Meeting Reports

Guide to traffic in branch area

Meeting Reports

 Indoor meetings
Wednesday 10th July
Annual summer social meeting
a potpourri of an event with the chance to catch-up with fellow attendees

Wednesday 12th June 2019

'My Railway Career in South Wales'

David Maidment

The founder of the Society’s nominated charity, The Railway Children, David Maidment made a third visit to our branch in June and gave the audience of 50 an informative and humorous account of his railway career in South Wales and beyond as he rose through the ranks.

During his time as Area Manager in Bridgend he was often called to derailments of freight workings in the Valleys, David summed-up the Class 14 diesel hydraulics as being neither strong enough to pull anything uphill nor stop anything going downhill.

During the aborted attempt to introduce the APT when he was Chief Operating Manager of the LMR, David told us that the shortest time between London and Glasgow with an APT was 3-minutes faster than the best Pendolino time more than three decades later.

We were told anecdotes about the times when he was Officer-in-Charge of the Royal Train and how its speed was kept to an approximate maximum of 75mph so as to prevent tea spillage.

His final BRB position was as Reliability Manager and this led to him giving lectures to railways overseas. It was as a result of what he saw in India that made him found the charity that now does so much for less fortunate children!

Wednesday 27th March 2019
The Railways of Briton Ferry
Phil Adams (co-writer of the recently published book on the same subject)

Our first foray to an additional meeting venue saw a decent number of attendees in Port Talbot listen to the presentation by Phil Adams, co-author of the recently published book, ‘Reshaping Rail In South Wales’. His subject was the same as the content of his book, but ‘The Railways of Briton Ferry’ summed-up the presentation.
Phil outlined a brief history of transportation in the area in the post Industrial Revolution era. We learned that the three railways that drove transportation forward here were the South Wales Railway, the South Wales Mineral Railway and the Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway; the role of the many industrial railways was also considered.
Neath’s CwrtSart MPD was situated in Briton Ferry, believed to be located there because it was about half way between Paddington and Milford Haven. We saw a selection of images displaying not just locomotives, but also members of the shed’s staff.
Phil did not content himself with just a look back at how things were, but also looked to plans for the future including the possible ‘Swansea Bay Metro’ and how it might impact on the local economy.

The presentation finished with a very positive view of this once proud industrial location, many thanks, Phil.

Wednesday 13th March 2019
‘From Railways to Royalty'
Jack Boskett

An audience of 52 were entertained by Jack Boskett’s presentation entitled ‘From Railways To Royalty’ at our March meeting in Cardiff.
Jack is something of a rarity within our hobby, he is young and has been a professional photographer for almost 10-years. We saw both railway and non-railway subjects, those images of railway subjects were superbly crafted with imaginative and innovative compositions, some were monochrome and many others, colour; Jack uses theatrical props and volunteer actors to enhance the atmosphere of his images.
He does freelance work for publications such as Rail and The Railway Magazine, the Telegraph, the Times, publicity work for Pathfinder Tours and GWR. In addition he has photographed stars of stage and screen, such as John Bishop, Rachel Riley and Tim Vine; also, he has captured excellent images of members of the Royal family when there is a railway connection.
We saw some superb silhouettes of railway subjects, many taken close to his home in Tewkesbury, and he is an advocate of using monochrome to produce timeless images. His range of subjects included his ‘house’ rabbit who even has a railway themed name, Brunel!

Throughout his presentation, Jack talked effortlessly and with great humour, all without notes. A thoroughly recommended presentation.

Wednesday 13th February 2019
‘'Ramblings of a Francophile Ferrequinologist'
John Davies

John Davies, the much respected former BR manager visited our branch again in February, his talk, entitled ‘The Ramblings of a Francophile Ferro-equinologist’ entertained an audience of 57.
The show began with a look at a map of France and John identified the four regions, pointing out some of the many locations we would see. John has visited France on numerous occasions since 1958 and we saw images from that time through to the present day. His talk clearly showed the passion he has for the country and its railways, though this passion did not blind him to the shortcomings of the rail network and its management.
Whenever John visits us, we are entertained with wonderful anecdotes, many are very humorous; his knowledge of the network is extensive and he talks authoritatively without notes, a rare skill.
During the talk, John made comparisons between the French rail network and our own. One in particular, brought a smile to our faces regarding the uncomfortable seating on many French trains and compared that to the similar situation on the IETs being introduced in the UK.

A final comment is that John’s photographs were superb, showing not just the trains, but the infrastructure around them.

Wednesday 9th January 2019
Annual General Meeting, followed by ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’
Nigel Wassell.

Our January meeting started with the branch AGM, another successful year reported and the committee re-elected en-bloc.
This was followed by Nigel Wassell’s excellent presentation entitled ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ with a sub-text of ‘A celebration of the photography of Peter Grey’. Nigel has been collecting copies of the late Peter Grey’s colour transparencies for a number of years and, as ever, the research that Nigel had done prior to the show added much to the captions provided by the great man himself.
He started with a brief history of Peter’s photographic life and the first image seen was taken at Penzance, to be followed by a hypothetical journey east including many of the branch lines encountered. Peter was a superb photographer; that reputation drew in an audience of 56 and we saw images taken from 1958 onwards, predominantly steam subjects with a few early diesels.
In the reviewer’s opinion, the individual highlights included a photograph taken at Moorswater shed in 1960, a few images of china clay trains and some excellent night shots including one of the Royal Albert Bridge lit to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 1959.

Well done, Nigel, a fabulous show enjoyed by everyone.

Wednesday 12th December 2018
‘Steam in a Different Light’
Richard Gaunt

For our December meeting, Richard Gaunt provided a show entitled ‘Steam in a Different Light’, it had a sub-heading of ‘Railways in the north-east of England during the 1960s’.
Your reviewer is a railway photographer of around 50-years and a lifelong fan of Colin Gifford and his ‘alternative’ style exemplified in ‘Decline of Steam’. Richard’s style is very similar and to an equally high standard.
We saw dark, gritty, urban and industrialised images, many from around the Darlington area, though other locations such as Durham and Sunderland were visited, as was the sprawling NCB site around Philadelphia.
Richard’s commentary was humorous, insightful and full of anecdotes. One that stuck in my mind was about gaining a full day’s access to Darlington’s Bank Top station, a platform ticket permitting 15-minutes access cost 2d (less than £0.01), a half-fare return to nearby North Road cost 1/2d less, he would then argue the ‘toss’ with station staff!
His preferred weather condition was after snow had fallen, photographic subjects gaining a new dynamic. We also saw many social history images, one showed railway staff putting out a fire in a litter-bin(probably caused by a cigarette butt) using a kettle of water.

A truly magnificent show.

Wednesday 14th November 2018
‘Restoring 7903 Foremarke Hall’
John Cruxon

November’s presentation was ‘Restoring 7903 Foremarke Hall’ by John Cruxon, Locomotive Manager of 7903 Ltd. John’s father was a driver at Bristol Bath Road, so it was guaranteed that he would have an interest in railways.
John told us a little of the history of 7903. She accumulated 621,101-miles in BR service having been introduced in 1949 before withdrawal in 1963 and allocated throughout most her life to Old Oak Common.
Following withdrawal, 7903 languished at Woodham’s in Barry until 1981 when bought for preservation and moved to Blunsdon on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway. We learned of the many trials and tribulations of a restoration that took 22-years to complete and cost in excess of £150,000.
branches/south_wales7903 Woodmancote 01Jun07 not found In 2004, she was moved to the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway (G&WR) and 2014 saw the start of an extensive and expensive overhaul that was completed to a very high standard in 2016. Highlights of 7903’s career in preservation include being the first engine to work the full length of the G&WR following the repairs to correct the serious landslip at Chicken Curve and the first official working in to the re-opened Broadway station.

The branch wishes John and his dedicated team well in keeping 7903 running for many more years.

Wednesday 10th October 2018
‘The Life and Legacy of George Bradshaw’
Dr David Turner

Our October branch meeting was attended by 43 who enjoyed the informative, illustrated lecture given by Dr David Turner from York University with the title, ‘The Life and Legacy of George Bradshaw’.
We were told that the subject’s early career was as an engraver and that he had a lifelong passion for map making, which ultimately led to him becoming Britain’s pre-eminent provider of railway timetables and guides, as railways developed in the mid -19th Century. His untimely death in his early 50s from cholera contracted in Norway failed to dampen the public’s desire for his company’s publications.
The word ‘Bradshaw’ became synonymous with railway timetables in a similar way that the word ‘Hoover’ is to vacuum cleaners, and we learned that even the fictional creation of Sherlock Holmes carried a copy when travelling away from the capital.
The most famous modern carrier and user of a Bradshaw is probably Michael Portillo in his series of television programmes about rail travel, something most readers of this review will have seen.
David told us that the Bradshaw guides declined in importance following the First World War and that they failed to move with the times (excuse the pun), the final edition being published in 1962.

Wednesday 12th September 2018
‘Mostly Alan Jarvis’
Noel Thompson

Our 2018-2019 season started with an audience of 43 enjoying a further selection of images from the collection of the late Alan Jarvis, ably presented by Noel Thompson. Alan was well known amongst the railway fraternity of South Wales and this third show did not disappoint.
We started with some rare shots of the operation of the head shunt at the dolomite quarry at Walnut Tree West, after the partial closure of this ex-Barry Railway line from Ty’n-y-Caeau Junction and then the subsequent demolition of the Walnut Tree Viaduct.
We then saw Mallard in Bristol in 1963, images of the former halts on the old South Wales railways, including Caradoc Falls (Carmarthen to Aberystwyth) and Fountain Bridge which only served the down line from Caerphilly to Machen, some ex-LMS Morecombe electrics and then another demolition, this time of the Severn Bridge.
The Fleche d’Or featured all the way to the Gare de Nord, on the way noting some French USA tanks, identical to those which the Southern purchased.
Alan was keen on signal boxes and we saw some beauties, including the large box at Radyr Junction before it was modernised and LNWR boxes on the Sirhowy Valley line.

Last updated: 17th June 2019