Meeting Reports

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Meeting Reports


Monday 22nd October 2018
The Anniversary tour
Steve Ollive

At our September meeting, our branch chairman, Steve Ollive, gave a talk accompanied by slides entitled"The Anniversary Tour". This was a railway trip for six people all celebrating various anniversaries and birthdays occuring at that time. The trip was from London to Venice on the Simplon Orient Express and from there to Prague via Vienna. The journey on the Simplon Orient Express transported them back in time to an age of luxury, with its polished wood, sumptuous upholstery and antique features, albeit the washing facilities were somewhat cramped. However, the staff were very attentive and the food and drink both excellent. They spent three days in Venice exploring all the main tourist sites aswell as the waterbuses and the whole of the tramway system. Then it was onwards to Vienna via Verona and Innsbruck, where they stayed for a further three days visiting the Tram Museum, the Vienna Technical Museum and hitched a ride on the ferris wheel made famous by Harry Lime. There were a number of trips out on the Austrian southern railway. Finally, they travelled by Regio Jet to Prague via Graz. There they visited the Transport Museum, with its famous Spitfire, explored the extensive tram and train systems, seeing many Skoda and Tatra vehicals and visited many wonderful buildings. They travelled back to London by rail via Dresden, Frankfurt and Brussels.

Thursday 21st June 2018
'The Golden Age of Swindon Works - part 3'
The Revd Canon Brian Arman, Society President

At our joint meeting with the Marlow and District Railway Society in June, Brian Arman, President of RCTS, gave a wonderful presentation to a packed audience entitled "The Golden Age of Swindon Works - Part 3" or as Brian preferred "From Hawksworth to Hellfire". Frederick William Hawksworth was born in Swindon, joining the GWR as an apprentice in 1898, finally becoming CME in 1941. Frustrated by war he inherited a mess of pottage, with the railways neglected in favour of war, including the manufacture of Pom Poms, midget submarines, bombs, landing craft and electronics for tanks. When Filton aircraft factory was bombed with great loss of life, a large number of engineers from Swindon works were sent as replacements. However, under his regime many important improvements were made, in particular superheat for the larger classes and the use of welded construction. In 1944 his first design to be built was the modified Hall Class followed by four other designs including the County Class. He was also involved in the ordering of GWR diesel shunters and two experimental gas turbine electric locomotives, as well as developments in testing. He retired in 1949. The years after nationalisation saw a gradual then rapid decline but Swindon was still important not only for repairs but also for rebuilds, and for the development of Mark 2 coaches, for B4, B5 and B10 bogies and for the diesel hydraulic Warship and Western Class locomotives. The last steam locomotive built for British Railways, " The Evening Star" was produced at Swindon in 1960. The works still carried on with some improvement in the 1970s but the writing was on the wall and it finally closed in 1986. A splendid evening enjoyed by all.

Last updated: 28th April 2019