parts, To be named The Unknown Warrio. Completion was originally planned for 2018 to commemorate the end of WW1 but, with the delays inherent in such a project, the aim is now to complete the loco for the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 2019 and for introduction to main line service in 2020, the anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

John was warmly thanked for his interesting and informative talk, well illustrated with pictures of the original locos and progress on the new build project.

North London


On 12/6 the branch hosted the annual ‘Open afternoon’ to which everybody was invited to contribute. The overall result was an eclectic mix of photographs in both digital and slide format ranging from the 1960’s through to the 18th of May this year.

The afternoon commenced with a combination of slides from Tony Stratford and John Curry with scenes of the Isle Man Steam Railway, Ireland and the lunchtime specials from Marylebone in the early 1980’s.

Bob Stonehouse continued the afternoon with several photographs of mainline steam operations from around the UK and scenes from Austrian and German city centres.

After the break Brian Plate returned to the theme of the lunchtime specials with shots from the Northwest London area.

Terry Cremin presented a video based on the last days of mainline steam which proved to be very interesting.

The final contribution was made by Tony Stratford with a presentation entitled “Keeping it Local”. the idea for the presentation was to keep a record of Northbound trains passing through Welham Green, between noon and 1pm on the last day of the old timetable. Amongst the rolling stock seen were two Class 73’s running in tandem, routed from Tonbridge West to Derby. An 800-Class Unit on test from Kings Cross to Doncaster was also included. Tony kept a record of the routings for the various train movements and the distances travelled which amounted to 0ver 1050 miles. Our thanks to all the contributors on the day including, Terry Cremin, John Curry, Brian Plate and Bob Stonehouse. In view of recent events it was good to see Bob Stonehouse contributing to what proved to be a memorable afternoon.

'Travels with My Video Camera' by Jim Pentney 8/5 with a selection of videos from his archive recorded on his trips around the world. Two countries were featured this year, namely Cuba in 2001 and China in 2005. The afternoon commenced with a visit to a line which carried sugar cane to a processing mill in Cuba interestingly named Australia. The line was operated by 2-6-0 and 2-8-0 steam locomotives which were American in appearance, unfortunately the builder's details were not available.

Many scenes of shunting operations were included, some involving gravity shunts. Jim also went on to describe the actual line operation in respect of signalling systems, in fact there are none. There is a single line operation in force with a sequence of passing loops and the method used to control the line is whichever train is nearest to the last loop must reverse to allow the on-coming train through. Overall an interesting view of an industrial line from yesteryear. Then onto China where classes SY 2-8-2 & JS 2-8-2's were seen in the stark Chinese landscape. Places noted were Yuanboashan, Changchun with the last location being Daban Shed where class QJ 2-10-2's operated the Ji-Tong line. The branch would like to thank Jim for his videos.

On the 10/4 the Branch welcomed Richard Crane for a talk based on the ‘London to Cambridge lines’. The talk consisted of a station by station examination of the route and the evolution of the types of railway vehicles used. The monochrome and colour photographs were of excellent quality. Unsurprisingly the first photograph shown was of the interior of Liverpool Street as it is today. This was followed by a photograph of how it was, with the staircase effectively splitting the station in two. This was a recurring theme throughout with the stations and the rolling stock noting the differences between “then and now”.

The talk was very detailed with references to opening dates for stations and references to locomotive classes etc. From Liverpool Street along the Lea Valley we progressed to Stansted Airport. All the major stations along the route were given a full description including dates of opening. From Stansted we followed the line to Shepreth Junction where the line connects with the Great Northern Line to Kings Cross in the south and Cambridge in the north.

Continuing into Cambridge Richard gave a brief history of the station with excellent exterior views. The final stop before the return to Kings Cross was the newly built Cambridge North Station with a view of a 700 class EMU, the latest addition to the Thameslink fleet. The route to Kings Cross was via the Hitchin Line with scenes of Shepreth, Meldreth and Royston.

Sadly, due to a technical difficulty we missed a section of the talk and the route had to be re-joined at Welham Green. Richard continued with an excellent description of the stations into Kings Cross. The locomotives and multiple units illustrated during the talk included L2’s, B2’s,321’s,385’s,377’s,700’s, class 37, 86 with DVT and a Britannia class 70000 steam locomotive plus many others. Richard also included details of two major accidents on the combined route, the first at Elsenham near Bishop’s Stortford, and the second at Potters Bar, the details for both incidents have been well reported elsewhere.

The branch would like to thank Richard for an excellent exploration of the railway lines from London to Cambridge. Richard Crane is a former Railway Employee, he is involved with “Talking of Trains” part of the Workers Education Association. Their meetings are arranged at Surbiton Library, he was a member of the Bedford Branch Committee. He is also involved with a local transport users group. For further details of Talking of Trains, visit www.talkingoftrains.co.uk

North West


On completion of its AGM, the meeting turned to photographs with the first selection being presented by Geoff Monks on a theme of the early days of preserved steam. Starting with monochrome images of steam at work in the lean days after BR steam had finished we saw what are now nostalgic scenes on the narrow gauge at Bressingham, Leighton Buzzard, Whipsnade and Douglas with steam and the ex Donegal railcar in action. As standard gauge preservation began to grow the K&WVR provided scenes of LMS 2700, 5774, 72 and 92220 in action followed by the Middleton Railway and views of the Continental locos at Carnforth. The NYMR, the early SVR, Didcot in 1970, the Swedish locos at the Nene Valley and the SECR locos on the Bluebell preceded the return of main line steam with the likes of 92203, 6201, 7029 and LNER 4472 and 4771 in action.

Mered Wood then showed an amazing collection of pictures from the 1950's and 60's taken by his late father, Ken Wood. Examples appeared from virtually all parts of the country with many superb and evocative scenes from when steam still ruled the rails The locations said it all; Macclesfield shed, Paignton, Old Oak Common, Rugby, Low Moor, Doncaster, Liverpool St, Blaydon, Pontypridd, New St, York, Worcester and even one or two unidentified places all crossed the screen in an amazing display.

John Sloane then followed with more steam but this time from Italy in the early to mid 1970's. With a heavy emphasis on the south of the country and on Sicily a wide range of classes were shown in action including a number of rare tank classes working on both the standard and narrow gauges. Caprotti valve locos, Crosti and Franco Crosti machines, rack locos, and a range of 2-6-0, 2-6-2, 2-8-2, 2-8-2T,and 2-8-0's were seen in locations ranging from Castelvetrano to Trieste and Bari to Milan.

Along the way, one or two vintage diesels and electrics were encountered including one of the incredible three phase electrics emitting steam from its resistances at Alessandria. Norman Mathews concluded a most interesting and varied evening with a selection which he had entitled "Quirks and Curiosities". These were an absolutely amazing series of views of highly unconventional machines - both steam and internal combustion. Single and double Fairlies seemed quite ordinary compared to geared steam locos, a vertical boiler loco fitted with a conventional gearbox and Meyer’s. The "curiosities" on the internal combustion side were even more unusual with locos powered by motor cycles and tractors providing the extreme end of motive power design! Even the odd steam powered road vehicle and boat got in on the act before matters drew to a close before next season

The meeting of 15/3 took the form of a digital presentation by Branch Chairman, John Sloane, on ‘Vintage Narrow Gauge in Northern Spain from the 1950's Onwards’. Using colour photographs of his own and from his large collection, together with various explanatory maps he traced the many railways of this fascinating region from steam days through to the FEVE diesel era and to glimpses to the lines today. The show took the form of a tour from Irun westwards through the coastal areas of the Basque country and Asturias to El Ferrol then back eastwards through the mountains via Ponferada and Leon to Bilbao.

Many of the original twenty or so individual lines were seen starting with the Bidasoa Railway at Irun where its neat KS 0-6-0T and rare O&K 2-6-0 with a Strooman two chamber water tube boiler were seen. The 1920's Swiss and Hungarian electrics of the Vascongados Railway took us to Bilbao where the Suburban and mineral lines produced more British built steam gems. The Dubs 4-4-0T's and Krauss 2-6-0+4 Engerths of the Santander Bilbao line preceded more well kept delights in the form of further green tanks and Engerths on the Cantabrian Railway at Santander. Also present were their veteran railcars obtained second hand from lines in Brittany and the south of France and the classic Creusot and Alsthom diesels dating from the late 1950's.

Moving into Asturias, a detailed look at the standard gauge (this counts as narrow gauge in Spain!) Langreo Railway saw its very varied stock of Belgian, Spanish and ex Dutch and Alaskan steam locos together with the ex Dutch and American diesels and the Mack railcars second hand from the New Haven RR. Industrial steam abounded in the area south of the city of Oviedo where more Dubs 4-4-0T's worked on the Vasco-Asturian Railway and various other highly polished green tanks worked on the Economic of Asturias line.

Brief glimpses of the more modern FEVE diesel and electric eras preceded the return eastwards via the well known Ponferrada Villablino line with its Baldwin 2-6-2T's and various designs of Engerths, some of which originated on the Pamplona - San Sebastian,Vascongados and Robla lines. Several small colliery lines were seen before joining the Robla Railway at Leon for the long trip back to Bilbao on the "Correo" behind their splendid green ex Tunisian pacific’s. Along the way a wonderful variety of steam was evident at Cistierna, the branch at Sabero, Mataporquera and Valmaseda where the likes of Swiss 2-8-0's, Belgian 0-6-4T's, Baldwin 2-8-0's and a Hannomag Garratt were to be seen. Returning to Bilbao Concordia station the journey finished with a view of the splendid little Couillet 0-4-0T now plinthed between the tracks.

So ended a remarkable tour through time which had included many rare and unusual scenes which prompted comment and queries from the small but appreciative audience. All in all, it was a magnificent show and those of us who have never ventured north of Madrid were left feeling that we now know the area intimately both geographically and historically.

On 15/02 Paul Shackcloth paid a welcome return with the second part of his splendid series on "Lancashire & Yorkshire Locomotives at Work". Starting in Yorkshire where his previous digital show had ended, and ranging over a period of some seventy years, Paul showed views in the Wakefield, Goole, Doncaster, York and Sheffield areas. As might be expected, the large classes of 0-6-0's and 2-4-2 Radial tanks were seen in quantity although many were in rare and fascinating locations.

Particular gems were Highfliers at Scarborough, York and Sheffield Midland, Pugs working in Goole docks, an 0-6-0ST at Goole Engine Shed Cabin and scenes of a Radial on the huge viaduct at Penistone and another on a Cudworth service on the unsafe looking Oaks viaduct at Barnsley.

Moving into West Yorkshire, the Leeds area and the depths of Bradford Exchange were visited before a view of 50455 a Todmorden on its last trip from Blackpool to York and pictures of various 4-4-0 classes. Crossing the border into East Lancashire the L & Y strongholds of Rose Grove, Accrington and Blackburn produced more loco types including 0-8-0's, a Baltic tank, an experimental compound 4-4-0 and the stationary boiler former 0-4-4T at Accrington.

The Preston area saw various 4-6-0 Dreadnoughts on WCML services to Carlisle, a nice Beyer Peacock built 4-4-0 and an 0-6-0ST working the Butler St goods yard shunt. Excursion trains to Blackpool and Fleetwood had various types in action although the ubiquitous and versatile Aspinall 0-6-0's tended to dominate. Three particularly dramatic scenes showed an 0-6-0 and a Radial racing each other neck to neck on the four track section near Lea Road, another 0-6-0 seen from below crossing Kirkham flyover and a Highflyer blasting away from Poulton.

More Dreadnoughts, Baltic’s and stationary boilers were seen around Blackpool together with a Steam Railmotor at Fleetwood. Moving to West Lancashire, Railmotors were again in evidence at Altcar, together with Pugs and 0-6-0T's on Liverpool docks, a "British Railways" liveried M11375 at Bank Hall and more 4-4-0's at Exchange station. Scenes at Wigan and on the WCML produced fish trains at Farington, both large and small boilered 0-8-0's around Wallgate and a smart 51474 shunting the exchange yard at North Western.

So concluded another stunning selection of scenes which were fascinating not simply for the locomotives but also for the rolling stock, the railway infrastructure and their period urban settings. Paul was warmly thanked for this further delve into the magnificent MLS collection and part three, dealing with L&Y locomotives outside the two counties, is eagerly anticipated.

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.