23rd September 2020 · A Half Century Has Passed

Presenter: Geoff May

After a seven month absence we returned with our first virtual meeting. Our speaker Geoff May took us back to the final months of steam on BR showing a stunning collection of his own photographs.

The first half concentrated on the Waterloo to Weymouth main line with an array of images taken at various locations, from a Bulleid Pacific at Waterloo in the early morning darkness, through to double heading on the notorious Radipole Bank North of Weymouth. Renowned services like the Bournemouth Belle, were interspersed with the more mundane, including Ivatt tanks on the Lymington Branch. Even the obscure like the Brockenhurst to Christchurch school train, steam hauled until the very end in July 1967, didn’t escape Geoff’s camera.

Following a short break the North West was under the spotlight, where steam remained for a further year until August 1968. Geoff took full advantage of the beauty of Lancashire and the Cumbrian Fells with some superlative shots, including cold snowy scenes, vast clouds of steam lingering in the air for what seemed like miles. The very last BR steam hauled freight service leaving Heysham Harbour’s then large marshalling yard, one of many highlights. In an era when Health and Safety was much more relaxed a view from the top of the large coaling tower of Rose Grove MPD, Burnley, was breathtaking.

The final day of steam, 11 August 1968, Geoff is back for the ’15 guinea special’, including images of 70013 Oliver Cromwell and two Black 5s, the latter at Hellifield, before the era ended with 45110 at rest at Edge Hill MPD , Liverpool.

Geoff’s thorough and painstaking research of each image, enabled him to enthral us with an interesting and informative commentary throughout. A top quality presentation which comes highly recommended.