Meeting Reports

Monday 9th March 2020

Branch AGM, Photo Competition and Members’ Slides

Our seventeenth Branch AGM took place on Monday 9th March. The format that has become traditional over the years was repeated this year, in that the formalities of the AGM were disposed of quickly to allow time for the photographic competition and a selection of photographs from members. In his opening remarks, Chairman Chris Meredith summarised the Branch’s activities during the past year and each of the Branch Officers reported on his own aspect. Chris Meredith, Peter Wilson, Jeremy Harrison and Andrew Jones were re-elected to their respective posts, and Rob Burridge agreed to augment the committee and was warmly welcomed. After the break for refreshments, entries for the photographic competition organised by Andrew were viewed and voted on by members present. The winning entry – featured on the branch front page – was Jeremy Harrison’s shot of the Society’s “own” locomotive, Schools class 4-4-0 No. 30925 Cheltenham, working hard through Chawton Woods between Alton and Medstead on the Mid Hants Railway on 2nd February this year. The others are to seen below. Finally Alan Walters showed some superb photographs of East German express locomotives including the famous Class 01 pacifics in around 1972,  the Majorcan rail system and main line steam in Britain.

Oldest image in the competion, but the only one of the Modern Image, was David Beard’s photograph of 377 188 between the signals as it approached East Croydon on 31st August 2016.
On the Isle of Man Steam Railway, Chris Meredith captured this image of Nos. 8 Fenella and 12 Hutchinson crossing – and on the point of exchanging tokens – at Castletown, on 12th April 2019.
The runner up image: Jeremy Harrison’s picture of a splendidly evocative recreation of a Southern Railway era freight as it approached Haven Street behind ex-LBSCR A1x (‘Terrier’) class 0-6-0T No. W11, on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway during a 30742 Charters event on 27th April 2019.
Last summer saw the London Transport Museum mark 150 Years of the District Line with a special train featuring ex-Metropolitan Railway 0-4-4T No. 1, photographed by Chris Meredith at Ealing Broadway on 22nd June 2019.
During the Branch Visit to the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre on 13th July 2019, David Beard captured this image of Bagnall 2-4-0T Polar Bear , with the driver about to give up the token.
Chris Meredith’s image of 35028 Clan Line – a loco he has much to do with – on the ‘ACE’, at Templecombe, 10th August 2019
David Beard’s image of BR Standard class 4 2-6-4T No. 80151 – recently to service – running round at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway, on the occasion of the Branch visit on 12th August 2019.
Jeremy Harrison’s image of ex GWR 4953 Pitchford Hall, with a recreation 1950s train (a period when he was very little) on a Time Line Events charter on the Great Central Railway, 5th February 2020

Monday 10th February 2020

Boat Train Routes through Kent since the 1890s: Brian Stephenson

In sharp contrast to Brian Garvin’s presentation in January featuring steam behind the Iron Curtain, our meeting on 10th February stayed much nearer home for Brian Stephenson’s presentation “Boat Train Routes through Kent since the 1890s”. Prior to the formation of the South Eastern and Chatham Joint Committee, the South Eastern Railway and the London Chatham and Dover Railway each had their own services between London and the Channel Ports, with the SER running from and to Charing Cross via Tonbridge and the LCDR from and to Victoria via Chatham. After the grouping of 1923 the Southern Railway concentrated its Continental traffic on Victoria Station. Brian explained that this presentation was less of a historical account than a random selection of images of the locomotives and rolling stock that could be seen on these routes during this period, both his own, and drawn from the Rail Archive Stephenson Collection. Consequently we saw a mixture of elegant 4-4-0s of various classes including B1, D and D1, E and E1, L and L1, M3 and ‘Schools’, followed by “King Arthur” 4-6-0s and Bulleid pacifics. The late 1950s and 1960s took us on to B.R. Mark 1 electric multiple units before closing the twentieth century with Eurostar. Brian closed his presentation with construction of the Continental Main Line, subsequently known as HS1, and the latest Eurostar trains. 

Monday 13th January 2020

Steam Behind the Iron Curtain: Brian Garvin

Our 2020 programme started on Monday 13th January, when Brian Garvin, well known European railway enthusiast and photographer, presented a comprehensive show entitled “Steam Behind the Iron Curtain”. He concentrated on the period between 1968 and 1973 when he and a group of like-minded friends made annual visits to Poland. He explained briefly the political background in Poland from the beginning of the 20th Century and its effect on locomotive construction there in that until the 1920s only locomotives “inherited” from Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary were available. However, subsequently and through WW2 and afterwards Polish built locomotives were constructed for passenger and heavy freight work. Brian explained in great detail the extremely complicated system of class and individual locomotive numbering based on country of origin, year of construction and wheel arrangement. All this meant that his collection of photographs ranged from the very smallest narrow-gauge engines through standard gauge to Russian broad gauge machines. There were even a few diesel and electric vehicles! The result was a remarkable variety of locomotives to be recognised in Brian’s photographs, interspersed with anecdotes of problems arising from the fact that railways and their operation were considered matters of high security in pre-1989 Communist Europe. Thank you, Brian, for a superb evening’s entertainment!

Monday 9th December 2019

A Different Point of View: Railways in all weathers and at all times of day

Steve Sedgwick

For our regular December meeting Steve Sedgwick treated us to photographs from “A Different Point of View”. An accomplished photographer, Steve goes way beyond the full sun front three quarter locomotive view to take pictures that others don’t – or dare to – hence the sub-title of his presentation “Railways in all weathers and at all times of day” – and which feature the railway in context. Many of his photographs were taken in appalling weather in Scotland, Wales and mainland Europe, including shots taken in dark, wet and dirty conditions in locomotive sheds. Some of his more recent shots illustrated the advantages of a camera with 10,000 ASA capability. This was a lesson in photography which enthralled us all – a treat to finish the year!

Tuesday 3rd December 2019

Branch Christmas Dinner

On Tuesday 3rd December ten members enjoyed our traditional Christmas dinner (though not all chose traditional Christmas fare!) at The Porter and Sorter public house adjacent to East Croydon Station. While strike action on South Western Railway’s services and a lineside fire at Purley delayed the arrival of some participants, conversation was soon buzzing as the meal got under way. As usual the food, drinks and service were all excellent and all present expressed their enjoyment of the evening and appreciation of the Branch organisers and Porter and Sorter staff.

Monday 11th November 2019

Strictly Freight Only – Part 2: Brian Ringer

On Monday 11
November we welcomed Brian Ringer, a former British Rail senior freight manager, to give us a profusely illustrated presentation “Strictly Freight Only – Part 2”. This started where Brian left off on his previous visit eighteen months earlier. He related the development of the Cross Channel freight business from the days when military needs led to the use of many fairly small ships which necessitated goods being craned on and off the vessels through small train ferries and the purpose-built m.v. Nord Pas-de-Calais to the demise of the train ferry business with the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Then he moved to the period in the 1980s in which the British Railways Board’s freight business was ”sectorised” into Trainload Freight and wagon load in the Speedlink era. Privatisation came after 1993 when several different companies – large and small – provided a multitude of different liveries on locomotives and rolling stock. This period saw the locomotive fleet evolve from use of the corporate fleet of Class 20, 37 and 47 diesel and various electric locomotives to purpose-built Class 60, 66 and 70 machines ordered specifically by the new operators. Brian was thanked warmly for his presentation of a subject which is perhaps neglected by many enthusiasts.

Monday 14th October 2019

on the West Highland Line: John Barrance

At our regular Monday evening meeting in Croydon on 14th October we welcomed railway photographer John Barrance to treat us to a selection of photographs taken on the West Highland line. In his introduction he said his presentation should really be titled “Steam on the West Highland” as the photographs were all taken by him on visits to the line since 2001. He was captivated by the line when he participated in a photographic charter special train in that year. Since then he has made annual visits by special and scheduled trains including “The Jacobite”. His excellently organised presentation took us on a photographic journey from south to north along the line from Crianlarich to Fort William then on to Mallaig. Stops en route included the Glenfinnan viaduct – now even more famous as a result of it being in the Harry Potter films – and Glenfinnan monument. Views from the train windows emphasised the desolate beauty of Rannoch Moor. Locomotives shown included ex-LMS and B1 4-6-0s, K1, K4 and BR Standard class 4 2-6-0s many carrying fictional numbers to represent locomotives formerly allocated to Fort William (65J). By common consent this was one of the best presentations we have had.

Tuesday 24th September 2019

My Early Years: David Maidment

For our afternoon meeting in Redhill on Tuesday 24 September we were delighted to welcome a return visit from David Maidment, former British Rail senior manager, founder of The Railway Children charity and author of several books and a number of articles in Steam World. David explained that this presentation, titled “My Early Years”, would concentrate on his life as a railway enthusiast before pursuing his career on the railway: his hobby became his career. He began with a photograph of himself in a pram at the age of three followed by one of his first remembered sightings – “Castle” Class 4-6-0 no. 4087 Cardigan Castle, which became his favourite locomotive and featured several times in his presentation. David took us through his known family member connections with the railway, his discovery and use of Ian Allan ABC books and Trains Illustrated, and the opportunities taken for train sightings on family holidays, at schools in Surrey and university in London. Steam power on the Southern and Western Regions featured very largely in his presentation – although other parts of B.R. were not missed out. All in all the locations and locomotives presented a feast of nostalgia for those present!

Monday 9th September 2019

Mail Rail: Chris Taft

We started our 2019/20 season on Monday 9th September with a visit from Chris Taft, Head of Collections at The London Postal Museum, who gave a presentation on “Mail Rail”. Chris described the origins and development of the Post Office Railway (London) Limited – the title subsequently borne by the 1913 Act of Parliament which authorized construction of an underground railway which ultimately extended from Liverpool Street Station and the Eastern District Office to Paddington and the Western District Office. This resulted from the horrendous road conditions in Central London and the need for a system to move mails between railway stations and District offices. The line, delayed by the Great War, finally opened in 1927 operated by driverless trains of three motorised electric wagons. These short wheelbase vehicles caused excessive wear and tear on rails and wheels and were replaced by a more suitable design in 1930/2. These replacements lasted until 1980 when they were replaced by similar more modern sets. The 1980s saw a reduction in use made by Royal Mail of the B.R. termini and a  rationalisation of its London District Offices so the underground line closed in 2003. Although “mothballed” for a time it was eventually dismantled except for a short section which is now part of the London Postal Museum.

Summer 2019 Outdoor Events

Branch Summer Dinner

Monday 10th June was the date of our Branch Summer Dinner at the Porter & Sorter public house. A small group of four braved the appalling wet weather, significantly below the usual number for this social gathering. However, a good meal and lively conversation made for an enjoyable evening. The future of this popular hostelry has been in doubt for some time. It is now bound up with Network Rail’s proposals to redevelop East Croydon station as part of their Scheme for “unblocking the Croydon bottleneck” and upgrading the Brighton Line.

Amberley Museum

On Saturday 13th July seven of us visited Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre for their Railway Gala Weekend. We arrived in time for our first trip of the day on the 2ft gauge railway from Amberley to Cragside calling at Brockham. Two engines were in service: Bagnall 2-4-0T Polar Bear,  and Bagnall 0-4-0ST Wendy on loan from Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway to cover for the Museum’s own Bagnall 0-4-0ST Peter, withdrawn for its ten year overhaul. Members of the party spread across the site to enjoy the variety of exhibitions, rescued buildings, vehicles in various stage of restoration, and model railway layouts (brought in for the Weekend). Of particular interest was the rare example of a Saxby & Farmer Type 1b signalbox, formerly at Billingshurst and now restored. A highlight of the day was the midafternoon cavalcade of locomotives from the Museum’s important collection of industrials, paraded for visitors to see, admire and photograph in the beautiful warm sunny weather.

Bluebell Railway

Our final outdoor event of the summer was a visit to the Bluebell Railway on Monday 12th August – a day that started grey and subsequently varied between bright sunlight and torrential rain. We travelled from East Croydon on the 10.40 train to East Grinstead where we joined the 11.45 Bluebell Railway service to Sheffield Park worked by Maunsell class S15 4-6-0 no. 847 (formerly B.R. no. 30847) running tender first. After arrival at Sheffield Park the plan was to repair immediately to the Bessemer Arms for lunch before looking round the station including the new Steam Works. This is located in the locomotive shed and uses information boards and interactive displays to show visitors of all ages how a steam locomotive works. Locomotives on static display there included Captain Baxter, 55 Stepney, 65, 96 Normandy, 178, 473, 30583, 73082 Camelot and 75027. The party of six returned north on the 14.30 train worked by recently returned to service B.R. standard 2-6-4T no. 80151 running bunker first.


Last updated: 31st March