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Monday 27th: Brighton Branch ‘Branch AGM’s and Photographic Competition’

Thursday 30th: Croydon Branch ‘Railway Preservation in the ex-Communist States’, Stephen Wiggs & John Jones tell what’s been happening in Eastern Europe.


Tuesday 5th: Bedford Branch ‘Engine Sheds Part 8’ Manchester to Perth by Chris Banks.

Tuesday 12th: North London Branch ‘Annual Quiz’ by Chris Appleby.

Wednesday 13th: Dorking Branch ‘AGM & Christmas Party’, member’s presentations.

Thursday 14th: North West Branch: ‘Web to Beames The Premier Line and its Locomotives 1899 – 1958’ by Neville Bond.

Thursday 14th: St Albans Branch ‘Steam from the Archives, Local & Rare’ by Frank Banfield , Film Historian.

Friday 15th: Central London Branch ‘China, The Last Great Steam Show on Earth’ videos by Nick Lera.

Monday 18th: Brighton Branch ‘Members Memories’

Tuesday 19th: Bedford Branch ‘Christmas Special’, seasonal mixture of food, films, photos and frustration.

Thursday 21st: Croydon Branch David Shingleton, who has agreed to come and give us a talk on the London Bridge Station Redevelopment, where he is Head of Quality, Assurance and Handback. Change of speaker


2nd January - A Tour Around the Railways of Wales
Chris Jones examines the traffic and topography which made these varied railways so special - coal to early potatoes, tanks to fish, slate to showgoers and milk to bananas, plus a few shaggy dog stories!

Tuesday 9th:
North London Branch ‘Vintage DVD’s’

Thursday 11th: St Albans Branch ‘Diaries of a Train Spotter’ images from the late Peter Bland’s collection by Bryan Cross.



Mike Fowler returned to the Branch on 3/10 with the latest version of his presentation on the ‘East Lincolnshire Railway’, nominally independent but worked by the Great Northern. After outlining its origins with the aid of excellent graphics, Mike described the route from Grimsby in the north to Boston in the south. Its initial purpose was to convey produce. Although passengers came later, there was never significant commuter traffic, though it offered better journey times to and from London than today’s railway can deliver. This and the profusion of level crossings made closure inevitable in the climate of the 1960s.

The line was only really busy on summer Saturdays when it dealt with holiday traffic to and from Skegness and other resorts. Most of the wayside stations went in 1961 but Mike’s comprehensive collection of photographs was put to good use illustrating those which remained, many with their distinctive colonnades. The effective hub of the line, Firsby, was particularly well covered and Mike recalled spending much of his youth there. By then most local passenger trains were worked by DMU’s with Britannia’s replacing B1s on the expresses.

After showing a DVD which he had compiled from several sources, Mike described the decline of the line, the clear determination of BR that it would be closed and his own modest part in the opposition to closure. Those present, for once attentive, thanked Mike enthusiastically for a top quality presentation and took note that he has prepared another in 2019, perhaps?

As usual, attendance at the Branch AGM on 17/10 was poor. Chairman Bill Davies thanked the Committee and those who help the Branch in other ways for their contributions. Peter Crossman stood down as Sales Officer but agreed to remain as Treasurer. As usual, the Committee was re-elected en bloc and hints that it would welcome new blood fell on deaf ears. With no hint of rushing the formal business was completed in 35 minutes.

Ray Schofield then took the floor to present an affectionate tribute to David Eatwell (1931 – 2015), recalling their many overseas photographic trips undertaken plus or minus wives. To describe David as a character is barely adequate: he was an eccentric with trenchant views often vehemently expressed and backed by an almost missionary zeal to get the shot at all costs and to the highest possible standard. The components of his expeditions included extreme driving, damage to cars and limbs, speeding fines, arrests and unbelievable powers of persuasion which enabled him to talk his way into the best viewpoints and out of so much trouble.

Wherever there was steam, David would go for it. When he happened upon it on the way to somewhere else, his wife seldom believed him. A selection of Ray’s own photographs was a fitting complement to the torrent of anecdotes about his travels with David which, unsurprisingly, prompted reminiscences from many of those present and, of course, enthusiastic applause. Ray deserves warm thanks for sharing with the Branch a tribute which was clearly a labour of love.

On 5/9 former Branch secretary Richard Crane, lately chief Bedford – Bletchley Rail User, presented his exploration of ‘The route of the Master Cutler’. This quickly turned out to be a user-friendly overview of the Great Central route from Sheffield to London, first shared with Richard’s evening class in Surbiton. Richard began by explaining the various incarnations of the Master Cutler, from prestige business train on the GC, through Pullman on the GN and finally to its several guises on the Midland.

He went on to present an illustrated guide to the route, its traffic and motive power starting at Sheffield Victoria and moving steadily south to Marylebone. Some of the photographs were taken by the speaker, the rest coming from a multiplicity of sources. Repeated copying and reformatting had done some of them no favours but they were more than sufficient to convey a clear impression of the 19th century’s final main line and the traffic which flowed over it.

The 1960s saw determined efforts with questionable justification to exterminate the line. Nonetheless, much remains visible with significant parts still in some sort of use. Marylebone station, once threatened with closure, is now thriving thanks to the enlightened management of Network SouthEast and Chiltern Railways. An attentive audience showed its warm appreciation, confirming the view of the Branch that it can always rely on this speaker for a good evening’s entertainment.


Our indoor meeting season re-opened on 25/9 with a visit from Ted Vaughan who presented ‘Das RhB - The Rhatische Bahn’. This Swiss railway is rather unique as it runs wholly within the canton of Graubunden with the exception of a short run over the border to Tirano in Italy.Ted commenced by giving the history of this line and then he went through the variety of rolling stock from inception up to the present day. To give an appreciation of the gradients involved Ted had charts to show the way that the RhB climbs over 1,800 feet in 8 miles over a 5 mile horizontal section.

He followed this up with slides showing how this was executed and resulted in him taking his views from some quite hair raising locations. Inevitably, snow had to feature in the show and Ted explained how the RhB deals with it followed up with slides illustrating his narrative. As one can imagine nice white snow and a clear blue sky produces fine shots but Ted had also taken shots in near white out conditions to illustrate the ploughs at work. This was a most interesting presentation, well illustrated and presented from firsthand knowledge with a lot of walking involved to get the shots.

Our final show on 26/6 before our summer break, was entitled The Mid Hants - Its history and operation, presented by Brian Dalton. Brian charted the fall and decline of the line from the arrival of the London and Southampton Railway in 1858, the opening of the Alton, Alresford and Winchester Railway in 1863, to closure in 1973. Traffic was never that prolific, being mainly rural in nature, and the abundance of watercress grown in the area giving the line its nickname.

The challenging gradients in the Medsted area earned the nickname of The Alps. Upon closure the Hampshire County Council paid to ensure the track wasn't lifted to enable the fledgling Mid Hants Railway to start up. Initially the 3 miles from Ropley to Alresford was operated. County council funding ceased in 1985 and the track was lifted. It took another 9 years to relay the whole 7 miles of track costing 1 million. By 2002 the debt was paid off and a period of painful acrimony was finally laid to rest.

Today's railway continues to prosper. It has a very good loco works facility, and Brian paid a great tribute to the many devoted volunteers who help to make the line what it is today. A good story well told.

On 24/4 John Borrowdale gave a talk on the ‘LMS Patriot Project’. The talk was a mixture of the history of the class and current new build project. We started off with the history of the class which originally started as a rebuild of Claughton 4-6-0's and were known as Patriot's from 1937 when the first was named. 52 were built of which 42 were named and we saw various slides from the 1950's and 60's of the class at work.

However, the Patriot was the only LMS 4-6-0 which was not preserved which has led to the new build. The new build was started in 2008 and is currently being constructed at Llangollen. It will be in the LMS crimson livery and will be called ‘The Unknown Warrior’ after being chosen by the public in a competition in Steam Railway magazine. It is hoped it will be ready to steam in 2018 and will eventually run on the main line.

John showed us a number of slides of the building project as it has progressed and we thank him for his interesting and informative talk.

Central London

The branch welcomed Bryan Cross on 15/9 with more ‘Pictures from the Peter Bland collection’. On this occasion all the pictures were in monochrome and dated from Peter's visits in 1950 and 1951. An interesting exception was a 1947 dated image of 46244 in black, lined in white, with British Railways on the tender. It led to some interesting discussion of the livery regarding its LMS or BR origin.

Most of the rest of the presentation featured Peter's tour of the Irish narrow gauge lines including a look at Strabane and also the Fintona horse tram. Some very ancient-looking steam locomotive designs were still active in 1951 but diesel railcars had already been introduced at that time.

The Irish standard gauge was also represented, including pictures taken at Belfast York Road shed including pictures of a familiar looking NCC 2--6-4T and the short-lived GN(I) 3 cylinder Mcintosh VS class 4-4-0 of 1948 akin to a Southern Schools class. Two very early diesel classes with one built by Harland and Wolff and not withdrawn until 1974 were also noted. The routes travelled on were shown on Peter's contemporary maps and which were cleverly animated by computer technology to indicate the direction of travel and locations appearing in the show.

Once more Bryan gave us an excellent presentation with a lucid and informed commentary and the Branch is grateful and appreciative of his efforts. The good news is he will return in September next year.

The branch held its AGM on 20/10 at its normal venue of Keen House near Kings Cross. A significant part of the discussion was the level of the requested voluntary contribution at each meeting in the light of the latest rent rise for the meeting room. To nobody's surprise the Committee werer re elected en bloc and most of the future programme was announced.

Once the formal proceedings were over Members Slides (there were no digital format offerings) produced pictures of the Club's recent trip to The Harz in Germany and South African steam in the 1970s and 80s. Thanks are due to those who attended this important meeting and to Clinton Shaw and the branch chairman for the subsequent entertainment.

Central London had a gratifyingly good attendance on 18/8 for ‘Members' Slides ‘ which included of course digital images. As expected, the content was varied and international. The presentations began with excellent video pictures, taken earlier this year, of the Harz metre gauge railway in Germany, with views of steam at Schierke and the Brocken summit station. Also shown were scenes taken in 2016 of a steam rail tour in Sri Lanka with the tender tank locomotive and fascinating scenes recorded from just behind the driver of a tram ride through the narrow streets of Lisbon.

Still images followed with scenes recorded at the Winnipeg Railway Museum in Canada and on the Sandstone Railway in South Africa. It was then guess the location and date of scenes recorded by the late Jim Simpson. Jim spent much of the 1980s and 90s photographing almost everything in steam on both heritage railways and the mainline. BR Cl. 4MT 75069 was surmised to be on a line in central Wales and Stanier Pacifics 6201 'Princess Elizabeth' and 46203 'Princess Margaret Rose' were observed in splendid action the Settle and Carlisle line.

The evening concluded with a look at Cl. 33s and Cl.50s on the Waterloo to Exeter main line in 1991, a 1994 winter Plandampf in former East Germany, main line steam at the 2010 Dordrecht steam festival and V2 'Green Arrow' in action in 1987 on the Marylebone main line. Grateful thanks go to Chris Capewell, Brian Garvin, Rob Mearman and the branch Chairman for their contributions to a successful and enjoyable evening


The last meeting before the summer break took place on 29/6 when Mike Peascod gave a well prepared digital based talk on the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway entitled ‘Rails through Lakeland’. Mr Peascod is a trustee and the publications manager of the Cumbrian Railways Association a group of some 450 members devoted to study of the railways in the Lakeland area. Little remains now in the area apart from the coast line from Carlisle to Barrow but the speaker showed numerous photographs of the area when it was alive with railways carrying lucrative mineral traffic.

The demise of the CK&P was described where Keswick lost "The Lakes Express" and its impressive station. The speaker handed out a well drawn map - a great help to those who were unfamiliar with the area. The branch enjoyed a well presented historical talk so we thank Mr Peascod for his story and wish his Association prosperity.

On 25/5 the branch enjoyed a talk by the Andy Savage, Executive Director of the ‘Railway Heritage Trust’ on the work of the trust. A body set up to ensure "our railway heritage is properly retained and preserved for future generations". The activities of the trust are well described on their Website so will not be detailed here. Mr Savage gave an appraisal of the objectives and achievements of the organisation as seen by a career railway civil engineer who was a Fellow of the ICE and had been President of the PWI, (amongst other achievements), so there was little he didn't know about BR, its history and inheritance.

The speaker's slides illustrated the Trust's various achievements and projects and gave the audience some very interesting insights into why and how the many restorations were undertaken. An excellent and informative address slanted towards the essence of the railway, the engineering, so many thanks to Andy Savage for his visit.

Also at this meeting a short EGM concluded formal business left over from the AGM


The Branch met on 13/9 for a talk from Stuart Dennison on the ‘London, Brighton & South Coast Railway’ Stuart’s account started with the opening in 1839 of the London & Croydon Railway, the subject of an unsuccessful experiment with atmospheric traction. With the formation of the London & Brighton Railway, the main line to Brighton was completed in 1841. This was followed by 1846 by lines to Chichester and Hastings when the L&C and L&B were amalgamated to form the LB&SCR. Branches to Epsom, Horsham, Newhaven, Hailsham and Eastbourne were added by the end of the 1840s.

Between 1859 and 1869 more lines were built in South London and Sussex until a banking collapse halted further construction and nearly brought about the end of the Company. Recovery saw the final lines in Surrey and Sussex completed in the 1880s. An unfortunate legacy of the early days was a Government requirement for the line to Reigate Junction (now Redhill) to be shared with the South Eastern Railway to Dover. The resulting congestion and delays were not overcome until the construction of the ‘Quarry’ line avoiding Redhill in 1900. As well as the history, Stuart looked at motive power, contrasting the individual approach of John Craven to the standardisation under William Stroudley.

Other topics covered were the steamer services to France, electrification in South London to meet tram and bus competition and the experiences of the travelling passenger. Stuart’s talk was illustrated with a wide selection of contemporary documents and pictures and he was warmly thanked by his audience for a very interesting and informative presentation.

Regular visitor and expert on all things French, Mike Bunn, gave a talk to the Branch on 11/10 on the ‘Railway History of Paris’ The first railways opened in the 1830’s with the building of lines linking the mediaeval city to tourist attractions to the south and west. Main lines then gradually reached out to cities such as Rouen and Le Havre to the north west, Lille to the north east and Orleans to the south west, eventually connecting Paris to all parts of France. As with London, these lines had separate terminus stations around the city centre although, unlike London, an orbital railway, the ‘Petite Ceinture’, was built by 1869 to join up these lines.

Mike went on to describe the development of the Metro system which, again like London, saw the first lines constructed on the ‘cut-and-cover’ system following the streets with later lines built in tunnel. The first lines were built with ‘dumb-bell’ turning loops at each end but these were by-passed by later extensions which by 1910 had reached the outskirts if the city, leading to the eventual demise of the ‘Petite Ceinture’

More recent developments have seen the construction of a regional network connecting new towns and business centres with the city centre by a mixture of existing lines and new central links, as well as a number of new tramways. Mike illustrated his talk with a wide range of excellent pictures, both old and new, of stations, lines and rolling stock, including the iconic pneumatic tyred stock on the Metro, and was thanked for a very interesting and informative presentation.

North London

North London: welcomed the return of Chris Green on 12/9 whose presentation was based around his book, ‘The Inter City Story 1964-2012’. His talk commenced with a reference to Dr Beeching’s vision for the then future of the railways. The principle being to develop a network of high speed railways which could compete with the emerging motorways and airlines. The Beeching report first used the term “Inter City” to describe fast mainline services. The Western region used the term intercity on some of its long distance services.

In 1966 the long awaited electric service commenced between London Euston, Liverpool and Manchester. Along with the speed of the service it was recognised that improvements to rolling stock were required in terms of passenger comfort. The British Rail Board decided to promote Inter City as brand making use of the famous double arrow logo. During the period 1965 to 1995, the electrified network grew with the extension of the East and West Coast Mainline. Improvements continued with new coaching stock, and the introduction of HS 125’s on the Great Western and other appropriate routes. It is only a snapshot of the changes made for a detailed look at this period I suggest you read Chris Green’s book.

The year 1995 is a significant date because this is the year our speaker became the Managing Director of Inter City. His original task was to drive improvements to achieve customer satisfaction. Soon after his appointment the Tory Government announced that they intended to franchise railway operation to private companies except for the infrastructure which became known as Railtrack.

It fell to Chris to prepare routes for privatisation. He explained the reason for privatisation, there was a need for major investment in rolling stock which the Government could not afford. Further they considered no single organisation could achieve this goal alone either. Chris set about the task by appointing route directors. Their task was to improve the standards on their routes and to make rail travel more attractive to a wider public. Chris and his team realised these objectives and in the process made a profit.

After a period, away from mainline operations he joined Virgin as Chief Executive director where he oversaw the introduction Classes 390 Pendolino,220 Voyager and221 Super voyager trains. Chris then moved on to talk about IEP and Bimode trains which will eventually replace HS125’s on routes which are not considered for electrification. He mentioned HS2 the advantages of the implementation of the schemes. When asked about the decision to abandon Railtrack in favour of Network Rail, he said that he was in agreement.

The second part of the afternoon was taken up with a lively question and answer session which was equally interesting. I would like to sum up the afternoon by reporting that it was one of those meetings where I felt privileged to be able to attend. The Branch thanks Chris for an enjoyable and stimulating event.

Branch Visit to Kent and East Sussex Railway 11th July 2017.
The meeting point for the tour was at St Pancras International to catch the 09:37 to Ashford International, which left on time. The next stage involved a 45-minute bus ride to Tenterden Town Station some 300 yards from the bus stop. It should be noted that the walk involves crossing a relatively busy road and there is no pedestrian crossing nearby.

The departure for Bodiam was at 1.15 pm to be hauled by GWR 1638. Immediately prior to departure myself and other members of the group were treated to a shunting display whereby our locomotive moved a rake of coaches between parallel tracks before joining our train. The coaches were of the Metropolitan Line style including, Metropolitan first-class coach number 353. The operation was reminiscent of a time when carriages or goods vans could be added to trains at the end of many branch lines. The train called at Rolvenden, Wittersham Road, Northiam and Bodiam.

The line meanders through the Kent and East Sussex countryside allowing passengers to experience the feeling of being involved in a country branch line which of course they are. The return was made on DMU Class 108 M50971 with E51571, even this was unique because as in the past you can look over the driver’s shoulder and see the train being driven. The most striking feature for me was to see the exchange of tokens, how often do you see the physical handover on heritage lines? The main workshop at Rolvenden has plenty of locomotives on display as you pass by. At Bodiam the Edith Cavell Coach is displayed and the National Trust owned property Bodiam Castle is nearby the station and is open to visitors.

The KESR museum is located at Tenterden Town Station. The motive power in use on the day, Swindon Built Class 16XX 0-6-0 PT 1638 introduced in 1951 designed by F W Hawksworth and s two car DMU Class 108 formed with DBMS M50971 and DMC E51571. My overall impression of the day is that it was a chance to experience the charm of a branch line approaching the 1960’s. If you have not travelled on the KESR I suggest you put it on your “to do” list, as you could be missing out on something that is quite special.

North West

The Branch AGM was held on 27/4 following which four members showed a wide selection of digital photographs from the UK and overseas.

Neville Bond started with a range of scenes from 2006 covering England, Wales and Scotland illustrating many liveries which are now only history and in the process included many wry and amusing captions. Moving abroad we saw various RENFE locomotive and multiple unit scenes in the areas around Seville and Cordoba in southern Spain.

Geoff Monks then revived memories of main line steam excursions of the 1970's and 1980's with nostalgic pictures of many engines which no longer work on BR including ‘Cookham Manor’, ‘Burton Agnes Hall’, ‘Evening Star’ and ‘Hardwick’. Amongst the numerous memorable scenic views were shots of the Midland Compound and ‘Leander’ in West Cumbria and ‘Duchess of Hamilton’ on specials at Marsden and Blea Moor.

Moving abroad again, Norman Mathews recalled the October 2016 IGE tour around the Alps which had involved no less than 16 different steam locomotives and five countries. Notable types included both rebuilt and original German 01's, the Swiss based 141R, Italian 685 196 and 625 100 and the former JZ class 25 now numbered as FS 728 022. In Slovenia the Ljubljana Railway museum was visited and in Austria various OBB and DR types were used including ex Romanian locos now numbered as class 38 and 657. Perhaps the most remarkable part was the transit of the Gotthard behind 01 202.

John Sloane then showed a selection of international shed scenes starting with then and now shots at Oberhausen, Osterfeld Sud shed and progressing to Hamilton in New Zealand, Cuba, southern India, South Africa, Chile, Poland and Goa covering a wide variety of types in the process. He then finished with some recent scenic shots of mainly loco hauled services, both freight and passenger, in the Perpignan, Cerbere and Port Bou areas of France and Spain.

On 23/3 the Branch received a reminder of what it was like to experience big steam when Geoff Coward came to give his digital show entitled "Chinese Steam in the 21st Century". This recorded a tour by a small party in late 2002 and consisted of still pictures in the first part and sound/movie in the second. Starting with an introduction to the main classes seen working, QJ, SY, JS and C2,

Geoff then moved on to the locations visited where steam was still active. Chengdu saw only a solitary JS in steam but saw SY's pounding up stiff grades with heavy trains of up to 1800 tons. At Anshan, the largest steelworks in China, some 14 SY's were very active in the dramatic surroundings of the blast furnaces.

The coal mining system at Tiefa saw some atmospheric sunrise scenes together with more SY's on freight and the substantial passenger services. Out of steam awaiting repair was SY 1772 built at Tangshan in October 1999 and hence this was the Chinese equivalent of our "Evening Star".Dramatic scenes then followed on the Ji-Tong line between Tongliao, Daban and Jing Peng before the tour returned to Beijing to visit the National Railway Museum where a host of classes are displayed. Those seen included a KD7, a PL, an SL pacific, a GJ tank, the Chairman Moa JS and a loco in an amazing bright red livery.

The final still shots were at the short Dahuichang Limestone line where a couple of C2 0-8-0's were illustrated one of which was No4 which now resides at Boston Lodge for modification to fit the Ffestiniog loading gauge. Following the break Geoff showed some spectacular sound and movie footage of the Tiefa system and of QJ's attacking the long and heavy grades on either side of Jing Peng pass. The icy winter conditions, billowing exhausts and incredible soundtrack completed the drama and atmosphere of a splendid evening for which Geoff was duly thanked.

St Albans

St Albans Branch: were able to welcome a distinguished visitor to open their 2015/6 season when Chris Green, the former MD of Network SouthEast, gave a presentation on 10.9 entitled 'The InterCity Story', based on the book of the same name. Mr Green's presentation was divided into four parts, namely the roots of using InterCity as a brand name (1960-1982), Sectorisation (1982-1994), Privatisation (1994-Present) and Conclusions. Mr Green said that in the early days, much emphasis was placed on raising the average speed of the passenger trains involved, a process which was aided by the introduction of new technology, in particular the High Speed Train fleet and main line electrification.

At the time of writing, frequency of service is the main selling point, with a miscellany of timetabled services being seen on all major trunk routes. Mr Green followed his talk by a question and answer session, during which time many topics, including HS2, were aired. The St Albans Branch would like to thank Mr Green for a lively and thought provoking evening's entertainment.