Meeting Reports

Tuesday 14th March 2017
A 6th ColourRail Journey
Paul Chancellor

Our presenter for our March meeting was Paul Chancellor who treated us to the sixth version of " A Colour Rail journey ".
Paul began the evening by explaining the reasons for moving out of the slide market and into digital image sales. We were then shown what it was possible to do to enhance what initially looked like a badly deteriorated colour slide into a very acceptable image. Advice on how best to store any slides and negatives was given together with a discussion on the merits of the different brands of film. For the digitally minded among us, the importance of backing up our images to make sure they could still be accessed as technology moved on was stressed.
The show proper began with scenes from around Cardiff, before moving around the country to various locations such as Peterborough, Birmingham and Edinburgh. At these places we were treated to the sight of many different classes of steam and diesel locomotives through the years to almost the modern day. Some of the images featured locos rarely seen working whilst other images were not of the best quality but Paul included them for their rarity value. Among the selection were some truly beautiful shots captured by Trevor Owen.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable show which stirred the memories of several of those present and they were able to give Paul information about some of the trains featured. We went home happy having been treated to the sight of such a wide variety of motive power.

Tuesday 14th February 2017
Diary of a Trainspotter (Part 1)
Bryan Cross

Our speaker for February was Bryan Cross who gave us a digital presentation of black and white photographs scanned from the collection of the late Peter Bland.
Bryan began by telling us about Peter and his love of railways, particularly industrial railways and how he acquired a Kerr Stuart 0-4-0 ST which can now be seen on the Leighton Buzzard Railway. Peter was very much involved at the start of the railway in the late 1960s.
Following the introduction, we saw many different scenes of Swindon works in the late 1940s which showed numerous classes of steam locomotives, some in pre-nationalisation guise and some newer locomotives. It was a vastly different scene to what exists on the site today.
A visit to the Isle of Wight took us to some of the now closed railway outposts such as Ventnor.
Around London, we saw locomotives at Stratford and a classic scene at St. Pancras with a double-headed express awaiting departure.
In July 1950, Peter undertook a week-long tour of Scotland where he visited most parts including Wick & Thurso, Fort William, Kyle & Oban and we were treated to views of many Scottish steam classes in some wonderful locations and heard the story of the theft of chocolate bars at Ardrossan Town station.
A trip to Ireland in 1951 took us around several closed routes on a rail tour and we saw two vintage rail buses.
Industrial sites featured with scenes around the Port of London Authority lines and the 60+ miles of lines within Beckton Gas Works. Many classes of small industrial locomotives were seen. At Corby, the internal railway of Stewart and Lloyd's iron works was home to many locos and a number were seen working as well as a line up of scrap locos which were probably cut up and recycled on site.
It was an altogether fascinating look at the railways in the British Isles 60 to 70 years ago and our thanks must go to Bryan for his work in preparing the presentation.

Tuesday 10th January 2017
"Bringing Back the Brighton Belle"
Neil Marshall

Our first meeting of the year was the fascinating story of returning the Brighton Belle to the mainline. An excellent PowerPoint presentation was delivered by Nell Marshall, a Trustee of the 5BEL Trust in a most informative and enjoyable manner.
The start of the presentation gave us the history of the route and views of the stations and structures along the route, together with pictures and video clips of the Brighton Belle in service. We learnt of its occasional role as a Royal Train and saw numerous press cuttings showing some of the famous clientele such as Lord Olivier and Jimmy Edwards. The story of the uproar that occurred when BR withdrew kippers from the breakfast menu caused much amusement among the guests.
The Brighton Belle was built in 1932 as the only all-Pullman electric train and there were three five car sets of which any two of the sets were used daily. The Belle continued in service until 1972 and the individual cars were sold off and several were at pubs around the country in use as dining rooms.
In June 2009, the restoration project was launched at the NRM. It was six years before the Trust had acquired enough cars for a complete set, but extracting them from their locations presented unique problems as Neil's pictures showed. Some of the cars were so dilapidated that they have needed almost totally rebuilding by professional railway engineers and many innovative solutions have been devised to make the train fit for a 21st century railway.
The interiors have been lovingly restored to their Art Deco glory with new matching veneers and seat fabric woven by the original supplier. Neil showed us many pictures of the work that has been done and told us what an expensive labour of love it has been to bring such an iconic train back to life. He hoped that it would be back on the mainline early next year.

This was a wonderful presentation professionally delivered and a lovely start to 2017.

Tuesday 13th December 2016
Annual General Meeting

Our evening began with our AGM. This took the usual form with reports from the chairman, secretary, treasurer and sales officer. We heard the reasons for our venue change and an update on the meetings programme. The existing committee were re-elected en-bloc. There being no issues raised, the chairman closed the meeting and we proceeded with the evening’s entertainment.

Once again, Trevor Davis provided us with a slideshow, this time from the collection of the late John Toulson. The slides from around the UK in the 1960s showed railtours run by various societies at many obscure locations, usually with steam motive power and sometimes only a train of brake-vans. At that time, John seemed to have been gone on a trip every week with some really good views of all the different steam classes that were running.
After a break for festive fare of mince pies and sausage rolls, our secretary showed a selection of digital pictures of steam and modern day traction taken since 2006 in England, Scotland & Wales.
The evening was rounded off by Keith Crossley who showed a selection of digital images of industrial locomotives and some nice scenes from Quainton Road.
It was a nice way to round off the year.

Tuesday 11th October 2016
On the route of the Midland Pullman
Richard Crane

For our October meeting we welcomed back to Cambridge Richard Crane for his presentation entitled "On the route of the Midland Pullman".
Richard recalled seeing the magnificent blue six car set speeding through Bedford in the early 1960s before being withdrawn in 1966 after only six years service. The train's formation, of a power car at each end, was however destined to live on with the introduction of the HST.
Starting at St.Pancras, where we saw a fantastic array of signals, the journey took us north past steam sheds at KentishTown and Cricklewood. Passing through various stations, some long closed, we saw a variety of different locos on various workings, some double headed steam working in true Midland style, as well as Peaks, Class 27s, suburban DMUs and of course the Midland Pullman itself.
The journey north took us through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire with views of many of the stations and various trains working, before passing Leicester, Loughborough and the Derby avoiding line. From here the route became far more picturesque with the line climbing into the Peak District. Once past Matlock we followed the closed line, part of which is Peak Rail to Rowsley where we were treated to numerous "then and now" scenes before joining the line into Manchester at Chinley.
Passing Hazel Grove, the next station was Cheadle Heath which was the only stop on the three and a quarter hour journey between London and Manchester. Cheadle Heath is now a supermarket, although there are pictures of the station with steam workings, inside the shop.
Beyond here, part of the line is now used by the Metrolink, before arriving at Manchester Central with its lovely arched roof that now is known as the G-Mex conference centre.

This was a lovely journey over an iconic route whose closure through the Peaks deprived the rail traveller of scenic views.

Tuesday 13th September 2016
An United States Experience
Mike Page

Our first meeting at our new venue was a change to the original booked show. We were fortunate that committee member Mike Page was able to fill the void with a presentation of slides taken on visits to the United States over thirty or so years.
The places visited ranged from Las Vegas to Chicago. Stations in various cities were featured although some were less used than in their heyday, the architecture was still magnificent and many different types of suburban trains were seen in all manner of liveries. Infrastructure in the form of bridges and tunnels were seen along with various arrays of signals.
At Chicago Mike was able to get views of the extensive yards of the different railroad companies from his hotel. There one iconic shot of the Chicago river with all the bridges in view in the raised position.
Freight workings were not ignored and we saw numerous examples of GE and EMD locomotives working massive trains either singly or in multiple across prairies or through canyons. The locos had various liveries of companies either now defunct or amalgamated with other companies.
Of course, steam was not forgotten and Mike was able to show us several preserved steam locos in operation together with visits to railroad museums to see many other types of steam, diesel and coaching stock.

It was an altogether fascinating look at how railways in the USA had changed over the years of Mike's visits and was much appreciated by the members and guests present.

Tuesday 17th May 2016
The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway
John Day

For our final meeting of the season John Day of Ipswich Branch gave us a talk that was on an entirely new subject for him - The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.
His digital presentation utilised both black and white and colour images provided by kind permission of Rail Photoprints. The quality of these images was superb, as was John's presentation. All of the photographs had been taken in the 1950s and 1960s.
In showing them, John followed the route from Bath Green Park but included digressions to Highbridge, Bridgwater and Wells. The motive power shown appeared to include every type of steam locomotive used in the period concerned, but only two diesels were noticed in the whole sequence. The images were packed with interest.
Quite apart from the motive power, we saw interesting (often elderly) coaches, pigeon baskets on the platform, cattle wagons included in the consist of passenger trains, and many other feature that are now just a memory.

This presentation was a joy from start to finish.

last updated: 22/03/17