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East Midlands

Meeting Reports

Tuesday 25th April 2017
Bristol to Didcot
Richard Binding

Richard Binding returned to the branch on 25th April to explore a further stretch of the GWR main line towards Paddington, this time from Bristol to Didcot. He explained the historical background to Bristol as a sea port including scenes of the arrival of a derelict SS Great Britain and its subsequent restoration also views to and from the Clifton Suspension Bridge showed the steep gorge and the line to Portishead.
We were treated to a tour of Temple Meads station from early drawings of the Brunel terminal, its subsequent extension, the Bristol & Exeter building and the later Joint Station including steam and diesel images of Bath Road shed.
Our journey towards London commenced pausing at many stations, signal boxes and tunnels in both steam and diesel eras. At Swindon Richard included steam classes and 18000 in the scrapyard, steam and diesel in and outside of the erecting shop, then over the Cheltenham line to the shed. At the shed one slide of 46251 City of Nottingham and 7022 Hereford Castle brought back memories to those present that were on the East Midlander No. 7 rail tour on 9th May 1964.
The final stretch included a 47xx derailed at Shrivenham, the wayside stations and on time arrival at Didcot.

We look forward to Richard’s next visit with progress towards London or is it Oxford first?

Tuesday 11th April 2017
"The Friargate Line"
Keith Blood

More than fifty members and visitors attended the branch meeting on 11th April to hear Keith Blood present “The Friargate Line”. He explained why the GNR chose to expand westwards in to Derbyshire to tap the coalfields and the beer traffic from Burton. Local businesses in Derby were concerned with the MR monopoly and many supported the GNR scheme. Unfortunately the topography of the area with river valleys largely running north to south and the route east to west meant that it was necessary to build expensive bridges and viaducts, two tunnels, cuttings and embankments. The course of the line resulted in the demolition of many properties in Derby and although a grandiose station was planned a more modest four platform station was all that could be afforded.
He showed photographs depicting the route from west of Ilkeston to Ettington Junction, both during its working life, and then what remains in more recent times since the final closure in 1968.
Derby Friargate station area was covered in intricate detail, including the extant but derelict large Goods Shed and Engine (power) House.

He concluded with some general interest photographs including former staff and a display of tickets.

Tuesday 28th March 2017
"MML Electrification and Derby Re-modelling"
Kevin Newman, Network Rail

On 28th March, in a change to our programme, Kevin Newman from Network Rail explained details of the Midland Main Line Electrification and Derby Remodelling projects. He gave us an overview of NR’s operations and the need for greater capacity with a doubling of passenger numbers over the past 20 years and projected to double again by 2041.
He described the various types of overhead line equipment and that deemed most suitable for the MML with its numerous curves compared with the straight GW main line.
The electrification project involves the erection of overhead equipment from Bedford to Sheffield and branches to Corby and Nottingham, with completion to Corby scheduled for 2019 and Sheffield by 2023. It includes reinstatement of four tracks from Bedford to Kettering North Junction to provide additional capacity, raising of bridges for the electrification and provision for the largest containers, and straightening of the layout at Market Harborough and extending platforms along the route to cope with 11 coach trains.
The Derby remodelling involves major revision of the layout, particularly at the southern end, to segregate the various routes. A blockade in the summer of 2018 will include re-signalling to replace Derby PSB, the completion of a new island platform on the eastern side, platform extensions and the elimination of the bay platform.

A Q & A session included the sensitivity of improvements at Belper and the bottleneck from Syston to Wigston which is not included in the current programme.

Tuesday 14th March 2017
Railways in a Cornish Landscape Part 3
Stephen Gay

Stephen Gay returned to the branch to present “Railways in the Cornish Landscape part 3” on 14th March. Stephen takes great care to find the unusual subject or location and this talk was no different.
Starting at Bude, where nothing remains of the station, exploring along the canal he found evidence of the former Sand Railway. Turning inland by bus he asks the driver to stop at the roadside to take a photograph of a modern road sign, clearly showing the location as Camelford Station. The station in private use is located further along the road. Unfortunately for Stephen the next bus was three hours later.
Continuing our tour around Cornwall, we saw the Royal Albert Bridge from different angles, the Looe, Newquay, Falmouth and St. Ives branches with road and rail signs depicting steam locos or requesting a whistle, as well as some of the many viaducts in the county, some clearly showing the remains of the earlier Brunel structure.
Investigating the remains of the Redruth & Chacewater Railway, he discovered the scene of a derailment which cost the life of a railway employee and traced the church where he was buried. After patiently waiting for the sun to be at the correct angle, the gravestone clearly showed the employee to have been called Stephen Gay!
Our tour finished in Penzance and then Penlee with poignantly the closed lifeboat station.

Tuesday 28th February 2017
The amusing exploits of having the best job in the world as chief Engineer at NRM
Richard Gibbon OBE

The branch welcomed Richard Gibbon OBE, retired chief engineer at the NRM, on 28th February to present what he described as “it shouldn’t happen to an engineer (or fifty years of fun)”.
He showed a photo of himself trainspotting at Warrington Bank Quay, then traced his career starting as an apprentice engineer at Metro Vick in Manchester working on power station projects. He moved to the Merchant Navy with The Blue Funnel Line, then Ferodo to work on brake linings for the APT and on to Kelham Island Museum and as a volunteer at Bala Lake Railway before joining the NRM in 1989.
He described the various activities at each with amusing anecdotes particularly with some of the correspondence from the public dealt with at the NRM.
After the break he showed an eleven minute film of an iron ore narrow gauge railway in China with the track in an atrocious condition which made the large audience wonder how the trains remained upright.

The amusing and informative evening concluded with a Q & A session.

Tuesday 14th February 2017
Developments on the Welsh Highland and Festiniog Railways
Peter Johnson

On 14th February Peter Johnson’s topic was “Developments of the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways”.
He described the difficulties in reconstructing the WHR and the revised layout and station at Porthmadog to facilitate both services.
We were treated to inside views of Boston Lodge Works with new construction and refurbishment for locomotives and coaches including contract work for other railways.
The Landmark Trust leased an empty workers’ cottage as holiday accommodation with an idyllic view of the railway. The former Bryngwyn branch has been converted into a leisure walk, although there is a possible long term aim of also reinstating the track.
Visiting locomotives often form part of special promotions which also include vintage and goods trains. Resident locomotives have been converted back to coal firing and other innovations include the use of sleepers made from recycled plastic.
He gave details of other developments: - a new shed at Minffordd for the storage and restoration of wagons, redevelopment at Boston Lodge to include a larger workshop and new road access, a new build to replace Earl of Merioneth, restoration of the goods shed at Minffordd and the redevelopment of Caernarfon station.

Tuesday 24th January 2017
'Bulleid's Other Locomotives'
Colin Boocock

The theme on 24th January changed from GWR to SR as Colin Boocock replaced the Society President and covered “Bulleid’s Locomotives”. He described the engineer’s career from GNR apprentice to CME at SR then CIE before progressing through classes delivered whilst he was at the helm.
At the Southern he inherited only 16 big engines, Lord Nelsons, and virtually no new designs, as the legacy of the 1927 Sevenoaks crash had occupied the railway in preventing a recurrence, in addition to further electrification of the system.
Colin described the locomotives designed by Maunsell but delivered after Bulleid had taken up the post. He modified members of the Lord Nelson, King Arthur and Schools classes with double chimneys to improve performance, but the aesthetic effect was not necessarily improved.
Continuing through the classes designed by Bulleid, Colin explained in great detail the different and often novel working parts particularly with the Pacific classes and the experimental Leaders.
After his move to CIE, he oversaw the introduction of diesel locomotive and railcar classes as well, as another experiment. This time it was the “turf (peat) burner” initially with a hideous conversion of a K3 2-6-0, before building a prototype eliminating a number of the faults with the Leader.
After he retired, many of SR Pacifics were rebuilt, and in Eire the A and C classes were rebuilt with GM engines and gave many years of further service.

Colin also gave a short presentation on the work of the Railway Children charity in which he is also involved and was presented with a cheque to them from the Branch in lieu of a fee.

Tuesday 10th January 2017
Steam on the Main Line, Part 2 1991 - 2004
Roger Jones

At our first meeting of 2017 on 10th January Roger Jones presented “Forty Years of Preserved Steam on the main line – Part 2, 1991-2004.
The format followed part one, three years earlier, with a chronological look at each year touring around Britain in search of the best available, of a diminishing number of suitable locations, for the train to be photographed.
A number of the locomotives have now been out of action for years and some, like “City of Truro”, are unlikely to see main line use again.
Extension of electrification has limited vantage points and some lines are no longer available for steam.
It will be interesting to see what further changes took place when Roger presents Part 3.

Tuesday 13th December 2016
Members Evening with coffee and mince pies

The branch held its festive evening with coffee/tea and mince pies on 13th December.
Six members showed slides including diesels on the Erewash Valley, Barry scrapyard, Sardinia and the final months on the GC mainline.
The next day the branch had a stall at the Nottingham Mechanics (our meeting venue) Christmas fayre selling some books and maps as well as promoting branch meetings.

Tuesday 6th December 2016
Marylebone out and back
Ken Grainger

On 6th December we welcomed Ken Grainger with “Marylebone out and back”.
He started with a tour around the terminus, including the Victoria and Albert bar, before working northwards to Neasden mpd, left to Northolt Junction for the GCR & GWR Joint line to Ashendon Junction, with a short diversion along the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury branch. He continued on to the GC to Grendon Underwood Junction before reversing on to the main line to Quainton Road and continuing on the MetR & GCR Joint line to Harrow South Junction via Aylesbury visiting the Brill and Chesham branches before finally returning on the GC to Marylebone.
Ken’s photographs covered a wide range evening of locomotive classes from before nationalisation until the GC main line closed. Of particular note were H15 and H16 on transfer freights, GT3 on a test train and a West Country with a LMS tender in the 1948 locomotive exchanges.
The images and Ken’s commentary were much appreciated by the large audience present.

Tuesday 22nd November 2016
The Mickleover Test Track
Dave Coxon

Dave Coxon returned to the branch on 22nd November to cover the Mickleover test track between Derby Friargate and Egginton Junction. He showed images describing the route from pre-grouping to closure in 1968 including the 1957 Mercian Railtour and other excursions and freight.
The test centre was originally set up at the old Friargate depot with early train control experiments in 1965. After some eighteen months an improved site was created at the former Mickleover station and the line back to Friargate closed and lifted. Facilities developed, including a wind tunnel, with various experimental projects, testing of DMus 151, 155 and 156 and the commissioning of class 60 locomotives.
The site acquired redundant main line locos including D832, D5705, D5901, D7076 and D8598 and most were later sold to preservation groups. Privatisation and road building closed the project in 1990s.

Tuesday 8th November 2016
The Butterley Gang Road Project
Trevor Griffin

The Butterley Gang Road Project presented by Trevor Griffin on 8th November covered the investigation into the route of an early wagon way in Derbyshire reputed to have the worlds earliest railway tunnel. The wagon way from a limestone quarry at Crich to a basin on the Cromford Canal both opened in 1793. Limestone was carried on horse drawn wagons along a 1 in 33 track to lime kilns at the canal basin and then by horse drawn barge to the nearby Butterley Ironworks. He explained that it was called a gang road as each of the horses in the team pulling the wagons was led by a man thereby forming a gang. In 1813 Bruntons Mechanical Traveller, an early steam locomotive propelled by mechanical legs, was used for two months.
In the 1840s the line was straightened using part of the projected, but not built, route of the MR Crich branch. The track was also progressively replaced by conventional rails to 3 6 gauge, steam locomotives introduced and a branch to a second quarry opened. Traffic continued until the line closed in 1933.
In 2011 a HLF funded project was set up to explore the route and trace any remains, including an archaeological investigation at the site where the tunnel was thought to exist. It was excavated and data obtained demonstrating that it formed part of the 1793 route and had a later extension when the line was straightened. The entrance was refilled to preserve the tunnel which became a listed structure and is in the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds oldest tunnel. Rails and sleeper blocks have been found and much of the route made into a walk with interpretation boards and a replica wagon which demonstrates both types of rail.
In the second half Trevor showed an animation of Bruntons Traveller and highlights of the project work before a Q & A session.

Tuesday 25th October 2016
Steam in Saxony
Bob Gellaty

On 25th October Bob Gellatly presented Steam in Saxony based on a railway holiday with Inside Track in August 2011. This two centre visit to the south east corner of Germany went to a number of 750mm tourist railways, a railway museum at a former station and a model railway with a 660m length layout.
Trains were hauled by standard 2-10-2Ts or 0-4-4-0Ts and Bob showed various photos and film clips taken along the routes including a number of run pasts.
We were shown a map of the intensive tram network in Dresden and then a short film of a ride on a tram.
Other visits around Dresden included the Childrens Railway of 15 gauge, an incline suspended railway up a hill and the nearby funicular.
Views, including some from high in the hotel, showed Dresden buildings rebuilt and restored following heavy bombing during WW2. There were similar views from the hotel of Dresden Hbf and the adjacent railway yard.
Bobs talk gave some members an idea for a future holiday.

Tuesday 11th October 2016
Branch AGM
Branch member Stephen Harrison

The Branch held its AGM on 11th October, when members were advised of activities during the year and progress with various features since the annual reports were issued during the summer.
Answers to questions regarding the conversion to charitable status would have to wait until an update at the Officers Conference.
The existing branch officers were re-elected en bloc, despite yet another plea for volunteers and the Branch remains without a nominated chairman for the fifth year in succession.

The AGM was followed by Branch member Stephen Harrison presenting old 8mm films complete with sound. Those present appreciated the scenes in Train Time, Days of Steam, This is York and Railway Scrapbook No. 1 covering nostalgic views of Britains railways in the 1950s and 1960s.

Tuesday 27th September 2016
Steam Selection - forming the national collection
Mark Lambert

Nottingham University student Mark Lambert presented Steam selection forming the National Collection on 27th September using material researched as part of his PhD studies. The theme was why some classes were selected for preservation and why some were not.
He started with a summary of the various locomotives preserved by the grouped companies and their predecessors. After the Second World War prominent individuals took on the task of considering the idea of a national collection and railway museum, collating a list of what is already preserved and other suitable classes. Various railway societies, including the RCTS, became involved and initially a list of 12 was agreed including technical and historical details to support their selection.
Later, other classes were added to the list, although notable deletions from the original list were Claud Hamilton (replaced by E4), LNER K3, HR Ben Alder, LNWR Precursor or Prince of Wales.
Further debate about the selection of BR built classes led to the rejection of 71000 and 70013 replacing 70000. Other classes were preserved by heritage railways, and in 1975 the opening of the NRM brought a large collection together, although it was still necessary to disperse part of the collection to other centres and also led to the opening of Shildon.
Mark had clearly thoroughly researched his subject including copies of correspondence.
The wealth of detail was appreciated by those present.

Tuesday 13th September 2016
Railways in the Nottinhamshire Coalfield
Dr David Amos

Dr David Amos returned to the branch for the opening meeting of the new season on 13th September with A railway ramble around the Nottinghamshire coalfield.
He showed maps for the 1960s, 1980s and 2015, illustrating the number of collieries and their connections to the main railway system. Peak production for the area was in 1913 and the last colliery closed in 2015.
Development of the coalfield expanded with the opening of the Erewash Canal in 1779 with connections from the collieries by gang lines and tramways to canal wharves. The opening of the Cromford and Nottingham canals expanded the area of development. The tramways were often lengthy and one of the most notable, the Mansfield and Pinxton railway opened in 1819, later acquired and rebuilt by the MR with the revised route still in use today with the 1972 deviation at Kirkby.
David then described the development of railways in the various areas from the MR at Kirkby, the GNR at Eastwood, GCR at Annesley, the MR at Westhouses, the Lean Valley (GNR) at Hucknall and Clifton Colliery near the bank of the River Trent in Nottingham, in each case illustrated by photographs of the pits and local engine sheds during the 1960s and the little evidence that remains today.
The finale was a video of a cab ride in a class 20 from Tibshelf sidings to Silverhill colliery and back.

last updated: 27/04/17