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Meeting Reports

Tuesday 21st March 2017
'Building a Brand New LNER Sandringham'
Brian Hall (B17 Steam Locomotive Trust)

23 members and visitors met on 21st March to hear a presentation on ‘Building a Brand New LNER Sandringham’ from Brian Hall of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust. The new locomotive will be 61673 Spirit of Sandringham. The evening had two definitive parts with the first being about the origins and development from 1928 of Gresley’s only 4-6-0 type based on the needs of increasingly heavy trains on the former G.E.R. system, but also to cope with the more restrictive civil engineering aspects there. Shorter turntables necessitated shorter G.E.R. tenders to go with the larger locomotives. The intentions of the trust include capturing a previous era of world class engineering and in also creating an icon from our past using innovative techniques and modern technology. As with any type of locomotive there were initial teething problems with both Gresley and later Thompson making improvements. The second part was a fascinating video as to how the new frames and buffer beams were being manufactured at two specialist Black Country works in the West Midlands. Much has been learnt and shared from the construction processes of A1 class Tornado and of the P2 to benefit the new B17. For steam devotees, this was the perfect evening.

Tuesday 21st February 2017
An History of the GWS and DRC
Frank Cooper from Great Western Society at Didcot

Frank Cooper of the Great Western Society and of the Didcot Railway Centre stood in for the advertised speaker on 21st February with a 23 attendance. Railway steam cranes did however feature during the evening. Having been born in St Austell he highlighted his GWR interests and for today he highlighted the bi lingual sign (English & Japanese) at Moreton-in-Marsh station. The start of the GWS came because of the RO’s 1961 listing of proposed locomotives for preservation when four Southall enthusiasts started things moving by preserving 0-4-2T 1466 and auto-trailer W231W. From that beginning Frank outlined the development of the society and especially of the Didcot Centre. The complete fleet of locomotives were portrayed and the continuing infrastructure development with extensions to the running lines involving the cranes clearing out large birch trees. Preservation is a costly business and Frank emphasised the benefits gained from Thomas the Tank Engine week ends. The transit shed (broad and standard gauge) enables the Centre to highlight GWR broad gauge practice. He covered the activities being made with the building of replica locomotives Lady of Legend and of County of Glamorgan complete with a Cl. 8F boiler. Similarly, the work on Pendennis Castle was highlighted.

Tuesday 17th January 2017
'Electrification of the Great Western Mainline'
Jill Poyton - Network Rail

We were delighted to welcome Jill Poyton (Network Rail Sponsor, Great Western Electrification Programme) as our guest speaker. Jill explained that as sponsor, she acts as the principal contact between NR and the Department for Transport, the role involving her understanding the requirements of the project, governing the purse strings, and appointing Project Managers to take the project forward. Her geographical area of responsibility extends from Maidenhead (where the GW project takes over from Crossrail) to Bristol and Cardiff. We looked at various challenges, what work the NR project teams are doing, and how they are going about their work. It is clear that the GW scheme is being driven with a great sense of care for environmental concerns and architectural heritage, which is why it is taking longer to get the right result. Jill stressed that the deferment decision relating to both routes to Bristol Temple Meads (Parkway is not affected) was hers to allow other pressing NR projects in the Bristol area to go first. These will, in turn, make providing the OLE in Bristol a whole lot easier when it does happen, probably sometime after 2022.

Tuesday 20th December 2016
'The Robert Whitfield Collection UK Steam 1948-1958'
Pete Berry

The meeting of 20th December was well attended with 27 members and visitors present. They were treated to an evening of superb and brilliant nostalgia when Peter Berry presented 'The Robert Whitfield Collection of UK Steam 1948-1958.' Basically, the evening covered the steam scene across the pre-1974 Lancashire and Cheshire counties centred around Warrington and Chester in the years immediately after the rail nationalisation of 1948. Views of the ‘Turbomotive’ before and immediately after its rebuild along with the transition of the ‘Royal Scots’ into their rebuilt form. Many shots in the Runcorn area were taken of those superb LMS 4-6-2 locomotives hauling those then very long trains. Chester strongly featured especially with a shot of Titley Court and Viscount Horne leaving with a Paddington train. The last surviving ‘Claughton’ still as LMS 6004 was seen in its final days. CLC workings in the Delamere Forest also featured with their mixture of vintage GCR and then new LMS designs. Visits to London also featured including 60122 Curlew with the LNER design Flying Scotsman headboard. Everything was taken using a Kodak bellows type camera and somehow the photographer managed to catch the locomotives with the rods in their down position.

Tuesday 15th November 2016
'Devizes Branch, and Andover and Redbridge'
Nigel Bray

The meeting of 15th November was a cracker attended by 21 members and visitors. Author Nigel Bray gave two separate presentations mainly with black and white pictures. The first presentation dealt with the Devizes branch with which his family had close links. The line from Patney & Chirton through to Holt Jct. was a single line affair with Devizes having three platforms and an extensive goods yard. Besides being a typical GWR branch line the route was also a secondary route with trains linking Paddington to the likes of Weston-Super-Mare that took an age to complete its journey. Towards the end of the lines life Cl.9F 2-10-0 engines hauled a regular Hoo Jct-Magor loaded cement train although the return workings went back via Swindon. The second presentation was on the Andover-Redbridge route with the focal point being Fullerton Jct. The LSWR had in effect blocked GWR ways into Southampton until 1923 and from a Cheltonian interest we saw pictures of latter day Cheltenham-Southampton workings. Mr Marples killed off the line despite the late appearance of the Hampshire diesel electric units. Nigels pertinent thoughts as to what might have happened had both lines stayed open through to the present day rang true.

Tuesday 18th October 2016
Railways in the Landscape, Gloucestershire and Further
Paul Woollard

23 members were given an absolute treat on 18th October when Paul Woollard from Nailsworth presented his show on Railways in the Landscape, Gloucestershire and Further. Following a circular route starting and ending at Cam & Dursley station we were treated to some excellent photography, some of which were stills taken from video film, in which we saw scenes covering 25 years with landscape shots of the Cotswold Hills, of the Severn Estuary and of the Sharpness Canal. The riverside views near to Newnham and Lydney certainly matched those of the Exe and Teign estuaries. The changes brought about by lineside vegetation clearances aided many photographic opportunities that have now gone because of fresh growth. The Westerleigh oil workings dominated the freight scene and full detail was also given of the occasional stone workings on the Tytherington branch, including one with 58030 and of the DRS nuclear flask workings out of Berkeley. His silhouette shots of Sir Lamiel and of Earl of Mount Edgecumbe were simply outstanding.

Tuesday 20th September 2016
1977 Steam in South America
Alan Bielby

The opening meeting of the new season on 20th September had a good attendance of 25. Alan Bielby presented a highly nostalgic 1977 Steam in South America which covered seven countries and highlighted the wide variety of steam locomotives then at work as well as diesel workings along with Lake Titicacas veteran SS Inca. In addition, there was the complication of so many different gauges leading to mixed track workings in some areas. Alan highlighted the different locomotive designs on view with British and German types to the fore. The San Bernando roundhouse in Chile was a sight to behold as was the sight of a Brazilian 2-6-6-0 Mallet on a line that had heavy coal trains working to and from a power station. A fascinating 1 in 12 rope incline in Sao Paulo area saw tram locomotives being part of the consist. To end the evening Alan showed cine film of the tour that highlighted that fascinating continent including tourist and rail scenes in and around Machu Piccu.

last updated: 22/03/17