West Midlands

Meeting Reports

Monday 4th September 2017
'American wanderings heading West.'
Gordon Davies

At Birmingham on 4th September we welcomed Gordon Davies for his “American Wanderings heading West”.
Starting and ending at Denver, Gordon took us to twenty-three states with operations dominated by Union Pacific and BNSF.
Union Pacific is now the largest Class 1 railroad formed in the 1870s and having absorbed many fallen flags including the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific, to cover some 3200 route miles with some 8000 locomotives. BNSF was similarly formed by many mergers.
American railroads run long heavy freights with multiple locomotives some cut into the middle and others assisting at the rear. Gordon illustrated one long working with twelve locomotives totalling 52800hp if all were under power.
Commuter transport is now modern and cheap with EMUs, DMUs, and street cars (trams).
We also saw massive steam power, some plinthed and some operative, including a UP big boy weighing 544 tonnes.
Narrow gauge steam was represented by the Cumbres and Toltec and Durango and Silverton lines, parts of the former Denver and Rio Grande system.

Thanks to Gordon for an interesting and instructive afternoon.

Saturday 2nd September 2017
The Beeches Light Railway

At the invitation of Adrian Shooter a group of members and friends attended the open day of his 2’ gauge line at the Beeches on 2nd September.
During lunch 4wDM “Major General Scott” (MR 21619 of 1957) gave rides with the replica Maharajah of Gwalior’s royal saloon. After lunch Adrian’s Darjeeling 0-4-0ST+WT No 19 (SS 3518 of 1888 overhauled at Tyseley 2004) hauled two well filled replica coaches, 73 and 154, built at Boston Lodge. Hard work was required over the sharp curves and gradients of the line. No 19 is the only B class to have left India and still retains its original wrought iron boiler. For the final circuit 4wDH “Col Frederick Wylie” (HE 9349 of 1994 rebuilt AK 2004) was used. During the event the Darjeeling Society launched their new booklet on the history of the B class and 19 in particular.
A sunny day enjoyed by all and grateful thanks go to Adrian.

Saturday 10th June 2017
Statfold Barn Railway Enthusiasts Day

On 11th June a West Midlands Branch party made their annual visit to the Statfold Barn Railway.
As usual a large number of locomotives were in steam, working the field railway in top and tail mode or double heading.
The Grain Store (roundhouse) housed the usual large collection including several awaiting restoration. Also here was a collection of vintage vehicles including several Bentley and an Armstrong Siddeley.
A major feature this year was the restored Burton and Ashby Light railway tram beautifully restored and working its dedicated line alongside the field railway to Oak Tree Halt. Graham Lee has converted the tram to battery power.
The Garden Railway provided two trains running round the lake and the extensive well kept gardens.

A great day out for the narrow gauge aficionado.

Monday 24th April 2017
Working on the Railways in Steam Days
David Maidment former BR manager

At Coventry on 24th April we welcomed back David Maidment for his “Working on the Railways in Steam Days”.
He began with a brief account of his part in founding “The Railway Children Charity” and of his work for the Charity at home and abroad.
He started his railway career in the booking office at Paddington in 1960 and he then spent some time at Old Oak Common. One early task was to write out notices of changes in train formations. He managed to travel a great part of the 1960s network from Scotland to the Isle of Wight using his privilege passes. An early trip was on the 12.45 Paddington-Swansea newspapers with the object of viewing dock tanks working in South Wales.
From April to June 1963, footplate training included trips on Kings from Paddington to Wolverhampton.
Later David became a stationmaster responsible for four stations on the Waterloo to Exeter route west of Salisbury.
He kept us fully entertained with photographs of all four pre-nationalisation companies, commenting on some rough riding with locomotives in run down condition.

Thanks David for a splendid presentation.

Monday 3rd April 2017
Railways in the Peak District
Les Nixon

At Birmingham on 3rd April Les Nixon presented “Railways in the Peak District” with slides mainly in the 1960-1980 period but also some historical black and white items.
Infrastructure was well to the fore, supplementing the trains in the varied landscape of the Peak in all seasons and lighting conditions including lying snow. Ways of improving our own photography were pointed out.
The Midland Railway dominated the area in the Ambergate-Dore and Totley-Chinley triangle, but Burton was invaded by the LNWR, with its station at the end of the line from Manchester, near to that of the Midland.
He then took us along the Hope Valley, covering the quarry branch at Bamford, from where stone was provided in the construction of the dams at Ladybower, Derwent, and Howden.
Finally travelling along the Peak Forest route, we saw 8Fs working hard on heavy stone and cement consists. A highlight was the LNER Garrett running LE for trials at Bromsgrove on the Lickey, which eventually proved less than successful.
Diesel and DMU traction were featured at work including an unusual working of a Class 59 at Great Rocks. We visited the GC Woodhead route where with double headed Class 76 electrics on freight were the norm.
There followed the Cromford and High Peak and the show was concluded with the narrow gauge section of the Leek and Manifold Light.

A superb afternoon of nostalgia with Les’s superb photography and recommended to other branches.

Monday 20th March 2017
Steam in and around York
Chris Nettleton - Gresley Society

By popular request, Chris Nettleton returned to Coventry on 20th. March with “Steam in and around York”.
He began with the British Transport Film “This is York”, in which, the stationmaster outlined a typical day at this busy station.
Chris then showed NER, GNR, GCR and L&YR Atlantics, Midland and GCR 4-4-0s, and a Holden 4-2-2 from the GER, all working into York before the grouping in 1923.
We then saw LNER and LMS locomotives at work before and after nationalisation, using still photographs interspersed with short film clips. These included Gresley, Raven, Thompson and Peppercorn Pacifics, V2 2-6-2s, B16 4-6-0s (originals and some Gresley and Thompson rebuilds), B17s from Colchester, D20 and D49 4-4-0s of the LNER, an ex-NER autocar, LMS Jubilees and a Garratt, un-rebuilt Patriot 45517 on a Newcastle-Liverpool service in 1959, and even Merchant Navy 35007 visiting York with a special.
We also saw a Brighton built 8F (LNER Class O6) which eventually became LMS 8723, and the results of an accident when A3 60036 (nearly ex-works!) was signalled jnto a bay platform in error in 1958.
A official LNER film showed B16n2378 at the coaling plant, over the 15ft-deep wet ashpit and on the turntable before leaving for Scarborough.

Our thanks go to Chris for a splendid presentation.

Monday 6th March 2017
Railway Roundabout - Gloucester Eastgate via Bristol, London and the Lickey
Canon Brian Arman, Society President

On 6th. March we welcomed Society President Brian Arman to Birmingham for ‘Railway Roundabout – Gloucester Eastgate via Bristol, London and the Lickey’. On the LMS route to Bristol, Jubilees were the usual power on trains to and from the northeast in the early 1960s, with occasional B1 on summer Saturdays, while Stanier 8Fs handled the freight. At Temple Meads we saw ex-GWR Castles and a Grange, and DMUs were taking over local services, whils 47XX 2-8-0s were seen on shed at St. Philip’s Marsh.
A Caprotti black five piloted a Royal Scot on the ‘Devonian’ and BR5 4-6-0s and BR3 2-6-2Ts were in evidence.
On the S&DJR route between Bath and Bournemouth, we saw 2P 4-4-0s piloting 7F 2-8-0s or West Country Pacifics on passenger trains, with BR5 4-6-0s on others.
En route from Bournemouth to Waterloo we saw various Southern classes, including several LSWR types, King Arthurs, Lord Nelsons, a Schools, blue liveried Merchant Navys, the last Brighton Atlantic and even Leader 36001 at Eastleigh, and also early SR EMUs.
In London we visited seven other termini, thus seeing locomotives from all the @Big Four’, BR Standards, and a Class 71on the ‘Golden Arrow’.
We returned from Euston via Rugby, Coventry and Birmingham New Street, seeing Stanier Pacifics, some in blue livery on the way, and then down the Lickey to Bromsgrove (where ‘Big Bertha’, 94XX pannier tanks and 9Fs were bankers) and so back to Gloucester.

Pure and very enjoyable nostalgia: Thank you Brian!

Monday 20th February 2017
The Tom Lawrence Photographic Collection - Part 2
Graham Walker of Nuneaton Railway Society

At Coventry on 20th February Graham Walker of Nuneaton Railway Society presented part two of the digitalised photographic collection of Tom Lawrence.
Tom’s large collection was taken in the period 1956 -1960 and forms an evocative record of steam at that time, together with the introduction of diesel traction by BR. As could be expected, the Nuneaton area, in particular the MPD, featured, but the photographer ventured far and wide, encompassing much of the British Isles. Notable items were 10100 at Derby, 10000/1 at Willesden, 58050 at Rowsley, 47004 at Hasland, and 50271 at Southport plus many others. Also featured was Coventry station before its rebuilding in 1962 and the large signal gantry over the main line at Nuneaton.

An excellent evening of nostalgia recording a period now consigned to history.

Monday 6th February 2017
Railways at the Turn of the Fifties
Robin Mathams

At Birmingham on 6th February we were pleased to welcome back Robin Mathams for a presentation entitled “Railways at the Turn of the Fifties” being another selection from the Moseley Collection of photographs.
Robin showed ex LMS locomotives at work in the West Midlands area with Stanier Pacifics, Royal Scots, Patriots, Jubilees and Compounds on expresses with 8Fs and LNWR 0-8-0 on freights, also the 0-10-0 at work on the Lickey.
A range of Kings, Castles, Halls, and Granges were see on the GWR lines from Snow Hill.
The LNER was represented by Pacifics, V2s and B1s on the East Coast and GCR main lines.
The Moseley family holidays strayed on to the SR and produced Bullied Pacifics plus R1 0-6-0Ts on the Folkestone Harbour branch.

An immense variety forming an afternoon of pure nostalgia.

Monday 16th January 2017
Branch AGM followed by Members' Presentations

The Branch AGM was held at Coventry on 16th January. Reports were given by the Committee attending and a message was read out from David Walker explaining his resignation due to family circumstances. Apart from David the current committee were given a further term there being no other nominations.

After the formal part of the evening, four members provided a show of slides and digital content.
Commencing, Chris Berridge focused on the Southern in the latter days of steam. Then Chris Youett enlightened us on various matters concerning GWR and Southern coaching stock from his extensive knowledge. Turning to digital, Derek Codling took us to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with an accent on museums and preservation. Mike Lane concluded the proceedings with shots, converted to digital format, taken in the early 1960s of a wide variety of locomotives on shed.

An evening of variety and nostalgia.

Monday 9th January 2017
Members Slides and Digital Presentations

The 9th January at Birmingham was a member’s afternoon.
Chris Youett commenced with slides of coaching stock in early BR days including Wagons Lit and the blue Pullman.
Phil Dooley showed a Class 47 which came to grief with a runaway coal train near Wolverhampton.
Antony Linekar presented steam on BR in Scotland and the London area.
Brian Hutton then took us to Portugal for metre and broad gauge in 1970s.
Jim Hunt showed views on the Western Region in the 1960/70s and preservation on the Seven Valley and the Isle of Wight.
Nigel Sporne concluded with steam in the North during its last days.
A show of great variety by local talent.

Monday 12th December 2016
Steam on the Main Line 2016
David Richards and Karl Jauncey of PSOV

At Coventry on 12th December the Branch once again welcomed David Richards and Karl Launcey of PSOV to present their DVD review of “Steam on the Main Line 2016”.
This was well up to the usual standard with superb shots of varied classes of locomotives in scenic locations, with many viaducts and bridges including the Forth Bridge, Brunel’s masterpiece at Saltash, and Concrete Bob’s in the Highlands.
Well to the fore were recently overhauled 46100 and 60103, now very much in service after a long period of restoration. The large crowds drawn to witness “Flying Scotsman” were recorded, plus the BBC helicopter recording the first run. Photography from the footplate was featured and superb shots at night including a run up Lickey. Much of the action was in the north over the Cumbrian fells and in the Scottish Highlands.
Our local area was not forgotten with 5043 and 9466 featured on local outings from Tyseley. Hard working machines were seen over the Devon Banks and into the Royal Duchy.

David and Karl’s show is always a must for enthusiasts of steam in full action.

Monday 5th December 2016
The French High Speed Rail Network and TGV
Michael Bunn, SNCF Society

At Birmingham on 5th December, Michael Bunn from the SNCF Society presented “The French High Speed Rail Network and the TGV”.
France wanted high speed as early as the mid-nineteenth century with the 120km/h Cramptons and later steam types. In 1972 was trialled an articulated gas turbine set which led to the prototype TGV in 1976, having 1500v DC and 25KV Ac pantographs and could change voltage on the move.
Michael described further development culminating in the shortened set which set a world speed record of 572.8 Km/h.
The first services ran Paris-Lyon in 1981, extended to Marseille and Nice in 1986. The network has since expanded to cover much of France and capacity issues resulted in the Duplex double deck version.
The first Eurostar were a United Kingdom version to our loading gauge with 750V DC, 25KV Ac and 3000VDC power collection. The network took less time than the projected HS2.

An enjoyable presentation recommended and containing much more detail than recorded here.

Monday 21st November 2016
American Wanderings: Heading East
Gordon Davies, Society Chairman

At Coventry on 21st November the Society Chairman, Gordon Davies, presented a digital presentation American Wanderings; Heading East. Gordon has made many visits across the pond and this excerpt was from his visit in 2012 when starting in Atlanta he made his way north east eventually terminating in Boston and on the way visiting innumerable museums, works and preservation locations plus taking lineside views of current operations both freight and passenger.
He stated that much of it was of black locomotives being largely an area served by Norfolk and Southern RR. However many colourful machines were shown, particularly the twenty diesels decked out in the livery of the fallen flags which formed the constituents of N & S both gathered in a roundhouse and in operation.
The variety of types both steam, diesel, and electric illustrated would fill several pages of this column. Suffice to mention the operating standard gauge Shay on the Cass Scenic Railroad, the many preserved GP1 electrics in varied condition, the 4-6-4T (large tanks are unusual in America) at Scranton, and the superb collections at Altoona and the Strasburg RR.
Tram and Metro systems also were covered. The list of locations visited was endless and with Gordons lucid commentary, provided a most entertaining, not to be missed, evening.

Monday 17th October 2016
The LNER B17 New Build Project, 'Spirit of Sandringham'
Brian Hall

At Coventry on 17th Brian Hall, Chairman of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust presented an in depth report on the scheme to build a B17 to 61673 Spirit of Sandringham.
The B17s were regarded as East Anglias own engines, 73 of the class being built over a nine year period from 1928, the last being withdrawn in 1960 with, sadly, none preserved. This new build seeks to remedy the position.
Construction has commenced, with assembly being carried out in the workshops of the Llangollen Railway. Brian covered the construction and working history of the class with illustrations, including one of the two which had A4 style streamlining, for working Liverpool Street-Norwich crack expresses.
The current construction of the new build was also illustrated. The numerous restrictions over the GER route which resulted in the need for this special class were explained. Fortunately, much original documentation has been preserved to enable the new build, but equipped with items which should allow it to operate over the main line. The frame buffer beam and drag box have been assembled and a brass nameplate produced. Two tenders are to be provided allowing it run with both GER and LNER examples as both, although in poor condition, have been found.
Brian concluded with film of the profiling and drilling of the frames at locations in the West Midlands.

Monday 3rd October 2016
The Three Musketeers Symposium
Derek Morris, Peter Smith and Gordon Earl

At Birmingham on 3rd October the advertised Three Musketeers Symposium was reduced to two due to technical problems. Derek Morriss contribution had to be deferred to a later date.
Peter Smith was further hampered by incorrect colour rendering. After rectification he commenced with a Branch Line Society tour in Herefordshire, followed with both old Ansaldo and new CAF trams on Midland Metro including the recently opened extension to New Street.
The Grand Central shopping centre above New Street came next, then several miniature lines in England, scenes in New Zealand including the Christchurch tramway rebuilt after the earthquake.
He concluded with trams in the Black Country, on the Isle of Man and on the Great Orme.

The second Musketeer, Gordon Earl, visited Llangollen and then presented a wide selection of items at Statfold Barn in June this year. These included the replica Galloping Goose, the garden railway and the plethora of steam working the field railway both in operation and at rest.

last updated: 22/09/17