South Essex

Meeting Reports

Monday 20th March 2017
Addlestone to Beijing
Irene Rabbits & Andy Davies

Our March presentation was unusual in that it recorded a very long rail journey of no less than 6744 miles from Addlestone to Beijing, which presenters Irene Rabbitts and Andy Davies had completed in 2010. Irene ably commented on the photos, mostly taken by Andy, and it was fascinating to hear a lot of facts and figures but also their impressions of the countries through which they travelled.
Starting with a SWT EMU, it was then on to St Pancras for the Eurostar to Brussels, where there was a break to view the local rail scene, before continuing by THALYS to Koln.
An overnight journey to Warsaw followed with some very colourful liveries being noted on the Polish stock. Continuing on another overnight and viewing the slick bogie changing operation at the Belarus border it was then eventually into Russia and the long haul to Moscow where they had a two night stay.
The main impression in Russia was that everything was big, from the railway loading gauge permitting very high and wide locos and stock, to massive stations and buildings. We saw a lot of the famous Metro stations, all without advertising of any kind and several other impressive sights including a preserved 32 wheel rail gun.
Then it was a lengthy 4 night trip to Irkutsh on Lake Baikal via Omsk and Novosibirsk. Station stops were often long, allowing limited exploration, whilst photography was not a problem. A hydrofoil trip on the lake emphasised just how vast it is, whilst the B & B type accommodation here was interesting.
Onwards via Ulan Ede to the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, where surprisingly English was spoken. It was noticeable that the diesel locos here were not so well maintained with a lot of thick black exhausts. The Mongolian restaurant car from Ulan Bator was very ornate with lots of wood panelling this part of the journey being across the Gobi desert.
Paddy fields and new high speed line construction were seen in China before arrival in Beijing and the flight home.
An epic and inspiring journey.

Monday 20th February 2017
Gloucester to Gloucester
Rev. Canon Brian Arman, RCTS President

Our February meeting saw the first visit by our fortunately restored to health President, Reverend Canon Brian Arman, with a mostly steam journey from 'Gloucester to Gloucester'.
His GW credentials and affiliation were undoubted as he was born in Swindon, so we started with a view of a 41XX at Gloucester on a Hereford train. Gloucester had great variety of course and we saw a lot of the Midland side before progressing down that route to Barrow Road shed and into Temple Meads. The original terminal platforms here were seen, soon to be frequented by high speed Azumas which Brunel would have been very pleased to see.
It was then on to the S & D, with all the well known types seen at work on this very characterful railway including an interesting close up of a Whitaker tablet catcher.
A Britannia (70009) on Branksome shed was rare and was followed by shots, some pre-war, in the Bournemouth, Southampton and Eastleigh areas, the highlight being a view of a 'Leader' in steam.
Then it was a tour of the London termini with their huge variety of steam power before seeing the distinctive LNW tanks at Wolverton Works. The old New Street was full of atmosphere and we also saw a shot of the rarely photographed Monument Lane shed.
So it was back to Gloucester via stirring steam shots on the Lickey and a Royal Scot on the up Devonian.
Our speaker admitted he was a collector of railwayana and owned the cabside numberplate from 4100 and the nameplate from his favourite 'Hall', 6959. So far, though, he had failed to acquire the nameplate from 30782!

This was a very good presentation duly appreciated by the large audience.

Monday 16th January 2017
Locomotives That Never Were
David Couzens Howard

SOUTH ESSEX Local member David Couzens-Howard talked to us about 'Locomotives that never were' at our January meeting, a subject which had fascinated him and something he had researched at length. He first explored the many and varied reasons for these designs not seeing the light of day with chance, 'traditional thinking' and even weather playing a part.
In his early life he had worked on the footplate at Hornsey depot and recalled the tale when, as a fireman on a light northbound WD, they took over from a failed diesel at Hatfield and worked the train to Kings Cross tender first, believed to be the only visit of a WD to this terminus.
Starting in 1905 and going through to the mid 60s we saw drawings of various proposed steam types, with just a small number of other forms of power, many also being vividly brought to life in paintings. David commented on the need and practicality of each, some being so deficient that one wondered how they reached the drawing board stage. Many were proposed to overcome particular problems e.g. a 1920 GC design of 0-8-4-0-8T with 140k lbs of tractive effort for Wentworth banking duties and a Maunsell designed 4-8-0 of 1932 for Kent coal traffic.
The well considered writings of Professor Tuplin and A.J.Powell were mentioned with the latter proposing in 1948 a Super Duchess to work from Euston to Preston and a 4-6-2 + 2-6-4 Garratt to work Preston to Glasgow. What magnificent sights and sounds they would have provided !

This was a fascinating talk on a little known subject and David is to be congratulated on his knowledge of it and his detailed research into it.

Monday 19th December 2016
Branch AGM and Members' Slides

There was a good attendance for our AGM on 19th December, the business being conducted very efficiently. Jim Waite has been Chairman throughout the Branch's 23 year existence and he had intended to stand down but fortunately has agreed to continue for a further year while newly appointed Vice Chairman Rodger Green learns the ropes. To acknowledge Jim's great service to the Branch he was made Hon. Branch President, being presented with a suitable certificate. Two other branch stalwarts, Chris Hazle (our catering manager) and husband Brian are standing down after many years service but fortunately replacements have come forward.

The AGM was followed by members' presentations, both slides and digital, Geoff Brockett leading the way with topical views of mostly loco hauled movements in 2016, a sequence on Belstead Bank illustrating the great variety of power on the GEML. In contrast David Johnson showed some nostalgic views, mostly in Scotland, from 50 years ago.
After seasonal refreshments, kindly provided by members' wives, Rodger Green showed scanned scenes from railway calendars with some very high quality images. Iain Scotchman covered his extensive travels during the year, ranging from Ecuador, France, Finland and Germany to interesting local scenes in the UK and David Flatman concluded the evening with a selection from his visits to UK heritage railways.

Monday 21st November 2016
Return to Oz & Some European Travels - A Show of Two Halves
Andy Grimmett

South Essex welcomed back Andy Grimmett on November 21st for his presentation”Return to Oz and Some European Travels – a Show of Two Halves”, an appropriate title for the completion of his Oz adventure and a pot-pourri of scenes around Europe since 1982.
Down under we travelled behind a Vulcan Foundry 2-8-0 J515 on the Victorian Goldfields Railway, the remaining stub of the branch from Castlemaine on the Melbourne to Bendigo line to Shelbourne, which was cut back in 1976 to Maldon, now the centre for the VGR. Here we saw the motive power stock, both steam and diesel, together with a wide collection of rolling stock. The two-tier sheep wagons and the brake vans equipped with two dog kennels proved most unusual!

Our tour of Europe included scenes at several centres in Switzerland, then on to Italy, where steam was encountered in Pistoria. Classes 739 and 740, both in service and withdrawn, were seen, plus a rare example of Class 741, a Crosti rebuild of the 740. A visit to the railways around Rome preceded shots on the Zillertalbahn in Austria, before ending in Hungary with a visit to the Children’s Railway in Budapest.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening with Andy’s knowledgeable and amusing commentary. Apologies to Andy for the delays encountered due to the incompatibility between his module and the Branch PC. Fortunately David Jackman, our IT guru was present and was eventually able to effect a solution

Monday 17th October 2016
American Wanderings
Gordon Davies, RCTS Chairman

The Branch welcomed Society Chairman Gordon Davies at our October meeting with his presentation 'American Wanderings', a slide show compiled from his numerous visits between 1993 and 2008 when he went digital !
Starting in the east at Boston, Gordon took us on a lengthy route covering most of the intermediate states, to end up on the Pacific coast in San Francisco. In addition to showing the long distance passenger activity of Amtrak, we saw the local metro/commuter systems plus the street tramways en route. Preserved railroads and transport museums featured and in addition to the magnificent Big Boy and Challenger steam locos, we also saw examples of elderly diesel and electric power.
Freight traffic in the US is on a large scale in all senses and provided the bulk of the show, in particular westward from Denver into the Rockies, where Gordon found some wonderful locations to show the multi liveried, multi loco hauled, double stacked freights, often exceeding one mile in length, wending their way up grades, round loops, across bridges and through tunnels. Some truly breath taking scenes.

With Gordon's extensive knowledge of the loco types and his informative style, it was a wonderful evening. For those Branches who have not yet seen this show, make sure your Fixtures Secretary gets in touch with Gordon at once.

Monday 19th September 2016
30 Years a Railwayman
Bob Reeves

Our opening meeting of the season on September 19th gave local member, Bob Reeves, the opportunity to recount his lengthy railway career and some of the memorable happenings along the way. At the age of 4 he had been taken on to the footplate of Green Goddess on the RHDR and this seemed to instil the railway 'bug'.
Starting at Ripple Lane yard in the somewhat dangerous role of a 'chaser' he progressed to a cleaner at Stratford depot, working his way up to become a driver after 6 years, with the never to be forgotten seniority date of 13/3/67.
Tales abounded of the locos he worked on, the varying characters of his workmates with names still clearly recalled and the routes and traffics of the time. Humour played a large part in getting the job done in a much less regulated world whilst certain illegal activities were also mentioned.
Derailments did occur, often being covered up, and there was a hilarious tale of a Class 40 being 'bottomed out' on the hump at Temple Mills.
Later he became a driver at Marylebone, eventually returning to Ripple Lane where there was a lot of work on oil trains from Thameshaven to quite far flung destinations. Various supervisory posts followed until his final years in the Control in Room 99 in the old Hamilton House.
His history was all told with the aid of a digital presentation to jog the memory and giving a wonderful evening's entertainment.

Monday 18th July 2016
Mangapps Farm Railway Museum

The Branch were favoured by a gorgeous summer evening for their annual visit to Mangapps Railway Museum on 18th July.
As usual, the whole site was open for our inspection and we were able to visit the repair shed which is normally off limits to the public. Here were two long term resident steam locos, plus Class 31 'Sister Dora' and 03399 receiving attention. 'Sister Dora' is now looking very smart and is close to completion.
Our transport for the evening was the CPR caboose hauled by 03089 which included a run on the 'main line' and on the 'branch'.
No major additions to stock were noted, but owner John Jolly related the story of his recent visit to Canada where he acquired a rare Railway Crossing sign to add to his extensive Canadian Collection. For late comers a second spin out with the caboose brought proceedings to a close before the stalwarts retired to the buffet car for prolonged chatter.

Another enjoyable evening and our thanks to June and John Jolly for their hospitality.

Monday 16th May 2016
Crossrail - Project Progress & Future Plans
Patrick Griffin

Patrick Griffin entertained us at our May meeting with a comprehensive review of the Crossrail project. Facts and figures really cannot do justice to the sheer scale of this enterprise which will add 10% to London's transport capacity. The cost is around 15bn and it will provide a high capacity Metro system across London from East to West with, in the peak periods, 24 trains per hour in the central area.
Patrick took us through the lengthy history of the project, culminating in a Government Hybrid Bill in 2000, with Royal Assent eventually agreed in 2008. Many unusual objections and comments were received e.g. the gentleman who proposed a monorail suspended above Oxford Street. The vital funding arrangements were discussed in detail, these coming from various sources including financial interests in the City, who are very keen to have a direct link to Heathrow. Serious vibration issues had to be addressed in some areas, in particular the use of 'floating' slab track under Soho to allow for the many recording studios there.
All 43 km. of new tunnels have been bored, the 6m tonnes of spoil being taken to form new wetland sites in Essex. Track laying has now started and 70% of the total work has been completed. The large and complicated Tunnel Boring Machines were explained with the aid of a simulation of one at work.
To be known as the Elizabeth Line it will be opened in stages between May 2017 and December 2019.

A lively Q and A session concluded this highly professional presentation.

Monday 18th April 2016
A Railway Journey
Paul Chancellor

Paul Chancellor entertained us at our April meeting with 'A 5th Colour-Rail Railway Journey'. He had taken over from the indefatigable Ron White in 2009 and there are now 60000 images available with 400 being added each week, although duplicate slides are no longer possible. Some very pertinent advice was given about storage of both slides and digital material whilst members were strongly urged to consider how their collection would be disposed of when the inevitable happens.
Using 5 centres, Crewe, Exeter, Perth/Dundee, Teesside and London sheds we were shown a wonderful selection of images, both steam and diesel, taken through the years at those locations. Crewe featured a lot of ex-works shots, ranging from the mighty Duchesses to the many different Works shunters, surely the most unusual being ex CR Pug 56027. Oxford has always had a great variety of locos and we started with a King Arthur in 1927 and startlingly a GN Atlantic in 1931, whilst an Ipswich J39 was a surprise, but for a time they had a fitted freight working via Cambridge.
Perth and Dundee brought back many memories of the last days of steam in the 60s and the Exeter atmosphere was well shown, particularly the banking activities. The heavy industrial traffic on Teesside was impressive, virtually all gone now. A tour of the London sheds showed the great loco variety over the years, the most impressive shot being a line-up of brand new BR Standards for the 1954 exhibition at Willesden.

An enjoyable show enlivened by Paul's humorous asides.

last updated: 29/03/17