Monday 14th December 2020
On-Line Meeting: A Touch of Winter
We closed 2020 with another “Zoom” meeting on Monday 14th December when Peter Robins gave a presentation entitled “A Touch of Winter” to a record audience, for our Zoom meetings, of 63. Peter explained that he was a lifelong railway enthusiast, and from 1974 a professional railwayman. This provided him with travel concessions to maximise the photographic opportunities of his hobby. His presentation concentrated on demonstrating the best use of available light in murky conditions and limited sunshine in snow and – sometimes – extreme cold. His opening shots mainly featured examples of “modern” traction in Great Britain and even a preserved “Deltic” (55022) and Class 40 (40106). Throughout this section his admiration for the Class 253 InterCity 125 High Speed Trains was evident. Locations ranged from Achnasheen in the north via Peter’s favourite vantage points on the Great Western main line and beyond. He also treated us to some shots of restored steam locomotives on preserved lines such as the Great Central Railway. “And now for something completely different” quoted Peter as he left the U.K.’s snowy delights to take us on photographic expeditions in search of steam tours in similarly snowy winters in Germany (especially the former East Germany, for plandampf operations and narrow gauge ), Spain, Portugal, the Ukraine, and the USA (where snow lingered into April), in the ‘cold season’ (winter but – lacking snow – not as we know it) to India, Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe; before culminating in the snow and extreme cold of China, where he had managed to photograph the famously massive double-headed freight trains in China. All in all a fabulous trip around the world’s snowy regions.
Monday 9th November 2020
On-Line Meeting: That Was The Year That Was – 1962
Our penultimate “Zoom” meeting of 2020 took place on Monday 9th November when Geoff Plumb gave a photographic presentation entitled “That Was the Year That Was – 1962”. Going beyond the advertised title, Geoff’s photographs ranged from 1951 to 1962! Over forty members and guests were present on line for the start of the presentation. Geoff explained that he was born in Sheffield in 1949 and brought up in a railway mad family. His father was a founder member of the Sheffield Branch of the R.C.T.S. Geoff’s photographs started with those taken on the family’s Box Brownie on spotting expeditions with his father, before he had his own camera. He also used the work of friends and other enthusiasts to fill gaps in his own, and his father’s, work. This enabled him to present us with a widely varied selection of illustrations, showing a variety of locomotives in a wide range of locations, including the Festiniog Railway and the Isle of Wight. Rail tours by the R.C.T.S and other societies featured largely in his presentation as the 1950s and early 1960s were the time when the various Regions of B.R. were happy to provide some very complex itineraries with specific locomotives. These tours ranged from the ambitious “Aberdeen Flyer” to complex itineraries involving several changes of locomotives en route. Highlights included the London Suburban Rail Tour with two Beattie well tanks. By the end of Geoff’s presentation he had indeed reached 1962 as promised – a superb evening’s nostalgia on line.
Monday 10th October 2020
On-Line Meeting: Edward Thompson
We continued our series of “Zoom” virtual meetings on Monday 10th October when 52 participants – our best attendance yet for a “Zoom” meeting, including one from the USA – took part. We were addressed by prolific author and occasional television presenter Simon Martin who gave a talk on Edward Thompson, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Eastern Railway from 1941 until his retirement in 1946. Thompson was born at Marlborough College (where his father was an assistant master) in 1881. He was educated at Marlborough, and then Pembroke College, Cambridge. From 1910 he held various senior engineering posts on the North Eastern and Great Northern Railways – interrupted by war service in the Army – and from 1923 the LNER. After the death of Sir Nigel Gresley in April 1941 Thompson was quickly appointed by the LNER Board to succeed Gresley as Chief Mechanical Engineer. Simon’s very detailed research included reading the minutes of all the LNER Board Meetings, and much other material available at the National Archives, Kew, and the National Railway Museum. It was during this research that Simon realised that there was no evidence for the frequently expressed view that Thompson had attempted to wipe out Greeley’s achievements on the LNER. On the contrary there was statistical evidence that Thompson’s locomotives were able to hold their own in mileages between general overhauls, annual mileages, for example. Simon referred to Thompson’s work on the standardisation of locomotives and parts, which clearly showed no bias against Gresley’s designs, at a time when wartime and post-war pressures made this policy so essential. Thompson’s recommendations for the basis of a future standard LNER locomotive fleet contained a number of Gresley’s classes in either original or modified form.
Tuesday 22nd September 2020
On-Line Meeting: The Restoration of 34081 92 Squadron
Our regular autumn afternoon meeting at Redhill was replaced by a “Zoom” meeting on Tuesday 22nd September in which retired G.P. Dr. Steve Lacey gave a visual presentation to 23 members and guests showing the restoration of Battle of Britain 4-6-2 No. 34081 92 Squadron. Steve explained that this presentation was originally given by Barry Woods and that the photographs and videos were by various members of the restoration team. He started with some background information about Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid prior to and after becoming Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway. He was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1882, became an apprentice to H.A. Ivatt and assistant to Sir Nigel Gresley, before joining the Southern Railway, and ending his career as CME of CIE. Steve highlighted the innovative nature of much of Bulleid’s work and showed photographs of Merchant Navy No. 21C1, built in 1941, West Country/Battle of Britain ‘Light’ Pacifics, Q1 class 0-6-0s and his controversial “Leader” class 0-6-6-0, but he will always be remembered for his Merchant Navy, West Country and Battle of Britain Pacifics. 34081 was built in 1948 and withdrawn from service in 1964, then was purchased from Barry Scrapyard in September 1973 by members of the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society. In 1976 it was moved by low loader to a vacant siding at the British Sugar Corporation, Peterborough. It was at this site that Steve, who had recently retired from general practice and was living at Stevenage became seriously involved in the restoration project. In 1977 92 Squadron was moved to a site at Wansford, which later became the Nene Valley Railway and restoration began in earnest. After a break for viewers to participate in home refreshments Steve talked us through a very detailed video illustrating the major mechanical operations on the frames, boiler, wheels, motion, valve gear and tender.
Monday 14th September 2020
On-Line Meeting: Southern Steam 1899-1961
We continued our series of “Zoom” virtual meetings on Monday 14th September, when Jeremy Harrison presented a selection of black-and-white photographs entitled “Southern Steam 1899-1961”, drawn from the LCGB Ken Nunn Collection (now in the custody of the NRM, but with ‘showing rights’ retained). Thirty-seven members and guests from near and far took part on line from their respective homes. As was to be expected from the title, this was a splendid miscellany of Southern steam power from the end of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century photographed – all taken on glass plates – at locations from Kent to the West of England. Diversions en route included a Royal Train on Derby Day, a steam rail motor, an LNWR 0-8-0 on a transfer freight at Hither Green and even a ROD 2-8-0 hired from the Ministry of Munitions. We concluded with some fond memories of LCGB Specials in the late ’50s/early ’60s. Again our thanks go to Jeremy for organising, arranging and showing this display for our enjoyment.
Monday 10th August 2020
On-Line Meeting: From Platform Bench to Viaduct Maintenance, by Phil Deaves
We returned to “Zoom” for our fourth successive virtual meeting on Monday 10th August. Thirty-five members and guests took part on line from their respective homes near and far. For this occasion Phil Deaves presented “From Platform Bench to Viaduct Maintenance.” This was a full and very detailed visual account of the points to be considered when setting out to open a new station or when making other changes which may necessitate alterations to the infrastructure. This could include the introduction of a new or augmented train service or a new design of traction or rolling stock. Phil explained that as well as being a member of the RCTS, he was also Network Development Manager for the (present day) Great Western Railway and that much of his illustrative material in this presentation had originally been prepared for that company. Phil took us through the multitude of features on a large or small modern station that had to be considered including adequate space for the site, public and staff facilities, platforms and their associated buildings, running lines, road access for vehicles and pedestrians, signalling and its associated structures. Our great thanks go to Phil for his presentation, and also to Jeremy Harrison and David Jackman for once again looking after the technical side of this virtual meeting, all for our enjoyment.
Monday 13th July 2020
On-Line Meeting: More Southern from the RCTS Photographic Archive, by David Jackman
Our third successive virtual meeting, again using “Zoom” and organised by Jeremy Harrison and David Jackman, took place in mid-July, as we compensated for lockdown blues by extending our season of on-line meetings. Thirty-four local and other branch members – from as far afield as Yorkshire – participated at their respective homes. Tonight’s presentation was by David Jackman of “More Southern from the RCTS Photographic Archive”. David opened his presentation with a photograph of an immaculate Class D1 4-4-0 No. 31545 on a Stephenson Locomotive Society special train at Margate in May 1957. He followed this with some shots of the Golden Arrow headed by (of course!) Bulleid Pacifics, Riddles Britannia class Pacific No. 70004 William Shakespeare, and 2,000 hp diesel-electric 1Co-Co1 No. 10203. Next came a shot of two ex-GWR 0-6-0 pannier tanks on the Folkestone Harbour branch. These curtain raisers were followed by a multitude of memories ranging through ex-Southern steam and electric and BR Standard steam and diesel classes as David took us westwards towards Salisbury. After a short break for virtual coffee we headed deeper into former LSWR territory where former Southern designs and Ivatt tank engines on branch lines joined ex-GWR Halls on Inter-Regional services. Our final destination was the narrow gauge (1ft 11½ ins) Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Our particular thanks go to David Jackman for offering this delightful virtual presentation for our enjoyment, also to all those photographers and others who have contributed to the Archive: we wonder what else it contains, for our future entertainment.
Monday 8th June 2020
On-Line Meeting: Members’ Images
During the continuing lock-down, and following on from the success of our first on-line meeting, we had another virtual meeting using “Zoom” on Monday 8th June, arranged by the Branch Web Coordinator Jeremy Harrison in conjunction with Society Webmaster David Jackman. In addition to members of our own Branch, we were delighted to welcome several from elsewhere, coming from as far afield as Humberside. As last month, we were treated to an evening of members’ images on various themes. First of all, Geoff Brockett set the ball rolling with shots taken on the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight and the English mainland. Next, Phil Deaves, of Thames Valley Branch, took us away from traditional front three-quarters railway photography with images concentrating on other aspects, including structures and people. After a short break John Armitage showed some scenes on the Cliff Railway at Saltburn and the outbase of the National Railway Museum at Shildon, including Timothy Hackworth’s house, and a number of photographs taken at Darlington Steam Museum, and Darlington Locomotive Works, where the new P2 2007 Prince of Wales was waiting to be mounted on its newly delivered (and not to be touched!) wheels. Finally David Jackman treated us to some images from the Society’s Photographic Archive, of the Southern in the Sixties, which attracted some discussion. Our grateful thanks again go to Jeremy and David for organising this online meeting, and to the various contributors of material for our enjoyment.
Monday 11th May 2020
On-Line Meeting: Members’ Images
On account of the current coronavirus lockdown our regular meeting scheduled for Monday 11th May had, like all Society meetings, had to be cancelled, at least in conventional form. In its place, the Branch held a virtual, on-line, meeting – was this a first for the Society? – via the medium of “Zoom”, following a couple of trials. It featured Members’ Images, and was attended by 13 members, 4 of whom contributed.
To start, John Armitage showed a selection of photographs taken last September on a trip to Eastleigh Works, organised by the Omnibus Society in an immaculately restored Daimler double decker bus. Shots included scruffy locomotives, trains which had just arrived for repair and/or refurbishment and beautifully repainted examples waiting to be returned to their owners or operators. These included a former Southampton Docks diesel-electric shunter (BR class 07), representatives of Classes 47, 73, 313, 314 (from Scotrail!), 442 and a “55xxx bubble car”.
Next came a professionally produced presentation (including musical accompaniment!) entitled “Main Line Steam” from David Beard. These included 70013 Oliver Cromwell, ex-LMSR ‘Black 5s’ 45231 The Sherwood Forester, 44932 & 45305, 48151, 60163 Tornado, 6201 Princess Elizabeth, 61306 Mayflower and – of course – a selection of Bulleid Pacifics – some disguised as other members of the class . The first half concluded with Jeremy Harrison showing a few pictures from the Ken Nunn Collection, dating from 1945, following the recently celebrated 75th Anniversary of VE Day.
After a short break, Ken Owen showed images taken along the Coastway line, featuring the class 313 units now in use there, between Littlehampton and Seaford, chiefly to record the signal boxes and semaphore signals before the line was upgraded, the section between Lewes and the Seaford branch being finally completed in November 2019. The meeting finished with Jeremy showing a random variety of images, many of steam taken on photographic charters on preserved railways.
Our grateful thanks go to Jeremy for taking the initiative to organise this online meeting to provide some interest during an otherwise largely barren time for rail enthusiasts. While in many ways an experiment, it was enjoyed and regarded as a success by all who attended.
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.
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
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.
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.
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: 26th December 2020