Meeting Reports

 

23 November 2020 – That Was The Year that Was – 1966

No fewer than 82 people signed in on Zoom to join our November virtual meeting, including one from Canada! They were rewarded with a wide-ranging collection of images from the skilled camera of Geoff Plumb, who took as his topic for the evening “That Was the Year That Was – 1966”. What a year indeed, with plenty of steam still be seen, mainly on the Southern Region route to Bournemouth and Weymouth, and the north-west of the country around Manchester and Liverpool.

And these were the days, don’t forget, when the RCTS could organize special trains, not only visiting lines which were closed to passengers, or about to be, but also with steam haulage of choice. Add to that Geoff’s membership of working parties at the Festiniog Railway, family holidays in North Wales, and you have the ideal setting for his expert photographic skills.

We were treated to a wonderful variety of scenes and occasions, among the most notable of which were the dying days of the Somerset and Dorset; an RCTS special to the Longmoor Military Railway, so popular it had to be run twice; remnants of the Great Central; North Wales narrow gauge early in preservation; shed visits ranging from Nine Elms to Skipton, with enthusiasts enjoying the pre-Health and Safety regime; and steam over Shap.

There truly was something for everyone here, whether you remember those days (I do!) or not. Thanks Geoff, that was brilliant.

Jim Tucker

26 October 2020 – The Beauty of Transport

For our virtual meeting in October we welcomed Daniel Wright, whose talk was entitled “The Beauty of Transport”. By profession Daniel is a transport planner, and he works closely with Community Rail Partnerships. He has a lifetime interest in the architecture and design of railway stations, and has for some time run a blog about them, and other aspects of travel, which has the same name as his talk.

If there is such a subject as railway architecture, said Daniel, it is definitely under-studied. He then took us on a marvellous tour of stations through the years, in the UK and overseas. It is fortunate that the world’s first inter-city station, Manchester Liverpool Road, and the first long-distance inter-city station, Birmingham Curzon Street, both have significant structures standing, even though long since closed to passengers.

It was interesting to reflect on whether these looked like what we think of as railway stations, seeing as there had not been any before they were built! The same could be said for Croydon Aerodrome, which was similarly a building without precedent. We next saw a succession of stations, tracing the styles fashionable in turn; gothic, Tudor, Jacobean, Cottage Orne, classical, French, Italianate and so on. We have stations extant today in all these, and others. Daniel turned to Europe and the USA for examples of such as Art Nouveau, Beaux Arts and Mission Revival, which did not really catch on here.

This excellent and intriguing talk concluded with a look at current British practice, which compares favourably with other countries. We looked at the new Reading, of course, Blackfriars, Glasgow Queen Street, and the western concourse at Kings Cross among others. With their use of modern materials to reduce weight where appropriate, or make for better shelter, cleaning, and passenger movement, the UK is doing pretty well. A number of other countries are producing elaborate and expensive stations; but we know that HS2 will present significant challenges.

Jim Tucker

Last updated: 28th November 2020