Meeting Reports

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Thursday 12th December 2019

‘A Walk Along the Balerno Branch’

Kenny Williamson

Our December meeting produced a healthy attendance to view the presentation “A walk along the Balerno Branch”, with Kenny Williamson.

The 6 mile Balerno Branch, opened in 1874 by the Caledonian Railway, ran from Balerno via Balerno Junction to the main line at Slateford traversing the 4 stations, Colinton, Juniper Green, Currie & Balerno, to tap goods traffic from the numerous mills along the line. Passenger services operated from opening until cessation in 1943, freight ending in 1967 upon the line’s closure. Traffic included Coal, Esparto grass imported through Granton, lime & many excursions and day trippers. Awkward operating conditions required construction of 2 special tank locomotive classes, firstly in 1870, then in 1899, whilst accompanying coaches were designed for the branch.

Accompanying images included Slateford station in 1960, Slateford viaduct with a Balerno service, Colinton station, tunnel & tunnel mural, Juniper Green station, Kinleith Paper Mill, Currie station & passing loop, Currie goods yard 1967, Balerno station, empty coal train at Balerno Junct., Stationmaster’s & Signalman’s houses at Balerno, bridge remains at Balerno looking towards Ravelrig Junct., Ravelrig Junct. Signal Box, Balerno Tank at Dalry Road & Balerno Branch working timetable.

An interesting Q & A session followed.

A nostalgic evening much appreciated by the attendees.

Thursday 21st. November 2019

‘Annual General Meeting & Members Presentations’

The meeting was attended by a number of members. The business was transacted relatively quickly, the increased Branch membership level resulting from the Free Membership offer during 2018 being generally maintained. The existing Committee were re-elected en bloc.

Following reports on the past year’s activities, from the Chairman, Treasurer & Secretary, discussion turned to future meetings and events. Attendances at the Joint Meetings with our SRPS colleagues continue to be well maintained. The meeting was advised that due to transport difficulties, the Branch will not be attending Model Rail Scotland 2020 being held in Glasgow SEC at the end of February.

The formal business concluded with Ken Falconer receiving the award of Honorary Branch President from the Branch. Committee Member D. Thompson presented the Certificate produced by the Secretary to mark the occasion.

A number of members then entertained those present with their digital and slide presentations, covering a variety of locations and themes. Messrs K Sanders, S Malcolm & R McAdam, amongst other contributors, participated.

Thursday 14th November 3019

‘From the Caledonian Railway Archive’

Alistair Maclean

Our well-attended November meeting featured Alistair Maclean with the presentation “From the Caledonian Railway Archive”.

The archive comprises paper & similar items, including articles, photographs, transparencies and Photographic postcards. Items have been gifted or acquired via auctions, including images from Lens of Sutton, Real Photographs, Nick Tindall, Charles Underhill & George Russell. The Association have access to the NRM photo collection. Travelling from Aberdeen, the 1908-1913 Joint Station rebuilding was illustrated. North East locations included stations at Macduff, Ballater & Fraserburgh. Inverness provided the Kyle platform with a Black 5, while another Black 5 and train departed for Aviemore via Forres. Dingwall and Fortrose stations were viewed, Tain provided a Helmsdale to Inverness service hauled by a Black 5. Moving south, a 4P hauled Kilmarnock – St Enoch train July 58’ featured, Dunblane produced a Standard 4 tank on a Stirling-Callander service, Moffat station with train to Beatock July 52’, an N2 on Milngavie to Springburn service May 55’ & Longniddry with A4 Golden Plover and J35 on branch service. Postcard images included Blairgowrie, May 55’, Crieff Junction station 1912, & Law Junction station, New Luce viaduct, & Juniper Green station.

This was a very nostalgic and historic presentation, much appreciated by the attendees.

Thursday 11th April 2019

The North British Loco Company at War

John Ross

Our well-attended April meeting featured John Ross from Elgin with the presentation “The North British Loco Company at War”.

The company history, Neilson/Neilson Reid, Dubs & Sharp Stewart was outlined. The 20,000th locomotive was constructed in 1913. Articulated locomotives, 600mm/24” gauge were constructed for the trench network during WW1. Locomotives for use in the Empire, India, Africa, South Africa and Australia continued to be built: of 1400 produced, 700 were for commercial customers, the remainder for the war effort. NB Loco produced Shells, Mines, Tanks, Torpedo Tubes, Gun Carriages & Trench Howitzers, producing 6,000 High explosive shells per week. NB participated in building the BE.2 Aircraft during WW1.

Women were employed producing shells, and in locomotive finishing off, e.g., coupling rods, axleboxes, and in Dubs Drawing Office as tracers.

The well appointed Drawing Office operated as Springburn Red Cross Hospital from December 1914 until 1918, 8,000 + soldiers successfully receiving treatment. Artificial Limbs were designed and produced, though slightly cumbersome.

This was a most educational and enlightening presentation, incorporating many facts your scribe is unable to include because of space limitations. At the meeting’s conclusion, Ken Falconer thanked the Meeting Chairman, Dr Peter Howell, on his retiral after 45 years service.

Thursday 14th March 2019

“Sketching Scotland by Rail”

Leo Du Fu.

Our March meeting saw a healthy turnout for the presentation “Sketching Scotland by Rail”, by artist Leo Du Fu.

Mr Du Fu is Artist in Residence for Scotrail. On leaving Art College, a proposal to become an Artist in Residence, including some expenses and a Scotland wide Travel Pass was submitted to Scotrail. A reduced scale travel pass exploring the Aberdeen-Inverness route resulted. A number of photographs, sketches and paintings were produced and displayed locally a short time after. The work has taken him to many locations, sketching stations, their environments, rail lines in the landscape & mountainscapes, and on occasion, a Scotrail passenger train. Wildlife, including Ravens, Red Deer, Golden Eagles, Puffins, Razorbills and Buzzards have formed part of the resulting images, some being utilised as publicity material. Locations ranged from the Borders Railway to the Horseshoe Curve north of Tyndrum, Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve, Helmsdale, Wick, Thurso, and an excursion to John O’Groats. A variety of media are utilised, including pen and ink, watercolour, etc.

This was a different type of presentation, proving a most interesting and entertaining subject for the audience that evening.

Saturday 9th February 2019

‘Electrification of the E & G route”,

Dr.Ann Glen

Our February meeting saw a very healthy turnout for the presentation “Electrification of the E & G route”, by Dr Ann Glen.

EGIP [Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme] history was outlined, it being a desire of Transport Scotland for a number of years to electrify the E & G via Falkirk High and associated possible diversionary routes, that contribute to the Edinburgh-Glasgow route system.

Unforeseen problems with faulty bridge piers at Larbert contributed to the increased total project cost. Winchburgh Tunnel has had drainage improvements to reduce its dampness issues, not assisted by adjacent former brickfields now forming a nature reserve. Bridges were modified or removed to enable ample overhead wire clearance.

The Electrification HQ at Cadder Yard oversees Overhead equipment & infrastructure supplies, the work executed primarily during overnight possessions. Differing soil types had to be accounted for. Track in Cowlairs Tunnel has been replaced, overhead conductor wire installed & new signalling commissioned at Queen Street. Track has been renewed at Eastfield & Springburn. We saw the wiring train, and staff installing mast support brackets on viaducts. Millerhill services Cl.385s, with new facilities, including sewage disposal from the controlled emission toilets fitted to current stock.

A most informative afternoon from an excellent speaker.

Saturday 19th January 2019

‘Building Scotland’s best railway

Alex Hynes, Scotrail Alliance

Our January meeting saw a very large turnout for the presentation “Building Scotland’s best railway”, from Alex Hynes, MD of the Scotrail Alliance, a partnership between Network Rail Scotland & Abellio Scotrail, the Scottish passenger train operator.

£2 Billion is being invested over 5 years, £1.5 Billion upgrading infrastructure, £475 Million on new Rolling Stock, services increasing from 2400 to 2600 daily. Electrification of Stirling, Dunblane, Alloa & Shotts routes was completed early & under budget: Aberdeen-Inverness and Highland Main Line upgrades are ongoing, 8 coach sets will be accommodated at Glasgow QS on completion of platform extensions. Upon delivery from Hitachi of the remaining Cl.385s, Scotrail DMUs will be refurbished and redeployed, boosting capacity in Fife and on the Borders Railway, whilst Scotrail HSTs replace DMUs on Inter-City routes.

Transferring 19 off-lease DMUs to Northern impacted on services, displaced Cl.365s being drafted in temporarily.

Mr. Hynes outlined the operational restraints imposed by infrastructure, i.e., the shortage of available rolling stock, limited driver & staff experience of the new stock, and the lack of driver/staff knowledge on the new routes, that are being addressed.

A very informative & interactive Q & A session, covering many topics, concluded the meeting.

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Last updated: 26th February