12th January 2021 · ‘2020 – What a year that was’

Presenter: Robert Pritchard

On 12 January, via Zoom, we held our AGM when Derek Stuckey, who has recently retired, was able to accept the post of Chairman. Jim Bryant, former Fixtures Secretary, became Secretary and his former post was taken by Robert Pritchard. This means that at last we now have a full complement!

The AGM was then followed by a presentation with 44 participants by our new Fixtures Secretary, Robert Pritchard, entitled ‘2020 – What a Year that was’. I think we can all agree with that! Rob, Editor of Today’s Railways UK and based in Sheffield, spent the first two and a half months with several trips in England and Wales and a Czech Republic Rail Tour which was extensively illustrated. We saw the new build by Stadler Rail, Merseyrail, ‘state of the art’ Class 777, articulated four car set and the project also includes the modernisation of the depots at both Kirkdale and Birkenhead North.

Rob was also invited to the EMR celebration of 150 years of Sheffield Midland Station which took place on the station concourse on 31 January. We saw the cake cutting ceremony which was also attended by employees who had over 40 years of service before seeing the Spanish CAF factory at the Celtic Business Park, situated in the defunct steel works in Llanwern, near Newport. Costing £30m, the facility assembles and tests a full range of rail vehicles and was opened on 21 February by Prince Charles on the day of Rob’s visit. And then sadly came the Corona Virus pandemic in mid-March and Rob went to the village of Saxilby which enabled him to observe traffic on a busy line in Lincolnshire. I am of an age when Saxilby was a haven for Sheffield fishermen in the 1940/50s when excursions on Sundays were packed with anglers heading for the Fossdyke.

Saxilby is situated on the Doncaster to Lincoln line and I think that we were all surprised at the amount of freight traffic on the line that Rob photographed. We saw many of the Class 66s in all their guises and liveries, including appropriately 66731 Capt. Tom Moore – a True British Inspiration – in ‘Thank you NHS’ livery, along with test trains, signal boxes, Whisby nature Park, the Red Arrows, based locally at RAF Scampton until finally coming back to Sheffield in September.

Thanks, Rob, for a super show which we always come to expect from you on your annual presentation, much enjoyed by all the Zoomers present.