Guide to traffic in branch area
Monday 8th April 2019
'West Country in 1960s and1970s'
On April 8th , John Cashen presented his talk "West Country in 1960s and 1970s" comprising steam and diesel in black and white and colour.
His talk was divided into three sections:-
(a) Bristol - Templecombe, Dorset and East Devon
(b) Exeter - Penzance
(c) The Withered Arm, and Exeter – Bristol
He commenced with steam locomotives at the Bristol M.P.Ds followed by the Somerset and Dorset featuring 58086, 53800 and 53809 on Bath Green Park M.P.D. GWR locos 2219 and 3216 on Highbridge to Evercreech Junction trains. The RCTS and SLS Farewell Tours of S and D in 1966 with 34013 and 48706 respectively at Shepton Mallet were seen.
With the aid of a map, John explained that S and D trains had to be banked into and out of the main station at Templecombe.
This was followed by S.R.steam hauled trains between Poole and Weymouth. The unusual practice of reversing up trains into the platform at Dorchester South prior to 1970 was highlighted.
Many S.R. Pacifics on passenger trains and S15s on freights featured on the main line from Templecombe to Exeter with 30583 on Lyme Regis branch, 41292 and 80067 on Sidmouth Junction to Sidmouth/Exmouth. Departmental DS 219 at Broad Clyst and Z class 30951 on Exmouth Junction shed.
Many diesel hauled trains with Class 47,50,52 and "Peaks"were seen at Exeter St Davids including a pair of Hastings units Nos 1033 and 1031 on a train to Brighton. He highlighted the different track layout from that of today. Some very pleasant views of trains passing Dawlish and Newton Abbot with excellent views of stations, M.P.D. and Works were shown. Thereon appeared diesel hauled trains on the South Devon banks in pleasant settings before reaching Plymouth and on to Penzance with DMUs on the various Cornish branches.
Predominately S.R. Pacifics and Moguls featured on the "Withered Arm" at Wadebridge, Padstow, Halwill Junction, llfracombe, Barnstaple Junction (interesting view of station and layout from the west), and Okehampton.
Finally visits made to Tiverton Junction showing Hall class No 4902, 1442 on plinth in Tiverton Town Centre and passenger train at Hemyock with one LNER coach. He finished by showing Bristol Bath Road shed with diesel Bristol Pullman and a similar shot at night followed by views of the scrap yard.
A most enjoyable evening with each photo well documented with location and the loco numbers specified.
Thursday 4th April 2019
'A Tribute to the Late Hugh Ballentyne'
On 4 April John Chalcraft presented ‘A tribute to the late Hugh Ballantyne’.
The images were mainly black and white from 1952 to the mid-sixties and showed the rail network countrywide, including some of the secondary and rural routes such as the Mildenhall Branch, many of which are now just a memory.
From the West Country to East Anglia and then to Scotland via the West Coast we saw a selection of high quality images taken from 1952 onwards with steam traction dominating the scene. Hugh had favourite locations and workings including Dainton Bank, Twerton Tunnel and Swindon Works running in turns, and many of the locomotive depots open during the period, both large and small, including the one road sheds at Tewkesbury and Brimscombe.
On the Great Western the last King, 6018, was seen together with withdrawn V2 locomotives awaiting scrapping at Swindon Works, new diesels at Radyr and also SR traction at Goring troughs.
On the ECML a new Deltic was seen on Holloway Bank together with Pacific and freight traction at Grantham including a visit to the loco depot and the last day on the Immingham trams was also shown.
We ventured north to Scotland with familiar scenes at Shap and Beattock with banking engines working hard on their customary duties and the little known Killin Branch in the Highlands also featured.
The final sequence was The Somerset and Dorset route with many well known landmarks shown including the station and loco depot at Bath Green Park, the viaduct at Midford and the pre-closure special workings. All images were well documented and also showed the surrounding railway infrastructure as far as possible.
This was an excellent presentation and is highly recommended to other branches.
Monday 11th March 2019
Swindon Works -The Golden Years- Plus [From 1914]
Rev Canon Brian Arman (Bristol)
On March 11th Society President Brian Arman paid a return visit to present Swindon Works-The Golden Years plus(1914 onwards) .
We started with The Trip, a series of special trains run for employees during the works closure in the first week of July. The varied destinations included St Ives, Falmouth,Tenby and Birkenhead with others opting for day trips to places like Weston-Super-Mare.
During the Great War the works was heavily involved in the manufacture of Field Guns, munitions and also the conversion of coaching stock as ambulance trains for the transportation of casualties. Also some employees made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield especially in the 1916 Battle of The Somme.
Post war much of the GWR rolling stock fleet was in a run down state and with the grouping, more run down stock was inherited from the smaller companies, some of it out of use for many years. Charles Collett replaced George Churchward as CME in 1922 and endeavoured to reorganise the way overhauls were undertaken in order to minimise the period in works, sometimes having to repair stock before it was replaced. A royal visit in 1924 by the King and Queen was featured with the King being permitted to drive Castle Class Loco 4082 Windsor Castle from the works to the station. Collett was responsible for much updating of the GWR Locomotive fleet and introduced the Castles, Kings and Halls to replace earlier designs, as well as tank engines for South Wales rural and urban services in the region.
The locomotive exchange trials of 1925 and 1948 were shown including a Class A1 at Newton Abbot in 1925 and a King at Wakefield Westgate in 1948.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to complete the presentation so Brian will return next year.
Thursday 21st February 2019
Rain, Grain and Grime
Richard Adderson (Norwich)
On February 21st our guest was Richard Adderson to present Rail, Grain and Grime (BR Steam August 66 to August 68). This was a selection of scanned black and white images he had taken depicting the decline of BR steam traction in the country.
Starting on the south western route from Basingstoke to Waterloo, the surviving classes were shown on a variety of trains including top link workings, and was subsequently revisited, including the final day in July 67 where he travelled on the last up working having visited Weymouth depot to see the now redundant locomotives.
The final days of the Great Central were also shown with the reduced service from Marylebone to Nottingham in the hands of a neglected pool of Black Fives and also workings on the West Midlands and former Cambrian routes.
The swansong of the East Coast Pacifics and Britannias on passenger services in Scotland including the Northern Irish Boat train to Stranraer was shown together with local freight workings and visits to many of the surviving steam depots.
After recording the final steam workings in the north east, the north west area was highlighted depicting the many workings before their demise in August 68.There were favourite locations such as Carnforth, Preston where two steam operated pilots still found work, and Carlisle where the overnight sleeper was used to travel around, a favourite train being the Britannia hauled 8.32pm mixed train to Perth.
The Shap and Grayrigg banking locos were seen together with many visits to the local steam depots to record the neglected surviving classes. A memorable trip was a Preston to Barrow service with a Fairburn tank replacing a failed diesel unit. Both the traction and stations looked uncared for and this was reflected in the images.
Sad but very nostalgic.
Monday 11th February 2019
The Harwich Branch
On February 11th our booked speaker was unable to attend, so John Day stepped into the breach to present Ipswich-A Railway Junction in the East.
From Sproughton in the north to Brantham in the south and the Felixstowe Branch, the whole area was extensively covered over the past sixty years using a selection of high quality colour images and archive material from the local museum.
The station approaches and tunnel at the south end featured and also outside the station which has been extensively remodelled over many years to cater for increased passenger flows post electrification in 1987.
The docks ceased to be rail served in the early nineties and the now lifted Lower Yard, which once employed three shunting locomotives, were shown together with the recently modernised Top Yard used for the stabling of Freightliner services.
The site of the original station at Croft Street, the Griffin Wharf Branch and the recently opened north curve were also featured.
Among the many firsts, were new electric passenger and freight services in the eighties, Class 150 Sprinter units and the new Class 66 for Freightliner operations.
John's extensive contacts ensured coverage of many unusual or special workings including a Class 315 EMU, a short lived Class 92 hauled Freightliner, and numerous steam hauled workings over the period.
Many images were taken from Belstead Bank to the south, and above the southern portal of the tunnel, with some locations now precluding a repeat visit owing to vegetation growth.
The area continues to evolve with complete replacement of the passenger fleet this year and the proposed transfer of the locomotive stabling point to a site adjacent to the Top Yard.
Our grateful thanks to John for stepping in at such short notice
Monday 14th January 2019
A Modern Traction Miscellany (Full title to be Announced)
John Hooson (Gt Baddow)
On 14 January our guest was John Hooson to present A Modern Traction Miscellany.
We started with an Inter-City Class 47 hauling a diverted West Coast Main Line service on the Settle and Carlisle route and BR sectorisation workings were the predominant theme of the evening.
More diverted workings were seen and also some of the gypsum and other freight services hauled by then new Class 60s together with what would now be called heritage traction taken from familiar locations.
37073 "Fort William" passes Stowmarket wth a Doncaster-Harwich Enterprise service on 24th May 1997 Bev Steele
At Pangbourne we saw a variety of workings including Class 47 hauled cross country services, IC HSTs and numerous freights, the images taken from the high overbridge near the station, together with scenes at Slough and Didcot and NSE workings in the Salisbury area.
In Cornwall China Clay workings were seen on the mainline and Fowey Harbour branch, being mainly Class 37 worked, with some images taken from unfamiliar locations.
On Teeside, the metals and mineral workings hauled by Class 56s with the transporter bridge in the background.
The North Wales Coast route and the Marches route through Shrewsbury featured the now discontinued Class 37 hauled through services from Euston to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli and also the steel traffic to South Wales. At least the semaphore signalling network at Shrewsbury is still extant.
A virtual GM free evening with only a single Class 66 seen.
Thursday 13th December 2018
A Years Travel on the Rail Network 2016
Terence Jenner (Northampton)
On December 13th our guest was Terence Jenner to present The Rail Network in 2016.
He started by outlining his background having joined the then British Rail in the legal department, which was comparatively small compared to the present set up, and served over 38 years including on the BR Board and was responsible for the disposal of non-core assets such as Sea link and BR Hotels.
We started locally at Norwich with diesel locomotive hauled service to the coast and then commenced a journey around England and Wales. Many locations were visited including Knaresborough, Redditch, Wrexham and Ebbw Vale where the virtually new Funicular railway is proving somewhat unreliable. Other locations included Wakefield Kirkgate and Penarth and also the East Midlands area which has been relatively untouched since privatisation. Not all the images featured a train and the only steam locomotive seen was on the ex-BR Vale of Rheidol network in Wales.
The story of saving Marylebone from closure was related and the comparison with today shown, including the new service to Oxford Parkway.
The contrast of forward planning on Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham tramway networks was highlighted, although it appears that the much delayed Sheffield train-tram project is working well. Re-use of redundant railway assets was featured with an example being the redundant signal box at Torquay now a wool shop.
Finally there was a discussion on the merits or otherwise of railway privatisation.
This was an interesting comparison with rail and tram networks of today.
Monday 10th December 2018
AGM followed by “Nine in Ninety”
Our Branch AGM was held on 10 December with 33 members present, our highest AGM attendance in many years or perhaps they were attracted by the festive goodies on offer later.
All the committee were re-elected on bloc and we then proceeded to our presentation Nine in Ninety where members had ten minutes on their own railway subject.
First was The Medloc Railway describing a journey by troop train from Dieppe to Toulon in the fifties followed by Darlington North Road Museum and Hopetown Works to see the P2 Mikado under construction. The rail network of both islands of New Zealand was featured prior to the break including former BR Mk2 carriages that worked our local Inter City services until 2004.
Afterwards we saw steam on the Mid Suffolk Light Railway showing all locomotives on the preserved line since 2002 and a Scandinavian Sojourn featuring a Great Railways tour around Sweden and Norway last summer including the heavy iron ore trains in the north.
Next was The Statfold Barn Railway, a two foot narrow gauge network located on a farm near Tamworth, showing operations and static exhibits on one of their enthusiast days where you must apply to be invited and then a retired fitter related problems with the early diesel locomotives on the Felixstowe Branch especially Class 15 Paxmans.
Our penultimate presentation was from Wenecja do Rzymu (Venice to Rome) on the six hundred millimetre narrow gauge network and museum in Poland featuring many of locomotives and rolling stock located there.
We concluded with Railways in Winter featuring local, national and international locations including the Settle and Carlisle line and The Harz Mountains network.
An excellent evening and our grateful thanks to both contributors and John Day for compiling the programme.
Tuesday 13th November 2018
(To) Tebay on EBay
Dave Pearce (Norwich)
On November 13 our guest was Dave Pearce to present Tebay from E bay. This was a selection of mainly b/w images purchased from the on line auction site featuring the UK rail network over many years. Bidding can be very competitive for the above with three figure sums not unknown and Dave had missed out on some items as bidding was too high.
We started and finished in the Tebay area and the ascent of Shap where panoramic views were shown from the 50s and 60s including the former North Eastern branch to Kirkby Stephen showing mainly steam workings, some taken from what is now the M6. Some of the negatives were in a somewhat sorry state with no date and location given, but with modern software processing and some research, the end results were very pleasing.
Other locations shown included the ECML, the Bradford and Leeds area and also the Alnwick branch not forgetting the former GC route from Marylebone and also the Lancashire and Yorkshire areas in the steam era.
Some atmospheric night images included a passenger train at Bury Knowsley Street, a Black 5 being prepared at Patricroft shed, and also industrial steam at the Pilkington Glassworks, and vintage scenes at Lowestoft Sleeper Depot.
Panned shots were also shown,some taken by professional rail staff, who used their unique trackside access to good effect.
Scotland and Wales also featured including the Barmouth Viaduct and a railtour at Kyle of Localsh.
The oldest image was from 1924 showing the WCML near Hatch End with the LT Metropolitan route in the background.
Colour images included Euston approach in 1969, a Class 40 on the Waverley route and a 4TC set near Weymouth just prior to the end of steam in 1967.
We look forward to the sequel.
Thursday 25th October 2018-
Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt
On 25 October our guest was Bob Gellatly to present Retford through the lens of the late Keith Pirt.
Both of the routes that converge on the town were covered extensively in a series of high quality images of steam workings taken lineside during the late fifties and early sixties. The former GC route from Sheffield to Lincoln crossed the former GN route on the flat at the southern end, the routes being connected by sharp curves at both ends of the station. The adjacent signal box, Retford South, must have been extremely busy until the crossing was replaced by a dive under in 1965 to cater for an increase in coal traffic to the new power stations by the River Trent.
Class A1 60120 "Kittiwake" departs Retford with the up-Yorkshire Pullman in June 1961 Keith Pirt
The local freight yards, track and signalling diagrams also featured, along with the many fine bracket signals in the area and also a comprehensive look at the ex-GC loco shed at Thrumpton but the ex-GN loco shed adjacent to the station did not feature.
The GN route showed many of the usual express passenger and fast freight workings, some taken in slightly cool conditions, concentrating on the southern section which included some at his favourite locations crossing the River Idle, the climb south up Gamston Bank and the summit at Askham tunnel. The signal
Monday 8th October 2018
The Waverley Route
Dennis Lovett (Somerset)
On October 8 our guest was Dennis Lovett who presented The Waverley Route.
The North British Railway constructed the 98 mile route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle from 1849 onwards notwithstanding delaying tactics by the Caledonian Railway over running rights around Edinburgh. There were 28 stations, some in very rural locations and three major loco depots at St Margarets, Hawick and Carlisle Canal along with sub sheds supplying banking engines for the major summits at Falahill and Whitrope.
It was controversially closed to all passenger traffic by British Rail in January 1969 although local freight lingered on for a while longer, and there was subsequently a population drift away from the area as a result. A small section still survives to connect various industrial outlets to Carlisle Kingmoor yard.
However in 2006, after a sustained campaign led by a lady named Madge Elliot MBE, the Scottish Government authorised the reinstatement of nearly 40 miles of track from Newcraighall near Edinburgh to a new station at Tweedbank north of Melrose. Construction began in 2010 and it is said that the whole population of Galashiels witnessed the arrival of the track laying machine in 2015 to prove to themselves that it was really happening. Some of the original infrastructure such as the Lothian viaduct was still extant and in good condition but some stations were relocated as close as possible to their original site. Local roads were altered and properties acquired and demolished so that the route could follow its original alignment. It was finally reopened in September 2015 and traffic levels since then have far exceeded expectations despite much of it being single line.
The ambition is to reconnect south to the towns of Melrose and Hawick and ultimately Carlisle although there are some challenging infrastructure hurdles to overcome.
Monday 10th September 2018
50 Years of Scottish Railways Part 2 – Dundee to the Far North & Kyle
David MacLean (Gissing)
On September 10 our guest was David MacLean to present From Dundee to the Far North & Kyle of Localsh.
Our journey commenced at The Tay Bridge with a Class 40 hauled passenger service and we saw various images taken in the area over many years from on train and trackside. The 1879 Tay Bridge disaster was recalled featuring the recently dedicated memorial to the victims and scenes on Dundee loco shed in both the steam and diesel era including many A2 Pacifics, various mixed traffic classes and even a P2 Mikado. Diesels included the unsuccessful North British Class 22/29 which were common in the area, Class 47s on push pull services and more modern traction.
Class 67 on a pipe train at Laurencekirk David MacLean
Many of the scenes at Aberdeen featured the three hour express services to Glasgow hauled by the surviving A4 Pacifics contrasting with modern refurbished HST sets on crew training duties and also the now replaced numerous signal gantries on the approach to both ends of the station.
Also Ferryhill and Kittybrewster depots were shown featuring both steam and diesel traction including an A4 Pacific and ex LMS Duchess Pacific on shed together, and many Type 2 diesel locomotives.
Moving North West towards Inverness, evidence of investment on the route includes new sidings at Dyce for the oil industry, the doubling of six miles of track west of Dyce and a relocated station at Forres. We also saw views around the locomotive works at Inverurie closed in 1969.
We ran out of time so the remainder of the programme will be shown at a future date. Highly recommended!
Last updated: 2nd May 2019