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Tuesday 14th March 2017
Moving London Forward
Patrick Griffen

We were treated to an excellent up-to-date presentation this evening with a talk by Patrick Griffin on the Crossrail Project.
We learnt that is was to be a high frequency, high capacity, urban Metro style service through the centre of London stopping at all stations. Running from Maidenhead in the west to Shenfield & Abbey Wood in the east, with a branch to Heathrow airport, this will replace the current Heathrow Express service.
Each of the 66, 9-car trains will be 200m long, capable of carrying 1500 passengers per train. Through central London there will be 24 trains/hr.
It will be running through 43 km of new tunnels, which created 6m tonnes of excavated spoil, which was taken out to the Essex Marshes to create one of Europe’s largest nature reserves.
During construction 4000 sensors were placed on buildings above ground as a precaution to monitor any structural movement.
Dynamic testing will start in 8 month’s time, when a train will be running to check all systems. As of today the programme is 80% complete and on time.
The main depot will be Old Oak Common where a new facility has been built, a 9 road depot and 33 sidings.
To complete the project there still has to be 500km of cable laid, 4000 lamps to be fitted and 45000 holes to be drilled.

An evening full of facts and figures supported by interesting and superbly taken photographs. All this attracted our best evening attendance for quite some time.

(Attendance tonight 37}

Tuesday 28th February 2017
That Was The Year That Was - 1967
Geoff Plumb

We were treated to a photographic spectacle from this afternoon’s speaker Geoff Plumb.
Firstly, how the complete composition of the photograph makes it special. Geoff’s pictures rarely just showed the locomotive in close up. Secondly be patient and persistent. Several of sequences shown were of the same subject, when Geoff was chasing the train, either by motorbike or car, obviously showing the subject in various locations and with different light conditions and different angles, making the subject more interesting.
We travelled around the UK, but Yorkshire was the firm favourite both for the industrial scene and the landscape, showing some fantastic views of both. During the meeting, we saw the railways in and around Leeds, and London, particularly around Waterloo.
We also visited the S & C, the Dart Valley, Carnforth and the Manchester area.
There were also great shots of the Ffestiniog and Snowdon Mountain Railway and many other places around country.
Just for good measure a few trams & trolley buses were included.

A superb afternoon’s entertainment for our largest attendance for some time and a real memory jogger for most of us, as “This was the Year that was 1967”

Attendance 35

Tuesday 14th February 2017
French Tramways, A 21st Century Phenomenon
Reg Harman

“French Tramways, a 21st century phenomenon” this was the title of tonight’s presentation by ex-Transport Consultant to Herts,CC. Reg Harman.
The evening was full of facts and detail, which highlighted the differences our two countries have when it comes to the actual planning process for new infrastructure. Where in France all the separate departments get on with their own priorities and come together to make the project happen, unlike here in the UK.
One of the really interesting facts that emerged was that in the last 35 years the French have moved from 3 tramways in the 1980s to 25 today, all seemingly using very modern rolling stock, any old/heritage stock being kept for special running days.
Reg’s pictures highlighted the huge effect that trams have on city centre traffic, by using the mass transit system from outlying districts running right into the heart of the cities.
The complete presentation was about ninety minutes but Reg had far more questions to answer from members than we would normally see.

A fascinating evening and something quite different.
Members present 25

Tuesday 31st January 2017
The Isle of Man Railway
Geoff Brockett

Geoff Brockett visited us today with his presentation on “The Railways of the Isle of Man”.
The subject brought in three specific guests because of their interest in the I.o.M, plus two visitors seeing what we were about, having picked our meeting details at the recent CMRA exhibition.
The presentation covered all five of the railways and tramways on the island and Geoff’s enthusiasm for the places and subject was astonishing and backed up with some superb photographs, giving the impression of a stunning sun drenched island. During the afternoon, we witnessed many of the steam and diesel locos, a huge variety of tramcars from the horse drawn ones through to the latest electric powered ones. There were also the special trams and special trains that are turned out on those very auspicious occasions and heritage running days.
Mentioned as we progressed were many historical facts about the railways and the island, such is Geoff’s interest there. Also photographed in some detail were the Groudle Glen Railway (2ft gauge) and the Scarfell Mountain Railway with its somewhat circuitous route to the peak.

A thoroughly enjoyable informative afternoon, so it was such a pity we had to finish and venture back into the cold and grey outdoors again.

Members present 34

Tuesday 10th January 2017
A Railwayman Remembers
Dave Cockle

Dave Cockle with his talk “A Railwayman Remembers” set our 2017 programme underway with a lively talk about some of his experiences after thirty-eight years on the railway.
Born and bred in Enfield, close to the station, Dave’s career was on track at the age of fourteen after being asked by station staff to run an errand to the signal box. Whilst there he was shown around and a very serious interest in the railways was underway.
We followed in detail one of our local routes, from Finsbury Park to Stevenage via Hertford North, with explanations on most of the signal boxes and junctions along the route, with many interesting stories, amusing anecdotes and some of the disasters along the way.
After a promotion made his work office based, Dave was pleased to accept a role back on the front line at Bounds Green depot. He later moved positions again, to become an inspector of sub-contractors who were requiring track access, ensuring all safety aspects and regulations were in order. As you can imagine some amazing tales were told about things happening in this role.
In his later years on the railway, Dave became an Operations Manager controlling 100 staff before becoming Operations Inspector at Kings Cross.
A fascinating and amusing evening from a gentleman with a wealth of railway knowledge and a passion for what and how this was carried out.

Tuesday 20th December 2016
Wisconsin Central
John Day

Ipswich Branch member John Day visited us this afternoon to give us his presentation on the Wisconsin Central Railroad, “The Birth and Death of a Railroad”. The company had entirely a diesel fleet of locomotives, none of which had ever been purchased from new, they always purchased redundant or second hand locomotives, these were typical American style locos with a single cab at one end. Locos were nearly always worked in multiple to cope with the large loadings and because they often were required to cope with Bryan Hill when leaving Chicago, which was a major problem and a real challenge for locomotives and crew, as it was a four mile fairly steep climb.
Most of WCR loads were containers, but they also carried minerals, grain, cement and pellets used for the manufacture of paper. John was fortunate that when visiting the area he stayed with family, which aided him in being able to get about on various modes of transport at all times of day, particularly when there were steam specials about.
A member questioned why were there so few trees lineside, which make photography difficult here. John explained that much of the land was managed parkland. Also much of the railway had gas and oil pipelines running alongside.
We finished the afternoon looking at the running into and out of Chicago and its vast freight yards.

A great afternoon, superb photography, supplemented by seasonal mince pies and sausage rolls. Recommended.
Members present 25

Tuesday 13th December 2016
From Rookie Journalist to Grumpy Old Man
David Percival

We started tonight at no better place than our local station, Hitchin, with a picture of a brand new Class 37 in the early 60s, certainly one of our local celebrities, David Percival, knew exactly how to grab our attention.
From this point on, throughout the evening, we travelled the country looking at both steam and diesel traction and some fantastic photography and stories about the locations and how David had come to be there.
David’s first published pictures were in the 1962 Ian Allen Combined Volume and from this point onwards David has had pictures and articles in all of the leading railway magazines, plus his pictures have also appeared on their front covers.
He felt it very important to have a day off work to photograph 60103 Flying Scotsman on the final BR steam run on 14th January 1963.
David is a prolific author of articles and books. Currently he writes video scripts and reviews, as well as advising on railway subjects. It was from this point we saw “The Grumpy Old Man” side of him kick in, with his criticism of books and magazines for producing the wrong captions or dates on their pictures and even to the way the photographs and captions are displayed on the page.
A superbly entertaining evening and some fantastic pictorial memories.

Tuesday 29th November 2016
Blue Diesel Days
Mike Robinson

‘Blue Diesel Days’ was the title of Mike Robinson’s presentation today at Welwyn Garden City. It was a fascinating look back at relatively modern history and what a superb insight into the recent past it was.
The tour started at Derby, the base from where Mike worked for some time after transferring there from places further north. There were a few exceptions to blue traction during the afternoon, such as a look at the APT both in and out of works, then there was the return of 4472 from the USA in 1973. Amongst these short excursions, we looked at least eighteen different classes of diesel and electric locomotives, following on from the demise of the steam era, through to the late 1980s and some of those locomotives that survive from then, that are still being used on charter trains today.
Continuing on from our start at Derby and the Midlands we toured almost all the areas of the country, also finding some of the traction that was sometimes isolated to a particular region or location.
All of the members present could readily identify with the period and traction covered today, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and much appreciated.

Wednesday 9th November 2016
Historical and Technical Background of the Southern Railway
Richard Allen

Local Branch member Richard Allen was tonights speaker, talking about one of his passions and part of his work on the Southern Region. We started with an explanation of how the power for the region developed over the years, originating with an a.c. catenary system on the LBSC railway. As majority of the components needed had to be imported, this provided the impetus to experiment and introduce the d.c. third rail system that worked very well.
Up to the formation of the National Grid, the railway companies had their own power stations, sub stations and distribution network, parts of which can be seen today.
Richard then followed on with the changing appearance and need for improved rolling and signalling, highlighting the prestigious Brighton Belle Pullman service. Southern also developed new stations and upgraded many others as development of the south of England continued, although many stations were simply concrete and corrugated iron structures.
A brief look followed for the need of luggage vans and the specific rolling stock for the boat trains and the use of class 71 and 73 locos on the region, a check on the branch and rural lines axed by Beeching, before concluding with Eurostar and the cross-channel freight services.
A superb opening meeting for the 26 members and guests at our new venue.

Tuesday 25th October 2016
London to Paris by Train
Michael Bunn

One the Branchs most popular speakers, Michael Bunn, returned this afternoon to talk about the route and how its changed over the years between London and Paris.
The presentation started with the reasons that the Eurostar services switched from London Waterloo to London St. Pancras, also showing the re-construction of St. Pancras station. This was followed by travelling along the line looking at rolling stock and stations through to Tonbridge. Here Michael stopped to look at the vast changes that have occurred, from the easing of the curve on the mainline to allow for 100 mph. running, to the re-designed yards for the storage of commuter stock, many types of locos, freight and maintenance vehicles that are required to keep the railway running.
The talk progressed along looking at the new Ashford station and on to the Channel Tunnel. All through the journey Michael was taking us back to the years gone by when this line was steam worked and the famous Golden Arrow was the prestige service to the Channel ports.
We spent a short time at Dollands Moor and the other Channel tunnel services before reaching France. Once here, the same style of presentation continued through to Paris Gare du Nord. It was surprising to see many familiar locos in this area such as Classes 66 & 87s alongside many varieties of French locos, EMUs & DMUs.
A great afternoons entertainment making up for the grey, cold, cloudy weather outside.
Attendance 29

Wednesday 12th October 2016
More Archive Films
Frank Banfield

Tonight we were in a very nostalgic mode with More Archive Films from one of regular presenters, Frank Banfield, along with his cine projector.
We started the show with a film of Royal Scot 6170 on shed at Longsight (9A) showing all the regular service procedures between duties on the WCML. This film was made by the LMS in 1936.
Frank followed this with an Alan Wilmott film from 1967 Train Ride to Devils Bridge. During the rest of the programme a couple of highlights were a 1926+ comedy How to run a Railway or not, as case maybe, and a film with No.7 Owen Glendour on the Vale of Rheidol Railway.
As always it was a good. light hearted, evening, tinged with some regret as it was our last evening in what can only be described as an almost perfect venue for us for so many reasons.

Wednesday 14th September 2016
Mangapps Farm Railway
John Jolly

We opened our new season after our August break with a brilliant talk by John Jolly, owner of the Mangapps Farm Museum in Essex. Rarely for a speaker these days John simply talked to us, no visual aids at all and what a fascinating and enthralling evening we had. Starting when he was a teenager John had to leave college to help on the family farm when his uncle died, he was a partner in the farm. John is still a farmer to this day.
His railway interest began simply as a spotter in the Colchester area near to his home, with an occasional trip with his mother back to Darlington, her home town. A couple of school trips to Stratford shed added to his enthusiasm.
The farm then was adjacent to the Mid Suffolk line and John started collecting railway bits and pieces. Not long after then, moving to Mangapps Farm, John was offered Brampton Station buildings complete, which he re-erected.
Word of this soon spread and other offers came in, which he found difficult to refuse. Along with these was a loco (Diesel class 04). His passion continued to grow to this day and now he has seven steam locomotives, fifteen diesels, three stations, plenty of rolling stock including a caboose from Canada and a mile of track.

What a brilliant story of how you can succeed with a good fortune and hard work, plus, of course, friends and people who can help.

Tuesday 16th August 2016
Leighton Buzzard Railway

Our August meeting, a visit to the Leighton Buzzard Railway, consisting of a combination of members from both our Hitchin & Welwyn Garden City venues, that turned out to be the largest group (15) the Branch has had for an outdoor visit.
Our train was the 1040 hrs from Pages Park, the weather was extremely kind with a brilliantly warm sunny day, the railway staff were most kind and helpful making every effort to make us welcome and going the extra mile to ensure our wheel chair member was able to get on board and was comfortable in the special disability carriage. The icing on the cake was that we were steam hauled throughout the day, hauled by ex BICC (Gravesend) loco Woto and driven by the owner Patrick Keef. The engine was in superb condition and performed brilliantly.
Some our party stayed at the end of the line to spend time at Stonehenge Works, to look at the quarry site and equipment before returning, while others came back to the Pages Park terminus to look around the engine sheds and to indulge in some refreshment.
The party then spilt with some staying put, while others went on to The Fancott Garden Railway on the way home. This was, in fact, a garden railway owned and run by The Fancott Arms public house. Some members took a ride around the loop within the grounds, twice round the loop per ride, plus more welcome liquid refreshment in the 75 degree temperature.

A day very much enjoyed by everyone who came along. Our thanks to Branch Chairman Dr. Steve Lacey for arranging the day.

Tuesday 26th July 2016
Addlestone to Beijing
Andy Davies and Irene Rabbits

This month we were superbly entertained at Welwyn GC by Irene Rabbitts & Andy Davies with the presentation of their journey from 'Addlestone to Beijing'.
This journey was made using fourteen different trains & various other modes of transport including two horses. Throughout the journey many locos were photographed & recorded, including a couple of sections where there was a track gauge change. Andy managed record the bogie change operation in each case, as the train divided prior to shunted through the shed & lifted on the jacks.
Not only did we see the different trains, rolling stock etc as we passed through the different countries, but on a few occasions the train changes allowed time for some sightseeing. The sights & views of Moscow in particular, were stunning (in most places). Some time was also spent using the Moscow underground to travel around, during which time Andy managed some fabulous views of the interiors of the vast underground stations & their interior decoration. Only once the whole time away, were they approached for taking photos, this gentleman was assumed to be a jobsworth.
A great deal of freight was noted in many various forms, from car carriers, coal, containers to military trains. Also around these eastern countries there were very plinthed locos, all of which seemed in remarkably good condition and very pleasing to look at.
After arriving in China, and before the flight home, Andy & Irene managed a walk along a section of the Great Wall amongst other things.

I for one was very envious of them for having such a fabulous journey and completed almost without any rain.

The meeting was attended by 22 members & guests

Wednesday 13th July 2016
Addlestone to Beijing
Andy Davies and Irene Rabbits

This month we were superbly entertained at our Hitchin venue by Irene Rabbitts & Andy Davies with the presentation of their journey from 'Addlestone to Beijing'.
This journey was made using fourteen different trains & various other modes of transport including two horses. Throughout the journey many locos were photographed & recorded, including a couple of sections where there was a track gauge change. Andy managed record the bogie change operation in each case, as the train divided prior to shunted through the shed & lifted on the jacks.
Not only did we see the different trains, rolling stock etc as we passed through the different countries, but on a few occasions the train changes allowed time for some sightseeing. The sights & views of Moscow in particular, were stunning (in most places). Some time was also spent using the Moscow underground to travel around, during which time Andy managed some fabulous views of the interiors of the vast underground stations & their interior decoration. Only once the whole time away, were they approached for taking photos, this gentleman was assumed to be a jobsworth.
A great deal of freight was noted in many various forms, from car carriers, coal, containers to military trains. Also around these eastern countries there were very plinthed locos, all of which seemed in remarkably good condition and very pleasing to look at.
After arriving in China, and before the flight home, Andy & Irene managed a walk along a section of the Great Wall amongst other things.

I for one was very envious of them for having such a fabulous journey and completed almost without any rain.

The meetings was attended by 22 members & guests

Tuesday 31st May 2016
A Fifth Colour Rail Journey
Paul Chancellor

We were delighted to see the return of Paul Chancellor today to present his Fifth Colour Rail Journey. The first few minutes Paul took time to explain the details of his business and the deterioration of film etc. and how they can enhance old photographs and slides and why we should always make provision in our will for them to be donated to a society or someone like himself who can save them for everyones enjoyment.
The surprise with Pauls presentations is that you never know where they will take you. Today we started at Crewe, where better, with views around the works, both north and south sheds, the yards and station, with all sorts of locos and diesels plus several oddities.
Oxford was our next stop, which was host to locos from across all regions of the network. Here we also saw an experimental dmu dating from 1938, through to 92220 Evening Star and up to the early twenty first century. The area now has changed totally compared to many of the photographs seen here.
We also visited Perth, Dundee, Exeter, and Teeside where we looked at many of the small sheds in the area, prior to Thornaby taking over from most of them with the introduction of diesels.
We finished with a round-up of the London sheds, including a picture of Flying Scotsman carrying the number E103.

A fascinating afternoon, in which we saw the new, the old, the clean, the dirty and also some of the ugliest locos known.

Tuesday 26th April 2016
The History of the A4s
Martin Bloxham

At today's meeting we were treated to the History of the A4s with Martin Bloxham.
A local speciality for us situated on the ECML, Martin started at the basics, explaining the detail of the design of the boiler, the cylinders, the firebox etc. and how the design developed along with his own interest in railways and in particular his love of these powerful machines.
Once complete, several of the engines were named after the directors of the LNER, with one slight anomaly which was No.7, this particular locomotive being the one hundreth Pacific loco to be built by the company and aptly named after Sir Nigel Gresley.
Martin went on to explain how the design of the streamlining came about, and how the Company went on to promote the A4s with the named trains of the LNER, a success largely due to the excellent publicity department on the region.
During wartime the A4s, like most other locos, were painted black and reduced to operating more mundane services and freight trains. These engines remained in black livery for some time after 1945 and only smartened up again when a major overhaul became due.
We went on to complete the session with views of the locomotives in service until the end of steam.
Todays attendance was 24 members / 12 visitors

Wednesday 13th April 2016
Heritage Railways Part 1
Bernie Holland

This evening we continued our look at the Heritage lines around the country with a great friend of the Branch, Bernie Holland, and in all we covered twelve lines.
Starting with the Severn Valley, we went right back in time to see the operation the lines and its system complete before all the various closures started. We went on to see the many of the locomotives that formed the Severn Valley fleet, along with shots of some of the many visitors to the lines such as Clun Castle, Sir Lamiel, Leander to name just a few.
We heard about the Mid Hants railway, and here we saw a selection of photographs when Met No. 1 was on loan.
We were very much encouraged to visit the Gloucester & Warwickshire, one of Bernie's real loves, where we saw some rare pictures of County Class locos along with Benie's considerable history lesson about the line.
To complete the evening there was a smattering of pictures past & present with diesels in charge, finishing off with several shots from the various Steam on the Met weekends.
A huge subject and a fascinating evening.
Tonights attendance was 23 members and 2 visitors

Tuesday 29th March 2016
Railways in a Cornish Landscape Part 2
Stephen Gay

This afternoon we welcomed back for the tenth time to our Branch, Stephen Gay, this time to present his programme on Railways in a Cornish Landscape, part 2.
Following on from his brief introduction and updating us about his beloved companion Robey (Stephen's beautiful Alsation), we progressed into Cornwall, starting at Truro, with pictures of the viaduct, the Cathedral, the station and Cornwall's busiest signal box, plus a short trip down to Truro Town quay. From here we travelled the single line from Truro to Falmouth crossing the Carnon viaduct, moving on to the single platform stop at Penmere and its beautifully kept station garden. This prompted stories associated with the 1950s and 60s about the best kept stations and their awards.
A visit to Cambourne and a look at the Richard Trevethic statue just outside the station, prompted Stephen to read us one of his poems, for Stephen is also quite a prolific poet.
We also heard poems, slightly away from Cornwall, later in the programme about The Flying Scotsman and another about Doncaster.
Continuing on we followed the line from Gwinear Road to Helston and Mullion, finally finishing with the shortest, and possibly the most scenic, of all the Cornish branch lines between St. Erth and St. Ives.
To obtain the quality of pictures as we saw today must have taken endless patience and dedication, plus considerable skill with the camera, but my, was it worth it; just a totally enthralling presentation.

last updated: 18/03/17