Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Tuesday 19th November 2019

"Sixties Steam Selection" with John Dagley-Morris

We were delighted to welcome local railway legend John Dagley-Morris on 19th November to present “Sixties Steam Selection”. Our treat was a wonderful show covering all regions of British Railways, including John’s beloved London Midland, but with a liberal sprinkling from Great Western, Southern, Great Eastern, North Eastern and Scottish locations. John’s studies for his professional qualifications required him to spend time reflecting on what he was learning - with camera in hand - so we saw images of many Bulleid, Maunsell and Urie classes around the Southern. A regular working for a GWR Manor class was a Reading to Redhill early morning commuter service hauling Southern coaches. A later view of a BR Standard Cl.9F, on a passenger working at Notgrove on the GW line from Kingham to Cheltenham, was considered to have been the largest locomotive ever to work the line. A tame contact at Cheltenham St. James would steer thinking on where to go to photograph trains, so we saw plenty of views from the local area - Ashchurch to Berkeley, Churchdown to Bishops Cleeve. Stanier and Fowler classes were well represented across London Midland locations. Perhaps the most favourites being the Princess Royal and Coronation classes which do look so good, and even now retain the mystery of just how powerful they were.

Tuesday 15th October 2019

"Final Journey - the Story of Funeral Trains" with Nicolas Wheatley

Nicolas has done some tremendous research, ahead of publishing a book, and provided us with a fascinating evening on the subject of funeral trains, on 15th October. Nicolas started with images of Beyer Peacock locomotives and their trains at Rookwood Cemetery Station in Australia. The station building from Rookwood now serves as a church in Canberra. Brookwood Cemetery near Woking is, perhaps, better known to us. Images demonstrated how LSWR operated trains, working on behalf of the London Necropolis Company, arrived at Brookwood serving two stations within, one for Anglicans, and the other for everyone else. Funeral trains for members of the Royal Family, and other notable members of the community were displayed. GWR Castle 4082 Windsor Castle was chosen to serve for King George V as His Majesty and Queen Mary had both driven the locomotive between Swindon Works and the main line railway station when it was new. For King George VI, it was 7013 Bristol Castle masquerading as 4082 owing to the latter being in works at the time. The identities of the two locomotives were never reversed! Sir Winston Churchill’s final journey was described, with Bulleid ‘Battle of Britain’ 34051 Winston Churchill in command. Is it still possible to make your final journey by train? Oh, yes!

Tuesday 17th September 2019

"From Railways to Royalty" with Jack Boskett

Local professional railway photographer Jack Boskett got our new season off to a wonderful start on 17th September with “From Railways to Royalty”. A chance to observe Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee tour in Hereford and Worcester opened doors Jack could not have imagined. A smartly dressed young Jack, in the press pen with more scruffily attired cameramen, saw him extricated by Royal media officials to serve as formal photographer for the occasion. He has since been commissioned to be official photographer for many other Royal events. Jack works with several Train Operating Companies and Network Rail, and he takes commissions from many railway media publications. Great Western requested an image of IET 800003 “Isambard Kingdom Brunel” - at speed - under the wires – in a specific location, for a publicity piece. One chance to get it. The image displayed had the cab and name razor sharp, the rest of the carriage showing that the train was not hanging about, the catenary framing the shot. Then there was the silhouette image of a steam train on a viaduct, with it Jack knocked the dreaded ‘B’ word off the front page of two national broadsheets. Jack doesn’t use image manipulating tools to modify his work. What you see is the image he took. What a talent!

Tuesday 16th April 2019

Branch Annual Business Meeting and Members Entertain

The Branch Annual Business Meeting was held on 16th April with an attendance of 14. The review of the past year’s activities was duly noted although questions were asked on society matters concerning its charity status, the new library and as to the size of the RO. With Richard Neale standing down from committee work only three committee members remain with Stephen Wilson, Richard Morris and John Howland dealing with everything - unless some volunteers come forward to assist. The entertainment that followed was varied in content with Sholto Thomas covering a visit he made to the Mid-West States of the USA covering freight workings with shale oil and coal workings. At Donkey Creek he pictured 50 locomotives lined up awaiting further duties. There was a picture of a cloud formation that resembled President Trump’s hair style.Stephen Wilson covered six months of recent preserved railway activity as well as with scenes at Dawlish, Abergavenney and north of Cheltenham with one-time local star 7029 Clun Castle working the recent Cotswold Explorer special. Richard Morris not only covered the local Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway scene and Stagecoach 94 bus workings but also a comprehensive view of Central Europe celebrated with close RCTS friends, starting out on the Venice Simplon Orient Express to Italy and then moving on through Austria and the Czech Republic.

Tuesday 19th March 2019
‘An 8th Colour-Rail Journey’
Paul Chancellor

Paul Chancellor gave one of his excellent selections from the Colour-Rail Portfolio, this one being the 8th such journey. The 20 attendance were involved in guessing some picture locations as well as finding out more about the Colour-Rail facility. This time around Paul largely concentrated on the year 1959 highlighting the many stock changes taking place, especially with steam and diesel motive power. Other rail facts from that year were also highlighted. Taking us around the then 5 BR regions, as well as with other systems, we covered the then BR system from Inverness down to Padstow and St Blazey the latter complete with its roundhouse shed and 16xx class locomotives. Steam was certainly still in its ascendency with some new diesels having real availability issues. Local scenes came into view as with a Class 4F on a Dursley branch working with one carriage and with the Severn Railway Bridge still in one piece. He rounded off the show with the changing scenes from pre-war years and into the 21st Century covering Gloucester, Euston, Reading, Doncaster, Waterloo and Haymarket including such as a former N.E.R Atlantic, the Chalford auto train, Euston’s Doric Arch, Bulleid Pacific rebuilds and even early liveried Pacer units. It was a superb nostalgic evening.

Tuesday 19th February 2019
‘Severn and Wye Railway’
Ian Pope

The 19th February meeting with 32 people present was rewarded with a fascinating look at the Severn & Wye Railway. Ian Pope of the Lightmoor Press illustrated his talk with postcard and photographic views of what was once an industrial powerhouse in the Forest of Dean. His background knowledge about the vicissitudes of the coal and iron ore mining explained a great deal as to why so much happened in a century and a half starting off round about 1809 with The Seven & Wye Railway & Canal Company providing the route heading down towards Lydney docks but not for a while operating the goods traffic. Lines and rolling stock were converted to broad gauge and then back to standard gauge. Eventually in 1894 both the Midland and Great Western bought up the Severn & Wye Co and then jointly operated it. The system had been extended over the River Severn with its railway bridge that opened in 1879. Passenger services were eventually provided, but so haphazard were the train connections that it was of little surprise that apart from the Berkeley Road-Lydney Town service the rest were ended in 1929. Early locomotives were named after Robin Hood characters and with GWR class 2021 pannier tanks holding sway for many years until after the Second World War. The talk was enlivened with amusing anecdotes throughout the evening.

Tuesday 15th January 2019
‘Railed Transport in Germany’
Sholto Thomas

On an evening when the House of Commons was voting on a European matter, 24 members and friends turned out on 15th January to hear local member Sholto Thomas give an excellent presentation on Railed Transport in Germany. Sholto is a retired senior Stagecoach officer and his appreciation of the way transport is run, enabled us to hear an appreciative view on what he has seen. Making regular visits to Germany since 1988 meant we saw both the current scene as well as comparing it with the past. His visits to the seemingly most obscure suburban and rural outposts opened up parts of Germany undreamt of. In doing so he covered all aspects of railed transport from European high-speed trains, to regular passenger and freight operations, to tram trains, to trams and even to rail replacement buses. Steam was not forgotten either in the Harz region or on steam specials as well as with museum scenes. The Wuppertal suspension system was not forgotten either with one-member exclaiming that it was the Dangle Bahn. Railway infrastructure was not forgotten including the war damaged bridge at Remagen. The DB national system is now rivalled by other European companies and the many different liveries seen all added to the evening’s entertainment

Tuesday 18th December 2018
‘Swindon Works Volume 2’
Rev. Canon Brian Arman

Despite the inclement weather of 18th December, 24 members and friends heard Society President Revd Canon Brian Arman bring his lifelong fascination of anything Swindon to an enthralled audience. Covering the period 1880 to 1920 Brian dealt not only with the extension of the works buildings themselves but also of the enlightened GWR development of its new town with facilities that were ahead of its time for both its workers and townspeople. Brian’s close inspection of contemporary photographs has led him to identify the individual history of certain rolling stock parked in lengthy sidings in that period around 1892. He also highlighted two Star Class locomotives pictured next to each other with one superheated and the other not. GWR personalities of the time received due recognition not only with their successes but also as in the case of William Dean his sad decline in his health. Those who moved to other railway companies took good Swindon practice with them as exemplified by D. E. Marsh who moved to Doncaster in 1896 as assistant to H. A. Ivatt and also not forgetting W. A. Stanier. During the First World War the works constructed and repaired heavy armaments alongside locomotives under repair. We look forward to Brian’s next talk.

Last updated: 27th November 2019