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BRANCHES

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NEXT FIXTURES

DECEMBER


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

JANUARY

Tuesday 7th: Bedford Branch: Derbyshire’s Railways Revisited: Speaker: Richard Crane
Wednesday 8th: Dorking Branch: Turkish Delight: Speaker: Donald Wilson
Thursday 9th: St Albans Branch: Two New Railways for London: Speaker: Chris Green
Tuesday 14th: North London Branch: Welsh Highland Railway: Speaker: Stephen Jupp
Thursday 16th: North West Branch: BR Steam: The Last Ten Years: Speaker: Steve Leyland
Friday 17th: Central London Branch: Roaming around London with a Camera: Speaker: Geoff Brockett
Thursday 30th: Croydon Branch: The LCGB Baltic Tour of 2018: Speaker: Adrian Palmer

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

Bedford

On 5/11 the Branch welcomed Michael Clemens for the first time. Michael is the custodian, not only of his late father Jim Clemens’s photographic collection, but also those of some of Jim’s friends. From a very young age Michael was taken by his father on many SLS, LCGB and RCTS enthusiasts’ specials, covering much of the country in the process.

Fortunately for posterity, one of Jim’s friends kept a diary, which has proved invaluable in helping to identifying dates and locations up to half a century after the event. The territory covered in Michael’s presentation was described loosely as the East Midlands. Starting at the natural boundary of Hatton Bank in 1962 the virtual tour moved swiftly on via Fenny Compton to Banbury and the uncommon sight of a West Country acting as station pilot.

As it progressed it embraced such half –forgotten locations as Buckingham, Blisworth, Daventry, Towcester, Olney and Dunstable North. At Irchester the ironstone railways were encountered and, at Kettering, Cohen’s scrapyard. Main lines were by no means overlooked, with action at Stoke Bank and on the Great Central. Distinctive motive power shown included the two Buckingham single railcars, a Dukedog on part of a railtour and the diesel prototype 10800, captured at Brush in Loughborough. After tea there was a sequence of extracts from cine films, including footage of a Baby Deltic working!

The fuller house than usual clearly enjoyed the presentation. The Branch has already invited Michael to visit again.

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

On 28/10/19 we were magnificently entertained by John Beckett on his Mis-spent Years, which were from 1961 to the end of BR steam in 1968. John purchased his first colour slide film, together with a new camera, in Reading and proceeded to Basingstoke Shed where he took his first colour shot of a Southern Mogul at the coaling stage.

Steam on the Southern then featured prominently from the final months of activity in Kent with 6/1961 electrification imminent, through to splendid scenes in Devon and Cornwall with Beattie 0298 2-4-0WTs and T9 4-4-0s in regular use. WR types were covered also. Elsewhere, steam on the Tilbury line and the ECML at Hadley Wood and north of Peterborough were shown. Deltics and DP2 featured also, whilst industrial steam activity was not overlooked.

With the passing years and declining steam, the centre of gravity moved to Cambrian territory with BR Standard locomotives becoming prominent, leading finally to coverage of activity in the north-west, including specials and culminating with 70013 on the ‘Fifteen Guinea Farewell’ trip.

Interspersed with the British scene were visits to France, Germany, Italy, Jugoslavia, Spain and Portugal, featuring several gauges and locomotives ranging from Klose-type 0-6-2Ts on the JZ to Beyer-Garratts in Spain.

The regrettably small audience came away totally convinced that, as suspected, John had not mis-spent those years, but had worked hard to successfully produce a high quality photographic record of steam traction in normal use in scenic settings, and for this he was warmly thanked.

Central London

We welcomed Bryan Cross on 20/9 with More pictures from the Peter Bland Collection. Peter Bland died in 2009 leaving a large collection of transparencies which Bryan has meticulously researched and scanned into a digital presentation format. Nearly all the pictures shown dated from summer 1961 and included the last steam-hauled main line expresses on the Midland main line. An unidentified Jubilee at St Pancras with LMS coaches began the proceedings complemented by Black 5 44941 also seen at St Pancras. Royal Scot 46140 The Kings Royal Rifle Corps was recorded on the 9.25am to Leicester.

Several scenes were recorded at Harpenden where Peter lived. Thus 44816 was seen at Harpenden Junction followed by Patriot class 45522 Prestatyn passing Harpenden on a train to Bradford and then Jubilee 45590 Travancore on the 2.35 pm train from St Pancras to Sheffield. In London the now ubiquitous 60103 was recorded at King’s Cross along with fellow A3 60077 The White Knight.

One of your reviewer’s favourite pictures of the evening was that of an ex-Crosti 9F 2-10-0 92023 on a Nottingham to St Pancras service, presumably covering a last-minute diesel failure. Moving to the West Coast main line, now preserved Royal Scot 46115 Scots Guardsman was recorded passing Watford Junction on what was believed to be a Manchester-London service. This was followed by 46240 City of Coventry and 46124 London Scottish also on up services. Closer to Euston, the writer was intrigued to see a BR Standard cl. 2MT 2-6-2T arriving at Harrow and Wealdstone from the Belmont branch and Fairburn 2-6-4T 42097 passing on the 5.49 pm Broad Street-Tring service. 46205 Princess Victoria passing Kilburn on the Midday Scot service completed the WCML scene of 58 years ago.

There were also many industrial locomotives seen, such as a Shap Granite Co. Hunslet 0-6-0, a Beckton Gasworks Peckett of 1920, and an 1890 Nielsen crane tank with the crane built around the chimney. A 1959 RSH 0-6-0 photographed near Workington was scrapped by 1970. Bryan has clearly spent a great deal of time, resource and energy together with a great ability in creating this excellent presentation, for which the Branch gives many grateful thanks.

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.

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.

Robert Jackson’s talk to the Branch on 9/10, Schmal is Beautiful III, continued his series on the narrow gauge railways of the former East Germany. Having previously looked at the standardised railways of Saxony, Robert now turned his attention to the rest of East Germany which presented a much more eclectic mix of gauges and rolling stock. As in Saxony, the majority of the lines had closed by 1969 and those that remained after the reunification of Germany are now operated in independent ownership as tourist lines, Robert’s talk being based on visits to these lines in 2013 and 2018.

The two principal surviving lines are to be found on the Baltic coast, the first he described being the last remaining section of a once extensive 75cm network on the island of Rugen. This, known as the Rasende Roland, runs from Putbus, the main town in the south of the island, to the resort of Gohren, a total length of 25km. The principal motive power currently in use comprises a fleet of VIIK 2-10-2Ts, transferred from the Saxon lines in the 1980s.

On the mainland to the west is the 16km long Mollibahn, built to the unusual gauge of 90cm, running from Bad Doberan to the resort of Kuhlungsborn. The best known feature of this line is the street running section through the centre of Bad Doberan. Services on this line are generally hauled by three 2-8-2Ts built in 1932 plus a fourth built at Meiningen works as recently as 2009. In Brandenburg, north of Berlin, Robert visited the Prignitzer Kleinbahnmuseum, the preserved section of a once extensive 75cm system, now running for some 9km between Lindenberg and Mesendorf.

A number of other lines, all now closed, of 60cm, 75cm and 1m gauge, were briefly mentioned but time precluded coverage of the largest system of all, the 1m gauge Harz lines – a subject for a further talk? As before, Robert was thanked for a most interesting and detailed talk supported by numerous photographs.

North London

On 8/10 the latest Branch AGM took place. It was a very well attended event with only two or three of the regulars missing. Bob Stonehouse attended the meeting as a member of the LCGB Management Committee and as a regular Branch supporter. The official business was conducted in a friendly and constructive manner. The finance report was adopted without any major questions, the only comment came from our finance officer who mentioned the derisory interest payments received from the bank.

The existing committee comprising of John Curry, Ray Stratford, Alan Sturrock and Tony Stratford volunteered to serve on the committee for the coming year and were duly elected. Jim Pentney has been adopted as the independent accounts examiner. Bob Stonehouse gave an overview of the Branch situation from the Club perspective, commenting that the audiences we have may be modest, but the Branch is well organised and that we are getting it about right with the range of subjects being presented. One extra piece of news is that we have access to a new digital projector and if anybody wishes to see their work on the ‘big screen’, please come along.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with two brief presentations. The first was an official presentation about BR 6989 Wightwick Hall, a Modified Hall Class locomotive. Illustrating the progress from being rescued from Barry Scrapyard to the all-important steam pressure test. The presentation was well illustrated with lots of archive photographs and illustrations, supported by a well written text. Without going into too much detail the Branch appears to have adopted two locomotives, BR 34081 SR built Bulleid Pacific and BR 6989 GWR built Modified Hall class. Readers will note the usage of BR numbers for both locomotives, this is because both locomotives were completed in 1948 after Nationalisation day. Had the Bulleid been completed in 1947 it would have received a SR 21C number, whilst the GWR stubbornly continued with four-digit numbers refusing to adopt five-digit numbers. The locomotives are a tribute to the volunteers who dedicate themselves to the restoration movement.

The afternoon concluded with a selection of photographs from Bob Stonehouse. We visited two locations, India and the Isle of Man. Both sets of photographs revealed an interesting collection of shots with excellent views of the locations. It could be argued that with one location, apart from the road vehicles, you could be visiting the 1860s, and the other the 1960s. I will leave you to consider the alternatives. The committee and I would like to thank Bob Stonehouse and everybody who came to the meeting for their support on the day and throughout the year.

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.

 

North West

At the opening meeting of the new season on 24/10, the speaker was our own  Branch Chairman, John Sloane,  who recalled in digital format a 1973 tour under the title Steam Across South Africa. Starting at Pretoria John traced the first part of an extensive trip around Southern Africa and covered the section around the Transvaal then south to the Orange Free State and on to Cape Town. In 1973 the sight of the packed steam shed at Capital Park provided a most welcome tonic some five years on from the demise of steam on BR.

This was only the curtain raiser to much active steam at the depots at Springs, Witbank, Kaserne and Germiston where amongst the many loco types present was GL Garratt No 2352 which was subsequently repatriated and now resides in the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester.

The collieries and gold mines around Witbank and Johannesburg teemed with industrial systems and visits to a number of them produced yet more variety including numerous NB built tanks, an ex-SAR 16D class Pacific and a couple of ex-Rhodesian Garratts. The scene then moved south with haulage from Kroonstadt to Bloemfontein being a large cl. 23 4-8-2 in the charge of a friendly driver who was very amenable to granting cab rides. The following morning was spent line-siding on this very busy, totally steam worked route at the famous photographic positions at Karee and Glen.

Later a visit to the huge and busy shed in Bloemfontein provided the memorable sight of some 99 steam locos of 11 different classes together with just 5 diesels. Photos obtained from an elevated position conveyed the spectacular nature of the remarkable scene here.
 
 Moving west to Kimberley, a visit to Beaconsfield shed saw acquaintance made with the huge 4-8-4s of classes 25 and 25NC. The former are the legendary condensers designed for traversing the Karoo desert and some 19 of these highly impressive machines were on shed early that morning.

Later, the journey south to De Aar was on a lengthy train hauled by one of the non-condensing 4-8-4s. On arrival the first attraction was naturally the famous and amazing collection of historic locos assembled by the De Aar shedmaster, Mr Watson, and his venerable ‘pet’ 4-8-2s used for pilot duties. The highly active part of the shed hosted many more 4-8-4s with most of the 25NC variety carrying girls names whilst the extensive yards and station saw much condenser activity on both passenger and freight services. The final pictures illustrated the journey down the famous Hex River Pass and the approaches to Cape Town and further different locomotive types.

Thus ended an evening of nostalgia and huge variety (about 65 different classes) on what, at the time, were almost entirely steam operated sections of railway. The contrast to reports of the current virtually moribund nature of much of the system could not have been stronger. John was thanked for his excellent presentation and sharing this fascinating view of the past; we eagerly look forward to seeing Part 2 at some future date.

St Albans

The St Albans Branch welcomed Ray Schofield on 10/10 with a slide presentation entitled Named Trains of the Midland Main Line. Mr Schofield began by giving a potted history of the formation of the Midland Railway (MR) and the birth of London St Pancras. The MR was formed in 1844 as an amalgamation of three smaller companies: the Midland Counties, the North Midland and the Birmingham and Derby Junction railways.

Although obviously based in the Midlands, the MR had ambitions to reach London, a goal which was achieved in 1868, with the completion of the main line to London St Pancras. Eventually the MR grew to become one of the largest of the pre-grouping companies, with trains running to places as far apart as Bournemouth and Carlisle. Mr Schofield then looked at a cross-section of the named trains run over the MR system, these including the Thames-Clyde Express, the Waverley and the Pines Express.

The slides used were a cross-section of Mr Schofield’s own pictures in the heritage era, mixed with many historic images taken in MR/LMS/BR days. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Mr Schofield for an informative and entertaining evening.

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’.