Meeting Reports

Meeting Reports

Friday 3rd May 2019

'Sounds like Trains'

David Bousfield

Our speaker had set himself a tough task as he was attempting to illustrate railway sounds with matching images. David introduced his session by outlining the different types of engine in terms of cylinder numbers and arrangement in exemplary style with some good examples of 2, 3 and 4 cylinder engines working hard. Obviously these different engine arrangements produced varying sound patterns and David explained all these in a very lucid for the 4 cylinder example he used Lord Nelson working upgrade on the Settle Carlisle railway

In similar style moving onto the diesel era he was very enthused about the Sulzers as they produced some superb sounds reflected in their nicknames. Who could fail to be moved by the wonderful sound of a class 37 growling away hence the nickname “Tractors”, we had an example of a 37 toiling away at Spean Bridge in Scotland. Next we had a class 40 making lovely noises reflected in their nickname “Whistlers”. David wrapped up part one with the evocative sound of Deltic 55016 Gordon Highlander @ Doncaster. Who could forget that amazing sound of sheer power?

David continued in similar style in part 2 by illustrating the sounds of some engines in trouble particularly a G2 shunting at Bletchley yard with a distinct wheeze. He then moved to Austria to outline the sounds of a rack and pinion railway with an illustration of one system that uses 2 cylinders on the level but 4 cylinders on the 1 in 14 grade. This could be clearly heard in the accompanying sound. Mixing things up nicely David moved onto the sounds from Kirkby Stephen signal box illustrating the different activities undertaken by the signalman. Moving through several more good examples we could clearly hear a class 3F in real problems on Beattock Bank, the shed master says” do you want a push up Beattock?” to which the driver in a heavy Scottish accent shoutrs”No I want another engine”

David wrapped things up with D200 on the Settle - Carlisle to round off a superb presentation. He has to be given absolute credit for achieving something so tricky with complete aplomb and giving us a fascinating evening imparting a considerable amount of technical knowledge.

Friday 2nd November 2018
'Locomotive Depots around the British Isles 1957-1968'
Noel Machell

The second digital slide show of the 2018/19 programme was presented by Noel Machell,titled ‘Locomotive Depots around the British Isles 1957 –1968’. Newspaper trains often had a passenger coach or two in there consist and were invariably the means of travel to and from depots beyond the North West of England. Many of the depots were visited during Sundays when most of the allocated locomotives would be on shed in light steam awaiting their weekly rostered duties.
The Modernisation Plan of 1957 and the Clean Air Act brought about the end of steam and all but a few of the places visited during this presentation are recognisable today. Whilst BR set about modernising some sheds with new roofs including a few new builds, the majority of sheds visited were in a run down state. It was obvious that general labour was hard to obtain, with many depots requiring removal of ash and clinker and having a degree of untidiness. Whilst the overall atmospherics and run down engines created nostalgic images, the working conditions for the depots artisan staff were obviously far from ideal.
From the early 60s photographs of clean locomotives were becoming the exception. Some locomotives were repainted following a general works overhaul at one of the main workshops such as St Rollox, which used large Sans Serif numbers. At the last overhaul all were turned out from the works without lining. Following its final overhaul ‘Oliver Cromwell’ was kept clean for Railtours by shed staff. Others were cleaned by volunteers such as the mythical ‘Neverers’ who overnight bulled up a locomotive for the following day’s Railtour.
The geographical spread of photographs encompassed all regions from single road wooden sheds in the far north of the Highlands, to the larger sheds in the East Yorkshire coalfields and the Midlands and the NE, the welsh valleys and idyllic rural examples in corrugated iron in Dorset and the Isle of Man. Depots in the North West were well represented with Preston, Tebay, Barrow and Lancaster in particular, as this was Noel’s home town. Finally to Carnforth in 1968, where the remaining black fives and standard 4s were in steam and lined up for their final duties. At the North end of the depot, the adjoining Keer Sidings contained the last three 9Fs 2-10-0 and many others awaiting the breakers torch.

An excellent evening of nostalgia was enjoyed by 21 attendees and for the first time, the Branch’s recently purchased projector was used.

Friday 5th October 2018
'Transition from Steam to Diesel'
Steve Fort

The first digital slide show of the 2018/19 programme was presented by Steve Fort, entitled Transition from Steam to Diesel covering the years 1957 to 1972.
The post-war modern DC electric system over the Woodhead route had come into operation with the introduction in 1952/53 of classes 76 and 77 which were seen at Dinting in 1956. At the start of 1957 BR had 17,522 steam engines on its books and in that year the first generation pilot plan diesels had been ordered under the 1957 Modernisation Plan. Whilst heavy duty overhauls to the steam fleet continued at BR workshops such as Derby and Swindon, the first of five four wheeled Railcars built in West Germany by Waggon und Maschinenbau had commenced operating on branch lines in Cambridgeshire.
At Kings Cross in 1959 the first Bay Deltics were operating local services alongside the A3s and A4s on East Coast principal trains, whilst on the West Coast class 40 Diesels were taking over from the Duchesses on the principal trains.
Following successful trails of BRC&W class26 in 1960 on the Highland Line, all were eventually delivered to Inverness, the last being withdrawn in 1993. The first section of the WCML was completed in September 1960 and at Battersea Wharf in Oct 1963 a line of class 81/82/83 and 84 electrics were exhibited by BR, all in the new electric blue livery. In November 1962 the last LMS Princess was withdrawn having run a leg of the RCTS/SLS Aberdeen flyer in June.
On the WR the last four Kings were withdrawn in December1962. At that time 32 classes of diesel and electric locomotives were in service totalling 3100 diesel and 189 electric locomotives. On the LMR yellow stripes were appearing on cab sides banned from working south of Crewe, and more steam and diesel were seen double heading for diesel crew training purposes.
December 1965 saw the end of steam on the WR and the last steam hauled express ran on the ER between York and Newcastle. Class 20 D8048 was the first diesel to be painted in BR blue livery on the 9th June 1966. On the SR the last few Merchant Navy class engines were running flat out with the Waterloo-Weymouth services which ended steam on the region on 9th July 1967.
The next generation of diesel locomotives designated class 50 were introduced into service on the northern half of the WCML following testing in June 1967, and on September 9th steam on the ER came to an end, fittingly in the NE on a coal train.
The LMR now had the remaining steam sheds in the NW. Tebay for banking engines closed on 31 December1967, duties taken over by class 17 Claytons from Carnforth, and soon Bolton, Rose Grove and Lostock Hall would close leaving Carnforth as the last operating shed to dispose Black fives 44871 and 44781 on 11thAugust 1968.
Despite the introduction of corporate blue livery, the WR were running Westerns and Warships in sand and maroon livery and plain green and two-tone green predominated on all regions.
Alan Pegler had obtained permission to run ‘Flying Scotsman’ on the main line despite the steam ban, and other steam engines that were bought from BR were now running on preserved lines or towed dead to open days. At the end of this period in 1972 full yellow ends were becoming common and the introduction of TOPS removed the need for the D prefix on diesel locomotives which were renumbered into classes. By mid-1972 393 pilot plan diesels had been scrapped some with less than five years use rendering 11 classes extinct.

Up to 1972 only 26 locomotives had left Barry scrapyard, but in the next ten years many more would go to preservation lines. Some would take years to rebuild as funds became available, and through the perseverance of dedicated groups some would steam again on the mainlines.

Last updated: 6th May 2019