Meeting Reports

Monday 9th March 2020

‘Memories of a Sheffield Trainspotter’

Ted Parker

A night of nostalgia was promised when Ted Parker of Yarm visited on 9 March with his presentation ‘Memories of a Sheffield Trainspotter’.  Ted, born in Sheffield in 1949 and son of a railwayman, met Ken Horan, a Rotherham based Scotsman, over 40 years ago at a SMRE meeting and they became lifelong friends and jointly produced ‘On Parallel Lines’, a book documenting the years leading up to the replacement of steam locos by diesel and electric.

Ted opened with photos taken with his first box camera, a Coronet 66.  We saw many evocative shots of Sheffield in his early days of photography – Wicker Arches with a Sandringham passing over, Rag and Tag Market, last tram in 1960, Atlantean buses, Dixon Lane, Sheffield Illuminations, Master Cutler (train that is!) and the infamous Barleycorn pub.

Ken Horan featured prominently along with his favourite Black Five, 44888 and one Monday Ken was asked by a photographer friend to produce plenty of smoke on the approach to Millhouses with the result that lots of washing on Buttermere Road were ruined by the smoke, with Ken being subsequently reprimanded!

We saw locos awaiting the torch at Beighton, BoBos and CoCos, Barrow Hill and Canklow sheds, Sheffield Victoria and Midland stations and an atmospheric shot of Brookhouse Colliery where Ted, as a 15 year old school boy, had an industrial visit down the pit.  Ted was an industrial scientific photographer at BSC and is an accomplished painter, being a member of the Guild of Railway Artists. 

Our very grateful thanks to Ken for making the long journey in incessant rain, an excellent evening enjoyed by all.

A potential crisis was averted on 24 February when we arrived to find our new projector screen had been ‘misappropriated’. However, help was at hand as our fixtures secretary, Jim Bryant came to our rescue as he raced home to collect his own!

Monday 27th February 2020

‘The L & Y in LMS Days’

Noel Coates

For our first evening meeting of the year on Monday, 27th January, we welcomed back Noel Coates from Burnley with his talk – the L & Y in LMS days – Developments in the Central Division during the LMS era. Noel broke his talk down to three main categories – Rebadging, Renumbering and Reliverying.

We saw locos in dark grey and LMS red, coaling plants, signal boxes, wagons etc. Also Rail Motors (where the fireman was on the footplate and the driver at the end of the carriage!), one of which survived into BR although it never received a number.

The 3 Rail Buses were also shown in 1934 before they moved to Scotland in 1947.

It was interesting to learn how old large letters and numerals were used up, which in some cases didn’t give an aesthetic effect!

We saw Liverpool Overhead Rly, Hughes 4-6-T Dreadnoughts (so named because of their size) including 11114 on show at Wembley in 1925 and 11112 at the Stockton and Darlington Centenary of the same year.

The General Strike of 1926 showed the police presence at Agecroft Shed which caused locos to be converted to oil burning. Also at Agecroft we saw two 0-8-2 tanks testing the new 70ft turntable.

Accidents were not overlooked either, with the Lytham accident of 1924 when loco 1105 was derailed due to a tyre failure, 15 people losing their lives.

We finished with Horwich Works assembling the USA S160, class 2-8-0s which were brought over during 1944.

An excellent show!

Monday 24th February 2020

The Dukeries Route’

Chris Booth

We eventually had a superb presentation by professional railwayman, Chris Booth on ‘The Dukeries Route’ – LD and EC Rly, covering completed route and branches. An author of two books on the subject, Chris illustrated the development and history of the route which failed to leave the ‘Dukeries’ and reached neither Lancashire nor the East Coast! Built to connect coalfields in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with Warrington and Sutton-on-Sea with financial help by the GER, it managed to open between Chesterfield and Lincoln with a branch towards Sheffield from 1896. Hopes of reaching the Lincolnshire coast were never fulfilled and it agreed a merger with the GCR and was absorbed in 1907.

Between 1939 and 1955 the passenger service was curtailed but most collieries continued to be productive until the final decade of the 20th Century. The company had 37 locomotives divided into four Classes, A, B, C and D, all tank engines and all built by Kitson of Leeds, only two of which survived into BR days, both Class B.

We were shown many historical photos of Chesterfield Market Place, Tuxford, Langwith Junction, Pyewipe, Creswell et al and a picture of Ollerton Station in 1906 with a Small Atlantic on a Doncaster Races Special for King Edward VII. We saw signal boxes, posed staff photos, derailments, Duke of Rutland’s Private Siding and nothing was missed!

We concluded an excellent show at the Network Rail High Marnham Test Track created in 2009 on a 17km stretch of the LD & EC running between Thoresby Colliery Jct and High Marnham Power Station.

A thoroughly recommended presentation..

Monday 10th February 2020

‘ A Taste of Japan’

Gordon Davies

I don’t know if it was the aftermath of Storm Ciara but the attendance was very poor for the excellent presentation ‘A Taste of Japan’ by our Society Chairman, Gordon Davies on our second afternoon meeting on 10 February. We are used to seeing Gordon in North America so this was a complete departure from his normal stamping ground!

Japanese Railways consist of 100 private companies and it was great to see a railway where punctuality is paramount with no graffiti or litter and superbly turned out trains. We visited the impressive Tokyo Railway Museum which was opened in 2007 with its massive array of electric and steam locos, some of which were of UK origin – Manning Wardle, Vulcan Foundry et al.

We saw Tokyo’s rubber tyred trams with no tracks, the world’s longest monorail and Tokyo’s excellent subway with its 189 miles of track.

We also saw wheel tappers, some unusual working practices and ticket barriers which were open but closed if the traveller didn’t have the correct ticket!

Also visited was the Piano Museum in Osaka – plenty of steam but no pianos.

A superb presentation, a pity there weren’t more members to witness it.

Our delayed AGM followed and we were pleased to report that the Branch was to carry on for another year.

Monday 13th January 2020

Disused Stations

Alan Young

Many members will be familiar with the disused station website ( and so it was with eager anticipation that those attending our first meeting of 2020 waited for the formal announcements to end and the presentation by Alan Young to begin! Alan is one of the small but dedicated and hard-working group which has steered the disused stations project from its beginnings in 2004. He began by detailing what information might be found on the website and then tackled the knotty problem of defining what the term ‘disused station’ was taken to include. He illustrated the dilemmas of categorisation with examples drawn both from our own South Yorkshire area and others having a personal meaning for him (Alan originates from Tyneside but now lives in Lancashire). After visually illustrating the members of the website team and enumerating the resources and databases that they use to develop the site Alan took us on a long and ‘haphazard’ (his word) tour of station sites showing the sheer variety of railway architecture, stages of dereliction and geographical locations that had been covered.

It was a fascinating journey but all too soon he was beaten by the clock and we had to draw proceedings to a close. An excellent afternoon and one that we would enthusiastically recommend to other branches.

Monday 25th November 2019

An Eighth Colour Rail Journey’

Paul Chancellor

Our last speaker for the autumn season was Paul Chancellor who presented his Eighth Colour-Rail journey. It had been some years since we last welcomed Paul to the Branch and by the end of the evening we were very glad to have asked him to return. He prefaced his talk with a plea that members would consider bequeathing their railway collections to an archive so that they might be enjoyed by others. Paul then took us on a tour that ranged across the whole country but all based upon the number/year 1959! This deceptively simple organising theme provided us with a hugely entertaining and nostalgic show taking in locomotive withdrawals and preservation, line closures, new liveries and many other subjects. There is endless scope for similar talks drawing on the immense collection now held by Colour-Rail.

Monday 11th November

‘Sheffield and South Yorkshire – Past and Present’

Michael Eggenton

On 11 November Michael Eggenton made a welcome return to the Branch with a special programme tailored for our local audience. Taking us around Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Mike was able to show us images of familiar, and not-so-familiar, locations taken many years apart. The earlier pictures from the 1960s showed litter-free scenes with neat ballast, steam traction and complex track formations; the most recent images were dominated by lineside trees, much-reduced track work and signal installations and multiple units. Leaving aside the obvious comparisons, what emerged from the evening was the importance of recording the passing scene before it too entered history.

Monday 28th October 2019

‘The 125 Group – Preserving the HST’

John Zabernik

At our second meeting in October we had a most interesting presentation by John Zabernik of the 125 Group. John, a nominee for the prestigious Train Driver of the Year Awards, and an enthusiastic supporter of the HST, finds time to promote the work of the 125 Group in preserving this key part of our modern railway heritage. He ably described the activities of the volunteers based at the Great Central Railway (North) in restoring the prototype HST as well as giving us a comprehensive history of its initial development.

Monday 14th October 2019

Audience Selection

Gavin Morrison

Our meeting on 14 October opened with the sad and unexpected news that Alan Lovecy, our Branch Chairman (since 2014) and longtime Secretary had died suddenly the previous week. Quite apart from our huge sense of loss at Alan’s passing, we realised that this would leave a substantial void in the running of the Branch. Accordingly Vice-Chairman, Keith Marshall, proposed, and it was agreed that the December AGM would be replaced by an EGM at which the future of the Branch could be exhaustively explored. The October meeting also received the melancholy news that Brian Staniland a former Chairman and loyal member of the Branch had also died following a long illness.

Gavin Morrison was our first speaker in October with a presentation in a novel format. Gavin had organised a large volume of images into numbered folders on his laptop, each folder containing a set of pictures around a separate theme, and members of the audience were invited to pick a number! In this way we ranged over a large number of topics, time periods and geographical locations to the great enjoyment of those present. Naturally the whole was greatly enhanced by the sheer quality of the material that Gavin had put together from his own collection which made the evening quite special.

Monday 23rd September 2019

‘The Peter Fox Collection – Steam, Diesel and Electric Traction through the Decades’

Andrew Barclay

The first meeting of the 2019/20 session on Monday 23rd September was rather poorly attended by past standards. However Andrew Barclay’s presentation of 200 more slides from the Peter Fox collection was well received by the audience. After a delayed start whilst the projector bulb was replaced. Andrew made up the deficit to record a slightly early finish. The slides were mainly from the early 1960’s and Peter’s home territories of Sheffield, Doncaster and Derby were well represented. Peter had not only concentrated on locomotives and rolling stock but also signal boxes and notices. Of particular rarity was a shot of a LNWR super D with a beaver tail coach on a railtour in Liverpool Docks. Preserved steam on railtours in Scotland featured with scenes of narrow gauge locations and the Isle of Man.The prototype DMU’s and EMU’S such as class140.151.151 and 210 were shown. As in previous presentations, not all the locations and details were recorded, but the audience did their best to fill in the missing details. However they were not always successful. Once again our many thanks to Andrew for sifting through the collection and presenting a wide range of subjects for discussion.

Monday 25th April 2019

‘Tram Operations of SYPTE’

Christopher Hopkinson

For the final meeting of the 2018/19 session, 20 members and guests assembled for a presentation from Christopher Hopkinson the SYPTE Tram Concession Manager on the Sheffield Tram system.

Christopher started by outlining the main characteristics of the system, the infrastructure and vehicles used. As the system has been operational since 1994, a rail replacement programme is in progress. A recent survey on the use and future of the system showed the majority in favour of continuance.

As most members of the audience were familiar with the original system, the presentation largely concentrated on the recent introduction of the tram/train extension through Rotherham Central to the Parkgate shopping centre. This extension came in late and well over budget. Linking a tram system with the National Rail network meant that many legislature and technical difficulties had to be overcome to satisfy all requirements. Determining the boundaries for OHL and track maintenance and signalling responsibility together with driver training were just a few of the problems faced. However the tram/train is now up and running and has been well received.

There were many questions posed by the audience which Christopher expertly handled, but not all the comments made were complimentary. Our many thanks to Christopher for the expert presentation and handling all the questions posed.

Monday 8th April 2019

A trainspotter’s Odyssey’

Brian Arman – RCTS President

An excellent end to the indoor meeting session.

On Monday 8th April, the branch was pleased to welcome the Society President Brian Arman who came to present his slide show on the theme of “A Trainspotter’s Odyssey”. This was to be a journey from Gloucester back to Gloucester via Bristol, the S & D, Bournemouth, Waterloo, the London area and Birmingham.

There was an unfortunate start to the proceedings when the slide projector blew a bulb. Luckily a spare was available and after running repairs, the show commenced. The delay enabled Brian to explain how his interest in railways started and how things developed from there.

The slides came from several sources and largely concentrated on the 1950s and 60s. They gave a very comprehensive overview of the main line, local, and freight services in the locations shown. The motive power depots en route were covered and also many sidings and short freight branches to industrial sites. The steam locomotives shown were a wide range of GWR, SR, and BR types with the occasional diesel locomotive, DMU and EMU appearing.

Of particular interest were 1937 colour slides of SR locomotives nearly all in green livery and an aerial view of Eastleigh depot taken in the 1955 ASLEF strike and completely filled with out of service locomotives. An excess of slides however meant that the audience of 22 was only able to reach Waterloo, which we hope will lead to a return by Brian to complete our journey.

Monday 11th March 2019
Ex BR Shunting Locomotives at Home and Abroad’
John Wade

Many thanks to Brian for making the long journey to Sheffield to provide an excellent evening’s entertainment of nostalgia covering an area not too familiar to the branch members and with very interesting slides and expert commentary..

A smaller than usual audience welcomed John Wade on Monday 11th March for his presentation on “Ex BR Shunters at Home and Abroad”.
A keen collector of shunting locomotives, John showed his interest by showing examples of all the types of the shunters which had passed into private ownership. Only missing were the classes 12, 13 and the early former company locomotives, compensated by a shot of an LNER J94 steam locomotive.
The coal board had acquired many locomotives from BR mainly of classes 03,04, 08 and 14, and these were shown at many of the former UK collieries largely in run down condition in the 1980s, before and after the miners’ strike. The privately owned locomotives were either kept in the BR livery or re-liveried in the company image, some of which showed pride of ownership. Several locomotives gained extra fittings such as lighting, air reservoirs etc. to suit their new operating requirements. A considerable number of the locomotives spent longer in private ownership than their time with BR, particularly the class 14s. Fortunately their time in private ownership allowed many to pass into preservation as BR would have scrapped them at the end of their useful life with BR.
All the slides were accompanied by John’s expert knowledge on the classes and their movements after leaving BR. Some locomotives passed through several owners before ending up in preservation. What became apparent was the loss of so much of our industrial infrastructure.
Our many thanks to John for his many trips around the country which provided the audience with his slide presentation and knowledge on the subject of the humble but essential shunting locomotive.

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