Brian Stephenson’s subject for our February meeting was
“Iberian Steam”. Brian’s photos were from the 1960s, the last years of Spanish
steam. Many of the photos were taken on the line from Miranda along the Ebro
valley and around Salamanca. Some of the locos portrayed were 1-4-1Fs, Spain’s
most numerous class, streamlined 4-8-2s and green 4-8-4s. Many oil-fired locos
had a light by the chimney, to help the fireman check at night that the fuel
was burning correctly. We saw fascinating shots of antique locos from the 1880s
being used as shed pilots. The Tunisian Pacifics and Engerth 2-6-4s of the
narrow gauge La Robla also featured. After the break, Brian moved on to
Portugal. We saw an ancient Beyer-Peacock 2-4-0 and a de Glehn compound 4-6-0. Many
photos were of the line from Porto, along the Douro valley, to Regua, including
narrow gauge and a grape picker’s special. Some Portuguese locos had a bar
across the chimney, ostensibly to stop the electric catenary from being
carbonised. Brian finished the evening with some photos of UK steam specials, Hothfield
stone trains, double-deck TGVs and ICE trains in France. Brian never
disappoints us; a fine selection of superb photographs.
Doug Lindsay, a trustee of the 5BelTrust, spoke about the restoration of the Brighton Belle at our January meeting. The all Pullman trains were introduced in 1932, running from London Victoria to Brighton. As the trains were withdrawn in 1972, they did not inherit any “grandfather rights” and therefore need to meet current group standards. This has involved substantial rebuilding at a rough cost of £10 million so far. The attention to detail is borne out by the superb marquetry work (including flame resistant varnish), which alone has cost £400,000. The trains were some of the first monocoque railway vehicles. This has meant that with all the rebuilding, a girder spine has been inserted the length of each coach to provide rigidity. Couplings and corridor connections have been replaced, a crumple zone provided for the driver and the bogies replaced by units from newer SR EMUs. The 2+2 seating in the 3rd class coaches has been replaced by 2+1 as the intention is to provide quality, waiter service dining throughout the train. The old kitchens, with lead sinks, have been replaced by modern appliances and gas cooking. As well as many photos of the work over the last 11 years, Doug showed some images of the completed interiors, magnificently reflecting a 1930s art deco ambience.It is hoped that on-track testing will start later this year and surely many members are eagerly awaiting their first journey in the Brighton Belle.
The branch’s 27th AGM was held on 18th December. Another successful year was reported, with 10 meetings and a coach trip to Chinnor and Princes Risborough and Didcot. The branch attended several exhibitions and manned a stand at Ramsgate Depot open day. Average attendance had decreased and was now in the low 20s. The branch was financially viable with just over £2,000 in the bank. Committee members re-elected were Keith Mapley, Chairman and Fixtures Secretary, Mike Woodward, Secretary, Dave Blackman, Exhibitions Officer and John Holloway, Treasurer. No other members were nominated or volunteered to join the committee.
After a break, with seasonal refreshments, branch member Ted Micklam presented a selection of digital photos. These were based mainly on informal trips with other members, taking advantage of the amazing deals available with advance tickets. Some of the views included Kings Cross, with retiring HSTs and the new Azumas, the Keighley and Worth Valley, the Severn Valley, Eurostar, Belgian coastal trams and the Nene Valley. There were also shots of our visit to Didcot. As well as the GWS preserved locos, photos included the bi-mode Class 800 series. These appeared to be working on diesel power through to Paddington, even though local electric trains terminating at Didcot were using the overhead.
Last updated: 23rd February 2020