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BRANCHES

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Thursday 27th: North West Branch Meeting
‘AGM then Members & Visitors Slides & Digital Photos’.

Thursday 27th: Croydon Branch Meeting ‘Railways of the Isle of Wight, before 1966’ by Stuart Dennison.

MAY

Tuesday 2nd: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘ All Change at Cricklewood’ behind the scenes in Midland Railway days by John Downing.

Tuesday 9th: North London Branch Meeting ‘ How Steam was my Valley part 2’ by Chris Jones.

Wednesday 10th: Dorking Branch Meeting ’ Narrow Gauge in Saxony Part 2’ by Robert Jackson.

Thursday 11th: St Albans Branch Meeting ‘AGM followed by The Work of the Railway Heritage Trust’ by Andy Savage, Executive Director RHT.

Friday May 19th: Central London Branch Meeting ‘British Railways Western Region HST driver training in the 1980s’ by Dennis Flood.

Monday May 22nd: Brighton Branch Meeting ‘ BR, the last 35 years’ by Colin Burnham.

Thursday 25th: Croydon Branch Meeting ‘The Work of the Railway Heritage Trust’ by Andy Savage , Executive Director RHT.

JUNE

Tuesday 6th: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘South of the Border – Black & White Steam in the 50s and 60s’ scenes in England & Wales by David Kelso.

Tuesday 13th: North London Branch Meeting ‘Members afternoon. Wednesday 14th: Dorking Branch Meeting ‘Southern Region – Shed – Shed’ by Ray Schofield.

Friday 16th: Central London Branch
‘BR not quite Modern Image’ first generation diesels,electrics & infrastructure by Peter Robins.

Monday 26th: Brighton Branch Meeting ‘The Mid-Hants – its history & operation’ by Brian Dalton.

Thursday 29th: Croydon Branch Meeting
‘Rails through Lakeland: The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway’ one of England’s most scenic lines by Mike Peascod.

JULY

Tuesday 4th: Bedford Branch Meeting ‘Much mardling around on the M&GN’, exploring with railway with colour slides taken between 1936 & 1980 by Chris Youett.

Tuesday 11th: Outdoor visit by North London Branch all welcolme, to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Meet at St Pancras International at South East platforms at 1030 travel to Ashford International & by bus to Tenderden. Details from Ray Stratford.

Wednesday 12th: Dorking Branch Meeting ‘ London Bridge redevelopment’ by Costain Construction Ltd.

Friday 21st: Central London Branch Meeting ‘Aspects of a footplate career in the London area’ by Bill Davies. A presentation postponed from last year.

NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

BEDFORD

Robin Cullup made a swift return to the Branch on 4/4. This time his topic was an updated survey of the ‘GNR/LNWR Joint line’ between Market Harborough, Newark and Nottingham, amounting to some 70 miles in all. The line was promoted to carry iron and coal amid opposition from other railways and influential landowners, the latter being placated by substantial royalties. It was authorised by Parliament at the second attempt in 1873 and run by a joint committee whose Minute Books have proved to be a goldmine of information for all matters from the wages of staff to the apportionment of running costs and revenue.

It was clear from Robin’s remarkable analysis that the LNWR had very much the upper hand. The line had its fair share of stations in the middle of nowhere. Unsurprisingly, passenger traffic was always light and had all but ceased by 1953. Freight peaked around 1916 and went into a slow and steady decline thereafter. From his comprehensive collection of photographs, garnered from an incredibly wide range of sources, Robin showed the route, its structures and its traffic from south to north.

Amid the flow of minerals came the passenger traffic to and from Leicester Belgrave Road, heavy at holiday time when Leicester decamped en masse to Skegness and Mablethorpe but feather-light for the rest of the year. Other oddities included the way of taking milk from John O’Gaunt and the use of Super Ds to haul workmen. This was a presentation as comprehensive as it was fascinating and the Branch thanks Robin for another first-class evening.

The inter-club quiz, a long-standing fixture, was held on 18/4. Neither visiting team was at full strength.
The contingent from LCGB St Albans comprised one member, augmented by two from the home fleet, and RCTS Northampton competed a man short. Once again Bill Davies presented the quiz which was compiled jointly by him and Bryan Cross. Two fringe teams also took part. The questions were compiled with some care, embracing a remarkably wide range of subjects, some more fiendish than others and testing severely the knowledge and guessing power of those taking part.

Northampton A took an early lead and despite a final spurt Bedford A were unable to overtake. The final scores were: Bedford A 107, Bedford B 88, Northampton A 111, Northampton B 55, St Albans 93. Northampton retained the Ashes and were awarded the Fred Cockman Trophy which had been feared lost. The two fringe teams clocked up 60 (Tea Urns) and 93 (Easter Bunnies) and it can be only a matter of time before their members are dragooned into the official teams. In future the contest will be held only once a year. It is hoped that this decision will keep it alive a little longer

Brighton

Mike Hudson presented ‘The Ken Nunn Collection’ for our 27/3 meeting. Ken was a prolific photographer, using glass plates, and travelled extensively from around 1900 to the 1960's. His collection includes the work of 4 other photographers and is held by the LCGB. Mike took us on a tour around Britain starting on the London, Tilbury and Southend. We then travelled via a variety of mainly pre-grouping railways through East Anglia, East Coast mainline, the North East, up into Scotland, back through Carlisle, Liverpool, Manchester, down through Wales before terminating at Cardiff.

Although often forgotten some minor railways and industrials were included. Mike had done a huge amount of research and was able to give quite detailed explanations of each locomotive which was a great help to those who had no knowledge of many ancient classes. Mike didn't rush through the programme which enabled us to take in the finer points of the locomotives and to enjoy scenes of years ago. We were also able to admire the work of the photographer and appreciate his legacy. This was a rather splendid evening and we look forward to Mike returning to continue the journey. Highly recommended

Central London:

Welcomed Chris Haydn Jones on 17/3 with ‘How Steam was my valley Part 2’. The evening very nearly came to an abrupt end because the anticipated digital projector was not available and the MRC's new projector could not open the Power Point presentations! However, the natives of South Wales are made of sterner stuff and Chris rose to the occasion magnificently.

He held the audience for nearly two hours with a verbal, lucid and clear presentation of stories, anecdotes and welsh railway history made all the more noteworthy because of the correctly pronounced welsh place names. The Branch gives grateful thanks to Chris for an excellent evening and overcoming the situation so well. The good news is he has agreed to return to CLB in September 2017 when we will see the pictures!

Croydon

The branch AGM was held on 30/3 which gave a satisfactory report on the regular evening meetings at the United Reformed Church. The committee members were re-elected without change except that the Chairman, Mike Hudson did not seek a further term as he had been in post for many years and in the last year the labour disputes on the Brighton line have seriously disrupted his journey from Bognor Regis.

The meeting thanked "Hud" for his hard work and contribution to the prosperity of the branch. Reports from the officers were all accepted by the members and thanks given.Three members showed slides to conclude the meeting, which were as relaxing and entertaining as ever.

Dorking

In a late change of speaker, but not of subject, on 8/3, Robin Small from the HS2 Finance and Funding Directorate of the Department for Transport gave the Branch a presentation on ‘High Speed 2’, the new line from London to the North of England. Robin explained that the project required both the grant by Parliament of the legal powers to construct the line and the establishment of a business case to justify the expenditure. The line is seen as a strategic transport investment and the business case is based not only on reduced journey times but also on increased capacity and enhanced connectivity between eight of the major cities in the UK.

The first steps in the parliamentary process were taken in 2009 and Phase 1 (London to the West Midlands) received Royal Assent on 23rd February 2017. A Bill for Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe to provide early benefits for the North of England) is expected to be deposited later in 2017 with Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds) to follow.

With Royal Assent, preliminary works will start in 2017, with the main civil engineering works, including tunnels under London and the Chilterns, commencing in 2019. Main construction is planned to finish in 2024 followed by testing and opening to service in 2026. Phase 2a is planned to start in 2020, with service opening in 2027 with Phase 2b completing the full scheme in 2033. The initial service will be operated as a joint franchise with the West Coast Route titled the ‘West Coast Partnership’ due to be let in 2018. HS2 will be built to a continental loading gauge and will be for passenger traffic only.

Two designs of rolling stock will be employed, ‘classic compatible’ which can leave the high speed line to provide linking services over the conventional network and ‘captive’ built to the larger loading gauge and restricted to HS2 lines. Initial services will be provided by the classic compatible units to provide maximum connectivity at the earliest opportunity. Robin was thanked by his audience for a most thorough and detailed explanation of this complex project.

On 12/4 Roger Fagg gave a talk to the Branch on the past history and current operations of the ‘Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway’. The line was opened as the independent Watlington & Princes Risborough Railway in 1872 but was financially unsuccessful and was bought by the Great Western Railway in 1883.

The mainly agricultural traffic was supplemented by a lime works opened at Chinnor in 1908 which subsequently grew into a major cement factory. Falling traffic led to closure to passengers in 1957 but traffic to the cement works ensured retention of the line as far as Chinnor until 1989. The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway Association was formed in the same year to re-open the line which was achieved over the short distance to Wainhill Halt in 1994.

Subsequent extensions have taken the line to a run-round loop at Thame Junction just outside Princes Risborough and work is currently underway to rebuild the bay platform to provide direct interchange with Chiltern Railways trains. A major earlier task was to rebuild Chinnor Station which had been demolished in 1972 and this was completed in 2002. Another current major project is providing the railway with its first covered maintenance shed. A contribution from the housing developer of the former cement works, which finally closed in 1999, has also enabled construction of a large car park and new access to the station. Rolling stock in use on the line includes a Class 17 ‘Clayton’, Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’, 3-CEP 1198 and, for 2017, visiting 0-6-0PT 6412.

As a long time volunteer and former chairman, Roger spoke from first-hand knowledge and was warmly thanked for his talk.

North London

On the 14/2 the Branch Committee presented a ‘Video afternoon’ with a vintage theme. Beginning the afternoon was a sequence of DVD s showing events at the beginning of the 20th century when early cine films were taken of arrivals and departures at stations in Europe and the UK. It was fascinating to see the locomotives and rolling stock of the period as well as the style of clothing worn by the passengers. As cameras and film improved the enthusiasts became more ambitious and filmed short stories.

The second part of the programme continued with sequences allegedly filmed on trains where the actors played out melodramas of the period although there was plenty of locomotive action as well. We closed the first half with a short Australian sequence in which LCGB member Dave Rollins was on the footplate of 4472 Flying Scotsman. We also viewed a sequence of Ken Nunn photographs compiled by Tony Stratford showing some lesser known views of very early locomotives.

The second half opened with videos brought in by Jim Pentney, which first featured the Isle of Wight railways in the 1950/1960’s before electrification. Depicted were the island railway operation including the stations at Ryde and Ventnor, the depot at Ryde St Johns Road and how the lines were signalled. The locomotives were also shown at work. As they had been transferred from other parts of the Southern network the locomotives were of considerable age when performing their island duties. We also had the opportunity of viewing operations on the Bluebell Railway in the early days when it was still joined to the Southern Region via Ardingly. At that time the trains were top and tailed the locomotives being of similar vintage to those on the Isle of Wight. A successful afternoon which those present appreciated.


The branch welcomed back Dave Cockle on 14/3 for the third in a series of talks about the evolution of road and rail borne transport in his local area ‘Enfield Transport Part 3’. His starting point was the introduction of trams to the area in 1881.

The trams were horse drawn with rails supported on wood. The trams were upgraded to steam and surprisingly they had to be replaced by horse drawn trams for a temporary period because heavy steel wheels damaged the tramway. It was a temporary fix until the problems with the rails in the roadway were resolved. A power station was built in Brimsdown 1904 to supply street lighting, a future tram system and eventually homes. The introduction of electrically powered trams took place in 1905. The original company was Met Trams and running from Enfield, Trams reached Finsbury Park, Enfield Wash, Waltham Cross and Ponders End.

The second phase of the talk concerned the trolley buses that eventually replaced trams in 1933, noting that Trolley buses based in Enfield also served Wood Green our spiritual home. Trolley buses in Enfield were eventually replaced in 1939. The final part of the talk was taken up by description of the section of the Piccadilly line which passes through what is now the London Borough of Enfield.

He gave a very detailed description of the line. David paid tribute to the Architect Charles Holden and his work on the stations and the general layout of the eastern end of the Piccadilly Line. He noted in detail, the design and architectural features of the stations. David produced a lot of source material from local journalist David Ballantyne who reported in detail about the construction of the line and stations. The first train on the eastern section ran in 1932.He also commented on the housing developments that took place in conjunction with the development of the line. The afternoon concluded with a very lively discussion of local transport. We would like to thank David for what proved to be a concise yet fascinating look at the development of a sophisticated transport system.


On 1/4 Matthew Hills presented ‘Running steam specials and the locomotives’.Mathew is a member of the Kent and East Sussex Railway and regular crew member on main line steam operations, gave an overview of the logistics involved in operating steam specials. His talk commenced with an outline of the type of tours undertaken, distinguishing between normal routes for instance London to Norwich and specialist tours over which are sometimes called forgotten tracks.

He moved on to providing a guide to several companies who organise the services. He explained the costs of providing the tours, the average prices for the passengers and the potential income for the operators. He also pointed out the penalties that could be faced by operators in the event of locomotive failure. Perhaps the most interesting part of the first half was his discussion on catering facilities. Mathew highlighted the desire of the companies to provide restaurant quality food on wheels. The rewards of which can result in a healthy income for the companies concerned whilst enabling future tours to go ahead.

The second part of the talk looked at the locomotives and the destinations. He showed many excellent pictures of steam locomotives and their destinations including the Bluebell Railway. Amongst the locomotives illustrated were, ‘Tornado’, ‘The Sherwood Forrester’, ‘Leander’ and ‘Princess Elizabeth’. Mathew clearly illustrated that the Steam Railway in Britain is alive and well in the UK thanks to the enterprise of the operators, the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the enthusiasm for steam haulage The Branch extends its thanks to Mathew Hill for an interesting talk.

North West

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.