Thames Valley [TVY]

Caption: GWR Class 800 No. 800306 (WW1 GWR Staff Memorial Livery) near Pangbourne 23rd April 2021. · Image Credit: Gordon Adams
Caption: GWR Class 800 No. 800306 (WW1 GWR Staff Memorial Livery) near Pangbourne 23rd April 2021. · Image Credit: Gordon Adams

Welcome to the Thames Valley Branch pages of the RCTS website.

We hold physical (meeting room or lineside observation) meetings during a typical year.  Physical meetings are held at Didcot Civic Hall and observation meetings at various stations around our area.

RCTS members, non-members, visitors, and guests are all welcome to attend all our meetings.  A door donation, at Didcot Civic Hall meetings of £4.00 is requested (free refreshments are usually available during the interval at our Didcot Civic Hall meetings). For the 2023/2024 season we are holding two afternoon meetings for which a donation of £3.00 is requested.

The Civic Hall is a 15 minutes’ walk from Didcot Parkway Railway Station.  Alternatively Didcot Civic Hall has a large car park which is free for hall users.

What's on


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Phil Darlaston
tel: 01491 861156
Stuart Hicks
Ian Baird
Tel: 01235 553775
Fixtures Secretary
Andrew Jenkins
tel: 01793 783749

Web Coordinator

Gordon Adams

Meeting reports

The LMS Patriot Project

22 Apr 2024

We welcomed Colin Hale who is the Current Chair of the LMS-Patriot Project for our April Meeting. The presentation commenced with a brief history of the Patriot locomotives. The first…

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Over the Mendips

19 Mar 2024

This talk celebrated 150 years of the completion of the extension to Bath of the Somerset and Dorset Railway. The presenter was Mike Beale who has been a member of…

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Western Enterprise

20 Feb 2024

For the second afternoon meeting of the season our speaker was Colin Brading who had previously given us a number of presentations. On this occasion he used the names of…

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Rail Reminiscences

16 Jan 2024

Our speaker for our first meeting of the year was Branch Chairman Phil Darlaston whose photographic presentation ‘Rail Reminiscences’ covered 50 years of his photography from 1973 to 2023 encompassing…

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Railways

19 Dec 2023

  This months presentation by one of own members Stuart Hicks who took part in a group visit to see as much as possible of the railways which now operate…

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All aboard The Pines Express Part 2

21 Nov 2023

We welcomed back Chris Youett for the  second part of a colour slide presentation following the route of the Pines Express over the Somerset and Dorset Railway to Bournemouth It…

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WW1 and WW2 Train Ferries

17 Oct 2023

Our speaker for our October Meeting was one of our group members Gordon Adams. The first half of the presentation covered World War 1. The decision to use Train Ferries…

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Swindon Works – The Final Years

19 Sep 2023

Our speaker for the start of the 2023/2024 Season was Canon Brian Armon and the subject was “Swindon – The Final Years”. The standardisation of BR Diesel locomotives away from…

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Visit to David Buck’s Private Railway Fifield

04 Jul 2023

The RCTS and BLS held a very successful visit to David Buck’s Railways at Fifield during the afternoon of Monday 26th June. Proceedings started officially at14.00 with David making a…

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North Staffordshire Railway Part Two

04 Jul 2023

The May meeting was the second of a series of presentations by Brian Sullivan. The major part  consisted of a journey from Uttoxeter to Crewe via Stoke along the North…

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Slide Presentations from the 1960’s to Privatisation

05 May 2023

Our booked speaker was unable to attend for the April Meeting, his travel arrangements being scuppered by the closure of the main Oxford-Banbury line due to the condition of Nuneham…

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The Current GWR Scene

28 Mar 2023

For our March Meeting, we welcomed Mark Hopwood CBE Managing Director GWR and his topic was the The current GWR Scene. The evening was in three parts, a short video,…

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Confessions of a Narrow Minded Enthusiast

01 Mar 2023

For our February Meeting we welcomed back Colin Brading with a presentation entitled “Confessions of a Narrow Minded Enthusiast”. The first part covered the development of 15″ Gauge Railways. The…

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Cholsey and Wallingford Railway

24 Jan 2023

For this meeting we welcomed Tony Stead from the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway. The presentation was in two parts the first being a detailed history of the branch line with…

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The Gulf Oil Branch Line

24 Jan 2023

The first part of the December Meeting was the AGM and this was followed by a presentation and video on the building of the Gulf Oil Branch Line by Dick…

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All Change Britain’s Railways 1967-1979

03 Dec 2022

Starting in late 1967 with black and white images taken in the Northwest which was then the last remaining location for Main line steam (though with its limited variety of…

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Czech Railways

03 Nov 2022

At our October meeting we welcomed Robert Pritchard, Fixtures Secretary of the Sheffield Branch and Editor of Today’s Railways UK, to talk on one of his specialist subjects, the railways…

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Diesel Hydraulics around the Western Region.

03 Nov 2022

This took place on the 20th September the evening of the day after the State funeral of our late Queen Elizabeth II. Prior to commencement attendees shared a moment of…

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The North Staffordshire Railway (Part 1)

07 Jun 2022

For our last indoor meeting of a necessarily short season, we welcomed Brian Sullivan, who presented the first part of his talk on the North Staffordshire Railway. The presentation was…

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An Indian Railway Tour

10 May 2022

For our April meeting, we welcomed back Colin Brading, who took us on a railway tour of India. India is a large country with 1.4 billion people and a railway…

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Eastleigh from Railway Junction to Railway Centre

04 Apr 2022

After an enforced gap of two years, caused by obvious circumstances beyond our control. we were back at Didcot to welcome local member Gordon Adams, He had done a series…

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A Little History of the Cadeby Light Railway

21 Feb 2022

The Thames Valley branch welcomed back Dave Penney (whose day job is Passenger Director – Northwest and Central) with a presentation was “A little history of the Cadeby Light Railway.”  …

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Branch Quiz Evening

23 Jan 2022

  The Thames Valley branch January meeting, which should have been our first face to face meeting since February 2020, back at the Didcot Civic Hall, but Covid and in…

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Transport for Wales – Cardiff Valley Metro

05 Jan 2022

Before the normal meeting started the branch Annual General meeting was held. The result of which the branch committee was unanimously voted back into office. The minutes of the AGM…

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1966 Farewell to Steam – Journeys around England, Wales and Scotland

03 Dec 2021

The branch welcomed back Mike Beale Mike went through the calendar of the year 1966 January, the Somerset and Dorset line which, ended on the 1st January, although an emergency…

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Class 50’s in Cornwall

19 Oct 2021

Presenter: David Keogh David had been brought up in Cornwall and was the founder of the Fifty Fund, who now own six class 50s mostly based at the Severn Valley…

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Australia and other trips in 2020

21 Sep 2021

Presenter: Stuart Hicks For our September Zoom meeting our Branch Member and Secretary Stuart Hicks took us on a tour of his overseas trips during 2020. He and his family had…

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15th June 2021 · Peter Gray photographic collection.

15 Jun 2021

Presenter: Laurence Waters. Laurence was a professional photographer and is now the Honorary photographic archivist for the Great Western Trust at the Didcot Railway Centre. He has also written several…

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18th May 2021· The Great Northern Railway and Kings Cross Station.

18 May 2021

Presenter: Raymond Schofield Our speaker this evening introduced his talk as one he had prepared for the 175th anniversary of the railway reaching London from York and the inaugural run…

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20th April 2021· Tramways of the Czech Republic & Slovakia Part 1 – Prague, Plzen and Most to Lituinov.

20 Apr 2021

Presenter: Robert Pritchard – Fixtures Secretary, Sheffield Branch. The Thames Valley branch welcomed as its speaker for this month Robert Pritchard, a name known to many as Editor, Todays Railways…

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16th March 2021 · The North London Railway

16 Mar 2021

Presenter: Murray Lewis – RCTS Member, Thames Valley Branch The branch welcomed “one of its own” to present via Zoom a talk on “The North London Railway”. Murray by way…

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16th February 2021 · Current GWR Train Operations and Developments

16 Feb 2021

Presenter: Mark Hopwood CBE – Managing Director GWR The Thames Valley Branch welcomed Mark Hopwood for this evenings talk. In addition to Mark there were some 81 other persons on…

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19th January 2021 · Three Feet on Three Legs

19 Jan 2021

Presenter: Colin Brading The Speaker for the January meeting on the subject of Railways of the Isle of Man, which had an audience of 54 people, was Colin Brading. Colin…

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15th December 2020 · Branch AGM and Festive Quiz

15 Dec 2020

The first part of the December meeting was another new experience, the branch AGM using the Zoom system. Due process was carried out with the current committee being re-elected en…

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17th November 2020 · Double Header

17 Nov 2020

A Winter Weekend in Crewe Presenter: Andy Vernon Presenting first was branch member Andy Vernon. Travelling by car from the Thames Valley on a Thursday afternoon in late January 2020,…

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13th & 20th October 2020 · A Holiday of a Lifetime – Swindon to Saigon

20 Oct 2020

Presenter: John Sreeves The branch welcomed back John Sreeves, albeit this time via ZOOM for two evenings in October to give a talk, postponed from March earlier this year. One…

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22nd September 2020 · Southampton Railways Part 3

22 Sep 2020

Presenter: Gordon Adams Due to Covid-19 our first meeting of the new season was not in the Didcot Civic Hall, but virtually by ZOOM, probably the first of four monthly…

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4th March 2020 · Quiz versus Reading Transport Group

04 Mar 2020

The RCTS team of Phil Darlaston, John Temple,N igel Farebrother, Stuart Hicks and Murray Lewis girded their loins to do battle in the annual quiz match away to our friends…

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17th February 2020 · The End of Steam around Bristol

17 Feb 2020

Presenter: Mike Beale For our February meeting our venue was converted into a Tardis as Mike Beale transported us back for a 1950’s and 1960’s look at steam in and…

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20th January 2020 · The Metropolitan Railway

20 Jan 2020

Presenter: Colin Brading For the first meeting of 2020, we welcomed back Colin Brading, with his talk on the Metropolitan Railway. As is widely known, this was the world’s first…

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16th December 2019 · ‘Branch AGM followed by member’s slides and images’

16 Dec 2019

The December meeting was the usual one consisting of the branch AGM and member’s presentations with seasonal refreshments. The formal part consisted of a review of the year, which turned…

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18th November 2019 · ’24 years of Great Eastern Electrification’

18 Nov 2019

Presenter: John Day The presentation covered the period just before electrification to the present day to cover the last 25 years of Great Eastern electrification. Although parts of the Great…

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21st October 2019 · ‘All Aboard the Pines Express – Part 1’

21 Oct 2019

Presenter: Chris Youett The October meeting had as its speaker a long-term friend in Chris Youett who took us on the first part of a ride on the Pines Express.…

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16th September 2019 · 4 Branch Members – 4 Different Photo Presentations

16 Sep 2019

The first person to present was Murray Lewis, who showed the railways of Ukraine. He went at a time before the troubles of recent years, so was able to photograph…

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30th August 2019 · Outdoor Meeting Eastleigh Station

30 Aug 2019

Friday 30th August saw four members from Thames Valley branch enjoy an afternoon of observation at our third new venue of the summer after our visits to Westbury and Clapham…

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20th August 2019 · Outdoor Meeting Didcot Station

20 Aug 2019

This year’s Didcot observation evening at was notable for two missing icons. The HST’s, for so long a staple of Didcot workings finished earlier this year, being replaced by the…

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4th July 2019 · Clapham Junction Outdoor Meeting

04 Jul 2019

Thursday 4th July saw five members from Thames Valley branch enjoying a sunny warm afternoon observing plenty of trains at Clapham Junction station. This was a new venue for the…

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20th June 2019 · Reading Station Outdoor Meeting

20 Jun 2019

On a cloudy, dull evening a group of six branch members met at the London end of platform 8 on Reading station for the traditional June outdoor meet to coincide…

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6th June 2019 · Westbury Station Outdoor Meeting

06 Jun 2019

A new venue and time for the Thames Valley branch observation of the year. The location was Westbury station commencing in the afternoon, a first for many years, if not…

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20th May 2019 · ”Southampton Railways Part 2′

20 May 2019

Presenter: Gordon Adams For the last indoor meeting of the season, Gordon Adams took us on a trip to the coast for Part 2 of his talk on the railways…

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15th April 2019 · Industrial Railways – Summer 1969

15 Apr 2019

Presenter: John Hubbard Due to the unavailability of the booked speaker, John Hubbard, (the joint branch president) stepped in with a talk on Industrial Steam in 1969. In 1969 the…

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18th March 2019 · ‘Heritage Railway Infrastructure – Part 2’

18 Mar 2019

Presenter: John Sreeves John Sreeves from Halcrow presented the second part of his “Railway Heritage Infrastructure” talk. John’s area of expertise is bridges, so these were what he concentrated on.…

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