3rd December 2019 · Portugal

At Watford we occasionally have to make allowances for travel when Watford FC play at home on a Tuesday coinciding with one of our meetings – this time it happened because President Trump was in town for the NATO World Summit to celebrate the organisation’s 70th Anniversary! This took place at ‘The Grove’ hotel and leisure complex (for a period it was a British Railways Management Training Centre) and involved many road closures and even the Grand Union Canal and tow path.

Many of our members made it to the venue nevertheless, and our December meeting featured members’ inputs accompanied by ‘Mistress of the Urn’ Lizzie doing her thing with the sausage rolls and mince pies. We began with Rob Davidson showing scenes from his recent Portuguese holiday with modern diesels at Salamanca in Spain and then at Peso da Régua on the River Douro, complete with the remains of a derelict narrow gauge system. Three Mallets in a rundown state and infrastructure such as water tower and turntable etc. were noted. The disused station, MPD and other buildings at Barca d’ Alva closed in 1988 but appeared in reasonable condition. Rob closed with shots of the heritage trams in Porto. Geoff Brockett presented ‘2019 Freight’ with locations as diverse as Newcastle, Kemble, Kintbury, Peak Forest and the Forth Bridge featuring Classes 37 to 91. Bernie Holland took us to the break with GWR/LNER HSTs in different liveries and, after Lizzie’s luscious lip-smacking food, Rob Freeman showed one shot per month of unusual locomotives mainly at Berkhamsted, with January featuring a pair of Class 88s. He also showed one photograph from each heritage railway gala he visited, with double-­headed Hymeks on the WSR being the highlight.

Chairman Geoff Plumb finished with 1970 steam at Peso da Régua when the narrow gauge was in its prime and where, apart from the state of the locomotives, little has changed.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary