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Meeting Reports

Monday 13th February 2017
Recent Travels in Five Continents
James Waite

Following the January meeting’s concentration on London and the South East the subject on 13th February ventured much farther afield when James Waite - described as a “Globe-Trotting Photographer” - gave a photographic presentation on Recent Travels in Five Continents. This was to feature narrow gauge – i.e. less than 4 feet 8 ½ inches – steam around the world in the 21st century. James started with the U.S.A. and Canada in North America and finished with Australia and New Zealand in Australasia. On the way he visited at least another 24 countries (by your reporter’s count!) in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and astounded his audience with the wealth of detail he had acquired and was able to disseminate about the railways and locomotives in each. Locomotives featured ranged in size from minute 0-4-0Ts to Beyer-Garratts. Other highlights included the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai. All the images were full of interest and some were nothing less than superb, especially where spectacular scenery or (inevitably) snow were involved.

Monday 9th January 2017
Network South East
Chris Green

For our first meeting of 2017 a very good attendance braved the cold weather and industrial relations problems to welcome former senior B.R. manager Chris Green who gave a presentation on Network SouthEast.

Chris’s story began in January 1986 with his transfer from Scotrail to Sector Director, London and South East. His remit from the British Railways Board was to “do a Scotrail” in London and create a unified railway system in that area. He described the thinking and planning - including the almost overnight appearance of red lamp posts at all 940 stations of the newly created Network SouthEast - that led up to Launch Date on 10th June 1986. It was essential to demonstrate improvements in the quality of service for commuting passengers. Trains in the new livery were painted in secrecy so that each service had at least one newly liveried train in service on launch date to present the new image. Subsequent changes included the reprieve from threatened closure of London Marylebone station, re-introduction of train services on the West London line and the introduction of the Thameslink service in May 1988. Commercial changes were represented by the one-day Capital Card, which contributed to the increase in passenger revenue and reduction in government subsidy. Chris was appointed Managing Director, InterCity in 1992 and Network SouthEast was disbanded on 1st April 1994 prior to subsequent privatisation.

Monday 12th December 2016
Croydon Railbrains

The annual Croydon Railbrains’ Competition, between local railway societies, took place on 12th December, this year hosted by the RCTS CSL Branch. Not all of the four societies taking part could muster a full team of three on the night and all agreed to field teams of two. By half time the Norbury & South London Transport Club were well in the lead, but after the refreshment break the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society stormed ahead and took the trophy with 23 points, with the Norbury Club and LCGB equal second with 12 points each followed very closely by the RCTS with 11. Mince pies provided a seasonal touch to the evening which was chaired by Chris Meredith who, with Alan Walters, formed the RCTS team. Jeremy Harrison and Peter Wilson were, respectively, question master and scorer.

Monday 14th November 2016
Southern Electric, Part 2
David Brown

Southern Electric enthusiast and author David Brown returned to us on Monday 14th November and attracted an above average attendance for his presentation entitled “Southern Electrics Part 2 – 1940s to 1990s”. David started by summarising briefly his previous visit when he outlined the early days of the overhead and third rail systems which became the Southern Railway third rail network in the 1920s. He then plunged into a black-and-white extravaganza of the rolling stock which developed from the immediate pre-WWII trains into those which became so familiar after the war. Using photographs from his own extensive collection he illustrated the Southern Railway’s practice of combining previously used bodies and/or underframes to produce a “refurbished” class of train. This was particularly evident in the development of what became the 4-SUB and 4-EPB suburban sets. David did not neglect the development of the main line sets for the Portsmouth and later Kent Coast and Bournemouth schemes. Particular highlights of his presentation were the inclusion of many of his own images of rarely seen (or photographed) examples of departmental conversions from passenger vehicles, together with illustrations of Bulleid’s experimental double-decker 4-DD sets in revenue earning service.

Monday 10th October 2016
An A-Z of Railway Nostalgia
John Parkin

For our meeting on 10th October we welcomed former railwayman John Parkin, with his presentation "An A-Z of Railway Nostalgia". John is a photographer of all forms of public transport with a particular enthusiasm for trolleybuses. He put together this pot purri of images from his collection to provide a fascinating tour of, mainly, the railways of England, with occasional forays into Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the continent of Europe. Starting with A for, among other places, Aberystwyth and Arsenal (a station on the London Underground, originally named Gillespie Road) and ending at Z for, only, Zwickau in Germany (the picture of a tram), each letter of the alphabet (except X) offered at least one reference, usually a railway station or place but occasionally another building or item associated with railways or another form of transport. The poster for the meeting, for example, showed S for Semaphore, in this case the fairly recently removed semaphore signals at Lincoln station. In this way we were able to visit a great many locations and aspects of the railway system and beyond - including a couple of preserved lines - in a evening of much interest which provided something for everyone.

Tuesday 27th September 2016
Half a Century (and a bit more) Ago
John Cramp

Our first afternoon meeting of the 2016/17 session took place at Redhill on Tuesday 27th September when long-time railway photographer John Cramp gave a slide presentation entitled Half a Century (and a Bit More) Ago a wonderfully nostalgic selection of images of British steam from the 1960s. John explained that most of the earlier pictures were in black and white with colour slides figuring in later images. His programme was divided into four separate segments 1965, 1966, 1967 and a fourth section of random earlier shots. As a very early committee member of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain many of Johns photographs featured rail tours arranged by that organisation. Main line trips from London Waterloo with specially selected (and paid for!) locomotives such as Blue Peter featured together with tours of the East Midlands and the final days of the Somerset and Dorset line. In deference to his audience John also included a wide selection of Southern Region locomotives and trains with of course (!) - plenty of Bulleid Pacifics. The comments from the audience and general buzz of interest made it clear that Johns journey to Redhill had been very worthwhile!

Members were greatly saddened to hear that our founding Branch Chairman, Geoff Lipscombe (3767), had passed away early that morning (27th September), having been unwell for some time. Geoff was raised in Essex, at the London end of the old Great Eastern Railway, and joined the daily grind in and out of Liverpool Street to pursue his career at Lloyds Bank in the City of London. His interest in railways began very early on, and he joined the RCTS as soon as he could - lying about his age, he often said - to get his hands on the RO. He was especially fond of the B17 Sandringham 4-6-0s. By the time the CSL Branch was being formed, Geoff and his family were well established in Shirley, South London. He joined the Steering Committee for the new branch and in 2003 was elected Branch Chairman. He immediately immersed himself in the life of the Branch, acting as Fixtures and Exhibitions Officer, organising refreshments at meetings and distributing posters. In Autumn 2014, he and his family moved to Norfolk, back into GER territory. Our thoughts are with his wife, Jill, son Andrew, and daughter Clare and her young family.

Monday 12th September 2016
Visions of Irish Railways
Jeremy Harrison

Our 2016/17 indoor season commenced on Monday 12th September when Branch Committee member Jeremy Harrison gave a slide presentation entitled Visions of Irish Railways, comprising a wide selection of images taken on his visits to Ireland between 1986 and 2001. As many of the pictures were taken on tours organised by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland it was not surprising to see many images of their preserved steam locomotives, including former Northern Counties Committee Class WT 2-6-4T No. 4, and former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) 4-4-0s Nos. 85 Merlin of Class V and 171 Slieve Gullion of class S, which are based at the Societys Whitehead Depot near Belfast. Diesel and electric locomotives and railcars also figured prominently in Jeremys collection but the steamers were undoubtedly the stars. As many of the slides featured R.P.S.I. special tours we were treated to a wide selection of past and present stations from both sides of the border with insights into some of their idiosyncrasies including the infamous but now rationalised layout at Limerick Junction.

All in all it was a fascinating insight into a less familiar aspect of railways in the the British Isles.

Monday 9th May 2016
Too Much Information - Writing 'British Rail: The Nation's Railway'
Tanya Jackson

Our final meeting of the season was held on Monday 9th May when we were delighted to welcome Society member and author Tanya Jackson, Transfers Development Manager for the Historical Model Railway Society. Tanya took as the title of her talk Too much Information: writing British Rail: The Nations Railway. She asked in her introduction Where and when did the old railway cease to be. She considered various points at which the railways of Britain changed fundamentally: The Great War, the 1923 grouping, World War II, nationalization, modernization and/or the implementation of the Beeching Report. To assess this, Tanya emphasized the importance of sources, primary and secondary. Despite the importance of original material, accurate secondary published information should not be dismissed out of hand. In her book she had expounded her view that British Railways had been a success. To back up this claim she produced images of countless examples of documents, familiar and less so. With several former railwaymen in the audience, Tanya certainly jogged some memories with the covers of such classics as I Tried to Run a Railway by Gerard Fiennes and On and Off the Rails by Peter Rayner. At the end of the evening it was clear that everyone had enjoyed a real trip through the British Railways years.

Monday 11th April 2016
Steamy Memories of a mis-spent Youth
Godfrey Gould

On 11 April we welcomed Society member Godfrey Gould with his Steamy Memories of a Mis-spent Youth. After a discussion on the camera he started with in 1946 and an upgrade in the 50s, Godfrey took us to Northwest England, inhabited by Cauliflowers, Crabs, Patriots. We saw examples of these along with LMS Pacifics, Jubilees, Black 5s, Midland Compounds and others. Moving on via York and Bradford, we were taken to the Northeast where Godfrey was brought up. This time there were Pacifics of the Gresley, Thompson and Peppercorn variety, a glimpse of a B16, and a GN K2 2-6-0, and there was The Queen of Scots. Newcastle Central station provided main line through workings, while Newcastle Keep offered a superb vantage point; Gateshead, Heaton and other sheds had engines at rest and in preparation; and there were industrials in Southeast Northumberland. Forays South brought him to London stations, and to Reading, Salisbury and even Penzance. Bulleid Pacific 21C153 Sir Keith Park was included, perhaps for the benefit of this audience. Finally, there was Godfreys image on the side of a Brighton and Hove bus! All this, with amusing anecdotes along the way, provided a very personal memory which Godfrey wished to share with us in an entertaining and delightful evening.

last updated: 16/02/17