Meeting Reports

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Holidays in Cornwall

Stuart Warr

We were joined by 44 Zoomers from South Wales, and England (welcome all)
to hear Stuart Warr’s typically thorough and comprehensive round trip of
Cornwall’s railways over the last 30 years.

Stuart covered all the Cornish rail lines, and just about all of the traction to be
seen there over the last 30 years, with the exception of the infamous Skippers.

He also included the preserved railway at Bodmin.

Great care had been taken in framing many of the shots to exploit the
wonderful views and locations in Cornwall. We went from the Saltash Bridge
to the buffer stops at Penzance. I particularly enjoyed the wide variety of
freight train photographs, sadly most of them now of historic interest.

Many thanks to Peter Fortune and Jeremy Segrott for hosting and managing
the Zoom technology so efficiently.

Wednesday 11 November

A 1950s Cornucopia Part II

Noel Thompson

We were joined by 46 Zoomers from South Wales, and England (welcome all)
to hear part 2 of Noel’s presentation.

Noel started off by completing his comprehensive review of pre grouping and
post grouping steam classes. He moved on with a personal pilgrimage up the
Rhymney Valley line, that he travelled during his childhood.

He finished with a wide variety of shots of South Wales railways, including
some idiosyncratic locations like Fochriw and Pant-y-Waun Halt! These were
very much enjoyed by the Taffs (“I remember it well” or “I’ve never seen that
one before”) but probably left our English visitors a bit confused.

It was a true cornucopia and Noel’s efforts were appreciated by our little band
of zoomers.

Tuesday 11th March 2020

‘A Ninth Colour Rail Journey’

Paul Chancellor

In March we received our first visit from Paul Chancellor, owner of Colour Rail and Chairman of the Society’s Development Committee. I don’t why we have waited so long to invite him down the M50, for it was a superb evening.

Paul started with an A-Z of named trains from the Anglo-Scottish Car Carrier to the Waverley. The Yorkshire Pullman was included in a separate Pullman section which also featured the Blue Pullmans, well known to us in South Wales and what I always felt were the precursors to the HSTs. Highlights included the Condor and the first diesel hauled Bristolian.

The second half of the evening featured a journey around the railway regions of Britain featuring many much loved branch lines, for example Hemyock (going well into the 70s with 03s and eventually 25s), Tenbury Wells and Dornoch with its GWR panniers. We had a wide variety of first generation DMUs – from 101s to 126s and maroon EMUs at Shenfield. In a nod towards ourselves the finale was a historical ride from Portsmouth to Cardiff which just shows how our “new” 165s cannot compare with five mark ones hauled by a 33 (or even, much to my surprise a Canton Britannia).

Paul also gave us an interesting talk about the value of old negatives even if we feel they are in a poor condition. Photoshop can work wonders as he demonstrated with a digitally enhanced image of 4469, Sir Ralph Wedgewood the A4 that was destroyed in the Baedeker Raid on York in 1942.

A fantastic evening, thank you Paul.

Wednesday 12th February 2020

‘The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company in Newport’

Ray Viney

For our February meeting, Ray Viney (of the Monmouthshire Railway Society) gave an excellently illustrated talk about the Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Company in Newport. What had the potential to be a dull history of a localised transport network transpired into a superbly researched and illustrated presentation by an expert with a passion for his subject.

Ray described the talk as a journey through the relevant parts of Newport from 1796 to the present day and presented maps and diagrams to show the development, progress and ultimately, the almost complete decline of this network.

To the reviewer (who has some geographical knowledge of the area) the whole presentation ‘clicked’ into place with the photographic evidence showing how things were and in some instances, how things are now. We saw some pictures from about a hundred years ago that would have been challenging to capture on ‘glass plates’, the equipment would have been heavy and difficult to carry, but their quality was as good if not better than modern digital images. The most surprising pictures seen were those taken during the last couple of decades clearly showing the contraction of the railway network when compared to earlier shots at the same location.

Brilliant show, I loved it!

Wednesday 8th January 2020

Behind the Iron Curtain – Narrow Gauge Steam in East Germany 1969 -1992

Nigel Wassell

The Branch’s fixture secretary, Nigel Wassell, gave another of his well- researched, informative and superbly illustrated talks following the AGM in January. His subject was a review of narrow gauge steam in East Germany between 1969 and 1992 using mainly purchased transparencies. Prior to the talk, Nigel handed out copious notes and maps to help those whose geographic and historical knowledge of the area was lacking, something the reviewer found very helpful, and we even had a lesson about the German language.

One of the features that appeared unusual to British based enthusiasts was that standard gauge wagons were often transported on narrow gauge wagons built for such work.

The second half of the presentation featured the work of the late Martin Wilkins, who had recorded images in 1977/78/83/90/92 and had visited the area on organised enthusiasts’ tours.

Throughout the show it was fascinating to see the mix of locomotives from many manufacturers and of different sizes; narrow gauge does not always mean small.

During the second half a number of images were taken at the roadside and numerous examples were seen of the ubiquitous East German built car, the Trabant.

Taking everything into account, this was a great way to spend a cold, wet January evening!

Wednesday 11th December 2019

‘A Selection of Videos’

Mike Wilcock

An appreciative audience of 42 came to watch Mike Wilcock show videos of the UK railway scene during recent years.

Before the interval we saw some views of Class 66s arriving at Newport and the convoy of the final eight on the Bishton flyover that included the sheeted-over 66779. Then at the NRM the naming of that locomotive (Evening Star) alongside its steam namesake was viewed, followed by a brief tour of the museum. Mike showed some 66s on a railtour in South Wales and the naming of 66783 at York.

When 34046 (dressed as 34052) came to Cardiff, Mike had permission to film it being serviced at Canton depot, a sight few of us have managed.

Paddington’s send off for the HSTs featured, as did a trip to Old Oak Common ‘Open Day’.

The second half of the show featured a trip to the Great Central Railway for their diesel gala, ‘The Cumbrian Hoovers’ at Stafford and the Class 40 weekend on the East Lancashire Railway.

A superb show put together by a very professional video photographer, from the reviewer’s viewpoint, it was good to see moving images combined with sound, a pleasant change from the usual fare of ‘stills’.


Wednesday 27th November 2019

’50 Years Ago’

Stephen Miles

“Fifty Years Ago” was the title of local boy Stephen Miles’ presentation at the Branch’s second meeting in Swansea on November 27th.It comprised Stephen’s railway photographs from 1969 to 1971 in and around Swansea, and on his travels which extended from South Devon to the Scottish Highlands.

In Swansea we enjoyed the array of semaphore signals, complex trackwork and the variety of motive power. Less enjoyable, but equally interesting, were many examples of the rationalised and abandoned former extensive network. Steam traction was well represented by working steam at various collieries and by preserved steam on the narrow gauge and at several heritage sites. Railway infrastructure was also well represented: The splendour of Wemyss Bay Station provided a vivid contrast to the condition of a number of closed stations, years after their tracks had been lifted.

It was also interesting to see the arrangements for handling coal in Swansea Docks.

Altogether we saw examples of the majority of locomotive classes ranging from Class 03s to 86, plus a good variety of DMUs and steam.

A bigger audience than first time round enjoyed a first rate show which made it a very enjoyable and successful evening.

Wednesday 13th November 2019

’50 Years on the Beaten Track’

Geoff Atkins

Local member, Geoff Atkins gave a superb presentation to the Branch in November, witnessed by a record audience of 71. Its title was ’50-Years On The Beaten Track’ and Geoff gave the description of five decades of exploring abandoned and forgotten railways on foot.

The show was split into two halves, the first being a light hearted look at this branch of our hobby, In it he introduced us to the main protagonists, all colleagues of his at the BBC in Cardiff. In the second half, Geoff took us on hypothetical walk upon part of the former Barry Railway between Barry and Penrhos Junction (near Caerphilly), where we saw pictures of how a particular location looked in Barry Railway days and how it looked at the time of his walks. The overwhelming impression your reviewer had was that much of where he had been was now either a road or a housing estate. Geoff described the many obstacles they came upon including missing bridges, blocked-off tunnels, private land and major roads. The presentation was illustrated profusely, sometimes accompanied by music.

Geoff is a consummate professional, erudite, humorous and his audience was spellbound throughout. A wonderfully different, skilful and interesting presentation.

Wednesday 9th October 2019

‘Another Evening With My Father’s Slides – Scotland

David Cross

The name of the late photographer, Derek Cross is synonymous with superbly crafted railway images; his son, David made a second visit to the branch in October to show us a selection of Derek’s slides taken in Scotland between 1959 and 1984, the year of his untimely death. We were treated to a comprehensive tour that included some iconic locations such as Kyle of Lochalsh, Gleneagles, Glasgow St Enoch and Edinburgh Waverley. There was a good mix of steam, diesel and electrics on the national network and some industrial shots. David’s commentary added much to the presentation, especially as he had been present when some of the images were captured.

Your reviewer visited Scotland a couple of weeks previously and to see the changes that have occurred at such places as Gleneagles and Kyle of Lochalsh are quite daunting, a reduction in track layout and a big increase in greenery growth.

Space unfortunately, permits few of the many high points shown. One in particular was a shot of Derek, David and his younger brother watching a Class 40 diesel, all photographed by David’s mother, now aged 96!

A fabulous evening, David, you would have made your father very proud.

Wednesday 25th September 2019

‘Reflections of a Railway Enthusiast’

Jeff Morgan

This was the first of our quarterly meetings in Swansea to which 12 members and guests heard Jeff Morgan’s autobiographical journey through his railway pleasures. Starting at age 5 watching trains at Dyffryn Yard having bunked off his grandfather’s funeral his journey took us to Mountain Ash, where his mother’s side of the family lived, then a veritable railway town with two stations Oxford Street and Cardiff Road, to his first Southern and Eastern Region locos (a U class and a B1) to Barry Scrapyard. His show featured Cilfynydd and its associated colliery and Walnut Tree Viaduct with an interesting photo of the walkway underneath the tracks. Then and now photographs of Queen Street and Pontypridd, both showing the extensive changes made concluded the Welsh steam section and his concluding images featured hydraulics and the end of steam in Lancashire with a number of the Miles Platting bankers which never seemed to bank! A thoroughly enjoyable show by a professional presenter who is a regular at branch meetings and who also organises the Barry and Penarth Railway Society.

Wednesday 11th September 2019

‘Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape’

Stephen Gay

September’s meeting was well attended with 28 members and 22 visitors to experience Stephen Gay’s seventh visit to our branch, his subject was ‘Railways In A Yorkshire Landscape’. Much of the presentation was devoted to an in-depth look at the Doncaster to Hull line followed by a few images from the S&C line.

Stephen’s presentations are inimitable, we saw numerous slides, all well captured, regaled with wonderful anecdotes and histories, all topped-off with relevant self-penned poems. Not only did we see subjects of railway interest, but many wonderful churches and minsters en-route, and there was but one picture of his beautiful German Shepherd dog, Wrawby (lying down next to the signal box at Broomfleet), who sadly died a couple of years ago.

So many interesting facts could be commented upon from the presentation, but just one will suffice in this review: Hull had a railway station that was built by the MS&L in 1880, it closed in 1981, having never once did it see a train. It was of course the one situated at Corporation Pier in connection with the ferry service to New Holland.

As ever Stephen, a superb show!

Before the presentation the branch commemorated the 90th birthday of Ron Collins (72-years as a member of the Society); he is an example to us all.

Wednesday 12th June 2019

‘My Railway Career in South Wales’

David Maidment

The founder of the Society’s nominated charity, The Railway Children, David Maidment made a third visit to our branch in June and gave the audience of 50 an informative and humorous account of his railway career in South Wales and beyond as he rose through the ranks.

During his time as Area Manager in Bridgend he was often called to derailments of freight workings in the Valleys, David summed-up the Class 14 diesel hydraulics as being neither strong enough to pull anything uphill nor stop anything going downhill.

During the aborted attempt to introduce the APT when he was Chief Operating Manager of the LMR, David told us that the shortest time between London and Glasgow with an APT was 3-minutes faster than the best Pendolino time more than three decades later.

We were told anecdotes about the times when he was Officer-in-Charge of the Royal Train and how its speed was kept to an approximate maximum of 75mph so as to prevent tea spillage.

His final BRB position was as Reliability Manager and this led to him giving lectures to railways overseas. It was as a result of what he saw in India that made him found the charity that now does so much for less fortunate children!

Wednesday 8th May 2019

‘The Railways of Glamorgan and the Valleys’

Stuart Warr

Our May meeting coincided with the local Radyr & Morganstown Festival and the subject of the illustrated talk by our Branch Secretary, Stuart Warr was ‘The Railways of Glamorgan and the Valleys’. Stuart chose to confine his presentation to the area marketed by the former British Rail as ‘Cardiff Valleys’ starting and ending at the station nearest to our meeting place, Radyr.

The hypothetical journey covered the valley lines to Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and included the freight branches to Ynysybwl, Hirwaun and Cwmbargoed, then the lines around Cardiff to Penarth, Barry Island and from Bridgend to Tondu and the lines that radiate from there. Radyr was then hypothetically reached via Coryton.

Stuart dug into his large collection of images that covered the area from the early 1970s to the present day, featuring timetabled services and excursions, both diesel and steam hauled.

The biggest surprise was the variety of liveries on locomotives and units seen, something that has largely disappeared in the area in recent times. Also of great interest was the way in which the infrastructure and greenery has changed over the years.

Wednesday 10th April 2019

‘Charter Trains in the 21st Century’

Iain Pate

The April meeting brought Iain Pate’s humorous and delightfully illustrated talk entitled ‘Charter Trains in the 21st Century’.

He has been involved in the preservation movement for over 40-years and we heard about his involvement on the front-line since the Millennium. There had been many highlights during this time. He told us of some of them through pictures and anecdotes.

We started by looking at the S&C and how it copes with steam-hauled excursions, such as platforms that are too short or unsafe after dark and the logistical problems of watering and servicing steam locomotives. In Iain’s expert opinion, the ideal steam traction on the S&C is the LMS 8F, small driving wheels, never quiet and strong looking.

Other highlights included being involved with some of the last steam workings on the Folkstone Harbour branch and running three-day excursions to Scotland.

We heard of the foibles of human nature on excursions, that brought much laughter from the audience.

Iain spoke at length about 34067 ‘Tangmere’ and its support crews. They are often forgotten, but we saw pictures of the inside of their coach, heard about the characters and admired the unstintingly long hours they devote to their part of this hobby.

Superb presentation!


Wednesday 13th March 2019
‘From Railways to Royalty’
Jack Boskett

An audience of 52 were entertained by Jack Boskett’s presentation entitled “From Railways To Royalty” at our March meeting in Cardiff.

Jack is something of a rarity within our hobby, he is young and has been a professional photographer for almost 10-years. We saw both railway and non-railway subjects, those images of railway subjects were superbly crafted with imaginative and innovative compositions, some were monochrome and many others, colour; Jack uses theatrical props and volunteer actors to enhance the atmosphere of his images.

He does freelance work for publications such as Rail and The Railway Magazine, the Telegraph, the Times, publicity work for Pathfinder Tours and GWR. In addition he has photographed stars of stage and screen, such as John Bishop, Rachel Riley and Tim Vine; also, he has captured excellent images of members of the Royal family when there is a railway connection.

We saw some superb silhouettes of railway subjects, many taken close to his home in Tewkesbury, and he is an advocate of using monochrome to produce timeless images. His range of subjects included his “house” rabbit who even has a railway themed name, Brunel!

Throughout his presentation, Jack talked effortlessly and with great humour, all without notes. A thoroughly recommended presentation.

Last updated: 13th February 2020