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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.


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.


Tuesday 15th: Bedford Branch day out to Bletchley watching trains.

Friday 18th: Central London Branch ' Members Evening, Transparencies & Digital Images'



Once again John Downing entertained the Branch on 2/5, this time with his presentation 'All change at Cricklewood'. John grew up overlooking the Midland main line at West End sidings and although he did not take to spotting he soon developed an enduring interest in the railway and joined it as a cleaner after National Service. To set this in context he explained how loco depots at the London end of the Midland extension evolved between 1868 and the opening of Child's Hill shed, later Cricklewood, in 1903.

Drawing on his extensive collection of black and white images, John explained the extensive freight workings resourced from Cricklewood over the years. Much of the Midland's motive power was remarkably long-lived, some remaining in service for 80 years. With recruitment a problem for the railways in the 1950s, promotion could be rapid and so it was for John. He became a passed fireman within weeks and a registered fireman in four months. Later he became a clerk but after marriage he returned to the footplate.

Cricklewood was clearly a place that attracted characters and with nearly every photograph including workmates came a humorous anecdote. John's time on the railway was one of great change but his camera missed very little, even capturing a fleeting glimpse of a pair of Co-Bo's at St Pancras.

All too soon the evening ended. John's presentation clearly evoked many memories among those present. In thanking him Branch Chairman Bill Davies spoke for all when he expressed the hope that John would return to the Branch soon.

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


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.

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:

The branch welcomed Dennis Flood on 19/5 with ‘BR Western Region HST driver training in the 1980’s’. Dennis is a former BR Western Region Swindon HQ traction inspector and former chief traction inspector for Regional Railways South Wales and West. It was clear that Dennis is an expert in his field and we were treated to a very full, enthusiastic, detailed and technical description of how an HST works, interspersed with some amusing anecdotes.

The presentation was made up of actual training diagrams such as the layout of the power cars, the braking system, the cab layout, the electrical system, emergency couplings and external and internal descriptions of the Mk 3 coaches. The DSD, also known as the drivers safety device, in effect frequently checks that the driver is still alert.

The HST’s were originally built as two versions; the Cl. 253 with two power cars and 7 vehicles and Cl. 254 with 8 vehicles between the two power cars. The 253s were fitted with Westinghouse brake equipment and the 254s with that made by Davis and Metcalf. An HST working on only one power car may have difficulty restarting from a dead stand on a steep gradient such as the Lickey incline and when assistance is required the resulting consist is limited to 40mph when being hauled or 20mph when propelled. It takes about 2000 yards for an HST to come to a full stand from its maximum service speed of 125mph.

Dennis described the Campbell's soup test used to demonstrate the need for smooth braking. HSTs are still in front rank service forty years after their introduction and undoubtedly saved the day for Intercity travel on non-electrified British main line routes. The Branch very much appreciates Dennis travelling up from Newport (South Wales) to give us such a fascinating insight into this iconic train.

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!


On 27/4 and was a talk given by Stuart Dennison entitled ‘Railways of the Isle of Wight before 1966’ the interesting story of a small island with three separate companies. We thank the speaker for this return visit to the branch.

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 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.


On 10/5 Robert Jackson gave the second part of his talk on the ‘Narrow Gauge in Saxony’. After a summary of the general history covered in more detail in his first talk (Bulletin 10/16), Robert looked in detail at the lines in the scenic Erzgebirge area south of Dresden.

Foremost among these is the line from Cranzahl to Oberwiesenthal, the highest town in Germany. Privatised in 1998 as the ‘Fichtelbergbahn’, this line has always been primarily a passenger operation with heavy tourist traffic both summer and winter. The upper reaches of the line run right alongside the Czech border and enter Oberwiesenthal over an impressive steel viaduct.

Other lines in this area are the preservation operations on the remaining section of once longer lines which owed their survival to residual freight traffic. These are the ‘Pressnitztalbahn’ between Johstadt and Steinbach and the ‘Museumsbahn Schonheide’ from that town to Carlsfeld. Between Dresden and Leipzig is the Oschatz – Mugeln – Kemmlitz line particularly associated with the 1VK Meyer loco’s. Unlike the other lines, this owed its survival into the late 1990s to the traffic from a kaolin works at Kemmlitz. However, being outside a tourist area, its traffic potential is limited compared with the other lines.

The final line Robert showed is that at Zittau in the extreme south east of Saxony close to both the Czech and Polish borders. This is also busy with tourist traffic and was once famous for the parallel departure from Bertsdorf to the twin upper stations of Oybin and Jonsdorf. Robert was thanked for a most knowledgeable and interesting talk supported by may excellent photographs.

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 9/5 the branch welcomed the return of Chris Jones with ‘Steam in the Valleys’ a selection of photographs from Wales, up to and including the 1960’s. The photographs were part of Chris’s personal archive plus shots from published sources. Most photographs were monochrome interspersed with some colour shots. Each photograph was described in full and Chris was happy to respond to questions and comments from the audience.

The presentation was further illustrated with maps of the valley lines. Most of the lines illustrated have now ceased and therefore the material presented is of historical interest to many enthusiasts. Many of the photographs shown were of a personal nature of either of Chris as a young man or sometimes with family members. Overall it was an interesting look at the Welsh railway scene of the 1960’s and earlier through the lens of Chris Jones and others.

More material could have been shown but it was in the wrong format for our system. In the circumstances, Chris provided an interesting insight into the railways of Wales for which the Branch would like to thank him.

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

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.