Meeting Reports

6th JULY 2021 Meeting

It’s July and that means only one thing at Watford, the eagerly anticipated presentation by our Branch Chairman Geoff Plumb with another in his evocative series of ‘That was the year that Was’ this time it’s 1962 which is the earliest of all the years he has done, he was too young before that to take all the photos needed.

We started off with the obligatory one of Geoff on the footplate of 1P 0-4-4T 58077 in April 1953 when little Geoffy was just four-years-old on a joint SLS and MLS tour to the Cromford & High Peak Railway where we also saw a LNWR 0-6-0T at Cromford, Middleton Top and Longcliffe. Moving on to Heeley Station we saw a GN Atlantic and a Director and LNER 61554 at Dore, with the original Royal Scot at Elmhurst Level-Crossing.

Also in the 50s at the Festiniog Railway was No. 2 Prince at Portmadoc.

Over to the IOW with trains at Cowes and Ryde St. Johns Road, then for a few shots at the Weymouth Tramway where we saw 0-6-0PTs 1367/8/70 and a V2 among others at Essendine on the ECML. At Newhaven Town we saw H2 32424 Beachy Head and Adams 4-4-0 563 in LSWR livery at Brighton shed. A T9 was at Eastleigh along with Terrier 32661 whilst along the line at Southampton Docks was a quaint C14 0-4-0T No. 77s which had to be used as the replacement Diesel shunters couldn’t get around the tight curves.

Next up was a Dukedog on Barmouth Bridge with a young girl keeping as far away as possible from the engine while walking along the bridge footpath and onto Barmouth itself which was very busy with locomotives. Further up the Cambrian Coast Line we popped into the FR where a Double Fairlie was seen at Tan-y-Bwlch.

A Scottish Tour was undertaken and most of the major former railway companies were seen with CR 0-4-4T  at Forres, GNS 62277 Gordon Highlander at Banff, a NB Pug Class G (Y9) 68123 at Dundee and a CR 0-4-0ST 56025 at St. Rollox. Back down to Northamptonshire a branch line tour with 45091 and was seen at Northampton, Byfield, Culworth and Napton & Stockton, before returning to Scotland for more minor lines where a J36 was seen at Fort William, also the HR Jones Goods No. 103 at Inverness.

Up to London we saw a great shot of Met. Electric No.2 Thomas Lord (previously Oliver Cromwell) at Finchley Road Station heading North to Aylesbury although it will leave the train at Rickmansworth where in a slick move of just three minutes it was exchanged for a steam loco.

Visits were then made to Derby works  and 58175 was seen and among others at Swindon Works was Manor 7824. Over to Kent he saw Schools Class 30935 at Margate, City of Wells at Dover and a Maunsell L1 at Ashford. A DMU tour was taken at Highworth Station, 32678 at North Hayling and to close the first half there were quick visits to Willesden Junction shed and Top Shed at Kings Cross.

In Part Two 70003 John Bunyan was seen at Liverpool Street and Norwich Victoria followed by a J17 at Thorpe and Foulsham. At the fledgling Bluebell Railway was GNR 1247, 4-4-2T 488, Dukedog 9017 and NLR 2650.

Onto different forms of transport we saw London Bus RM1053 on Route 266 on the Edgware Road at the Armstrong Siddeley Works factory just after the withdrawal of trolleybuses on the 666. Two different TDs [a single deck half cab] were seen on the 240a at Mill Hill East Station with a Standard Stock tube train in the platform.

Darnall Shed was then featured before moving onto a ‘Tour of Seven Branch Lines’, where Hatfield, Harpenden East, Luton Bute Street and Leighton Buzzard were seen, with GNR 1247 again and 2P 40646.

And now for something completely different……London Trolleybuses

K1s 1146 on 657 at Isleworth and 1290 at Shepherds Bush Terminus also on 657. The others are L3s and were 1504 outside Chiswick Works, 1522 at Twickenham, 1499 at Fulwell Depot where tram tracks are still embedded in the yard today, along with brand new Routemaster Bus RM1093 and The Diddler No. 1 a half cab Trolleybus which is still with us today and 1514 at Kingston. Trolleys at the end of their lives were seen at Colindale Depot.

Back to the railways and at Darlington was B16 61413 on the scrap line. Mallard was seen at KX and Edinburgh, then Gordon Highlander was taken to Inverurie and the Old Meldrum branch.

We saw several locomotives powering through Hadley Wood Station and Tunnels including  experimental Diesel D0280 Falcon. A busy Stewarts & Lloyds, Corby saw 0-6-0ST No. 7 and 21. ‘Half-Cab’ No. 41763 was spotted at Staveley Ironworks and at Hasland Shed we saw Crabs, Jintys and a 9F among others. A BR Standard 2 was at Grindleford, and we had a couple of superb views of Monsal Vale Viaduct, now just a memory of trains but still open as a long distance footpath.

Royal Scot 46167 was at Bushey Watertroughs along with others, 42350 was at Northampton, Seaton Junction, Uppingham, Wansford, Peterborough, Luffenham, Thrapston, Kettering and Rushden on a railtour. Over to the IOW and No. W28 Ashey was followed around to Ventnor, Wroxall, Shanklin and Ryde Pier. At West Ruislip Denbigh Castle was spied whilst on a visit to Wantage Road Station we had a view of No. 5 Shannon which ran on the Wantage Tramway and was plinthed at the station until it closed. We carried on down the line to Swindon Works where the following locos were hanging around, 2250, 4291, 6966, 6606 a 0-6-2T, 6817, 4171, 7799, 9425, 7341, 5003 with 4702 on the ‘Dump’. 68964 was at Doncaster Works, 64442 at Mexborough Sheds, while D8236 was on a railtour and photted at Liverpool Street, North Woolwich, Beckton Gas Works and Buntingford.

Over at Old Oak Common was a sad line-up of old Kings and finally on a S.W. Suburban Railtour in the freezing cold with failures right, left and centre we had 30585 and 30587 at Waterloo and Hampton Court, 30517 to Chessington South and Shepperton with the Beatties again.

Once again Geoff gave us an interesting and diverse tour of the country with some lovely photographs especially as they were by a 13-year-old and attracted an attendance of 86 very happy Zoomers who returned to their front rooms to savour their evening cocoa and reminisce.

LNER Gresley A4 Class 4-6-2 No. 60022 “Mallard” waits departure time at King’s Cross with the joint RCTS/SLS “Aberdeen Flyer”, a weekend special from London to Aberdeen, outward via the ECML and return via the WCML the following day. “Mallard” was scheduled to run non-stop to Edinburgh but was foiled by a “hot box” on a goods train ahead of it not clearing the main line in time to prevent a signal stop. Saturday 2nd June 1962. Photo © Copyright and colourised by Geoff Plumb

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


1st June 2021 Meeting

We welcomed Cheltenham Branch Member Richard Morris for his presentation of ‘The Grand Tour’ which was a VSOE trip to Venice and Part Two for trips to the Low Countries and Germany.

In 2018, with three other RCTS members and some wives, and after three years of planning by Steve Ollive, we made our way from Cheltenham to Paddington viewing 153312 on a Cheltenham to Maesteg train. We departed Didcot on a Class 800 alongside a Class 387 and the latter zoomed ahead of our train – we only caught it up when it slowed for its station stop.

On leaving London with 67021 at the head of the Pullman train to Folkestone West we had a seven course light brunch on coach PHOENIX. We were due to go through the tunnel but there was a big problem, so we set sail to Calais from Dover. We then joined the VSOE being pulled by SNCF BB26163. This is one of the rare locos in the BB26000 series to wear the ‘En Voyage…’ livery. Our coach was No. 3553, and we had a hearty meal in one of the restaurant cars, there are three in all on the train. We had to wear evening dress as befits the occasion. Sleeping overnight we arrived at Basle and continued our journey behind SBB Re4/4 locomotive 11193 pulling 17 coaches weaving through the Swiss countryside, we were in the second carriage and a fine shot of the train rounding a long curve was taken. We bought one bottle of champagne and received another one free, a great BOGOF. Italo 402151 took us from Milan down to Venice where we boarded a water taxi down the Grand Canal to the hotel. There were also many water buses, and these ran with such frequency it seemed like Oxford Street on water.

In Venice for a few days we went sightseeing and started with the Basilica San Marco moving on to the 15th Century Clock Tower before boarding a water bus to the island of Mirano. The next day the ladies went ahead with retail therapy while the boys popped along to Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia for some photography. An Italo Red Arrow EVO train 06 was seen along with Trenord [Trenitalia LeNord (TLN)] locomotives and an E402B taking the return VSOE out, along with some suburban DMUs.

On the canals there are all sorts of boats including rubbish collecting ones, cargo, post office and of course gondolas. More sightseeing followed with the San Georgio Cathedral.

There was a shot of the Venice People Mover train from the causeway that links to the island. More looking around then the return home from Venice via Verona, Innsbruck and onto Vienna where the Transport Museum was visited but only two hours per visit are allowed which was not long enough, six hours would have been fine. We saw an ÖBB Siemens Taurus ES64U2 Nightjet loco 1116 195 with 2016 089 on a freight among others. A trip was taken on a large miniature railway in a public park and some good photos were taken from the high tower and also of the wonderful old Ferris wheel (as featured in the film ‘The Third Man’).

On to Prague where we saw locos from Hungary, Austria and Czechia [formerly Bohemia and Czech Republic]. We visited the Charles Bridge and castle and saw the latest tram, a Škoda 15 T4. We also saw a Class 471 EMU, 971 0674 commonly known as CityElefant, it is a double deck EMU operating on 3 kV DC overhead wires produced by Škoda Vagonka. Quite a few other classes were seen pulling both passenger and cargo. The journey home was via Dresden, Frankfurt, Brussels and St. Pancras.

Here endeth Part One.

Part Two showed various journeys to the Low Countries and Germany over ten years ago and we started with a visit to Utrecht for the Railway Museum where among others were a NB 4-4-0, EE Shunter 512, basically a Class 08, SIK Shunter 345, and WD 2-10-0 73255 LONGMOOR. Next to Arhnhem where a Railion shunter was seen, and at Hook of Holland was a 3-car Sprinter 2969, more shunters at Rotterdam and lots of different types seen in various locations.

Sticking out were a brand new Vossloh G2000BB at Feyenoord Depot which is similar to a Class 58. Railion 232904 a Russian built loco, ERS Railways 6608 which is now running in GB as 66793 and runs from Grain on most journeys, in Antwerp Docks we saw 4 Russian Shunters in a line, a heritage Class 23 in Brussels.

The show was viewed by 55 Zoomers and a big thank you to Richard.

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


4th May 2021 Meeting

On Tuesday 4th May we welcomed Colin Miell from the LCGB for a Zoom presentation of his ground-breaking travels with the Locomotive Club of Great Britain to the DPRK (North Korea) in May 2014 and October 2015 – a comprehensive look inside this secretive country, covering the railways, towns and cities/local transport, and its people. During these two tours we travelled the length and breadth of the country by rail, with virtually no restrictions on photography!

The first photo was a map of the country showing railway lines and he showed the towns visited:-

Pyongyang – the capital.

Hamhung – the second largest city, and near to Hungnam and the fertiliser plant!

Chongjin – the third largest city.

Wonsan – the main port, on the Sea of Japan.

Rason – special industrial zone in the far north, near the border with Russia

Kaesong – special industrial zone in the far south, near the DMZ/border with South Korea.

Anju – small town where tour participants stayed overnight.

Hyangsan – where the Buddhist Temple and International Friendship Exhibition are.

Sinuiju – small town at the DPRK end of the International Friendship Bridge from Dandong in China.

Their guides were excellent as there was almost nothing they couldn’t photograph. We saw Red Flag locomotives which were the home grown stuff.

The second photo was a NK 2-8-2 JF on a freight working, there followed a Diesel Switcher and several shots of the two locomotives which led their train, number 5105 a Red Flag electric and a Hungarian Type 62 Diesel. The former leader and his son [Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un] had huge statues and photographs everywhere.

The workers’ cottages were similar to the ones in China seen 30 years previously. There were hardly any cars seen and those that were seemed to be for high ranking officials. However, there were plenty of bicycles, buses, trams and trolleybuses. Crops were being grown everywhere in the country areas, with oxen pulling ploughs.

Their train consist was a baggage car, dining car and three compartment carriages. At Anju we saw three locos in the yard along with semaphore signals. They stayed in an excellent hotel which was 15 stories high, with a revolving restaurant on top, but only the first two floors were used as they don’t get the tourists.

Seen along the line were a few more Red Flag locos and a 3-car DMU number 1201.

At Anju we saw five locos in the yard, an M62, some electric locos and finally a China Railways one, a through service.

In the capital they left the station for the main square where many buses, trolleys and trams were spotted. There is also a one line Metro system which had ex-Berlin U-Bahn stock.

At the hotel they stayed at there was a micro-brewery that made black or yellow beer which sold for 50p a pint. They also visited the Railway Museum. On to Ham Hung there was less traffic and we saw some ships in the harbour, a huge Fertiliser Factory and a stranded trolley bus due to a power cut.

At Wonsan  the old station is now a museum and we saw an old Japanese Pacific loco allegedly captured from the Japanese!! A Military Personnel train with all the military waving back.

Back to the capital the railway museum was visited, and older diesel and electric trains were seen. The Tatra trams were all ex-Prague trams, and they very kindly did a run past for the group, and we also saw 1950s articulated trolleybuses.

Part 2 was the second visit and started with a shot of a plinthed loco in Vladivostok along with some trams before crossing the border to Rason then down the coast which was very attractive and along the way at the steelworks we saw a Japanese steam loco No. 1319, a 2-6-2T. Also seen were a propaganda nursery, POHYON Temple, a Buddhist building and Hydro-electric dams.

Back in the capital Colin showed a few photos of the Pyongyang Traffic Girls who stood in the middle of the road directing what traffic there was. A ride was taken on the Metro again before heading to the DMZ by modern road coaches on a three-hour journey along a Motorway with barely another vehicle seen. On arriving at the DMZ they went in the building that had the border along the middle of the hut. Also spotted was a blown-up steam loco looking very buckled and misshapen. Once again lovely scenery was seen on the way back to the capital where Dog Soup was taken for lunch. They then went on a Tram charter over the system where a Tower Wagon Tram was spotted. Following night shots of the station a train was taken into China; high speed trains were taken to Hong Kong where lots of the double deck trams were seen. The funicular was seen but not boarded.

A great evening which seemed to please everyone and there were 92 people on line at the finish out of the 98 that joined at the beginning.

A lovely country to visit but not, l fear, one that l would like to live in.

A big thank you to Colin and for David Jackman for once again organising the Zoom technicalities.

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


6th April 2021 Meeting

Adrian White*, our booked speaker for the meeting had to call off the evening before the presentation but he suggested a friend who l managed to get hold of on the morning of the meeting.

So we welcomed David Postle, Curator of The Kidderminster Railway Museum with a marvellous presentation entitled ‘Railway Photographs from Glass Plates’.

67 people logged on to this wonderful evocative show superbly presented by David. There were photos from the 1860s up to 1960s with over 200 shown.

Apart from a full size plate (12” x 10”) of Charing Cross Station the others were half or quarter plates. When you zoomed in on the full size one the detail was fantastic and you could see the fine lamp shades, signals and even the back of the Signalman’s head in close-up.

These early photographers had to take a big heavy camera, tripod and of course the glass plates with them so they tended to get settled in and stay put for a while and each one looked like they had their favourite spots. Our first shot was by Maurice Earley who was on the tender of MR 666. The oldest picture was of Lord of the Isles from the 1860s which was scrapped by 1888. There was a Bristol & Exeter Railway locomotive, MR Singles at St Pancras, a lovely shot of the first Faversham Station in 1880, this was demolished in 1897. Up to Victoria in 1865 with mixed gauge track, the GWR having running powers. Stafford Road and Bath Road Depots and Worcester Shed with Dean Goods 2325, Stratford for GER 1500, down to Cornwall for a shot of Brunel’s Tamar Bridge and one of his wooden trestle bridges with the new stone one going up alongside. Shots of Rainhill Station, then Crewe which included GWR 3230 and 0-4-0ST 3042. Earlestown Station followed by Carlisle which had LNWR, CR locos and a lovely FR 2-4-0 No. 2 and a GSWR 4-4-0. Northampton Station featured dainty Edwardian ladies, glass gas globes and milk churns.

Over in Ireland we saw a B&CDR auto trailer No.2. At Cromford was 323 and at York in 1936 was 4462 Great Snipe renamed the following year to Golden Fleece whilst Mallard was taken near Grantham. At Breadsall Crossing we saw Compound 1057, a Crab and a 2P, and we visited various locations in Derbyshire where more locos were seen along with Milford Tunnel. Then popping down to Brighton where Ivatt Class 4 3000 and a Johnson 2F were spotted. Elsewhere LNER 2-2-4 1679 and 2509 Silver Link from 1936 shots. Back at Grantham in the 30s saw an Ivatt Atlantic 442 and 4472. A great shot of LMS 0-10-0 22290 ‘Big Bertha’. Princess Anne (of the Harrow disaster) was also snapped.

We saw various Industrial locos at Stanton Ironworks, an 0-4-0VBT at Penmaenmawr, an 0-6-0 No. 2 at Clay Cross Iron Works, at Crich Limestone Quarry we saw their loco Tommy, this site is now home to the Crich Tramway Museum. Further Industrials were seen at Holyhead, Staveley Works Chesterfield, Collieries in South Wales, V of R 1213 at Aberystwyth. Down to Bournemouth West where we had an SR and GWR loco. There was a GWR Maudsley ML3 No. 907.

The classic shot of Newcastle was seen next in 1959. Two accidents were featured with cranes in shot at New Cross and Slough. A North London Rly loco followed then a nostalgic view of the Hampton Loade Ferry which has long finished, also the station and the first half was completed with a shot of Much Wenlock Station.

After tiffin we visited the Cambrian Railways with photos by H.W. Burman from 1906-12 and 0-4-4 No. 2, an Albion Class, a Sharp Stewart 0-4-4, a Pooley Van which went around the system checking the Weighing Machines, this was an ex-LNWR coach. An observation car which plied between Pwllheli and Machynlleth. Locos were seen on the Aberdovey Harbour Branch, also known as the sand siding.

An interesting shot of Barmouth Junction North SB which was designed by Dutton & Co. which was an offshoot of Mackenzie & Holland, followed by Dovey Junction, Borth where there was an Albion Class 2-4-0 No. 56. A splendid view of Aberdovey High Street from the 20s shows vintage cars whilst on the Fairbourne Railway we saw a Traction Engine and at Towyn  Station all the staff were posing on the platform with the next shot showing the Talyllyn Railway Buildings. At the Corris Railway we had a couple of wonderful shots of No.3 and No. 2 which became Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas at the Talyllyn Railway.

Back to England we saw the Knowle & Dorridge Station horse used for shunting, along with an Achilles Class loco, a Dynamometer Car at Swindon Works, then Worcester and Hereford Sheds. A Manning Wardle 0-6-0 was at Shamrock Works, then from 1907 a fine array of semaphore signals at Glasgow Central and Hull Paragon, also from the same date Aldgate Station and the Signal Box frame and diagram. Slough Bath Road and Brighton SBs with an excellent shot of the destination board at Waterloo. The only non-steam locomotive was E2001 entering Bath. There was a short tour of the Westinghouse works at Chippenham where we saw all sorts of machines making parts for trains, ships and planes.

A scene of the wash-out at Colwyn Bay was seen and the following stations, Willesden Junction HL, Euston and the Doric Arch, Fleetwood Station Interior, Cheddington, Tamworth, Manchester London Road and Stockport where we saw 0-6-0 2308. The last few shown were a few of Bushey watertroughs, Shugborough Tunnel Portal and Queen Adelaide’s Saloon No. 2.

What a marvellous splendid evocative nostalgic show it was and very professionally presented by David, we will certainly be asking him back to Watford. Highly recommended!

* Sadly, Adrian White passed away, peacefully, on 21st April 2021 following long term health issues. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and railway enthusiasts everywhere.

R.I.P. Adrian

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


2nd March 2021 Meeting

We welcomed back former Branch Chairman and Secretary Bernie Holland to host his show by Zoom entitled ‘THIS IS LUXURY I CAN’T AFFORD’ for which we had a total of 93 attendees, a record for Watford. Also we had a friend of Committee Member Larry King who joined us from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which beats last month’s one from New Jersey.

Before we started, Bernie told us that Geoff had won a prize from a while back and that he would receive it tonight. This was the ‘Virtual Brisling Transfer’ that was witnessed, live on ZOOM, when, after a delay of several months, Bernie was able to pass a tin of Wood Smoked Norwegian Brisling across the ether, from Harrow Weald to quiz-prize winner, Geoff Plumb in Haddenham, much to the amusement, or bemusement, of the record audience!

In all, a total of 173 photographs were shown with the majority featuring Pullman Trains with the likes of VSOE, Harrogate Pullman, Brighton Belle, Northern Belle etc.

We started with the new Blue Pullman HST with 43055 and 43046 at Headstone Lane, Linslade and Sutton Bonington.

The HST set newly refurbished into Midland Blue Pullman livery, with 43046 leading and 43055 on the rear, heads south along the up slow line at Headstone Lane, working 5Z36, the 06:32 from Crewe Holding Sidings to Eastleigh Arlington Works, on the rather dull morning of 11th November 2020. Photo taken during a lockdown exercise walk! Copyright © Bernie Holland

On to a portrait of George Pullman [1831-1897] who was a Millionaire by the age of 30. His Pullman cars were originally called Palace Cars and were built just to the south of Chicago, in a town called, yes you’ve guessed it, Pullman!! Its production workers lived in a planned worker community similar to Swindon, but he was a bad boss like a feudal Baron and ruled with a rod of iron.

Pullman developed the sleeping car, which carried his name into the 1980s. Pullman did not just manufacture the cars, it also operated them on most of the railroads in the United States, paying railroad companies to couple the cars to trains. The labour union associated with the company, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, founded and organized by A. Philip Randolph, was one of the most powerful African-American political entities of the 20th Century. The company also built thousands of streetcars and trolley-buses for use in cities. Post-World War II, changes in automobile and airplane transport led to a steep decline in the company’s fortunes. It folded in 1968, with a successor company continuing operations until 1981.

We then saw a diagram of the luxury cars with French Rococo insides and gold plated taps, there were over 2,000 private cars and they all had rebated end doors.

We saw The Harrogate Pullman, Bournemouth Belle, with The Brighton Belle outside Victoria and at Brighton and The Golden Arrow which originally had 10 1st Class coaches before changing to 1st and 3rd.

The Bristol (Blue) Pullman was seen in 1960 at Iver on the Up and at Temple Meads. The Birmingham Pullman was seen, also in 1960, its daily diagram was Wolverhampton LL-Paddington-Snow Hill-Paddington-Wolverhampton LL. These were built by Metro-Cammell. Later on they were painted mainly corporate grey and a set was seen at Newport with 4 cars of grey and 4 cars of original blue.

The Manchester Pullman was seen on Camden Bank hauled by a Class 86, followed by a great shot of a working going across the low viaduct of Folkestone Harbour, another being pulled by a Class 47 at Acton Wells Junction, with another Cl. 47 on The Northern Belle at Twerton Tunnel.

86233 was at Euston P12 in September 2002, then during the same week at South Kenton, Harrow & Wealdstone, Headstone Lane, Carpenders Park, Watford Junction and Rugby, shortly after it was sent to Bulgaria to be broken up for spares.

Bulmers Ciders of Hereford bought five cars to run with 6024 King George V and this was seen at Hereford, Brighton and Dinmore Tunnel.

Cumbrian Mountain Pullman in 1982, then various specials seen at Lansdowne Junction and Vineyard Sidings, Cheltenham.

The ‘Great Eastern Pullman’, a special  hauled by Class 86’s, whose diagram was Liverpool Street-Southend Victoria-Shenfield-Clacton-Liverpool Street was photographed at Southend.

In March 1986 we saw 47571 with a Pullman set at Aintree pulling 14 cars for the Grand National.

Another shot of Folkestone Harbour this time with VSOE pulled by Taw Valley, passengers continuing to Venice where for just over £2,000 you could travel with a sleeping car and food on the 24 hour journey.

47736 was seen at Staines coming back from Royal Ascot.

Centenary Pullman with VSOE stock with a Deltic pulling it from Victoria to Temple Meads was photted at Victoria and Bathampton. The same stock was snapped at South Croydon on a Victoria to Brighton run with 73101.

73101 at Tonbridge with Mail Train, 73141 at Clapham Junction with GUVs, 73136 with the last Mail Train, VSOE at Otford Junction.

47734 with a Pullman Special at Harrow & Wealdstone to The Grand Prix at Silverstone.

‘Pride of the Nation’ 4 day Railtour followed from Paddington to Totnes-Temple Meads for the night then to Glasgow where 90036 took over at Crewe. The third day was to Mallaig and Fort William then back to Glasgow with 37426. On the 4th day it was from Glasgow to Kings Cross by 90036, all organised by Hertfordshire Railtours.

VSOE at Carlisle, then 47778 with the Riviera Stock was seen at Acton Main Line on a Victoria to Bath and also Tangmere was seen near Warminster with the same working.

37051 was seen near Longcross with another Royal Ascot train.

We then saw some interior shots of these fine carriages with armchairs, carpets, inset mirrors, wood panels, logo, and fully laid tables.

08834 was seen shunting PEGASUS whilst at Olympia we saw the VSOE with Flying Scotsman and later Taw Valley and at St. Annes Park Tunnel we had 47786 ROY CASTLE OBE and over to Headstone Lane for 66705 with The Golden Jubilee and various stock on the way to Crewe.

Tangmere was seen with the VSOE at Lower Basildon and at Welwyn North the Blue Pullman was on the way to the SVR from KX.

47712 Artemis in 2006 at Gladstone Park, at Harrow & Wealdstone with a Euston to Chester and also near Winchfield with a Victoria to Salisbury working of the then new ‘Blue Pullman’ formed of converted Mk.II stock.

Stobart Pullman with 47502 working a Letchworth to Stratford-upon-Avon train at Welwyn North and also a KX-Norwich. Clan Line with VSOE at Chertsey and Old Oak Lane with a Victoria to Shelford Circular. VSOE also seen again at Folkestone Harbour, Skegness, near KX, Newton Abbot and Dover.

The Great Western Pullman was snapped at Paddington and Taplow with the Cathedrals Pullman near Lydney.

Met. Rly Sarah Siddons was seen at Wraysbury with a Staines to Windsor shuttle, whilst Duke of Gloucester was spotted near Oxford with the ‘Red Dragon’ from Didcot to Derby, then down to the Weymouth Tramway with a Class 37 being walked along the road.

37431 was in charge of a Regency Rails train from Kyle to Temple Meads and another tour from Finsbury Park to Sheerness was seen at Shakespeare Tunnel. 37055 and 31452 were passing Sutton Bridge Junction with a Lancaster to Cardiff. The disused station at Bredon was the venue for 37401/37417 with a Pathfinder tour  from Cardiff to Ravenglass and to the east at Iver there was 6024 King Edward I with a Paddington to Yeovil VSOE and 37516 was pulling another VSOE at Seamer on a Leeds-Scarborough.

On the Surrey Hills circular we saw 37417, then Tornado at Wandsworth Road, Duke of Gloucester at Barnes and Egham, 67026 at Virginia Water and Clan Line at Mortlake. Meanwhile Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was spied at Headstone Lane. 57001 was spotted at Heyford on a Preston to Temple Meads.

At Acton Main Line in 2012, 47832/47790 were on a Temple Meads to Olympia, at Standish Junction 57315 was heading a Crewe-Kingswear whilst 57305 was at Challow with a Pengam- Birmingham International.

Our final VSOE was seen at Sydney Gardens with Tornado on its way to Temple Meads from Victoria. Our last photo was 20142 Sir John Betjeman at Hatton with a BLS tour entitled the ‘Birmingham Balti Bash’.

34027 ‘Taw Valley’ posing as 34045 ‘Ottery St Mary’ passing through Kensington Olympia with a Victoria to Worcester V.S.O.E ‘Cathedrals Express’ at 09:23 hrs on 26th June 2003. Photo Copyright © Bernie Holland

We finished with time to spare and had a good chat, big thanks to Bernie for an excellent presentation and once more to David Jackman for organising the zoom part.

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


2nd February 2021 Meeting

For the first Tuesday of February 2021 we had another Zoom meeting with a show entitled ‘Ramblings of a Head Station Master’ by Dave Boot, who worked all his life in the upper echelons of Joseph Lucas Ltd of Birmingham. He joined the GWSR at the start in 1982 and was Head Station Master for five years from 2014-19 and continues as Broadway Senior Station Master. He is a keen photographer and took his camera with him when he worked abroad, although there was not that much spare time in some places.

Section one covered 1948-82 and we started with shots around Smethwick Rolfe Street Station and Galton Bridge, which was where Dave spent his early trainspotting days. Born in 1937 he and his friends stayed locally until about ten-years old then went a bit further and meeting other spotters soon learnt where locos were etc. In the late 1940s and early 50s, the north end of New Street station saw congregations of spotters watching and photographing the action, though it seems that those at Snow Hill looked down on the LMS groups!

One of Dave’s first photos, taken on his Box Brownie, was of 46220 Coronation at Willesden in July 1951. In 1958 he saw his first Bulleid Pacific, whilst on his honeymoon, bagging a picture of 34036 Westward Ho!, though his newly-wed wife was not too impressed…

In the 1960s he was living at Bentley Heath (between Dorridge and Widney Manor on the GWR route to Birmingham) and we saw 4472 Flying Scotsman, D1605, 6015 King Richard III, Class 08 D3851, a Class 109 DMU, and up the road at Acocks Green was 6926 Holkham Hall, also 4079 Pendennis Castle at Widney Manor. 5900 Hinderton Hall and 7029 Clun Castle were seen in early preservation days at Dorridge.

We then had views of Winchcombe Station in the late 1950s/early 60s, with some up to date shots for comparison.

Next was the smokebox number plate of 8F No. 48628, which Dave has on his shed, followed by a photo of it in full steam.

Tunnel Junction Signal Box, Worcester, was seen in 1954; a recent shot of 7029 Clun Castle was taken from the interior as it passed the box, where his grandson was the Signalman on duty that day.

On to Tyseley in late 1960s and 1970 where 5593 Kolhapur, Clun Castle and Flying Scotsman, together with the dreaded ‘Thomas’ Pannier Tank and B1 1306 Mayflower, were seen.

A Hunslet Saddle Tank attached to a breakdown crane was on the Swanage Railway in 1977, 71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ at Hatton in May 1983, also Earl of Merioneth a Fairlie/Patent at Porthmadog the previous August. At Dorridge we saw 92220 Evening Star, 35028 Clan Line and 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley.

Part Two took us to his overseas visits and we started in Argentina in November 1979, where just four photos were taken. The exterior of the main Belgrano station in Buenos Aires, then an approaching train; it was at this point that he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to find a gun wielding policeman enquiring what he was up to. The official spoke broken English and he managed to get away by a bit of bluff. The other shots were of a signal (probably McKenzie & Holland), it resembled a Southern Railway one, and finally a level crossing showing an arm of the barrier across a bus with a train passing by.

Some Lisbon trams followed on 15th August 1984, not long after his visit to South Africa in March 1984. He travelled along the Johannesburg to Magaliesburg line, where we saw Class 15F 4-8-2 No. 3153 climbing Florida Incline on a special day tour, in the suburbs, Krugersdorp West (in the rain) and arriving in Magaliesburg. During the four hour wait there he caught it turning on the triangle ready for its return journey. Also shots of a 19D 4-8-2 arriving to go to Die Moot and returning. A couple of industrial engines at Crown Mines, Johannesburg, were seen.

In December 1981 he travelled to Malaysia and at Kuala Lumpur the railways were on strike, but he did get a shot of a diesel loco in the platform (KTM Class 22 Co-Co, one of forty built by English Electric in 1971) and another signal similar to the ones in Blighty. A couple of months earlier he had gone on a flying visit to India where the only snap taken was on the way to the airport, one of a 2-8-0 trundling through the countryside. July 1985 saw him in Hong Kong with some wonderful old trams of the double deck variety.

Whilst on a six month project in Auckland, New Zealand, Dave spent many of his weekends on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway (GVR). He gave a potted history of the line illustrated with several photographs followed by shots of London Transport Buses in the Transport Museum (MOTAT).

Added to this were several shots of ex-BR Mk.II coaching stock that had been converted into DMU and Electro-Diesel units working quite successfully between Auckland and Hamilton. These coaches with their smaller bogies on 3’ 6” gauge did not look out of place. He had obtained some pictures of a set going into service last month, whose introduction had been delayed due to Covid-19.

Ex-UK Mark 2 carriages converted in New Zealand, which were gutted and refurbished inside and out and new automatic doors fitted, placed on new Japanese-built 3′ 6″ bogies with smaller diameter wheels, and designated ‘SA’. The overall height was thus reduced by 250mm, and are now lower than the diesels that haul them (the loading gauge is only slightly less than the UK’s). They were used on Auckland’s suburban network until they were replaced with the new electric trains. Most of them now sit rusting at Taumarunui. Hillside Workshops in Dunedin undertook the conversion, and did an excellent job. The sets were run as push-pull, with an SD (converted SA with a driving cab at one end) and a remotely controlled Dc diesel locomotive at the other end, a configuration similar to the UK’s DBSOs. 3 SDs and 7 SAs have now been used to form a new commuter train between Hamilton in the Waikato, and Papakura (at the southern end of the Auckland suburban electric network), and which is due to commence shortly. So they live on!There is a lot of information about the carriages in Wikipedia (Google “NZ British Rail Mark 2 Carriage”).

After photos in the Austrian mountains was a fine shot of Prague Main Station, this was followed by a snap of a poster inside showing a small boy with a suitcase talking to the driver of B12 4-6-0 61555, which was rather bizarre but turns out to be connected with Sir Nicholas Winton’s Kinder Transport trains of 1939 just before the war taking children to Britain via Hook of Holland and Liverpool Street.

Next up was a ‘Guess where?’ and it was a Monorail train, no one guessed it was Disneyland!

To Switzerland and at Interlaken was the Berlin Express, also between the houses there and one at Wilderswil. Rack & Pinion Railway on the 1323m high Harder Kulm, Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfrau, Grindelwald passing loop. We saw rubbish being taken down underneath a cable car  at Mürren, Grindelwald Grund Engine Shed, Pilatus Railway, and at Vitznau where the railway up the Rigi Mountain was seen.

A re-visit to Jersey saw him visit The Pallot Heritage Steam Museum, as well as standard gauge locos and coaches (not originally in Jersey), it has a  narrow gauge railway forming a simple loop around a large paddock behind the main exhibition hall.

BR (S) rebuilt Bulleid ‘Marchant Navy’ Class 4-6-2 No. 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co.’ runs light engine through Toddington Station on the GWSR at 13:30 on Saturday 8th August 2020. It was working a trial run prior to the line reopening after the Covid-19 lockdown.

We finished an interesting evening off with some atmospheric pictures at the GWSR and some unlikely photos taken during Covid restrictions. Thank you to the 73 people who turned up and to Dave himself who was doing his first ever Zoom presentation.

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


5th January 2021 Meeting – AGM, followed by a Rob Freeman Presentation

This is the time of year for our Branch AGM and we had 23 Branch members in attendance as well as quite a few visitors. There were apologies for absence from two members. The usual formalities were gone through and the current committee was re-elected en bloc, with nobody else stepping forward to join the committee.

After the AGM we welcomed Branch member Rob Freeman for his presentation of photographs with ‘Gems from the Casserley Collection’. Rob said: “While writing the sequel to ‘Steaming Through Berkhamsted’ for Mary Casserley, granddaughter of H C Casserley and daughter of R M Casserley, I have been granted access to some of the vast collection of photos taken by these two venerable photographers. This presentation will show some of my interesting discoveries which Mary has given me permission to show us. There will be photos from around the country, as well as those of local scenes. The period covered will be 1920s to early 1960s”.

Just as we were about to start the AGM Rob let us know he was having problems logging-in to Zoom on his computer (he initially joined via his mobile phone), but he had it sorted by the end of the AGM.

The presentation was divided into regions of the British Isles as follows,

1. ‘Coronation’ Pacifics at Berkhamsted, streamlined and after, including some wartime shots (example below).

Streamlined Stanier LMS ‘Princess Coronation’ Class 4-6-2 No. 6243 ‘City of Lancaster’ (with unstreamlined tender) works a northbound express from Euston during March 1947, approaching Northchurch Tunnel. Photo © H C Casserley, by kind permission of Mary Casserley.

2. Great Western Paddington to Penzance the roundabout way, visiting many branches and outposts. On board a slip coach off the ‘Cornish Riviera’ at Westbury. A couple of shots from a train at Dawlish in August 1945 with coastal defences still in place on the beaches.

3. Unrebuilt ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacifics, some brand new. Gave a glimpse of what the future re-unrebuilt 21C 11 might look like.

4. Great Eastern and branches: a packed Stratford shed, Central Line before it was such, Brentwood Bank with streamlined B17 4-6-0 City of London and a B12 pounding up on parallel trains, Tollesbury branch train.

5. Diesels: many of the short-lived types were featured, plus a Brush Type 4 on its first day in traffic, at Glasgow Buchanan St.

6. Woodhead Route: from Manchester to Sheffield before and after electrification. EM1+EM2 double heading a train. Even a photo taken from inside one of the old Woodhead Tunnels, whilst still in operation!

7. South West Scotland: St Enoch before and after closure. Caledonian 0-4-4T hauling a brand new ‘Blue Train’ EMU. New BR Standards and old LMS 2Ps around Kilmarnock and Dumfries.

A very interesting evening which was enjoyed by 59 members and guests with plenty of questions about the subjects, with Rob presenting in his usual enthusiastic style.

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary


1st December 2020 Meeting – Members’ Presentations

Branch Member Humphrey Gillott started the evening off with shots from 2002/03 taken at Forders Sidings on the Bedford to Bletchley Line. He showed the Signal Box exterior and also inside shots of the diagram and frame and of Class 60s and 66s  passing by. We saw 66001 shunting in the yard with 67024 departing to Bedford. There were three or four other 66s as well as 08578 Dobbin.

A couple of shots from 1965 saw ‘Britannia’ Class 70024 Vulcan at Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Next up was Mike Watson with a tour of former Yugoslavia countries in June 2014; we started in Slovenia where we saw the Bohinj Railway which links Jesenice in Slovenia with Trieste in Italy and he travelled from Jesenice  to Nova Gorica, a distance of 89km.

Starting the journey at Jesenice we saw the 4w balconied coaches he travelled in and the German Kriegslok 2-10-0 locomotive JZ No. 33-037 which was built in 1944 and is one of around 8,000 of this type. He took a few photos of the loco in various places and we saw a badly graffitied DMU. Atmospheric shots of steam, tunnels, viaducts, and signal boxes followed, also close-ups of various parts of the Class 33, which led to some discussion on exterior pipework, injectors and brake pumps! We then popped over to Ljubljana Railway Museum where there were many locos stabled outside quietly rusting away. Going inside we saw another JZ Class 33, a 2-8-2, and quite a few unidentified locos along with inspection bicycles and a motorised trolley. A German Class 58 2-10-0 which formerly served with the Prussian Railways was photographed, also some signal box levers. He finished his first half presentation with some photos of the lovely town of Ljubljana.

After the break Richard Whitehead showed a few photos of the Puffing Billy Railway in Oz, a 2’6” gauge Heritage line. It featured Baldwins 7A and 14A with a cab shot finishing off with a Beyer Garratt 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 No. G42.

Bernie Holland was next up with a large miscellany over the years kicking off with a busy shot of Corby Steel Works at its prime. A 1998 shot of 87101 Stephenson on the Up Slow at Harrow Weald then eleven years later 70013 Oliver Cromwell in the same spot.

In 2011 we saw GWR ‘Castle’ Class No. 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe on a London to Birmingham journey at Headstone Lane and at Sherburn-in-Elmet in 2012 was ‘Royal Scot’ No. 46115 Scots Guardsman.

Moving on to 2017 we saw GWR 0-4-2T 1450 with its one carriage at Hayles Abbey Halt, a fine shot of Class 66779 Evening Star at Harrow & Wealdstone on 4M23 Felixstowe to Hams Hall, and also at Hatch End the following day; it was pointed out that the loco has the engine unit from 66734 (originally 66402), 66734 being written off and scrapped after running into a landslide and derailment near Loch Treig, whilst working a train from North Blyth to Fort William in June 2012.

In September Bernie was at Harrow Weald for Class 70011 on the Down Slow and then a Pendolino on the Up Fast, later that day at Apsley Class 88002 was top and tailing with 68025, it should have been sister loco 88001 but it wasn’t ready.

In October it was back to Hayles Abbey to see BR ‘Hall’ 4-6-0 No. 7903 Foremarke Hall which was also snapped at Bishop’s Cleeve. The next day saw Bernie at Princes Risborough where Chiltern Bubble Car 121 034 was in the Up platform and a little later on DVT 82304 was storming through on the middle road heading Up.

Onto May 2018 he was back at Headstone Lane where on the Down Slow we saw Class 66522 followed by Class 66721 the LT Map locomotive.

The following month saw him at the GWSR on an RCTS Visit where GWR 4-6-0 6023 King Edward II was seen at Winchcombe and Broadway, later in the day also at Broadway was Oliver Cromwell.

A few days later whilst staying in the Station Hotel at Faversham he popped into the station and snapped a terminating Javelin.

In March 2019 Bernie was at Kings Cross to snap Class 90019 in DB Livery and the next day the new Azuma. In May at Willesden Junction DC Lines there was EMU 710267 on test.

In June for the ‘Steam on the District Line’ event we saw Met No. 1 at Chiswick Park and Earl’s Court, and the following week at Horsted Keynes saw Bulleid Pacific No. 21C123 Blackmore Vale and 5MT 4-6-0 No. 73082 before moving to the Spa Valley Railway. Here Class 73140 was seen at Groombridge and two shots of 0-6-0ST Ugly watering at Eridge with a garden hose (which took 4 hours) and then about to take a train to Tunbridge Wells.

On Saturday 1st June he travelled to see friends who own Gotherington Station and took a snap of GWR 4-6-0 6023 King Edward II; the following day, which was another RCTS visit to the GWSR, we saw CR 0-4-4T No. 419 at Toddington with the group that accompanied him, along with B1 1264. At Gotherington, in the old goods yard, a lovely restored Wickham Trolley was conveying several RCTS members.

A photo from 23rd April 1956 showed a panorama of an RCTS dinner which included many old names including Branch Chairman Geoff Plumb’s father!!!

In 1961 at Cheltenham St. James we saw GWR No 5173 Class 2-6-2T.

Back to 2012 there were the Olympic Rings at St. Pancras Station to finish his presentation.

Ex-JZ Class 33 No. 33-248 2-10-0 just coming out of Bukinje depot, near Tuzla, Bosnia, on 10th June 2014. Note the obligatory lookout on the buffer step. This loco is assigned to the Kreka mine (Rudnici Kreka). The engine is a former Deutsche Reichsbahn Class 52 ‘Kriegslok’ No. 52 4779, built by MBA (formerly Orenstein & Koppel) No. 13830 of 1943. Photo Copyright © Mike Watson.

To finish off the last 20 minutes we returned to Mike Watson for some more of his former Yugoslavia 2014 tour, now moved on to Bosnia Herzegovina and Bukinje Depot between Tuzla and Doboj in coal-mining country. Here JZ Class 33 2-10-0 No. 33-248 was his tour train engine and many shots of this were taken. We also saw Class 62-123 (USATC Class S100 0-6-0T) and others in the workshops then onto the narrow gauge trains at Zibernice where we saw the loco being watered by the local Fire Brigade Tender.

Ex-JZ Class 33 No. 33-248 2-10-0 from Bukinje depot, near Tuzla, Bosnia, on 10th June 2014. This loco is assigned to the Kreka mine (Rudnici Kreka), where it is seen in the yard at the coal processing plant. The engine is a former Deutsche Reichsbahn Class 52 ‘Kriegslok’ No. 52 4779, built by MBA (formerly Orenstein & Koppel) No. 13830 of 1943. Photo Copyright © Mike Watson.

An interesting and varied evening enjoyed by 55 Zoomers and thank you once again to David Jackman for making it all possible.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


3rd November 2020 Meeting

For our 3rd November Zoom meeting we had a return visit from Branch Member Rob Freeman with a presentation about his past Rail tours he was either on, or in some cases linesiding, from the 1970s onwards.

A lot of the tours had comical names as will be seen.

‘The Grimsby Reaper’ was mentioned, though no photos shown, which unfortunately had to be curtailed on Immingham Docks as the rear Class 47 derailed and hemmed them in, so it was buses back to Doncaster and make your own way home!!

Thompson B1 Locomotive Society ‘Three Way Special’ at Guide Bridge, on 16th September 1978. Running as the ‘North Country Continental’ with 76025 and 76028. Photo Copyright © Rob Freeman.

On 16th September 1978, The Thompson B1 Society ran the ‘Three Way Special’ tour from Marylebone, where we saw a typical DMU leaving for Aylesbury before the tour departed behind 25061 + 25245 as ‘The Master Cutler’ to Nuneaton, where we saw 40186 which took over the train as far as Rotherwood. A pair of Class 76s took over the train [76025/028] for the journey through the disused Sheffield Victoria station and the Woodhead Tunnel to Manchester Piccadilly, where we saw other 76s, and return to Rotherwood. 40186 then took the train onwards as ‘The North Country Continental’ to Harwich, passing through Ely where we saw a rake of condemned Mk.I Pullman coaches. The return run from Harwich ran as ‘The Scandinavian, to Liverpool Street, once again behind 40186

‘The Bramley Bunker’ was the next one which was a short hop from Basingstoke to Bramley then DEMU units 205033/026 on perhaps one of the most remarkable tours of (relatively) recent years. Three trips were run from Basingstoke around the former MOD Bramley Ammunition depot on Sunday 1st March 1987. This extensive facility with over 30 miles of track had opened in 1917 but these were to be both the first and last public trains before closure. Views of the units were seen as well as Army locomotives.

On 12th June 1983, the ‘Brunel Pullman’ was the next tour which was Bristol-Newport-Hereford-Worcester-Bristol and involved Class 47 No. 47500, LMS ‘Black 5’ No. 5000 and GWR ‘King’ No. 6000 King George V. We had shots of a busy Bristol Bath Road Depot, ‘KGV’ on Newport Triangle plus three run pasts at Abergavenny. At Bulmer’s in Hereford we saw 35028 Clan Line under restoration, No. 5000 on the tour train and at Great Malvern and Worcester, from where 47500 took them back to Bristol.

GWR ‘King’ Class 4-6-0 No. 6000 ‘King George V’ conducts one of three run pasts at Abergavenny with the ‘Brunel Pullman’ on 12th June 1983. Photo Copyright © Rob Freeman.

Next up was linesiding a tour called ‘The Chiltern Atmospheric’ on 16th May 1992 where he followed two Class 50s at Aylesbury, Princes Risborough and Maidenhead where we also saw Class 47484.

Back on a tour on 23rd September 1978 for ‘The Citadel Express’, run by The Merchant Navy LPS. We saw 35028 Clan Line at Skipton, Hellifield [where there was also a lovely photo of Rob himself with long hair and flares] and Armathwaite. At Carlisle we saw 25011 heading north on a Parcels train before a shot of the Class 85 Electric Loco which hauled the train back to Euston.

‘The Concrete Cow’ was linesided on 12th January 1985 organised by Hertfordshire Railtours, this was topped and tailed by 33106/33110 with 2 x 4TCs 401 & 421; these were seen at Aylesbury, Calvert and between Calvert and Bletchley.

Another linesiding trip was ‘The Crewe Avoider’ which went nowhere near Crewe, from Paddington-Morris Cowley-Reading West Junction-Hamworthy Goods-Fawley Ground Frame-Ludgershall-Paddington, we saw Class 56001 at Culham and on the Cowley Branch plus 37131/37107 were seen at Radley.

Rob took part on ‘The Deltic Dragon’ on 29th January 1978 with 55018 Ballymoss, this went from Paddington-Worcester-Cardiff-Treherbert-Gloucester-Swindon-Paddington. There was a stop at Evesham where we saw LT stock in the background, also Class 20030/20142 at Treherbert and Pontypridd.

A Joint tour by the SEG and RCTS was the ‘Devonian’ DEMU Tour and we saw 6-car 1014 at Yeovil Junction where we saw Class 50021 with a service train. 1014 was also shot at Meldon Quarry, Crediton, Newton Abbot, Heathfield, Paignton, where we also saw 2-6-4T No. 80064 on the steam railway, along with camping coaches at Dawlish Warren.

The 10th September 1983 brought us ‘The Fair Maid Pullman’ which travelled to Perth and back organised by SLOA. Rob travelled behind 86242 with his parents on this trip; a change of loco at Mossend to 47254, this hauled the train to Coatbridge Central, where A4 No. 60009 Union of South Africa took over. We saw it there, at Gleneagles, Perth and Markinch as it returned to Edinburgh Waverley where Class 47708 was photographed.

SLOA also organised ‘The Great Western Limited’ on 7th July 1985 from Paddington to Plymouth via Bristol. 47484 took the train to Bristol where this, a chocolate & cream-liveried DMU and GWR 4-6-0s 5051 Drysllwyn Castle & 4930 Hagley Hall were pictured, they later took the train on towards Plymouth. A photo of them at Taunton watering up before both steam locos stalled on Dainton Bank and had various attempts to get going without success. 50045 came on the rear and banked the train from MP 217 to 218 right by Dainton Tunnel signal box. 50045 was detached there then followed to Totnes where the train was terminated rather than running through to Plymouth as booked. At Exeter St. David’s a HST and a Class 50 were seen.

In Part 2 he went on ‘The Deltic Scotsman Farewell’ on 2nd January 1982 with 55015/55022 as the power with 55009 as back-up. It went from Kings Cross  to Waverley and back, but photo opportunities were few and far between and a couple of shots of tops and sides of the Deltics among the crowds were all that was achieved.

‘The Grid Iron Grice’ on 7th August 1982 organised by DAA Railtours started from London Bridge-Clapham Junction-Brent Junction-Bedford. Class 56014 was seen at London Bridge to Bedford where we saw the 56 off and Class 45075 onto the train with 45110 heading down. We then saw 45075 near Harringworth Viaduct and Syston North Curve, off the train at Toton where 56049/56003 top and tailed to Redditch where we saw them both and also a DMU coming into the old bay road. The tour was also seen at Walsall where EMU 310 048 was pictured too. Further shots of the 56s at Leamington Spa and Bicester North ensued.

A BLS tour on 17th September 1983, called the ‘Imberhorne Railtour’, started at London Bridge with DEMU 1031, then recorded at Birkbeck, Dover Train Ferry Terminal, where we also saw Class 09013, Deal, Ashford, Folkestone Harbour, Uckfield original station, reached by the Tunbridge Wells to Eridge Line, the nowadays Spa Valley Railway, then Imberhorne Viaduct itself and East Grinstead.

‘The Solent & Wessex Wanderer’ on 5th January 1992 had Class 59103/33021 and we saw them at London Bridge, Byfleet & New Haw, Eastleigh Depot, Weymouth and Waterloo.

‘The Sou’ Wester’ involved a service train to Carlisle where we saw D200 and A3 Flying Scotsman which took the train to Annan where D200 dropped off. An unusual sequence of shots followed at Bridge 208, by MP 61½, of re-watering No. 4472. Further shots at Ayr where D200 took over the train with a final photo at Kilmarnock.

Another BLS tour, this time ‘The Wyvern Express’ on 23rd April 1983, which was a 6-car Class 120 DMU and shots were taken at Leicester, Glendon Junction, Kettering, Annesley, Nottingham Stabling Point, the Midland Railway Centre with Jinty 16440, also at Butterley, Shirebrook and Sinfin.

A BR organised tour called ‘The Western Tribute’ was run on 26th February 1977 to commemorate the end of this class. Locos used were 1013/1023 with 1010/1048 shadowing behind, just in case. Shots were taken of the crowds at Paddington, then Reading,  an HST at Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Swansea, Dawlish Sea Wall, Dainton Tunnel and Plymouth.

BLS organised the ‘London Junctions’ tour on 22nd January 1983. DEMU No. 1031 performed the honours and photos were at St. Albans Abbey, Class 25306 and 25327 were seen at a quiet Wembley yard. At Clapham Junction we saw Class 50028, EMUs 508 002 and 508 011, Signal Boxes at Clapham Junction and Acton Wells.

3rd March 1984 saw another Hertfordshire Railtours entitled the ‘Goonbarrow Belle’. Class 50030 took the train from Paddington to Plymouth where Class 37182/37185 took over  and we saw them at Plymouth, Lostwithiel, Carne Point [Fowey], Parkandillack, Bere Alston and Tavy Viaduct. Also seen was Class 50028.

The final showing was on 12th March 1983 and was the LCGB ‘Class 127 Farewell Tour’ using a 4-car unit. Photos were seen at Stewartby, on Bletchley Flyover, Oxford, Claydon L&NE Junction and Signal Box, Quainton Road with NCB 0-6-0T Coventry No. 1, Saunderton, Wembley Hill, Marylebone and Neasden Junction.

53 attendees were kept entertained throughout and we look forward to Rob’s next talk, featuring photos from ‘The Casserley Collection’, which will be presented after the Branch AGM in January.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


6th October 2020 Meeting

On the 6th October we welcomed RCTS Webmaster David Jackman, who went to great lengths at fairly short notice to present the show ‘North from Euston in the 1960s’ taken from our own RCTS Photographic Archive and presented via Zoom.

An attendance of 43 enjoyed it immensely, many questions were asked and perhaps more helpfully corrections given for quite a few inaccurate captions as depicted in the archive material. Some obviously wrong such as the Locomotive Class depicted and some less so such as a location.

We started with a view of the arrivals and local platforms at Euston and 2-6-4T No. 42099 leaving with a Class 24 diesel in the background, then some shots during the 1962-66 rebuild of the station including ‘Princess Royal’ Class 8P 4-6-2 No. 46206 Princess Marie Louise, of which only twelve were built (thirteen if you include the rebuilt ‘Turbomotive’) and Class 40 D231 with ‘The Shamrock’.

We moved down the line to South Kenton and Kenton where we saw up and down goods and passenger trains along with LMS GEC Stock EMUs. Others were spotted on the way north. A Class 501 was at Croxley Green, then we saw Nos. 41233, 42077 and Fairburn 42096 all at Watford Shed shortly before closing. An example of one of the photos can be seen here:

At Bletchley we saw a 2-car Class 108 DMU to Cambridge, also a ‘Britannia’ 7MT, No. 70045, on an up Parcels Special. Among many others was 3F ‘Jinty’ No. 47500 as station pilot and 46240 City of Coventry on an Up Goods, then along to Wolverton where DP2 was seen, with 41222 at Great Linford on the Newport Pagnell Branch.

Northampton Shed was shown on its closure date, followed with D5027 at Rugby and various diesel and steam locos at Coventry, including a ‘Clan’ working an Earls Court Motor Show special to Euston.

Further north we saw ‘Peak’ No. D2 at Canley, the Blue Pullman at Beechwood Tunnel on a Football Special, Class 103 + Class 100 DMUs and E3050 at Berkswell, followed by a variety of locos at Hampton-in-Arden, Chilvers Coton, Lichfield and Crewe.

Interestingly, at Crewe were a Class 304 EMU No. M75684, and Class 81+84+Boiler Van on an Up Manchester. Stanier 2-6-4T No. 42631 was at Bolton, 2P 4-4-0 No.40684 at Castleton on a Rochdale to Liverpool service, on to Walsden for 6P5F ‘Crab’ 2-6-0 No. 42863 on a Rochdale to Liverpool working.

An unusual sight [nowadays] was a Class 108 + 110 + 105 seven-car DMU set leaving Wigan Wallgate on a Manchester Victoria to Southport. Two Class 76s were seen at Sheffield Victoria and Penistone. ‘Coronation’ No. 46428 City of Leeds was seen at Lancaster and an evocative snap of EMU No. M28221M approaching Lancaster Castle from Green Ayre on the now closed electrified line. Various trains at Hest Bank, Oxenholme, Windermere and Tebay then featured.

Rebuilt ‘Patriot’ No. 45545 Planet was seen at Greenholme and a further few locos on Shap including No. 46203 Princess Margaret Rose. A Class 40 piloting an Ivatt 4MT off the Keswick branch at Penrith Junction was an unusual sight and a 2-car Derby Lightweight seen at Troutbeck. Then over to Settle Junction, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen East, Appleby East and Culgaith for steam in action before seeing a Class 40 crossing Ribblehead Viaduct. We ended the evening with shots of the End of Steam specials in 1968 including some of the 15 guinea specials, 44871+44781 and 70013 Oliver Cromwell both crossing Ribblehead.

Once again, a big thank you to David for volunteering to put this presentation together for us.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


1st September 2020 Meeting

Report on ‘The Honeybourne Line’ ZOOM presentation by Bernie Holland

RCTS Watford Branch members and friends assembled on the ZOOM platform on Tuesday 1st September for Bernie’s presentation which was dedicated to the memory of acclaimed railway photographer Bill Potter. Starting with a sequence of black and white slides we saw views of the line taken in both the GWR era followed by that of British Railways Western Region taken by a number of photographers including Bill Potter, Humphrey Household, Joe Moss, Roger Carpenter, Dick Riley, and Michael Mensing. This was followed by a sequence of colour slides from the Bill Potter Collection, dating from the 1950s up until the final steam working with 7029 Clun Castle from Paddington to Cheltenham Race Course in March 1968.

GWR ‘Castle’ Class 4-6-0 No. 5046 ‘Earl Cawdor’ heads (1)Z16, presumably a special of some sort, along what is now part of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway on Wednesday, 14th March 1962. It is passing under the Southam Lane bridge on the approach to Cheltenham Race Course station and this may have been a Gold Cup special. Photo © Bill Potter, courtesy Kidderminster Railway Museum.

The next section of the show dealt with the restoration and developments from 1981 to 1988. Further progress from 1990 saw the continued extension of the line south to Cheltenham Race Course in 2003, and north to Broadway in 2018 featuring a wide variety of steam and diesel locomotives which appeared at various Steam and Diesel Galas.

The often overlooked North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway was also featured. Case studies were made of two GWSR residents, GWR 2-8-0 No. 2807 and Bulleid Pacific No. 35006 Peninsular and Oriental S.N. Co. The next objective of reaching Honeybourne and making a main line connection was also considered, although the £20m cost at 2019 figures means this may never happen; then followed a short sequence of slides of Honeybourne Station from its closure and dereliction to its reopening and refurbishment.

The final section of the show was given over to the subject of Gotherington Station, its history and renovation including various events, from the sublime to the ridiculous, that have taken place there over the years. For this final part of the show, the owner of Gotherington Station, Mr Bryan Nicholls was present to contribute to the commentary. At the conclusion of this show a short question and answer session was conducted by Bernie, with the assistance of both Bryan Nicholls and Rob Davidson.

The attendance of 31 walked away happy and were very thankful for Lizzie’s virtual tea and cake!

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


4th August 2020 ‘Zoom’ Meeting

At Watford Branch we don’t normally have an August meeting, but because we are now having Zoom meetings we thought we would have one to make up for meetings lost earlier in the year. We decided to make it another ‘Members’ Digital Slides’, instead of trying to get an external speaker at short notice.

Humphrey Gillott gave the second half of his presentation on ‘London Transport, Chesham to Neasden, in the late 1950s and 1960s’, using black and white photographs that he, his brother Roland, and friend and Watford Branch RCTS Member, David Richardson, had taken during the late 1950s and 1960s as they grew up together in Northwood, Middlesex. This second half focused on photographs taken at Northwood and those that Humphrey had taken at Neasden L.T. Depot during a lunch-hour visit whilst working for Barclays Bank at Wembley Park in January 1964 (his first branch). His presentation included photographs of L.T. rolling stock at Neasden that had been made redundant on account of the introduction of the A62s. These included: Dreadnoughts, F, P and Q stock, also Bo-Bo electric locomotive Number 1 John Lyon. We were also shown a photograph of ex-GWR 0-6-0 Pannier Tank No. L94, which was working for L.T. and also F Class steam locomotive 0-6-2T No. L52 and E Class steam locomotive 0-4-4T No. L48. He concluded his presentation with his photograph of the nameplate from Metropolitan Bo-Bo electric locomotive No. 2 Thomas Lord (with crossed cricket bats) affixed to a heavy roller at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and his photograph of a painting by Berkhamsted artist Mary Casserley, of one of her grandfather’s (Henry Casserley’s) photographs of Chesham station in steam days.

Rob Freeman was up next and was at the 1990 SVR Diesel Gala with D7633, D5410, D5054, D7076, and D1013, also with a steam presence in the form of LNER K4 2-6-0 No. 3442 The Great Marquess and BR Standard 4MT 4-6-0 No. 75069. On a different note, 1990 included the early days of Class 91s at Doncaster, Ally Pally and King’s Cross. Ex-works brand new No. 91017 coming off Bounds Green depot was the highlight.

Bernie Holland then showed photos of a Brake Van trip on the GWSR from Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course from the rear of the train, hauled by GWR 0-6-0ST No. 813. This included stations, bridges, tunnel and locomotives and also a 12 question quiz of the journey – which I happened to win, but I am a full time volunteer there, so perhaps not a surprise!

After the break Branch Chairman Geoff Plumb presented:

The ‘Nosey Peaker’ tour was an excellent day out with the Branch Line Society, on 14th June 2018, utilising the stock for the ‘Three Peaks Challenge by Rail’ prior to its departure for Snowdon, Scafell and Ben Nevis. It featured haulage by three DRS Class 37/4s, Nos. 37424, 37407 and 37401 in Top & Tail mode and all in BR Large Logo Blue livery – itself a triumph of organisation! The train was run by the BLS raising funds once again for the Railway Children charity, in association with DRS, Riviera Trains and Network Rail. We started out with the ECS arriving in Stafford from Burton Wetmore Sidings, then on to Crewe where the train reversed and visited Crewe PAD Line 2 with views of the DRS depot at Gresty Bridge, The train was only able to be half-full, as much space was taken up by fresh provisions for the mountaineers later in the day, and scenes of food preparation included the many bacon rolls being produced for ravenous track-bashers! Amongst on board fund-raising efforts was an auction to win a cab ride, the winner boarding the leading loco at Manchester Victoria. A stop was made at Denton and Geoff was able to ride from there in the rear cab of 37401 on the rear of the train in order to photograph the route taken and also shots at various ground locations where the train stopped or reversed.

At Crewe station it had been all-hands on deck to load provisions for the ‘Three Peaks Challenge by Rail’, starting from Crewe later in the day after the BLS ‘Nosey Peaker’ had fiinished its tour. Until it could be stowed away, a couple of coaches were filled with healthy looking goodies (no junk food for the climbers!), here are a few them, seen as the train makes its way past DRS’s Gresty Road depot after its reversal in Crewe PAD No. 2 Road. Locos to be seen include 37603 and 57303, 57003 visible through the further window. 09:29½, Thursday 14th June 2018. Photo © Geoff Plumb

An onboard organisers’ conference took place as part of the intended route at Buxton Station was blocked by a stabled Northern unit, so a new reversal point was negotiated with Network Rail on the Hindlow branch instead. From Heaton Norris Junction through Stockport and then up the line to Buxton, through Hazel Grove, Furness Vale, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith, then onto the Hindlow line at Buxton. Reversal was at a very rare Fixed Home semaphore signal, all movements controlled by a ground disc signal. The train then ran into the ‘X, Y and Z’ sidings alongside the line to Manchester, where it reversed again to take the line through Ashwood Dale. Views were seen of one of the big industrial shunters in the quarries at Tunstead and Freightliner 66s stabled in the sidings at Great Rocks Junction, the final shot showing the approach to Peak Forest.

Jeremy Harrison’s presentation was images of British standard gauge steam, taken since last March. Many  were taken on photo charters – starting with the Severn Valley Railway, there were also visits to the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire, Mid Hants, Isle of Wight Steam, Great Central, Dean Forest, Swanage and Epping-Ongar Railways, and the Battlefield Line; and also shots taken on the main line, including of 60103 Flying Scotsman, 35028 Clan Line, and 61306 Mayflower working the ‘Royal Windsor Steam Express’. While steam came to a sudden halt back in March, it is now resuming, so Jeremy was a able to conclude with shots of 41312 working a pre-reopening refresher train on the Mid Hants, and a charter  with 6412 on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway – which did not stop play at the Bledlow Village Cricket Club.

We finished with William Shelford showing a visit to Stoomcentrum Maldegem, literally Maldegem Steam Centre and is a heritage railway located at Maldegem in northern Belgium. It is located at the former NMBS station. Standard gauge trains run on the line to Eeklo, where the SCM has its own station. It is half a mile from the Dutch border. There was a mixture of Industrial and main line steam as well as narrow gauge which featured Peter Pan and Challoner.

Another excellent evening with an attendance of 24 although 29 had registered and a big thank you once again to David Jackman for arranging it all.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


30th June and 7th July 2020 ‘Zoom’ Meetings

After having our Branch Meetings postponed for April, May and June, due to the virus pandemic, we arranged a Zoom virtual meeting organised by David Jackman (Society Webmaster) and Jeremy Harrison (Web Coordinator at the Croydon & South London Branch) to see how it all works. We had some members’ slides to show everyone present. After a few teething problems with all of us novices learning as we went, several presentations were given, and it did work out very well, with 27 members attending. This took place on 30th June, which was a week before our next scheduled meeting, so we decided to have our July Branch Meeting virtually, as fortunately our Branch Chairman Geoff Plumb was the booked speaker, so all systems go.

For our July meeting we welcomed Branch Chairman Geoff Plumb for another in his presentations of ‘That was the year that Was’ this time featuring 1963.

Starting with 2¼” square B&W photographs and leading to 35mm colour slides we started with a photo of Geoff on the footplate of 58077 at aged 4 in 1953 at Wirksworth. We then went through the months and visited various venues starting at Southampton’s Town Quay and 0-4-0T 77s and in freezing conditions the last day of all stations Princes Risborough to Banbury service at P.R. and Haddenham, before moving to an open day at Eastleigh which featured an H class, O2 and a recently outshopped Q1 33038.

Over to Bristol with a ‘Warship’ in charge of ‘The Bristolian’ before travelling to Severn Tunnel Junction by DMU and returning behind 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. Back at Bristol we saw a Blue Pullman taken in B&W, but which Geoff is meticulously converting to colour!!

We saw D322 picking up water at Bushey water-troughs which was the first one of its class to be withdrawn.

A railtour took him with Flying Scotsman from Paddington via High Wycombe which featured a busy yard, and Wolverhampton Stafford Road to Ruabon where two ‘Manors’ took over to Barmouth and Minffordd, and on to the Ffestiniog Railway where we saw Prince, Princess and Welsh Pony which only last week steamed again.

A North Midlands Tour saw West Country Pacific 34006 Bude take the train from St. Pancras to Derby then B1 61004 Oryx to Buxton, Ashbourne and Burton with Bude back to St. Pancras.

An East Midlands Branch Tour took us to Melton Mowbray, Leicester Belgrave Road via Marefield Junction then Seaton and Uppingham Branch, Luffenham, Manton Junction, Cottesmore Branch [now home to Rocks by Rail Ironstone Museum] by Black Five and 2-6-4T 42087.

A few express locos at Hatch End and Bushey water-troughs and over to Hadley North for the last weekend of steam south of Peterborough before popping over to Swindon Works with sparkling locos and redundant ones too.

In Part 2 there was a Gloucestershire Railtour which had an Avonmouth Docks tour then 2-6-2T 82036 visiting the branches of Sharpness, Dursley, Nailsworth and Stroud Midland.

From Dursley, the train ran back to Coaley Junction and then north along the Midland main line to Stonehouse Bristol Road station for a trip along the branch to Nailsworth. Having propelled the stock into the branch platform, 82036 has run round the train and is now trying to couple up again before heading for Nailsworth. Sunday 21st July 1963. RCTS ‘Gloucestershire Railtour’. Note the coal wagons in the goods yard and the Midland signals and signalbox on the main line. Photo © Geoff Plumb

Other highlights were a Barclay saddletank at Purfleet Cement Works, Countess on the W&LLR, No. 4 at Snowdon Mountain Railway, Linda at Penrhyn Crossing and 41226 at Amlwch.

Over to the Isle of Man viewing the Douglas Horse Tramway, Beyer Peacock 2-4-0T Maitland at Douglas along with No. 8 Fenella and No. 10 G.H.Wood, MER Trams at Derby Castle and Snaefell MR stock at Laxey and en route to the summit.

Back in Wales saw a deserted Dinas Junction just after closure, Fairbourne Railway in 15” gauge days, Dolgoch on the Talyllyn Railway, Llywelyn and Owain Glynd?r on the VofRR, and The Earl on W&LLR.

A Brake Van tour of The Isle of Axholme Light Railway followed, with Hunslet Class 05 No. D2611.

Some more industrials, including fireless locos at various paper mills in North Kent, and also on the Bowaters Railway at Sittingbourne were featured, as was another RCTS ‘East Midlander’ tour with ‘Crab’ 42896 visiting Crewe and Horwich Works from Nottingham.

To round-off there were visits to Willesden and Old Oak Common sheds and some scenes on the WCML just north of Watford Tunnel.

A wonderfully nostalgic evening with some lovely photos all taken by a 13/14 year old boy, enjoyed by an attendance of 33 members and visitors.

This online ‘Zoom’ meeting being deemed a success, it was decided that an extra meeting be set-up for 4th August 2020 (the Branch does not normally hold a meeting in August), for another session of ‘Member’s Images’.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


3rd March 2020 Meeting

For our 3rd March meeting we welcomed Leicester-based Jason Cross for a first visit to present ‘Capturing the present and re-creating the past’. We saw many locomotives and multiple units from all around the country, as well as the Isle of Man.

Highlights were:-

Night shots including the Old Dalby test track, Wilmcote and the Flying Banana at Paddock Wood. Over at the Midland Railway Centre Jason put a halogen lamp in the firebox of 158A with his hi-viz over it to give the effect of an engine in steam.

86251 was on a railtour at Carlisle, a pair of Class 50s at Woking, a class 68 & 88 at Penzance. Oddities included 60009 and 87002 at Paddington, 2 73s at Potters Bar and Paddington.

On sleeper trains we had 57602 at Newton Abbot, we saw an HST crossing the Royal Border Bridge with a calm river and the train was perfectly reflected in it.

We then visited the Great Central Railway, and the Epping & Ongar Railway where we saw 50026 and unit 205205 at North Weald. We saw RATs (Rail Adhesion Trains, not Class 25s!) at North Acton, Woodford and Harrow, all the current different stocks on LUL as well as steam shots from Met 150 and District 150.

Over to Isle of Wight for the 1938 stock, then some Narrow Gauge scenes followed by multiple units and many freight including a pair of 73s at Purley with the snow & ice train.

This was an excellent show with lots of different shots aided by Jason’s 10m pole which reached parts other smaller poles don’t reach, and was enjoyed by an audience of thirty members and visitors.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


4th February 2020 Meeting

For our February meeting Brian Hardy paid us a return visit for ‘A Pictorial Review of the 1935-1962 Tube Stock Family’ which followed on from his Standard Stock presentation.

We opened with the 1935 streamlined stock which never really took off and was abandoned before WW2. The first passenger train of 1938 stock ran on 30/06/38 and the last one built, car 012476 in July 1947. Altogether 1,288 cars were built, and they ran on the Bakerloo, Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines with some of them having standard stock trailer cars between the 1938 driving cars. Northern Line last day was 14/04/78 followed by a special tour two months later. Piccadilly Line finished with them in Dec 1975. They also served on the Northern City Line and East London Line.

1956 stock had 3 trains built by Metro-Cammell, Gloucester and Birmingham and were tested vigorously, these were used as automatic trains on the Hainault Loop.

The 1959/62 stocks were used mainly on Piccadilly and Northern [59] and Central [62].

They finished their LT lives during the 1990s, but some went on to further lives, e.g. to the IOW, 3 cars to Bramley MOD then Bicester and others as personnel carriers, weed killing train and an unsuccessful Tunnel Cleaning Train as well as a couple of RATs [Rail Adhesion Train].

There were 1,256 cars of 59/62 stock.

One 1938 driving car is in the LT Museum and a complete 4 car set trundles out onto the underground now and then.

An attendance of 33 had an entertaining evening with a lot more facts and figures than given above with some great photos and Brian will be back next year.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


7th January 2020 Meeting

Our AGM on 7thJanuary saw only 14 present plus the four committee members. The fifth member, ‘Mistress of the Urn’ Lizzie Davidson, was absent due to recently cracking two ribs in a fall at Paris Gare de Lyon whilst returning from holiday. Larry, member without portfolio, stepped in to do the teas. The committee was re-elected en bloc, a good job as no one else put their name forward for anything!

Members’ slides followed, starting with a treat from Rob Freeman who showed some H. C. Casserley photographs including 40001 at Willesden Junction, a great 1926 shot of District Railway 4­-4-­0s Nos. 34 and 35, an ex-­Met 4-­4-­4T as LNER No. 6418 at Stratford, a V2 at Moor Park in 1946 and the Willesden Junction Exhibition featuring underground stock. Geoff Brockett showed the last HST at Cheltenham, Leicester depot, 90001/2 at Norwich, Class 20s on RHTT duties at Retford, Colchester, North Walsham and Class 66s at Skegness and Boston. Bernie Holland showed Corby steel works in diesel days, steam on the District at Chiswick Park, the members’ day out on the GWSR in 2018 and 2019 and a superb shot of the RCTS 1956 dinner at Euston, which had members trying to recognise the attendees. Chairman Geoff Plumb finished with steam shots at Corby steel works, Bristol Harbour and Thurrock power station.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


3rd December 2019 Meeting

At Watford we occasionally have to make allowances for travel when Watford FC play at home on a Tuesday coinciding with one of our meetings – this time it happened because President Trump was in town for the NATO World Summit to celebrate the organisation’s 70th Anniversary! This took place at ‘The Grove’ hotel and leisure complex (for a period it was a British Railways Management Training Centre) and involved many road closures and even the Grand Union Canal and tow path.

Many of our members made it to the venue nevertheless, and our December meeting featured members’ inputs accompanied by ‘Mistress of the Urn’ Lizzie doing her thing with the sausage rolls and mince pies. We began with Rob Davidson showing scenes from his recent Portuguese holiday with modern diesels at Salamanca in Spain and then at Peso da Régua on the River Douro, complete with the remains of a derelict narrow gauge system. Three Mallets in a rundown state and infrastructure such as water tower and turntable etc. were noted. The disused station, MPD and other buildings at Barca d’ Alva closed in 1988 but appeared in reasonable condition. Rob closed with shots of the heritage trams in Porto. Geoff Brockett presented ‘2019 Freight’ with locations as diverse as Newcastle, Kemble, Kintbury, Peak Forest and the Forth Bridge featuring Classes 37 to 91. Bernie Holland took us to the break with GWR/LNER HSTs in different liveries and, after Lizzie’s luscious lip-smacking food, Rob Freeman showed one shot per month of unusual locomotives mainly at Berkhamsted, with January featuring a pair of Class 88s. He also showed one photograph from each heritage railway gala he visited, with double-­headed Hymeks on the WSR being the highlight.

Chairman Geoff Plumb finished with 1970 steam at Peso da Régua when the narrow gauge was in its prime and where, apart from the state of the locomotives, little has changed.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


5th November 2019 Meeting.

We welcomed back Branch Member Rob Freeman for a European Miscellany and we had a good attendance of 29 to mark the occasion!!

Rob was giving a digital presentation and there were 10 folders, we picked a number one at a time and first up was the SE region of France. Here we saw a CC7100 and a CC6500 which was pulling a first generation TGV, also Prototype TGV 001. Moving to Dijon several other classes were shown along with a 2D2 9100s of which just 35 were built.

At Lyon Mouche Depot we saw varieties of locos built from the 1930s to 1980s.

On to Nîmes we saw a Panoramic DMU which served the Massif Central area and at Chamonix we saw a third rail EMU.

Next up was Austria in 1985, in the city of Innsbruck where a ‘Crocodile’ appeared along with a wonderful assortment of locos against a snowy mountain backdrop, and then former WR gas turbine No. 18000 plinthed in Vienna.

We then went to Luxembourg where the first shot was of a DMU number 208 (Radio Luxembourg for those with long memories!) and many locos in the roundhouse.

Back to the1960s, Rob’s formative years, where in Germany we saw 50 134 on the sole daily steam working on a long closed branch at Bergheim-Giflitz. Over at Hannover was V200 067. In France we saw some 141R Class 2-8-2s.

Greece in 1991 was next with a LCGB trip to Thessalonika with Alco diesels, ex-German 221s and WD 2-10-0 A964 plinthed and USA Tanks, S160s rotting away in the shed yard.

Over to Switzerland in the Summer of 1985 where we saw locos of the Historic Fleet. 

Holland was next and at Gouda we saw a dog-nosed EMU ‘Shooting the Gap’ where there is a 2-3 car gap in the overheads to allow the river bridge to open. At Tilburg we saw the six former BR Class 77s on Hook to Venlo expresses.

Off to Liège in Belgium and French and Belgian 4-Voltage locos and in Kortrijk depot were a couple of Class 03s.

Next was France again at Saulieu where we saw a Picasso unit along with BB71022 on a pick-up freight before going to Avallon for a Class 66, an SNCF one that is!

The evening finished in Germany at Mühldorf where many ECR Class 77s and some ‘Rabbits’ were in the depot.

Another great evening featuring Rob who did it all WITHOUT any notes and we look forward to seeing him again next November.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


1st October 2019 Meeting.

At our October meeting, 23 hardy souls turned up on a foul evening to welcome Ray Schofield with ‘Titled Trains of the MML’. The colour and B&W slides started with an 1868 shot of two MR 3Fs at Hitchin with a brick train to St. Pancras. That station started as a four ­platform terminus with seven sidings within, some of which later accommodated the wooden platforms 3 and 4 which were wrecked with a direct hit during a bombing raid in WW2. We saw the 07:55 ‘The Palatine’ to Manchester, the 09:10 ‘The Waverley’ to Edinburgh, the 10:10 ‘The Thames-­Clyde Express’ to Glasgow and the 10:30 ‘The Robin Hood’ from Nottingham, followed by shots along the line at Cricklewood, St. Albans and onwards to Manchester. A Blue Pullman at Cheadle Heath and 78019 on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway finished the first half.

We resumed with trains at Glendon Junction, on Harringworth viaduct, Bennerley viaduct (now re­opened as a cycleway and footpath), and Chesterfield’s three railways all on different levels. After travelling along the S&DJR with ‘The Pines Express’ from Parkstone through to Bath Green Park, it was once more up north to the Settle & Carlisle and the Waverley Route with Ribblehead, Hawick and St. Boswells. An enjoyable evening with some Q & A thrown in, those that made it were glad they did!

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


3rd September 2019 Meeting

For our first meeting of the new season we welcomed Andy Smith who is a consultant with WSP, a Rail Planning Company whose experts are helping adapt rail systems  across the globe for population growth, increasing urbanisation, climate change, and technological advances. His presentation was entitled “’The Art of Timetabling’ – is it an Art or a Science?”, which is probably a great mystery to many.

He has nearly 20 years’ experience of planning and producing in timetabling at Doncaster, sorting out the coal trains between England and Scotland, then Wessex Trains at Exeter, NR at Birmingham, then XC where he implemented the timetables for the Reading, Derby and Bromsgrove changes, then moved to WSP for HS2 design and development.

He went on to explain about train planning, how it has evolved, the principles of timing trains with scheduling all types of trains.

To time a train you need locations for timings, the running time between these, either start to stop, start to pass, pass to pass or pass to stop, allowing for signalling headway and any junction margins. Also allowing for 4, 3 or 2 aspect signalling or Absolute Block.

Operators bid 40 weeks before their timetables’ due date and NR offers it back at 26 weeks and printing can begin with them being in the public domain 12 weeks before.

The constraints and problems are that the public want a reliable journey from A – B and the operator has to meet contractual obligations, in particular franchise agreement with DfT. They also want to maximise revenue while minimising costs, also trying to meet customer needs and making sure they give a robust performance.

Meanwhile NR have to meet targets set by ORR and DfT, whilst maintaining infrastructure and making best use of capacity by maximising income from Track Access. Andy thinks it is 80% Science and 20% Art.

A vigorous Q & A session followed by the attendance of 31, and a most interesting evening.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


2nd July 2019 Meeting.

On 2nd July 2019 we welcomed David Cross to the branch for the first time to present ‘An evening with Father’s slides – Steam within the M25’. (Father, of course, being Derek Cross).

We started off with County of Dorset at Paddington and travelled down the line with various locos at various sites and went a bit outside the M25 including Sonning Cutting, a DMU at Bramley, a goods train at Westbury with a Hymek pulling an Esso Tank Wagon with a Gunpowder Van right behind!!!

Western Lady was pulling a stone train at Clink Road Junction, Merehead Quarry saw a busy scene too.

On the Southern Region we started with a W Class 2-6-4T at Feltham, more steam at locations across the system with the Royal Train heading to Ascot,, a Hop Pickers’ special at Wateringbury, Stepney pulling the first train on the Bluebell Railway, Folkestone Warren, a Class 71 using the overhead catenary at Shepherds Well, Coal train at Eythorne, the ‘Kentish Belle’ at Bromley South, the ‘Golden Arrow’ at Sevenoaks, and a Boat Train at Swanley and Bearsted [on diversion].

On the Eastern Region we started with A3s at King’s Cross and Potters Bar, an A4 with the long Scotch Goods at Hadley Wood as well as the prototype Deltic and finished with a Baby Deltic crossing Digswell Viaduct.

Over to the London Midland Region where we had some wonderful shots of steam at Watford Gap alongside an almost deserted M1. Headstone Lane and Kenton and other sites seen with 10201 [Class 16/2] at South Kenton and we finished the evening with Class 85s and 86s at Euston.

A thoroughly entertaining evening enjoyed by an attendance of 25 members and visitors.

Highly recommended – we will certainly be inviting David back again next year.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


4th June 2019 Meeting

At our June 2019 meeting we welcomed Branch Member Rob Freeman to give us Part 2 of his Australian jaunts, this time between Melbourne and Adelaide in the mid-1990s.

Each state decided originally to go their own way when it came to track gauge with NSW going for  Standard, Queensland 3′ 6″, Victoria 5′ 3″ and South Australia a mix of them all!!! Which made through travel for passengers and freight difficult.

We started with Rob getting up early to catch the ‘Overland Express’ just after dawn broke and continuing with various locos seen: Streamliner CLP, C, G, N and BL Classes as well as a 2×1 car Sprinter with a X and S Class to follow.

Off to Geelong Station where more locos of the same type along with T413, H5, an early GM rebuilt as A Class and wonderful lower quadrant semaphore signals. Back in the Melbourne suburbs there were the standard Comeng and Hitachi EMUs and even some NSW 81s.

Seymour Heritage Centre featured a T Diesel, J515 Steam loco, an F Class built by Dick Kerr and a passing V Line Sprinter.

Over at Ballarat WCR Shed were 5 disused and abandoned B Class and S312 along with the chassis of a North British R Class Hudson 4-6-4 R711 under restoration.

Ballarat Station is itself preserved and a fine building it is too as is that at Maryborough. We finished the first half at Adelaide with CLP 8 & 15 and withdrawn ‘Red Hens’ Multiple Units.

The second half took us to the Puffing Billy Heritage Railway in the Dandenong Hills. Here we saw three locos built in Victorian Railways’ own Newport Workshops in 1905-1912 at various spots along the line.

Over to Dry Creek Depot in Adelaide where further classes were seen including GM, AN, DL, Alco 600, EL,CLP, CLF and ALF. At Port Augusta a line-up of withdrawn GM Locos, and an English Electric Shunter and Double Deck container trains [no bridges to worry about heading west].

At Port Dock Museum were the first 930 Class, a 3′ 6″ gauge Garratt 400 Class, a NSU Class Crompton Diesel from 1954, EE 900 Class and Class 500,520 and 620 Steam Locos.

Back in Melbourne, Rob ascended the very high Rialto Tower where fine shots of Spencer Street Station [before the rebuild as Southern Cross] and Flinders Street Station were captured.

Trams in Adelaide and Melbourne were also seen.

An excellent presentation by Rob as usual, all done without notes too!! and very much appreciated by the 24 members and visitors present.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


RCTS Watford Branch outing to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, 2nd June 2019

Members of the RCTS Watford Branch group pose with McIntosh Caledonian Railway ‘439’ Class 0-4-4T (aka ‘Standard Passenger Class’) No. 419 in the shed yard during a guided tour of the loco shed and facilities at Toddington on the GWSR. 13:11¾, Sunday 2nd June 2019. The loco was not serviceable after a failure, though a wonderful sight! Photo © Geoff Plumb

Watford Branch Outing Report.

On Sunday 2nd June 2019 I organised a full day out on the GWSR and along with myself there was a healthy attendance of seventeen members and visitors.

We met at Toddington Station ready to board the 10:00 service to Cheltenham Racecourse, some turning up as early as 09:00 to catch the early scenes and shunting of loco’s.

The ‘Cotswold Express’ was duly caught (so called because it does not stop at Hayles Abbey or Gotherington). Unfortunately, the cook’s duty on the train was uncovered for the first time this season so no bacon rolls, but large toasted tea cakes were still on the menu, slightly healthier I suppose. We were pulled by B1 1264 which had stayed over from the previous weekend’s Steam Gala and we all got out to witness and photograph the run round and departed at 11:05. This was again the ‘Cotswold Express’ (Steam 1 is this all day) and alighted at the next stop, Winchcombe, to have a look around the Carriage & Wagon Works where we saw 3 carriages in various states of repair, including the paint shop where a DMU car had just been finished off. Next, we visited the Signal Box where the very friendly Signalman gave us a talk about the box and nearly everyone had a pull of a lever or two. Boarding the 12:38 3-car DMU we went one stop to Toddington where I led our Steam and Diesel Shed and Yard Tour.

On shed were the resident loco’s GWR 2-8-0T 4270, GWR 4-6-0 7820 Dinmore Manor, GWR 2-8-0 2807 and SR Merchant Navy 4-6-2 35006. The other loco GWR 4-6-0 7903 Foremarke Hall was on holiday. Also, still in the yard was Caledonian Railway 0-4-4T 419 which had not performed well at our Steam Gala and was due to go to the Epping Ongar Steam Gala for 7th–9th June but did not go, so a group photo was taken in front of this loco. The Railway’s diesels were all seen as well except Class 37 D6948 which was on holiday at the West Somerset Railway.

We boarded the 13:50 to Broadway hauled by GWR 4-6-0 6023 King Edward II which was noted running round and we re-boarded the train which formed the 14:30 to Cheltenham Racecourse. We travelled to Gotherington Station for a special visit around the privately-owned grounds where Bryan Nicholls and his wife Savita made us welcome with tea and biscuits. We had a close look inside the signal boxes, other buildings and rides on the Wickham trolley. The platelayers pump trolley was pumped up and down the 150-yard siding with the ensuing aching muscles afterwards!! After due thanks to our hosts we boarded the 16:26 to Toddington where most got off and went home but six hardy souls went to Broadway and back for a last ride.

Everyone had a great day, although the rain was about during our Winchcombe stop, and I shall be repeating it next year.

Rob Davidson, Branch Secretary


Last updated: 2nd September