Meeting Reports

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Meeting Reports



Monday 25th April 2019

'Tram Opreations of SYPTE'

Christopher Hopkinson

For the final meeting of the 2018/19 session, 20 members and guests assembled for a presentation from Christopher Hopkinson the SYPTE Tram Concession Manager on the Sheffield Tram system.

Christopher started by outlining the main characteristics of the system, the infrastructure and vehicles used. As the system has been operational since 1994, a rail replacement programme is in progress. A recent survey on the use and future of the system showed the majority in favour of continuance.

As most members of the audience were familiar with the original system, the presentation largely concentrated on the recent introduction of the tram/train extension through Rotherham Central to the Parkgate shopping centre. This extension came in late and well over budget. Linking a tram system with the National Rail network meant that many legislature and technical difficulties had to be overcome to satisfy all requirements. Determining the boundaries for OHL and track maintenance and signalling responsibility together with driver training were just a few of the problems faced. However the tram/train is now up and running and has been well received.

There were many questions posed by the audience which Christopher expertly handled, but not all the comments made were complimentary. Our many thanks to Christopher for the expert presentation and handling all the questions posed.

An excellent end to the indoor meeting session.



Monday 11th March 2019
'Ex BR Shunting Locomotives at Home and Abroad'
John Wade

A smaller than usual audience welcomed John Wade on Monday 11th March for his presentation on "Ex BR Shunters at Home and Abroad".
A keen collector of shunting locomotives, John showed his interest by showing examples of all the types of the shunters which had passed into private ownership. Only missing were the classes 12, 13 and the early former company locomotives, compensated by a shot of an LNER J94 steam locomotive.
The coal board had acquired many locomotives from BR mainly of classes 03,04, 08 and 14, and these were shown at many of the former UK collieries largely in run down condition in the 1980s, before and after the miners' strike. The privately owned locomotives were either kept in the BR livery or re-liveried in the company image, some of which showed pride of ownership. Several locomotives gained extra fittings such as lighting, air reservoirs etc. to suit their new operating requirements. A considerable number of the locomotives spent longer in private ownership than their time with BR, particularly the class 14s. Fortunately their time in private ownership allowed many to pass into preservation as BR would have scrapped them at the end of their useful life with BR.
All the slides were accompanied by John's expert knowledge on the classes and their movements after leaving BR. Some locomotives passed through several owners before ending up in preservation. What became apparent was the loss of so much of our industrial infrastructure.

Our many thanks to John for his many trips around the country which provided the audience with his slide presentation and knowledge on the subject of the humble but essential shunting locomotive.

Monday 25th February 2019
'Out and About in the UK & Europe 2016-18'
Robert Pritchard

Robert Pritchard made a welcome return on Monday 25th February to present more pictures of his travels at home and abroad, this time starting in 2017 and finishing in early 2019.
His travels gave him access to locations not normally available to the general population such as depots and workshops. The pictures were in chronological order so the audience were kept in suspense as to where they were heading next. 14 different countries in Europe were visited, which included England, Scotland and Wales in the total.
The range of subjects was vast, including locomotives, units, trams, buildings and the general scene in some of the towns and cities visited. What became obvious was the rapid change in rolling stock now appearing on our rail network with scenes of the new stock being built abroad and in this country.
A thoroughly entertaining and informative evening coupled with excellent photography enjoyed by the smallish audience of 21 members and guests.

Our many thanks to Robert for the presentation and may he continue his travels and come back to us in the near future with more excellent pictures.

Monday 11th February 2019
'Retford through the Lens of Keith Pirt'
Bob Gellatly

The afternoon meeting on Monday 11th February drew 35 members and guests for Bob Gellatly's presentation entitled "Retford through the lens of Keith Pirt". Bob started by profiling Keith's life and his love of railways and living locally, the Retford area was one of his favourite haunts. All the pictures shown were from colour slides, digitally enhanced where necessary.
Following a short history of the railways and industries of the town, we commenced on a journey along the former GC route from west to east. All the pictures were of steam locomotives form the latter days of their operation. A mixture of freight and passenger services gave us shots of B1, J6, J11,K1,K3, O2, O4 and WD 2-8-0 locomotives, with a V2 and a 4MT 2-6-0 as a bonus. Evading the shed foreman, we then managed a quick tour of Thrumpton shed.
Following a short break, the GN route was then traced from north to south. Similar locomotive classes were shown, with the addition of all the LNER Pacific classes, with more V2s and an L1 and B16 for good measure. The presentation was accompanied by many detailed maps, recent short video clips, an explanation of the 02 and O4 sub classes, and following a shot of 60034, an opportunity for the audience to identify all locomotives associated with the Henderson family. The presentation showed how complicated the track layouts were at Retford which led to some very interesting signal arrangements.

Our many thanks to Bob for a thoroughly entertaining and educational afternoon which was excellently presented.

Monday 28th January 2019
'West Coast Railways'
James Shuttleworth

James Shuttleworth came to the Sheffield branch on Monday 28th January to give a talk on West Coast Railways subtitled "Running Steam Locomotive Services in the Modern Era".
West Coast Railways were one of the first private rail operating companies and led the way in shaping the legislation and licences in use today. James explained that you need an operating licence, a safety certificate and a multiplicity of access agreements. These include for Network Rail, stations, workshops and depots. Having obtained the necessary paper work, you then need depots. locomotives, coaching stock and staff before you can run a charter service.
When a charter has been obtained or proposed, 14 weeks are currently required to sort out the route and timings. Then the locomotive(s), coaches and staff have to rostered to get them in the right place at the right time, which will include ECS movements. Consideration has to be given to refuelling for diesel operation, and coal and water for steam locomotives.
James then outlined the requirements to maintain depot facilities and to keep locomotives and coaches in good and safe running order. Finally, after James explained how his operating staff managed to keep up to date with route knowledge, he described a few of the many charters which either ran exceptionally well or caused severe problems.
After a short break, James professionally dealt with many questions thrown at him and did not refuse to answer those what might have been awkward or considered confidential. The 30 strong audience went away a lot more knowledgeable on how to organise and run a charter train with all the attendant problems.

Our many thanks to James for the enlightening and informative talk. .

Monday 14th January 2019
'A Cinder Path leads to the Shed'
John Hunt

John Hunt made a welcome return to Sheffield on Monday 14th January to deliver his presentation entitled "A Cinder Path leads to the Shed". This was the first afternoon meeting of the 2018/19 session and drew an audience of 42 members and guests.
John started by explaining how his interest in railways started, followed by pictures of the enthusiasts vital books including the shed directory which led to the title of the show. What then ensued was an excellent selection of black and white pictures, digitally presented with an expert commentary. John admitted that some shots had been digitally enhanced to improve the quality. This did not detract from the content as we were transported around the country in the early 1960s, chasing the end of steam.
Areas included were Leamington Spa and the Western region, followed by Wales, Scotland, the Southern region, the North East and finally the North West. Many classes of locomotives were shown on various types of trains, on depots and in main works.
Altogether a superb collection of pictures with something for everybody, whatever their particular interest.

Our many thanks to John for the excellent entertainment and apologies for a certain amount of overcrowding as we could not use our normal larger room. However everything went well and I am sure did not spoil the nostalgia and the enjoyment.

Monday 10th December 2018
Annual General Meeting and Christmas Social Evening

The meeting on Monday 10th December was split into three parts.
Firstly Jim Bryant gave a short presentation on "Railway Parcel Stamps", a first on this subject for the branch. Originally planned for the 2017/18 indoor meeting session but technical problems caused postponement. Jim commenced by outlining the background to this subject which led to the railway companies being allowed to charge for the carriage of newspapers, letters and parcels. The talk was well illustrated with the many variations in style and colours used by the pre-grouping companies, continued by the "big 4" formed in 1923, and ultimately into BR days. Jim explained that whilst the subject was very much a specialist fringe one, even smaller specialities appeared with some persons concentrating solely on one company or topic. Thanks Jim for the excellent presentation.
This was followed by the branch AGM. The minutes of the 2017 AGM were accepted. The chairman gave his annual report, highlighting the increase in membership and the gradually declining meeting attendances. He also thanked the committee members for their work and support in keeping the branch functioning. The treasurer gave his report and stated whilst the funds had decreased, the branch was still viable. All branch officers were re-elected. The voluntary meeting contributions remain the same, as does the venue.
After the close of the AGM, members were able to enjoy seasonal drinks and refreshments.
Many thanks to all the members who provided these and also the raffle prizes.

Monday 26th November 2018
'Shot in the Dark'
Peter Holden

The branch welcomed Peter Holden on Monday 26th November when he gave his digital presentation entitled "Shot in the Dark". Peter started by explaining how he came to be interested in night time and dark situation photography when he was told how difficult it could be, so he set out to prove them wrong. How well he has succeeded.
We were told to expect mainly images of trains at night, predominantly in stations with a few trams and foreign locations thrown in. The presentation lived up to the description as we were transported to Europe, Egypt, Canada and many other locations with a good number of trams shown. The trains were almost all diesel and electric including multiple units and locomotives.
The external scenes of the stations showed them in a different perspective and highlighted the superb architecture of some of the continental buildings. Not content with stations, Peter also showed scenes at traction depots and workshops. So something for everybody from many parts of the globe and the UK.

Our many thanks to Peter for his dedication in pursuing night time shots and for the excellent presentation accompanied by his expert though sometimes biased commentary

Monday 12th November 2018
'Diverted!!. Leeds to Swinton via Selby, York and Pontefract Baghill'
Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent

On Monday 12th November, Branch members Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent took us on more of their diversionary routes. This time we went from Leeds to Swinton (S.Yorks) via York, Selby and Pontefract Baghill. Visited en route were stations, sidings, motive power depots, power stations, collieries and industrial sites.
The slides shown covered the period from the 1980s to the present day. The full range of locomotives and units operating in the area appeared with their many changes of ownership and liveries. Passenger, freight and charter services appeared and, by use of charter trains and society visits by Phil and Enid, we were afforded internal scenes of collieries and industrial premises.. Something rarely seen at our meetings, if at all, were shots of engineering work taking place. The slides were of excellent quality and largely blessed with fine weather. They were accompanied by a very well researched and thus educational commentary, shared by both presenters.

Our many thanks to Phil and Enid for their hard work in compiling the presentation, particularly the informative commentary. Although the time taken using the diversion far exceeded the direct time taken by Cross Country services, it was well worth it. We look forward to possibly being diverted again in the future.

Sunday 11th November 2018
'Remembrance Sunday'

At the kind invitation of the Great Central Railway Society, several members of the Branch attended a ceremony at the Sheffield Holiday Inn war memorial which honours the 1304 employees of the Great Central Railway who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war. Towards the end of the ceremonies, the Branch Chairman Alan Lovecy laid a wreath on behalf of the Branch and the Society.
On display was the superbly restored MS&L/GCR 6 wheel carriage number 946, which is dedicated as a war memorial in its own right. The original siting of the memorial was on Victoria station and unveiled in 1922. Following closure of the station, the memorial was moved to a site under the Wicker arches and re- commemorated in 1971. Here the memorial was unloved and badly deteriorated. Members of the GCRS were appalled by the neglect and after much fund raising, they obtained ownership and with the consent of the Holiday Inn were able to secure a prominent site at the Inn, where it is well maintained. The Sheffield Branch had made a modest contribution to the fund and members were delighted to attend the further re-dedication in 2003 and many have done so every year since.

Monday 22nd October 2018
'Railways around London and the South East – a Contemporary View'
James Sutcliffe

London and the South East was the subject of the presentation by James Sutcliffe on Monday 22nd October. An area not often brought to the branch and sometimes felt to be full of non descript EMUs. James soon showed how wrong some persons could be as the variety presented was excellent.
Covering basically the last ten years, the many changes in the EMU and DMU classes with their varying liveries were shown.
The wide variety of freight passing through London which was shown was a testament to the research carried out by James to photograph these services particularly on curves and chords not used by regular passenger services.
All operating companies made an appearance including London Underground and Overground. Of particular interest were the changes over the period in the North London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking route. Also shots of trains in underground stations were another rarity for the branch.
The locations visited included main line and suburban stations, stabling sidings and freight yards.
Our many thanks to James for crossing the Pennines to give us a superb selection of his pictures complemented by a very knowledgeable commentary on the services, infrastructure and the locomotives and units.

Keith Marshall in his vote of thanks said that the presentation highlighted the huge investment in the area shown, compared to how little there has been in the North of England.

Monday 8th October 2018
'Me and My travels'
Ken Horan

On 8th October, the branch welcomed Ken Horan for what he stated was for his final presentation show selection. After much previous discussion, we had agreed on the title of "Me and My Travels". Fortunately this turned out to be appropriate as the subject matter was so varied that a more specific title would not have done the show justice.
Commencing in the 1960s, Ken's footplate career allowed him access to many steam depots in their final years with a predominance of those in the Sheffileld area. Not content with just portraying locomotives, the mundane but such necessary activities as ash disposal and smokebox cleaning were shown. As a valuable historic record, two pages of Ken's 1965 diary were shown indicating which services and locomotives he worked on.
Ken was attracted to other countries' railways and we spent some time looking at scenes from France, Austria, Germany, the USA and China together with scenes from around the UK. Coping with very low temperatures in China, some superb action shots of steam hauled freights were seen. Looking at the local scene there, the intense poverty was shown, highlighted by families living in makeshift accommodation under railway tracks.
Other subjects covered were preserved and heritage lines, charter trains and a tour of the Forth Bridge.
With Ken's expert and sometimes biased commentary, the 22 members and guests present were thoroughly entertained by the superb pictures, some of which were of an "arty" nature, and the variety of subjects, all leading to severe bouts of nostalgia and memories for the audience.

Our many thanks to Ken for compiling the collection and sharing his obvious railway enthusiasm from the 1960s to the present day with us, altogether being a superb evening.

Monday 24th September 2018
'The Peter Fox Collection – The 1990’s'
Andrew Barclay

The subject of the first meeting of the 2018/19 indoor meeting session was a further selection from the Peter Fox collection again ably presented by Andrew Barclay. The advertised "The 1990s" in the title was turned into from the 1960s through to the 2000s for the slide show.
Peter was fortunate in his employment with BR at Derby and involvement with Platform 5 to gain access to sites and events not normally open to others. Hence the range of subjects shown was extensive as Peter had a knack of finding and recording the unusual.
Although Derby and the Sheffield areas featured strongly, all parts of the UK were visited with forays into Europe and America. No subject in the transport field was neglected so the audience saw shipping, an hovercraft besides numerous bus, tram and rail vehicles. Steam, diesel and electric traction in the UK, Europe and America were shown, with a large number of tram systems featuring. Record keeping was not one of Peter's strong points, so again the audience was asked to provide additional information on the slides shown as to location, year and occasionally vehicle.
Once again Andrew's selection had something for everybody in the rather lowturnout of 15 members and guests.

Thanks to Andrew for the evening's entertainment and thanks also to Doreen Fox for allowing us to enjoy Peter's collection.

Last updated: 5th May 2019