Meeting Reports

Monday 22nd March 2021


Colin Brading, our speaker was a lifelong railwayman who had received
his training in the original Temple Meads building in Bristol. As such he
was more than qualified to talk about the GWR. HE showed the audience
of 99 via a selection of excellent images of the many facets of a railway
that was in existence for more than 100 years.

The early years were dominated by the big personalities of Gooch and
Brunel who between forged a railway that was bigger than most of the
rest and unique in many ways. Colin pointed out that some of the early
decisions, like using a track gauge of 7ft ¼in now seen as technical blind
alleys were made as there was no technical precedent to act as a guide
on how to build a railway.

Colin went on to describe the technical innovations introduced by the
GWR as well as the initiatives to improve the lot of the workforce. It was
always that little bit different which ultimately led to the adoption of
diesel hydraulics locos introduced in the 1950s and 60s.
Everyone went away afterwards knowing more about the GWR and why it
is different, but not necessarily better.

Monday 16th September 2020

‘American Wanderings – Heading East’

Gordon Davies

At Coventry on 16th September Society Chairman Gordon Davies
took us to the USA covering the Eastern side of the states under the title
“American Wanderings – Heading East”. He commenced in Atlanta where his prime
object was the famous “The General”. We then proceeded steadily north finishing
in Boston with, on the way, lineside visits and entrance to numerous museums,
both large and small, housing a wide variety of steam and diesel as well as
some trams. The light rail systems, now proliferating in the states, were not
forgotten. Big Boy 4012 featured but had not yet been restored at this time. The
Cass Scenic Railroad with its fleet of standard gauge Shay also featured. A
superb show of digital images which captured the many varied liveries to be
encountered not least the roundhouse at Altoona with the display of fallen flag
liveries which have gone to form the present Norfolk and Southern Railroad. A
fine start to the Coventry programme.

Monday 2nd September 2019

‘All Things Irish – Part 2’

Chris Youett

The Branch programme for 2019/20 commenced at the Birmingham
venue on 2nd September. We welcomed back local stalwart Chris Youett his
subject being “All things Irish part 2”. There followed a whiz round Ireland
north and South with slides of steam, diesel both old and new. A colourful
history with particular interest in the RCTS, SLS, IRRS joint tour of 1961.
Several narrow gauge lines were shown including the Tralee and Dingle which
closed in 1953. Many thanks are due to Chris for a storming start to the season
accompanied by his usual anecdotes and element of controversy.

Monday 15th April 2019

“Building the New Memorial Locomotive”

John Hastings-Thomson

At Coventry on 15th April John Hastings-Thomson gave a very enlightening talk on “Building the New Memorial Locomotive”.

John has been a leading part in the project from its inception in 2007 and this expanded on his talk to the Branch in 2013. He outlined in some detail the reason for choosing 5551 “The Unknown Warrior” as carrying on the long tradition of the LNWR for a memorial locomotive beginning with Claughton named “Patriot” in 1920.

His comprehensive selection of illustrations, including details of technical items, followed the inception of the project, the production of the required parts up to the present. Fully explained were the many pitfalls and problems with new build and the reasons for it being moved from various sites, particularly the recent one from Llangollen, to its present location at Crewe.

Originally intended to steam for the celebrations to mark the end of the Great War it is now hoped that it will grace the main line during 2020. Funds are being raised to acquire a BR Mk1 brake second as a support coach. Quotes are in the process of being evaluated from contractors to complete the building although the group many decide to do it themselves.

As an aside the New Zealand Memorial locomotive was illustrated, appropriately named “Passchendaele”.

Monday 1st April 2019

‘Last Train Gone’

Adrian White

Adrian White from Stevenage came to the Birmingham meeting on 4th March with a digital presentation entitled “Last Train Gone”.

This was a review of everything old and new on the railways covering infrastructure, passengers, locomotives, trackside, and signalling.

However the main theme was railways in the landscape. We were treated to a whistle stop tour around Britain to almost every preserved system in the country.

After the break the journey continued to Europe and the USA before returning home. This presentation was most interesting and is highly recommended and commended to all branches.

The West Midlands Branch has already invited Adrian to return for the next seasons programme.


Monday 18th March 2019
‘M & GN’
CXhris Youett

On 18th March at Coventry Steve Armitage was unable to give his presentation due transport failure. Fortunately local stalwart Chris Youett was able to stand in and presented one of his many collations, this one centred on the M & GN during its heyday and latter days.

However we commenced locally in Coventry with a visit to Nuneaton and the West Coast line then on to Shakerstone eventually ending up in Lincolnshire to join the joint line and on to its stamping ground in Norfolk and the M & GN. Here we covered most of the Company’s route with fine steam and diesel shots and view of stations. The Company’s other joint lines were covered into Cromer and down via the coast to Yarmouth. The incongruous retention of the branch to Lenwade was explained. At Cromer Beach views of the shed, now a Morrison’s supermarket, were shown. Many shots depicted the myriad holiday specials to the coast from the Midlands which were a feature of the line in its heyday.

A nostalgic display for which we thank Chris for stepping into the breach at the eleventh hour.

Last updated: 17th September 2019