Meeting Reports


Thursday 20th February 2020

“The Calder Valley” by Steve Armitage

Another well attended meeting in February witnessed a superb presentation of images given by Steve Armitage illustrating the delights along the lines of the Calder Valley. This most excellent restorer of vintage photographs entertained the meeting with images spread over a wide time scale ranging from the late 19th century to modern day times. The journey was to follow the Lancashire and Yorkshire routes from the top of the line at Summit Tunnel downhill to the extremity east of Wakefield. The material comprised of numerous, mainly black and white, photographs from many sources amongst which came a number taken by top ranking photographers Gavin Morrison and Richard Greenwood all portraying an array of varied steam locomotives that were often and frequently seen along the valley. Focal points of interest in the upper reaches were to be Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and both the Stainland and Rishworth branches. Lower down Brighouse, Wakefield Kirkgate and Normanton stations were to be the main locations of interest. As to be expected freight activity was much to the fore throughout but passenger and parcels traffic were nevertheless well represented. Visitations to motive power depots at Sowerby Bridge, Mirfield, Wakefield, Royston (slightly off the beaten track) and Normanton, where freight engines abounded, conveyed the typical work-a-day steam engine atmosphere.

Scenes taken around the freight yards of Healey Mills and Mirfield broadened the range of the activities along the route.

Throughout the programme intermittent modern day scenes, mostly in colour and taken by the presenter, showing preserved steam in action emphasised the changes to the route that have taken place over the passage of time.

Thursday 16th January 2020

“Steam Day Shed Bashing” by Vic Drake

A very well attended meeting gathered for the first session of the new decade and all were treated to a programme of high quality monochrome illustrations taken by a number of photographers whilst shed bashing around numerous depots scattered about the country in the 1950’s. Collated and presented by branch member Vic Drake this was therefore a production dedicated almost exclusively to the days of steam. Significantly the collection concentrated on locomotives of the smaller and more ageing varieties of workaday tank and freight engines originating from pre-grouping railway times. Big wheelers and namers were very much in the minority.

Much was seen of depots in the Northern territories of Yorkshire and Lancashire covering many of the sheds where locomotives of interest were to be found. Journeys into Scotland, the North East and Wales extended the variability of the motive power that was pictured. A number of visits to the works at Crewe, Doncaster and Darlington were to provide additional interesting sources of material and a sprinkling of engines from the Southern and Western region sheds nicely complemented and expanded the range of the programme.

As a closing phase to the evening the audience was shown pictures of Carlisle station and attendant movements taken during the rebuilding phase of the 1960’s. This then widened out into the showing of illustrations depicting scenes from the North Western branches around Cumberland and Westmoreland plus a few colourful views of action on both Shap and the Settle & Carlisle railways.

Thursday 12th December

“A Christmas Quiz and Memories from 1969” by John Holroyd

The pre-Christmas entertainment was presented courtesy of Deputy Branch Chairman John Holroyd who entertained members and friends with a widely varying programme comprising of his superb photographic slides taken over the past 50 years. This was an evening divided into two sessions, the first of which concentrated on his activities when travelling around the country in 1969. Rail tours into both North and South Wales, Scotland and the West Country brought about interesting scenes at numerous preservation locations all interlinked along the way with local rail activities. Trolley buses made a number of appearances and were to be seen in Cardiff and on Teeside where Cargo Fleet carried out their daily operations. Quite naturally a fair number of photographs described plenty of action on heritage and industrial railways close to home.

After a break for Christmas fare, the second part of the evening comprised of an interesting three part quiz where the presenter tested the knowledge of the audience by challenging them to identify the illustrated locations. From photographs, all taken by himself on his many travels, John offered pictures of stations mainly taken around Europe and to help all to identify the country backed them up with examples of their national locomotives. Beyond Europe the questions broadened out to include South Africa, India and China.

Part two of the challenge concentrated on stations spread throughout the UK, often from long lost localities well away from the main line whilst for the third element members were assisted in their deliberations as locations were put forward in alphabetical order. This finally brought the programme to a conclusion which was a nostalgic and widespread reminder of what has been lost over the passage of time.

Thursday 21st November 2019

“Variations – Far and Wide” by Gavin Morrison

A very different style of presentation was given by a favourite of the Branch, Gavin Morrison, which allowed members of the audience to select differing groups of images from his vast photographic collection. Having travelled very widely in the world of railways particularly in the days of steam this, when combined with his superb photographic ability, resulted in a top quality programme of great variation.

Travels abroad featured on a number of occasions illustrating steam activities in India and South Africa on their broad and narrow gauge systems. Most memorable were pictures of Indian ‘streamlined’ express engines photographed on shed under the shade of the setting sun. South Africa was to provide a selection that concentrated on their “condensing” locomotives with tenders larger than the engines!! Not to be omitted were the Beyer-Garratts of Zimbabwe shown on Bulawayo shed and in action along the main line.

Scotland provided a number of showings. The initial selection was focussed at Oban, where the Caledonian Single and “Glen” class were to be seen on Railtour duties in 1963. The grouping was broadened to show images of the sea-going ferries which existed at that time. Visits to Glasgow and the Far Lines North yielded many of the Scottish 37’s in typical Highland scenery whilst more up-to-date scenes of 91’s and Pendolinos at Central Station completed the story.

Local action featured 1960’s traffic movements at Leeds Central, which embraced the early days of dieselisation and latter day steam services. Shed bashing photography at Holbeck and Neville Hill depots also featured.

For local enthusiasts a significant section described sightings of the very popular Newcastle/Red Bank Vans service which, more often than not, was a steam double-headed operation, frequently passing across West Riding territory. Modern day activities described wanderings of HST’s off their beaten track, especially in Northern locations such as Halifax, Huddersfield, Ilkley and many more.

This wide ranging and far reaching presentation was greatly enjoyed by a well-attended audience.

Thursday 24th October 2019

“BR 60’s North West Steam in Glorious Kodachrome” by Anthony Bowles

To soften the onset of the winter nights the October evening meeting was presented by Anthony Bowles showing archived photographs taken by the late Gerald Dixon. The composition of the programme entitled “BR 60’s North West Steam in Glorious Kodachrome” aptly described all that was to be seen. It was an excellent show containing myriads of top quality colour photographs taken in all shades of weather, be that at either day or night. With deference to the title of the presentation the area that was covered proved to be of significant interest to the audience as a great deal was to be seen of the local lines in and around West Yorkshire and over the metals into the adjacent area of North West Lancashire. Activity in Yorkshire embraced the routes between Standedge and Huddersfield, Bradford to Leeds via Halifax, the L&Y route to Manchester whilst visits to Normanton and Wakefield depots broadened the make-up of the programme. Scenes in the nearby areas of Lancashire were to cover Altrincham to Diggle through Stalybridge, the lines from Bolton to Blackburn, the Oldham loop and those over Copy Pit. Action at both Warrington and Wigan individually featured. The overall composition reminded the audience of the remarkable and interesting localised mill town architecture that was once taken for granted. Overall the quality and totality of the presentation specifically designed around the latter days of steam activity was greatly admired and enjoyed.

Thursday 3rd October 2019

“Steam – East of Wakefield” by Roger Hepworth

Following shortly behind the regular September evening meeting was the autumn afternoon session, which attracted the usual steady number of attendees. A most interesting and detailed presentation was delivered by Roger Hepworth speaking to the subject of “Steam East of Wakefield”, comprising of many excellent, mainly black and white, images taken by him in the fifties and sixties. Interjections of colour photographs appeared throughout the programme as were a plentiful supply of diesels since the material covered the transition years from steam to diesel. Early illustrations covered workings around Ossett and Wakefield featuring much of the Eastern Region motive power, especially the main line Pacifics working back and forth from Doncaster and beyond.

Every day action in Leeds where locomotives from both Eastern and Midland regions came together, described a mixture of motive power at both Central and City stations. Passenger and freight duties within and around the city were shown in equal mix.

The route from Wakefield and Leeds detailed much of what was to be seen whilst travelling towards York. A particular sequence of images dwelt on activities on East Coast metals in the vicinity of Heck. Naturally York was to be the scene where station and shed movements were concentrated.

Moving northwards North Eastern locations and visitations took in both the main East Coast and Durham coast routes to Newcastle before material from the York-Scarborough line and East Coast holiday towns brought the show to conclusion.

Thursday 19th September 2019

“The Work of Bill Ashcroft” by Mike Taylor

The new season of meetings began in September when Mike Taylor from Burnley presented a digitised selection of photographs taken by the late Bill Ashcroft, who was a well-known face around the northern railway scene in the 50’s and 60’s who organised numerous RCTS tours in the North West.

Splendid black and white images were to illustrate a journey originating at Preston, which was to be the focal point of the material. Many were the pictures of Scots, Coronations, Patriots and Britannia’s that abounded at either the station or the motive power depot.

Initially the journey took an easterly route around East Lancashire taking in Farington Junction and Lostock Hall shed where activity at each location was shown in some detail. Travelling northwards along the West Coast main line to Lancaster where, in addition to the regular main line locomotives, the locations brought images of the Morecambe electrics thus adding to the variation of motive mower. Carnforth was to be seen in pre-electrification days and also those of the present West Coast Railway Company where the sheds were once sited. Meandering off the beaten track took the audience through to Hellifield where images of the depot recalled all of what was once on offer at this, the most easterly point of the presentation. Interesting steam day pictures of the ex L&Y Horwich workshops, were in evidence whilst Aintree and Liverpool Exchange featured as the western extremity of the show. Overall a most wide ranging array of Midland Region motive power was, naturally, to be seen. However in paying respect to the photographer, as an RCTS tour enthusiast/organiser, a section of illustrations was devoted to the Tyne-Solway rail tour (a West Riding venture) which featured 60131 ‘Osprey’ as the centrepiece locomotive.

Thursday 15th August 2019

Evening at Doncaster

In quite reasonable weather a double figure attendance of members and friends journeyed to Doncaster for a late August afternoon/early evening of observation thus bringing the 2018/2019 programme of meetings to a conclusion.

The expected changing scene from earlier years noted that HST’s were seen in diminishing numbers thus leaving the majority of locomotive hauled duties to the Class 91’s. Azumas were well to the forefront and observed on most Leeds/King’s Cross services in addition to the occasional through services to and from Edinburgh. The newly introduced 331 EMU’s were to be seen on the Leeds/Doncaster services together with a soon to be replaced class 322. A further three of the new sets were to be seen parked up on the West Yard. Freight activity was somewhat sparse but nevertheless a couple of 66 hauled Freightliner trains and the regular northbound Plasmoor empties were observed with interest. In addition to the regular local DMU services, all generally running to time, and the occasional light freight engine movements provided further boosts to the variability of the evening’s action.

Wednesday 17th July 2019

Outdoor Visit

A visit to the lines of Bradford Model Engineers was the destination for this year’s outside evening event where ‘playing with trains’ perfectly described an evening of enjoyment. The two tracks around the local park in Shipley were in full use enabling locomotives of various gauges to be used throughout the evening.

A total of five engines were turned out, three of which were steam powered. A couple of Simplex 0-6-0 tanks occupied the oval circuit alongside a battery electric model of a London Transport electric #8 “Sherlock Holmes”. Star billing for the evening was accorded to a superb 7 1/4″ Hunslet 0-4-0ST quarry engine working in conjunction with a ubiquitous diesel hydraulic 0-6-0 on which members were invited to test their driving skills around the very lengthy woodland circuit. An offer which was taken up by a number of adventurous individuals.

Due to the enthusiasm of the engineers themselves, who provided the grand array of motive power and the accompanying hospitality, this was an outstanding success and will be well remembered by those branch members and friends who were present.

Thursday 20th June 2019

Members’ Presentations

The meeting held in June was the last of the current seasons of indoor meetings which comprised of presentations by branch members. Austin Hughes led the way be describing the complex railway layouts and scenes around Birmingham noting how things have changed since 1948.

Telling of activities based on the GWR and Midland railways much was to be seen of steam day traffic through the favoured locations of Snow Hill station and Tyseley. New Street movement centred on traffic from both the LNW and Midland Railways, and photographs taken from the spotter’s favourite locations suitably described all that was to be observed. Illustrative filmed clips interspersed within the presentation enhanced the story. A fine compilation of images shown by David Wilkinson was the second showing of the evening which recorded a photographic journey taken through the railways in North Wales. This commenced with scenes taken on the standard gauge Llangollen Railway before migrating to the narrow gauge systems of Bala Lake, Talyllyn and the Llanberis Lake Railway with its slate quarry incline. Interesting action on the Welsh Highland featured two of their superb Bayer-Garrett ex-South African locos.

As a final presentation of the evening Tom Ickringill put up a show of slides taken between 2005-2009 featuring steam activities on both main line and preserved railways. Special diesel traction of some significance was also built into the programme. By way of something different a most notable feature nicely illustrated the Cass Scenic Railway in Virginia USA, where an array of Shay, Climax and Heisler logging locomotives were all to be seen in action.

Thursday 30th May 2019

“Along the Trackside”

Steve Batty

At the end of May the second of the season’s afternoon meetings was a presentation by well-known photographer Steve Batty who was making a very welcome return to Saltaire. On this occasion his photographs comprised of illustrations mostly taken within the last couple of years. This very well constructed programme initially covered action around the counties of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Freight activities were well illustrated as visitations to Horbury, Stainforth, Barnetby, Brocklesby and beyond displayed the varied freight movements that are to be seen in these localities, along with the associated full array of modern day diesel motive power. Passenger duties were also on show and main line operations, chiefly along the ECML south of York, brought images of the line’s locomotives whilst the up and coming Azumas on test running provided an added bonus. Rail tour interludes employing both steam and/or interesting diesel motive power enhanced the variation of the presentation, as did illustrations showing locomotive power seen in deepest Lincolnshire inclusive of ECML diversions where drags were to be observed. In further widening the scope and area of the material trips to the Settle & Carlisle and the Forth Bridge provided a number of very photogenic pictures, whilst coverage of the NYMR ensured that steam power was not to be ignored. In conclusion glimpses of German narrow gauge steam in the proximity of Dresden, together with scenes from the last summer of Great Western HST’s, plus material taken at last year’s Society Members’ Weekend, based at Swanage, suitably concluded an afternoon show of superb photography.

Thursday 16th May 2019

“Railway Films of Cam Camwell”

Ian McInnes

By way of something different the May meeting comprised of a showing of DVD material derived from 1950’s and 60’s filmed material taken by the late ‘Cam’ Camwell who specialised in recording scenes well off the beaten track. Opening footage, in colour, recalled two Scottish rail tours on the West Highland and Great North of Scotland Railways when early day preserved Scottish locomotives were used as centrepieces attractions.Interest was further extended as a trip to the Emerald Isle provided a fascinating insight into the delightful Cavan & Leitrim and Tralee & Dingle narrow gauge railways in the days preceding their inevitable closure. Celtic travels also extended into Welsh territory where much was to be seen of remote branch line activities in South Wales, featuring little used but interesting lines around Port Talbot, Pembroke, Cardigan and Carmarthen.Material from English counties began with a showing of activities in North Eastern regions where the North Sunderland Light Railway was first to be featured. Film of everyday scenes illustrating the intense industrial nature of the Tyneside/Teeside areas provided something to widen the interest, concentrating on activities around the docks at Blythe and the Lambton Colliery lines. Glimpses of the electrified Tyneside suburban were also to be seen as was rare footage taken in the Richmond and Masham localities.Interest from the Yorkshire Ridings was plentiful as detailed passages illustrated the long closed branch lines between Cawood and Selby, plus both the Easingwold and Derwent Valley Railways. Various rail tours around the West Riding told of long closed branches in the areas around Huddersfield, visiting the town and villages of Meltham, Kirk Burton, Rishworth and Stainland. A closing sequence showing Cam’s favourite surviving engines steaming together on the Keighley and Worth Valley was memorable and most appropriate.

Thursday 11th April 2019


Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent

Phil Lockwood and Enid Vincent were to present another of their “Diverted” series of talks to the members at the April meeting. On this occasion the featured lines encompassed a great deal of all that can be seen within the West Riding territories on a journey from Wakefield to Leeds via Huddersfield, Barnsley and Castleford. The featured motive power concentrated mainly on modern diesel locomotives operating on the widespread freight and passenger duties that were, and are, to be seen in more recent times. Multiple units also played a significant part within the presentation as they operate very widely along the routes that were portrayed. The major focal points within the programme were covered in some detail as the journey meandered along a varied number of routes. Of significance were the lines radiating from Huddersfield westwards along the LNWR to Marsden and in an easterly direction on the Lancashire & Yorkshire metals to Barnsley. Returning towards Wakefield significant photographs were to then depict railway engineering activities inside Bombardier’s Wakefield factory where the Voyagers were assembled and Virgin’s Mark III stock was refurbished. ‘Working onwards easterly over Goose Hull Junction, via Normanton and the lines Castleford localities rich in freight activity were shown before the final destination of Leeds was reached. This excellent show was brought to a conclusion with photographs of modern day scenes (Deltics/HST’s/91’s) taken at City Station and freight locomotive movements at the nearby localities of Holbeck and Stourton.


Thursday 21st March 2019
1975 – A Good Year!!
Robin Lush

Robin Lush, a well-known local railway photographer and enthusiast of some note provided the entertainment for the March evening meeting. Displaying a superb top class array of photographs he described all that he experienced in the way of steam throughout the year of 1975. From the outset this was a case of steam everywhere. Initially this began with coverage of an overseas trip into Turkey where in rugged mountain scenery steam hauled traffic in both freight and passenger formats were up for show. On home territory main line steam was becoming more prevalent and little was missed of action within the Northern region. Rarities such as the Midland Compound “Harwick”, “Evening Star” and “Green Arrow” evoked memories of locomotives that are no longer to be seen on the main line.

Featuring heavily were a myriad of photographs covering the 150th Anniversary of the opening of Stockton and Darlington Railway held at Shildon, an event which lead to numerous never to be repeated steam hauled movements that brought locomotives to the celebration A large proportion of both these and the associated departing movements were comprehensively illustrated. In combination with the event numerous opportunities were taken up by rail tour companies who set up steam hauled specials on metals rarely open, at that time, to steam hauled traffic. The ECML was one such route and a multitude of tours were organised and thoroughly photographed by the presenter. Glimpses of action from the dying days of steam at Esholt sewerage works together with scenes from the Worth Valley and Embsay railways brought this excellent high quality photographic show to a fitting conclusion.

Thursday 7th March 2019
Branch AGM

In the first week of March the Annual General Meeting of the Branch was held. After a few words in respect of the passing away of our colleague and friend Malcolm Riley business matters were dealt with quite rapidly and the current committee of five members was re-elected for a further year in office. Reports from the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer recorded a position of continuing financial stability with healthy numbers attending all of the meetings. On-going entertainment comprised of presentations by Branch members. John Smith led the way by presenting the cabside and smokebox number plates from Collett Prairie 3718 and telling of a wide ranging tour into Wales with a group of steam day train spotting school cadets. This was then followed by Austin Hughes, who narrated a similar event to the title of “Extreme Gricing” in which, as a lad from the Midlands, he and his chums made for Folkestone in search of their last GWR 4600’s. Film, with indented and amusing animation described their antics and adventures. Chris Webster gave a nice photographic resume of his travels throughout 2018. Then as a finale to the evening Treasurer David Beeken displayed scans from the work of James Haig showing vintage steam scenes taken in the 1940’s and 1950’s, illustrating action in North Yorkshire LNER areas around Ripon and the northern regions of the Midland Railway.

Last updated: 26th February