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BRANCHES

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NEXT FIXTURES

OCTOBER

Thursday 10th: St Albans Branch: Named Trains of the Midland Main Line: Ray Schofield
Friday 18th: Central London Branch: AGM and Members’ Images
Tuesday 22nd: Bedford Branch: AGM and Off The Footplate: speaker: Bill Davies
Thursday 24th: North West Branch: Steam around South Africa in 1973: speaker: John Sloane
October 28th: Brighton Branch: Misspent Years: speaker: John Beckett
Thursday 31st: Croydon Branch: The History of French Railways: speaker: Michael Bunn

NOVEMBER

Tuesday 5th: Bedford Branch: The Last Years of Steam around the East Midlands: speaker: Michael Clemens
Wednesday 13th: Dorking Branch: Wolsztyn Experience: speaker: Julian Worth
Thursday 14th: St Albans Branch: Bulleid’s Pacifics: speaker: Colin Boocock
Friday 15th: Central London Branch: British Light Railways: speaker: John Scott Morgan
Thursday 21st: North West Branch: Steam Saved From The Scrapyard: speaker: Tom Heavyside
Monday 25th: Brighton Branch: AGM & Photo Competition
Thursday 28th: Croydon Branch: No Tube Trains to Bushey: speaker: Keith Gower

DECEMBER

Tuesday 3rd: Bedford Branch: The Norfolk & Suffolk Joint PT1: speaker: Brian Sullivan
Tuesday 10th: North London Branch: Annual Christmas Quiz
Wednesday 11th: Dorking Branch: Christmas Party, AGM & Members’ Presentations
Thursday 12th: North West Branch: Bill Ashcroft’s 1960s Colour Slides: presenter: Mike Taylor
Thursday 12th: St Albans Branch: Steam in the 1950s on Film: presenter: Frank Banfield
Monday 16th: Brighton Branch: Members’ Memories
Tuesday 17th: Bedford Branch: Christmas Meeting
Thursday 19th: Croydon Branch: Restoration of 92 Squadron: speaker: Dr Steve Lacey
Friday 20th: Central London Branch: India 1980-2000: speaker: Peter Lemmey

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

Bedford

On 1/10 the advertised speaker was unable to come due to illness. In his place the Branch welcomed Robin Cullup with the second part of his survey of the railways of Northamptonshire. He called this instalment Nibbling at the Edges, an allusion to those lines which crept gingerly across the county boundary. Such is the nature of the network that Robin was able to deal with nearly every line in chronological order of its opening, save for a couple where it was clearer for all to deal with them out of turn.

Robin had assembled a remarkable set of photographs which illustrated by far the majority of key locations on each line. Many of the photographers whose work was included were well known, that of Tommy Tomalin being particularly distinctive. The work of Mr C. W. Harris, a railway employee, featured prominently. Whether by accident or design the portrayal of the motive power used on the lines examined was uncannily representative, with Garratts a particularly welcome sight and modern traction also included.

There is of course more to a railway than its locomotives and many of the distinctive buildings, signals and lineside features were included, as were the finer details of traffic working. Summer Saturdays always produced some oddities, with neither the locomotives nor some of the rolling stock being in the first flush of youth.

The Branch thanks Robin for another fascinating presentation and looks forward keenly to future instalments.

Brighton

Every once in a while, an exceptional subject and speaker comes along and this was very true of our 6/19 meeting when our speaker was Mike King talking about Southern Coaches.

Mike became interested in coaching stock many years ago when most railway enthusiasts were only interested in locos. His interest turned into producing scale drawings of which he's drawn around 125.
Mike started his talk at the Grouping where the SR had inherited a motley selection of coaches from the constituent companies, notwithstanding that they were a variety of lengths and widths. On the latter this meant that a lot of coaching stock was too wide for the South Eastern where such restrictions have continued until fairly recently due to limited tunnel clearances, now removed primarily due to single line working or interlaced track. The electric stock inherited was anything but standard and Mike showed the many variations as he had done with the hauled stock.

The SR, under Maunsell, set to replace some of the older carriage stock but instead of buying new, used long underframes and mounted two older coach bodies onto the underframes, often with additional new sections added in to make the bodies fit the frames. Similarly about 80 electric units were made up from old carriages but with new front ends. Mike instanced a case where the donor coaches were not placed on wooden runners on top of the underframes. The thinking was to bring the carriage height down to meet the loading gauge. However, no-one thought that the runners were there to prevent the moisture on the frames seeping up into the bodywork so inevitably rot eventually set into the affected coaches.


With the commencement of the Brighton Main Line electrification in 1932 new stock was provided for London Victoria / London Bridge services to Brighton / Worthing. Classified as 4-LAV, four car unit with lavatories, this set the scene for the SR's fascination with the toilet facilities in the type designation. Next up were the 2-BIL units, 2 car bi-lavatory, followed by the 6-CITY units then the 6-PUL (Pullman) and 6-Pan (Pantry) units. Here Mike explained the classifications and the various nuances between sets.

The electrification of the Portsmouth Direct line heralded another change, interconnecting gangways. Classified 4-COR, they were better known to enthusiasts as Nelsons due to the cab window at one side of the gangway connection and a route number box on the other giving a one-eyed look, hence the nickname. Gangway connections were another area Mike explored, not to mention in the early days when a detachment was made, if the staff forget to disconnect the gangway correctly on the unit dropped off it could be ripped off by the departing unit, falling on the track and causing another problem. Electrical jumper cables were also an issue as correct procedure had to be followed, if not, a severe electric shock reminded the staff of the correct procedure.


The Maunsell era closed with the 1933 Sentinel Rail Car number 6. Designed to be a cost effective answer for unprofitable lines it first saw service on the Dyke Branch, which promptly closed! The car then visited other branches but wasn't a success. Maunsell retired during 1937 and replaced by O.V.S. Bulleid whose first job in 1938 was to re-work the Bognor Buffet Cars which came out with an Art Deco interior.

This was followed by the new electric stock for the Waterloo and City line and then the 2-HAL units for Maidstone electrification. 2-HAL denotes a two car unit, half lavatory, not as one may expect but there was a lavatory in one coach only. Bulleid's next challenge was to get more passengers into the units on busy commuter lines out of Charing Cross in 1941, the 10 units becoming unpopular but were followed by a further 275 units that were less cramped. We then took a look at Bullieid's 4-DD design for the Bexleyheath line. Unusual in every aspect they were not really a full double deck but more a halfway house to fit the loading gauge. Very claustrophobic, they were an operational flop due to the time it took to unload and load passengers. To conclude Bulleid's electric era in the 1950s were the 4-EPBs with electro-pneumatic braking.

Mike then went onto Bulleid's hauled coaching stock designs. Outstanding, if only for oddity and rarity, was Bulleid's Inspection Car. Essentially a 6 berth sleeping car, number 100S, it was used by Bulleid between 1947 and 1949 but as it was made out of plywood it soon rotted! Bulleid's new restaurant cars proved less than popular due to a lack of windows Mike concluded the presentation with Bulleid's Tavern Cars, basically a pub on wheels with the body sides decorated in a mock timber and brickwork design with each car having its own pub sign. These were converted to Buffet Cars in 1959.

Throughout the presentation Mike explained the many varieties of stock, its uses, restrictions, problems in operation, design faults and liveries, all delivered in an easy going yet highly informative style. It comes highly recommended.

Central London

The Branch hosted Members Images on 16/8 with a gratifying attendance of members and visitors alike. In this day and age slides, meaning Kodachrome and the like film transparencies, is an out-of-date term, hence the use of the word images which automatically includes both electronic digital and transparency pictures. The variety of subjects was, as always, wide and fascinating.

Thomas the tank engine was seen in locations as far apart as Colorado and Poland which was in contrast to Santa Special steam railtours with Black 5s, a Jubilee and the omnipresent Flying Scotsman around Seascale in the late 70s and early 80s. Scenes of a severely underfunded railway in Albania contrasted with views of a well-kept Epping Ongar Railway.

Steam activity recorded during a recent Trier Plandampf made an interesting contrast with a Great Central Railway Autumn Steam Gala and views of the static exhibits at Kalamata on the Greek Peleponnese system.

The evening concluded with a superb presentation of railways in the USA nearly forty years ago including scenes of main line and suburban trains recorded in places as far apart as New York City, Chicago, New Orleans and Alaska. Of particular note to this reviewer were pictures of a classic Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotive, a superb Chesapeake and Ohio RR No 614 4-8-4 steam locomotive and a Norfolk and Western RR streamlined No 611 4-8-4.

The Branch gives grateful thanks to John Batts, John Curry, Martyn Gregg, Jeremy Harrison and the Branch chairman for a very pleasant evening's entertainment.

Central London Branch welcomed Steve Sedgwick on 19/7 with Railway photography: a different point of view. The standard preferred approach almost all of us take to photographing trains is the front three quarter view with the sunlight coming from behind us. While there is nothing wrong with that Steve showed that there are other ways of taking pictures of trains. Steve showed views taken in frost, rain and snow as well as in different seasons and at different times of day, including at sunset. There were scenes taken, using available light, on shed at places such as the Leighton Buzzard Railway and Boston Lodge works on the Ffestiniog before dawn as the locomotives were being prepared for service. A winter morning departure from Pages Park on the LBNGR had to be taken quickly before the lovely hoar frost on the trees melted.

Scenes at the Brocken summit station with sun and snow were spectacular. Rain provided a beautiful backdrop in the form of a rainbow to a locomotive portrait on the Durango and Silverton RR. Photographers sheltering under umbrellas during a Welshpool and Llanfair Railway photoshoot made an amusing picture. Reflection shots off wet platforms, puddles, watercourses and even flooded rails were remarkably effective.

If you ever wished to know what travelling through a tunnel on a locomotive footplate was like then pictures taken while entering and travelling through Sharpthorne tunnel on the Bluebell Railway will tell you! Lineside views featuring wild flowers on such as the Vivarais in France, the Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Brockford and even the Volks Electric Railway in Brighton provided a fascinatingly different image of these lines.

Modern digital photographic technology, with cameras that can operate at ISO ratings of up to 25000 and Photoshop, has made the task of this style of railway photography much easier than in the days of Kodachrome. The Branch gives grateful thanks to Steve for such an excellent, well-prepared, educational and thought-provoking presentation. As a footnote, the Reunion photographic competition for 2019 has been temporarily suspended. When it is reinstated, hopefully in 2020, it would be good to see some entries which have adopted Steve's different point of view approach.

Croydon

All members and friends are welcome at the Croydon meetings. The United Reformed Church is a mere five minutes' walk from East Croydon Station where train services are now very comprehensive and have settled down to good reliability. The meeting room is warm, cosy thus audible and well blacked-out and refreshments are available at half time. So do join us.

At the first meeting of the new season on 26/9, the Branch was pleased to welcome back Stuart Dennison who gave a well illustrated talk entitled The Premier Line.
The speaker covered the development of the London & North Western Railway showing many photographs and maps of this famous company. The LNWR was well placed to succeed, serving as it did London, the North-West and the West Midlands, carrying the Scottish traffic and having tentacles reaching South Wales and the West Riding. Mr Dennison showed us a lot of pictures of the vast works and layout at Crewe, epicentre of the line, and delved into the wide range of slightly dubious engines built there to work the company's heavy traffic. A very informative and absorbing presentation for which we thank the speaker.

Dorking

On 11/9 the Branch welcomed John King to give a presentation on the Railways of Kingston, both those built and others proposed but not built or only in part. The first railway in the Kingston area, the London and Southampton, did not serve the town itself but passed to the south through what is now Surbiton. John suggested that this was due not only to the opposition of the stage coach interests and some local landowners but also to the emphasis placed in the prospectus on freight rather than passenger traffic.

An Act was passed in 1834 with Francis Giles as engineer but problems with the small contracts led to Joseph Locke and Thomas Brassey taking over as engineer and contractor respectively prior to the line’s completion in 1838. Kingston itself was placed on the railway map in 1863 by the L&SWR but even this line took an indirect route reaching the town from Twickenham via a bridge over the Thames. A direct route from London was finally provided from the Wimbledon direction in 1869.


Despite this, further proposals continued to be put forward for lines in the Kingston area, culminating in the Kingston and London Railway Act of 1882 promoted jointly by the L&SWR and the Metropolitan District Railway. This was to have run from Putney Bridge to Surbiton with a connection at Norbiton for Kingston. Some property was acquired but lack of funds led to the scheme being abandoned. A much later scheme in the Kingston area was that for a line from Motspur Park to Leatherhead authorised in 1930. This was opened as far as Chessington South in 1939 but the advent of WWII followed by Green Belt restrictions on development meant the line progressed no further.

As well as the history John described many of the features and the personalities involved with the railways of the Kingston area, and was thanked for a most informative talk of great local interest to many in the audience.


Dorking Regular speaker Mike Bunn gave a talk to the Branch on 10/7 on the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme, France’s premier tourist railway. Starting with a description of the line which runs on both sides of the estuary of the River Somme, Mike then gave an outline of its history. Noyelles station on the Amiens to Boulogne line was opened in April 1848 and from there a standard gauge line was built in 1858 to the small port of St Valery on the south side of the estuary. Extensions were opened in 1887 from Noyelles to Le Crotoy on the north side and from St Valery to Cayeux on the coast. These were built to metre gauge and the original line was converted to dual gauge to link the two parts.


As was common in France, these lines were owned by the local authority but operated under a concession until eventual closure of the line to Le Crotoy in 1969 and that to Cayeux in 1972. However, in 1971 an offer was made to run the Le Crotoy line as a non profit operation and this was re-opened in May 1971. After closure, the Cayeux line was offered to the same organisation which also acquired the remaining rolling stock.

Since then, the lines have continued to run with local authority ownership of the track bed and buildings and operation by the CFBS. Major improvements have been made to the track and buildings and locomotives and rolling stock from other now closed metre gauge lines have been acquired and restored. The line now carries around 180,000 passengers per year, with a particular highlight being the triennial steam festival which has featured visiting locos including standard gauge locos from the line’s British twin, the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Mike illustrated his talk with a comprehensive selection of photos of the line, its rolling stock and its operations and was warmly thanked for his excellent presentation.

North London

On 10/9,Dr Steve Lacey returned to the Branch to provide an update on the continuing career of Battle of Britain Class Locomotive 34081 92 Squadron. He commenced the presentation with a brief introduction to Oliver Bulleid who was the last Chief Mechanical Engineer to the Southern Railway. He showed many examples of Bulleid’s work including his carriage design, an electric locomotive, a diesel locomotive with coupled wheels, a double deck EMU and his crowning achievement, a peat burning locomotive for CIE.

The finishing point of his previous presentation was the all-important steam pressure test of 34081’s boiler which was passed superbly. The locomotive was allocated the number 34081 because it was completed after Nationalisation in 1948. It was named 92 Squadron after the squadron responsible for downing more enemy aircraft than any other RAF squadron. It was allocated to the Battle of Britain class although it has the same specification as the West Country Class.


Steve highlighted the restoration effort on his last visit. He completed the story of the restoration by showing pictures and videos of 92 Squadron in action. He explained that there were key stages in introducing the locomotive back to the tracks in 2016. Commencing with the all-important test run with a locomotive inspector on board, signing a running agreement with Nene Valley Railway. Since 2016 the locomotive has visited the North Yorkshire Moors, Mid Hants and Bluebell railways.

Steve also provided an insight into the challenges that running a steam locomotive can present. He pointed out that running a loco along a 17-mile track can damage the loco eventually. He noted the difficulties of warming up the loco for short periods without properly cooling down can be problematical. He also gave a flavour of the high maintenance costs. An example is that a coupling which must be manufactured to a high specification can cost £20,000 to £30,000 pounds.


The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society has a policy of using materials which are made to main line (Network Rail) specification and will not compromise, which results in higher costs. However, Steve explained that locomotive societies have a policy of cooperation and will enable running repairs to visiting locomotives and involve themselves in bulk purchases wherever possible. Our thanks go out to all the members and volunteers of the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society. We would like also to thank Steve’s wife Carol for coming along and running the sales stand, being the first female participant in any of the LCGB branch meetings that I have attended. The Branch thanks Steve for an excellent presentation about a national railway treasure.


34081’s Timeline prior to the second restoration.
1948: Entered service on the Southern Region
1965: Withdrawn and moved to Barry Scrapyard with other Bulleid locomotives
1976: 34081 was purchased in 1976 for £3,500 by the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society and transferred to the Nene Valley Railway.
1988: 34081 ran under its own steam for the first time in independent hands.
2008: After a successful period of operation, 34081 developed problems which resulted in withdrawal, whereupon a full restoration commenced.

On 11/6/19 the North London Branch organised its inaugural Branch Supporters Afternoon. The contributors were Brian Plate, Alan Sturrock, John Curry with Ray and Tony Stratford. The presenters produced a range of photographs from their extensive travels.

Amongst the places visited were Llandudno, Peterborough, The Mid Hants and The Ecclesbourne Valley railways. Another place included was Welham Green where the timetable was about to change on the Great Northern and Thameslink, along with the introduction of cl. 717 EMUs. Another innovation for the afternoon was the utilisation of a live computer link in order to demonstrate to members the range of websites available on the internet.

Two websites were explored, the first being Realtime trains whereby the trains passing a given point (i.e. Alexander Palace) can be identified and in another part of the website access can be obtained to chart the progress of trains, very useful if you are waiting for a steam special to pass. This part of the presentation would have been better if the website was more compatible with the projector.

The other website featured was Brdatbase which is devoted to recording every locomotive used on British Railways from 1948 until Privatisation, no matter when they were built. The internet played a role in the final part of the afternoon whereby it was possible to download a file from a remote server with Alan Sturrock’s Industrial Locomotives presentation. We thank everybody who contributed to the afternoon and our Branch Supporters for their continuing interest in the branch.

 

North West

The Branch held its AGM on 11/4. All the usual business was conducted and the Committee re-elected. Following this, a minute's silence was observed in memory of Eddie Bellass, a stalwart of both the Branch and the Club for many years, who sadly passed away on 1/4, his 85th birthday.

The business concluded, three members then showed a selection of digital photos. Neville Bond commenced proceedings with a most appropriate tribute to Eddie in the form of a large collection of Eddie's fascinating pictures taken all around South Lancashire and Cheshire in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A wide range of BR locomotives were seen in a huge range of locations, many of which depicted closed lines, long lost stations, and vanished industrial backgrounds. Eddie had also turned his attention to some interesting old industrial locos and also, famously, to the output of the new diesel and electric engines then emerging from Vulcan Foundry, close to where he lived.

The industrial theme was continued by Geoff Monks who went on to show pictures of more local scenes at Bickershaw and Bold collieries and on the Walkden system. Further industrial scenes in the Manchester area followed before moving on to the North-East. Here, the gems at Morrison Busty colliery, the reputed 1863 Lewin at Seaham Harbour, and the remarkable crane tanks at Droxford's shipyard were all seen before coverage of the large NCB systems at Philadelphia and at Ashington.

Moving overseas, John Sloane then provided a complete contrast with a selection of views taken in the mid-1970s on the Western Railway of India between Bombay, Baroda, Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar. In addition to the usual standard classes on the broad and metre gauges, he showed a very wide range of other types on these gauges and also numerous narrow gauge classes. Hence the pictures showed various 4-6-0s on all three gauges, together with the likes of 0-6-2, 0-6-4T, 2-6-2T, 4-6-4T, 2-8-2 and 4-8-0 types and a splendid A3 replica on a children's park railway in Baroda. In Bombay we saw the Port Trust 2-6-0Ts at work, ex-American Army Bo-Bo diesels and the XA pacific which was the pilot at the Central Railway workshops. Unfortunately time ran out and Norman Matthews was thus prevented from giving his presentation, but that's something to look forward to in the future. This was an altogether absorbing evening enjoyed by a regrettably minimal attendance.

St Albans

On 12/9, the St Albans Branch commenced its new season with an presentation by Keith Gower on the planned 1930s Northern Line extension to Bushey Heath, near Watford. Mr Gower described the different tube lines that eventually became the Northern Line of London Transport, together with the 1930s Government New Works Programme, the starting point of the Bushey Heath scheme. A background was also given to the building of what eventually became the Aldenham Bus Factory, this having evolved from originally being a train depot, building on the capacity already available at the existing Golders Green facility. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Mr Gower for spotlighting a fascinating ‘might-have-been’.