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As has been customary, the final meeting of the session has been an outdoor one, and 44 members and wives gathered at Whitwell & Reepham station on a sunny but chilly evening to look around and generally hear what had been going on since our last visit 4 years ago. Visitor facilities are impressive for a small railway – a decent car park and a heated marquee which is licensed for weddings.
Light refreshments were much appreciated and, after an introduction from Mike Urry, the party split into two groups – the first boarding a diesel-hauled S.E.& C.R. brakevan whilst the second group toured the station environs and saw that the signalbox is well on the way to completion. The train headed off from a siding towards Lenwade, and it was noted that even this siding benefited from colour-light signalling. After the groups had changed places we had time for exploration before returning to the marquee for a Q & A session.
Many thanks to Graham Kenworthy for arranging the visit, and to Mike Urry for being such a genial host. If you haven’t been here before, do visit the Railway in the not-too-distant future. (EM)
Soon after 0630 on Saturday 18th May some 47 Society members, friends and acquaintances began to join John Laycock and his “Second Man” Derek Riley aboard L99 SLT, a Berkhof 50-seater coach from Smiths of Blofield for a jolly jaunt to the Bluebell Railway, in large part due to the generosity of Roger Harrison in leaving the Society a substantial legacy which has also funded the recently produced book of his photographs.
The Bluebell of course had only recently extended to meet Network Rail tracks at East Grinstead, outside Sainsbury’s (though the stations are some way apart), and had frequently been mentioned in the Railway Press, so we were all anxious to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
After a prompt departure at 0700, and pick-ups at Wymondham and Attleborough, we soon left the drizzle of Norfolk behind and arrived for a brief stop at Thurrock. A speedy trip round the M25, however, was followed by congestion nearer our destination, and unfortunately we failed to catch the 1045 off East Grinstead, although several participants disembarked there. Through the leafy and hilly lanes of Spring-like Sussex we pressed on to Horsted Keynes, but again the desired train was just out of our reach. However, a trip round the C & W Works had been arranged, and that, as well as a wander round the very interesting former interchange station with its stalls and coaches full of books and ephemera for sale, filled the time before the next train. Aficionados of the Bluebell will know that one hope of theirs is to relay the branch to Ardingly and join NR in another direction, perhaps with electric trains, but that could take another 50 years!
Soon enough, SR ‘B’ Class 473 arrived with a fine array of teak 4 wheelers and bogies, some Metropolitan, others LB&SC, LC&D and SE&CR plus a bogie LNER directors’ saloon (43909), similar to that on the Worth Valley, serving Bucks’ Fizz and other delights in bone china to those who had pre-booked. Attendants in Pullman uniform completed the picture. I reflected back to a ride taken there 50 years ago when the same loco, then in umber and named Birch Grove, carried me as a teenager on the fledgling Bluebell, the coaches having only outer shells, with no interior walls, and daylight could be seen through the floor!
I failed to get my specially-made headboard approved by the Driver, since it had to be accepted by the Guv’nor, who was elsewhere, so it rode the cushions with me to Sheffield Park. There I returned to my task of seeking out the “Guv’nor” via a venerable Old Gentleman in full SE&CR dress uniform! This was successful, so I installed myself in one of the Met coaches to enjoy a ride back to East Grinstead, having taken the mandatory picture of Headboard on Loco!
The train was full, mainly it seemed with locals keen to see their new Railway having read about it in the paper, and most were equipped with OS Maps, dog-eared from walking the neighbouring woods, and reminiscing on previous walks, closed stations and pubs plus travel down the aforementioned Ardingly branch to play football against neighbouring schools, over 50 years ago. Others were introducing a new generation to the Railway, shunned by some of great-grandfatherly vintage who could not stand the din of children, retreating to the next compartment and slamming the door.
Imberhorne cutting, north of Kingscote, which had been used for landfill after closure, still looked very “raw” and a lot of black polythene sheeting had been laid over the sides which will take a long time to consolidate. It will be interesting to see how this is dealt with in the long-term.
By the time we reached Kingscote and appeared to take water from a handily placed rail tanker behind the Box, a wait of some 30 minutes to do so indicated a problem. When we eventually moved off, apparently very little water had been taken on (due to someone having forgotten to refill the tank) and so we still had difficulty. Run-round at East Grinstead was halted for an hour while water was taken from an ordinary tap which barely made any difference. Eventually the train moved off southwards and fortunately downhill, meeting the other set at Kingscote (instead of Horsted Keynes) full of rather irate and confused passengers. No announcements had been made.
However the moment passed and we returned to Sheffield Park, 473 taking water and setting off North again, commendably within five minutes and almost back on time.
I took the opportunity to visit the Museum, Shop and Shed which I had missed before and all too soon, after further refreshment, it was time to return to the coach, tired but content. All agreed, reflecting on board the bus, that the day had been a success and the Bluebell had done all it could in the circumstances but would have to sort out the water problem pretty smartly if it was not to lose its hitherto untarnished reputation. We learnt that since opening the extension the Railway had been repeatedly overwhelmed with customers at weekends and the operating staff were simply worn out. Let us hope that the income created enables them to employ more staff to relieve the situation for the volunteers.
For us, back to Norfolk and thanks are due to Edward for organisation and John and his colleague for driving and putting up with a somewhat critical set of passengers.
What we do next year is up to the Members! Suggestions to Edward please.*
Thanks to Janet for the artwork on the headboard! (Graham Smith)
*Editor’s Note: We are, unfortunately, limited in the distance we’re able to travel, due mainly to the restrictions imposed upon drivers’ hours. I would, however, like to congratulate the Bluebell on the quality and content of their new Museum. And you may think this advice from Harold Walpole, historian & politician, made in 1749 (which was on an interpretation board in the Museum) holds true today: “If you love good roads be so kind as never to go into Sussex”!
Visit from the IDHTS
The Ipswich & District Historical Transport Society provided four member presentations for the final indoor meeting before the summer recess.
Arthur Fuller, Warrant Officer (retired), Royal Army Ordnance Corps, provided a detailed account of his Army career in the transport division spanning 22 years.
Born in rural Suffolk in 1929, a childhood memory was his Uncle demonstrating a new Bedford OY lorry. An instant fascination with the vehicle proved by coincidence a feature of his later career.
In 1942 at the age of 12 Arthur worked six weeks at a local farm during the summer harvest. This was repeated the following year as farm labour was at a premium during the war. His ambition to work full time was thwarted by a return to school until reaching the age of 14. On leaving school his work in agriculture was driving tractors for periods of up to 72 hours a week. Fortune took its course in his ambition to pursue transport endeavours when he joined the Army in 1948 becoming a driving instructor on nothing less than the Bedford OY lorry! His early years in this position recalled memories of teaching the many characters that form the fabric of life!
His first overseas posting in 1951 to Malaysia saw active service based initially in Singapore followed by Kuala Lumpur. After a short period in charge of the Armoury he returned to Singapore promoted to Sergeant in the Transport Division and reunited with the Bedford OY`s. Returning to the UK in 1954 he passed the “Quartermasters” course to further his career. In true Army tradition his ambition to achieve a “commission” was tested by further lengthy postings to Germany followed by Benghazi, Libya. The first posting in the Rhine Army saw his assignment to 23 Company Tank Transport Division driving American built transporters for British Centurion Tanks. His exploits included the skill in loading tanks using winches and driving on the German autobahns at speed with weights of 105 tons in the Ruhr and Dusseldorf regions. The 3 years in Benghazi in an administrative position completed his overseas continuous posting of 7½ years, earning him his worthy commission as a Warrant Officer, qualifying for a better pension. His retirement from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps to civvy street saw a further 20 years driving lorries for Pauls’ Maltsters in Suffolk.
The second presenter was Bev Steele providing a show of railway traction in the Benelux and Germany during the noughties. The 44 images were predominantly of electric locomotives of dual voltage capability to accommodate cross border operation, a feature of the near continent. Many classes of the locomotives seen in this presentation are either extinct or now history. The introduction of electric multiple unit train operations replacing traditional loco hauled stock is becoming more common as is the provision of double-decker trains. An example in Germany is the rundown of the once ubiquitous Class 143 locomotives with the rakes of “silver fish” coaches, a development by the DR prior to unification. A recent casualty is the replacement of hauled stock from Germany to Luxembourg via the Rhine valley where motive power was changed to dedicated dual voltage Class 180s at Koblenz forward to the Mosel valley and onwards to Luxembourg City. We saw other examples of rationalisation of services on certain routes where local electric units had taken over.
His show concluded with six images from our benefactor Roger Harrison of Travelling Post Office trains during the 1990s in the early hours of the morning.
Peter Durrell followed with the very specialist subject of “Railway Heraldry”. His show started with the four post-Grouping railway companies, who established the appropriate authority to use coats of arms in their railway heraldry. This was followed by numerous railway company examples of railway heraldry, too many to note, but today can be seen on preserved items of cutlery, china and stationery (for the uninitiated in this type of railwayana many examples can be seen in “The Warehouse” at the National Railway Museum).
Stuart McNae rounded off the evening with a look at the changes to signalling in East Anglia, predominantly during the electrification of the 1980s. His images brought back many of the memories of the mechanical technology to the multi-aspect signalling and power-box generation. Scenes of the GE main line through Ipswich and Colchester demonstrated how much has changed together with forays to branch lines to Clacton, Frinton, Sudbury and Felixstowe. Glimpses of the East Suffolk line and branch to Leiston were had before the Chairman reluctantly brought proceedings to an end for fear of the electric meter running out at 10.15pm!!!
In summary, a very illuminating evening for the 40+ members who attended. (A very sober Chris Mitchell.)
The Pigtailbahn and 45 Years of Railways around Interlaken
The date – 2nd May – was that of the local council elections, which made the news because of the rise of the UK Independence Party. Totally unfazed by that, the Norfolk Railway Society took the opposite view, with two of its own members taking us deep into the heart of Europe.
First up was John Hanchet. John spends a lot of his time in Germany, mainly through work, but he does make sure he finds time to seek out and explore the country’s railways. On this sunlit evening, he took us to the southern Black Forest region, and the Wutachtalbahn. This remarkable line was built in the latter 19th Century, largely for strategic reasons following Germany’s annexing of the Alsace and Lorraine regions from France and the possibility of a French reprisal. With the Black Forest main line therefore no longer available and the normal commercial route across the Rhine falling into Swiss hands (via a border bulge) an order was issued to build an alternative route between Waldshut-Tiengen and Weizen, roughly following the river Wutach, for the purpose of transporting military equipment and personnel. NATO also saw the line’s strategic value and ensured it was maintained to a high standard as tanks were hidden in the tunnels away from the prying eyes of the KGB.
While the outer ends of this 61km route were relatively conventional, the central section involved a difference in height of 250m, with the gradient not allowed to exceed 1 in 100. Accordingly, a series of loops, bridges, tunnels and spirals was built between Blumberg and Weizen – 9.5km as the crow flies but 26.5km to traverse by rail! This central section – rivalling Switzerland’s Albulabahn – has been christened the Pigtail line (or Sauschwänzlebahn).
Now operated as a preserved line, having been purchased by the town of Blumberg for DM1 in 1976, steam locos now operate the line, and John’s visit saw a 1939-built 2-8-2T in action. Two other locos are also based on the line, which are overhauled at Meiningen Works. We saw photos of the three spectacular viaducts plus a grandstand view of one of the many vistas at which trains could be seen apparently constantly changing direction as they negotiated the spirals.
John’s presentation concluded with some video film of a 1990 Gala event, which featured 10 different engines. Central to this was on-train footage of a derailment the day before the event was due to open, and how Deutsche Bahn had dispatched a re-railing crew to the scene in the dying embers of the evening and worked all night to recover the errant train. Remarkably, the train was removed and track and signalling repaired in time for the Gala to commence on time!
After the coffee break, Graham Kenworthy took over presentation, recalling three visits to the Swiss town of Interlaken – in 1967 on his honeymoon, 1992 for his silver wedding, and again last year. To the uninitiated, Switzerland is the ‘chocolate-box image’ played for real, and Graham’s pictures showed just how much the Swiss care for their country and its landscape – no grimy stations, litter or graffiti here, everything was neat and tidy . . . and running like clockwork. Nestling between lakes Thun and Brienz, Interlaken is now a major tourist centre, located as it is near the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains or the Bernese Oberland, and for those not embarking in mountaineering or water sports, visitors are spoilt for choice in railways!
I’m not going to go into detail here about all of the lines visited – it will simply take too long! But during the course of the presentation we visited the Harderbahn (a funicular at the north end of the town); the Heimwehfluhbahn (another funicular leading to a restaurant and model railway); the Schynige Platte line connecting Wilderswil with the Alpine gardens at the summit; the Brienz-Rothorn Bahn (spectacular rack line to the top of the Rothorn mountain); the Giessbach funicular (accessed from Lake Brienz); the town of Meiringen, with its Sherlock Holmes connections, and particularly the Reichenbach funicular and the Aar tramway to Innertkirchen through the spectacular Aar Gorge; the nearby Ballenberg Museum; and of course the railways of the Berner Oberland Bahn, to Lauterbrunnen (via a detour up the now-converted-to-cable-car funicular to the Murren line), Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald to – literally – the ‘Top Of Europe’ at Jungfraujoch.
At the end of a most rewarding evening, the audience gave their appreciation to the two speakers.
Fête de la Vapeur – Baie de Somme – 27 – 28 Avril 2013 by Ken Mills
Thursday 25th April saw a party of Society members and partners set off early from Norwich to visit the Triennial Steam Festival at the Somme Bay Railway in Northern France (see map). With pick-ups en route at Colchester and Maidstone, passengers totalled 22 plus our affable driver, John, from Spratts’ Coaches, with assistant Lyn. Due to fog in the Channel our ferry was late leaving Dover, causing us to use the A16 motorway from Calais southwards rather than the “scenic route” via the D940 coast road. Leaving the A16 at Rue, we made for Noyelles and then round the bay to Saint Valery’s Canal station, the location of the locomotive shops and running shed, arriving in glorious evening sunshine. There was some competition to be first off the coach to secure some “pre-festival” pictures of the standard gauge engines on show in perfect light. Staying handily 8 miles west in Abbeville, the D940 road parallels the SNCF main line from Paris to Calais for much of the way from Noyelles.
Friday 26th April dawned 12° cooler with rain in the air. It was “Members’ Day” at the Somme Bay Railway (not open to the public) although certain trials were conducted with most of the locomotives to check for last-minute problems before the weekend “madness” to follow. The group sampled SNCF running with a 56 mile round trip to Amiens, a large city with a fine cathedral, old streets etc, but because of the inclement weather most of us seemed to gravitate to the Picardy Museum (rather pleasant central heating).
Saturday 27th April was the first of the two-day festival and provided us with a wide choice of trains on both standard and metre gauges. Saturday weather was sunny in the morning but showery in the afternoon whilst Sunday proved sunny all day. Each of the towns served by the railway staged certain events for the weekend. At Cayeux, 200 yards of 60cm gauge Decauville “snap-track” had been laid (above, picture Mike Fordham) in the temporarily-closed street leading up to the station and featured rides behind a Decauville 0-6-0T built in 1916 for the French military. Saint Valery hosted the “cultural” pursuits with choirs, bands, etc, plus a group of English Morris Dancers, watched by several rather bemused locals. Aside from the balloon rides, a huge marquee at Noyelles contained a multitude of stalls selling model railway items for all gauges, railway books and magazines, maps and artwork, similar to a UK swapmeet, while at Le Crotoy (pronounced Crotwa) old steam machinery was displayed. Each station offered food stalls with various local and national delicacies.
On the locomotive front, all six of the Somme Bay Railway (CFBS) metre-gauge engines were again in steam plus no. 101, an 0-6-0T by Pinguely of Lyon (165/1905) fully restored for this weekend to join the six above at Saint Valery Canal depot.
Visiting motive power during the weekend included:
60 cm gauge
0-6-0T By Decauville 1652/1916 working in Cayeux – ex Réseau Nord-Est no. 5.
No. 11 0-4-0T Corpet/Louvet 1927
No. 75 0-6-0T Corpet/Louvet 1234/1909
No. 101 0-4-4-0T Blanc-Misseron 337/1906 4-cylinder compound Mallet.
No. 12 0-4-0T Peckett 1631/1923 “Marcia” Kent & East Sussex Railway.
0-6-0T La Meuse 3223/1926 “Bébert”
150 P13 2-10-0 SNCF 1942 4-cylinder compound. Display.
With the 7 resident CFBS engines plus the 7 above = 14 of which 13 were in steam.
Interesting Rolling Stock included:
1. A metre-gauge “Autorail” (single unit diesel railcar) worked in between timetabled trains on both lines. Built by Verney in 1950 for the P.O.Corrèze Railway in the Auvergne.
2. Draisines (metre-gauge). The word does not feature in any of my 3 French dictionaries, but these are track-gangers’ powered covered trolleys. Two were operating: one at Cayeux, the other at Le Crotoy, providing free rides for the public on sidings away from the main running lines.
3. One train was composed of Swiss-built coaches which looked comfortable and classy, but the older wooden stock was still there with the open platform ends to stand out on, to enjoy the smoke, smuts, flies and fresh air! An old standard-gauge 4-wheeler from the Kent & East Sussex Railway was popular, as were two old wooden-bodied metre-gauge 6-wheelers of French origin made up into the “mixed” train, along with several wagons.
4. Operating on the standard-gauge Noyelles to Saint Valery Port section, in between the scheduled services, was a 1929 3-car Paris Metro set, built for third-rail electric systems. To provide services on the Somme Bay Railway, one coach was converted to a power-car with a diesel motor, leaving two carriages for passengers.
5. Still on Paris, and just fully restored for the steam festival weekend, was an old single-deck motor bus formerly used in the city. The group saw it first at the Canal depot in Saint Valery on the Thursday evening and again at Cayeux over the weekend, performing tours of the town.
Main Line Visitors: A 6-coach diesel-hauled train arrived from Rouen at 1100 on Saturday 27th April and departed at 1700 giving passengers 6 hours to ride the trains at the steam festival. Operated by the Pacific Vapeur Club of Rouen who are the owners of an ex-SNCF 231G class locomotive, a potent power-house.
Train Services – 27th/28th April 2013:
Before we move on to the services, the gauge situation needs to be explained. From Le Crotoy to Noyelles the line is metre-gauge. Easy. From Noyelles to Saint Valery the line is dual gauge, with the metre-gauge inside the standard-gauge. The line onwards to Cayeux is metre-gauge only.
Basic hourly service from Le Crotoy to Cayeux 1000 to 1900 - 10 trains.
Basic hourly service from Cayeux to Le Crotoy 1005 to 1905 - 10 trains.
Sadly, trains were not scheduled to depart together on parallel tracks as they did during the 2009 festival but still do so for the ordinary summer services at Noyelles.
An analysis of the working timetable shows the following movements per day each way:
Noyelles to Le Crotoy 14 - 10 steam hauled, 3 diesel railcar, 1 loco positioning
Noyelles to Saint Valery Ville/Port 29 - 11 Standard gauge: 5 Paris Metro set , 4 steam-hauled, 2 loco positioning
18 Metre gauge: 13 steam-hauled, 3 diesel railcar, 2 loco positioning
Saint Valery Ville to Cayeux 18 - 14 steam-hauled, 2 diesel railcar, 2 loco positioning
Steam locomotive miles run each day = 336. Diesel mileage = 104.
“Mont Blanc” appears to be official CFBS terminology for the summit of the bank (rampe) 1.5 kms out of Saint Valery Ville station on the Cayeux line.
Leaving Abbeville at 0930 on Monday 29th April for the homeward trek, we opted for the “scenic route” on the old D940 road to Boulogne then A16 motorway to Calais. A short refreshment stop was made at Étaples, where the group also paid a visit to the large War Cemetery consisting of more than 11,000 graves. No major hold-ups otherwise, and we finally arrived in Norwich around 1830 after an enjoyable trip with a great variety of steam locomotives observed and basic good weather for the important days. Finally, thanks to John of Spratts’ Coaches plus assistant Lyn for being so nice to us all during what was a more comprehensive festival than that of 2009.
Editor’s Note: Ken has rendered the locomotive works numbers conventionally – the locomotive builder’s number followed by the year of construction – which I hope clarifies e.g. 1652/1916. There’s usually a plate somewhere on the engine.
It was pleasing that so many members attended our AGM on 18th April, though an unfortunate absentee was Ray Meek who had been injured in his garden. We wish him well.
The main points are:
● Gordon Bruce is our new Chairman, succeeding Peter Adds who we thank for his hard work.
Gordon reminded everyone that the Great Eastern Railway Society (Norwich Branch) meetings and the Norfolk Transport Group meetings are open to everybody and recommended Society members attend the excellent programmes on “non-Norfolk Railway Society Thursdays”.
● We had some difficulty exchanging the customary “badges of office” as our efforts to find a new Vice-Chairman had drawn a blank. Thankfully, Peter Cooke came forward at the interval and agreed to be Vice-Chairman, and so (a little later than usual) the “badges of office” exchange was duly completed.
● Peter Willis will be taking over the organisation of next year’s Annual Show on 1st March 2014.
● The subscription for 2014 will be unchanged (£18.50).
● Although 2 members sadly passed away during the year, membership currently stands at 95.
● More members are required to write meeting reports, please. Volunteers for the autumn session should please speak to the Editor. It isn’t very difficult, and is an area where the rank-and-file members can put something back into running the Society.
Irish Steam and Railway Change in East Anglia
The speaker for the evening, William (“Bill”) Wood, was making a welcome return to the Society – his last presentation being in 2007 - and he began his talk with the second part first, for reasons which became self-evident.
During 2010/11 Bill’s latest digital video camera had recorded various steam hauled specials, featuring both preserved Britannias and Tornado, passing through the countryside at Santon Downham and Stowmarket with activity at Norwich. It was good to be reminded of the celebrations associated with the formal opening of the North Norfolk Railway’s main line connection at Sheringham and to see the RHTT locomotives and trainsets all in pristine condition arriving at Stowmarket in preparation for the new season and activity on the Mid Suffolk and Mid Norfolk lines.
After the interval Bill proudly showed, via his vintage cine projector, new in 1982, Standard 8 and Super 8 cine film taken by at least three generations of his family with some early, probably the first, Kodachrome 1 cine colour film (ASA 5) recording Irish railway steam operations taken by his grandfather in November 1934. Scenes showed the running in of Beyer Peacock built VS Class 4-4-0 207 Boyne and subsequent use; fly shunting; 1933 scenes of the narrow gauge railway serving the Guinness brewery in Dublin with a later view of one of the redundant narrow gauge locomotives continuing to operate within a broad gauge trolley; various views taken in and around the Portadown & Drogheda areas. Footplate crews were remarkably welcoming, and he seemed to have no difficulty in securing footplate rides!
A Queen Class locomotive built in 1939 for the Dublin to Cork route, then almost uniquely able to take its 23 ton axle loading, was presented by the CIE to the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) in 1964 and there was extensive film coverage of its movement to a museum location near Belfast. The locomotive’s weight necessitated its separation from the train locomotive by a number of open wagons being inserted between the two locomotives within the train formation. In 1963 CIE became the first European country to achieve a fully dieselised railway undertaking utilising American assistance in the shape of GM-built diesel locomotives, and the rapid dieselisation led to some perfectly-serviceable locomotives being purchased by the UTA. Modern traction was not overlooked with views of the now withdrawn re-gauged BR built Mk3 sets (with power operated doors) operating with a generator van in the train formation and their replacements, the Irish Mk4 sets (no relation to the East Coast route Mk 4s). Also seen were the UTA Derby-built Jeeps – the last steam locomotives in British main line service – working hard on motorway construction trains.
Some of the film shown was taken during the Troubles and Bill’s presentation included personal reminiscences of just how dangerous it could be to take films of railways in both rural and urban locations with appropriate religious and political references of the time setting the context.
Much-deserved applause marked the conclusion of Bill’s presentation.
"The Monochrome Years - 1977"
As a last-minute replacement for our booked speaker, similarly-initialled Society stalwart David Pearce entertained a packed audience on an unseasonably-cold Spring Equinox in his own inimitable style, by giving a presentation he had shown to another group the previous year. That year was, of course, Jubilee Year 2012, and David selected the year of his subject by reflecting on a previous Jubilee 35 years earlier. This was achieved by recounting stories in the news and the music scene month by month, and illustrating them with images of his own exploits.
Pick any year in history, particularly recent history, and you will be surprised just how much happed in that one 12-month period. Virtually every music story that year seemed to involve The Sex Pistols, while the number of famous people who shuffled off this mortal coil included Sir Anthony Eden, Peter Finch, Elvis Presley, Maria Callas, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin and three members of rock band Lynyrd Skynrd killed in a plane crash. Famous – or infamous – records which topped the charts included platters by Leo Sayer, Julie Covington, David Soul, Hot Chocolate, Deniece Williams, Brotherhood of Man, Rod Stewart, Baccara (remember them?), Donna Summer, Abba, Status Quo and – depending on whether you are referring to the NME charts or the BBC list – The Sex Pistols with “God Save the Queen”. In the news, Fleetwood Mac released their seminal album “Rumours”, Red Rum won the Grand National for the third time, London Transport painted a fleet of buses silver in honour of the Silver Jubilee, Geoff Boycott scored his 100th First Class cricket Century, Concorde began regular services to New York, “Star Wars” hit the cinemas, the Piccadilly Line was extended to Heathrow and Sir Freddie Laker introduced his budget “Skytrain” service. One news item overlooked by David was Anglia TV’s broadcast of its infamous April Fool spoof documentary “Alternative 3” which claimed to prove the existence of life on Mars and scientists being flown there to work with the little green men!
But the “alternative” to these matters on offer today was a selection of David’s stunning photography, which basically was a look back into his personal diary showing what he got up to. David is well known for his black-and-white photography, having been heavily influenced by his hero, radical photographer-par-excellence Colin Gifford (whose seminal and much-sought-after tome “Each A Glimpse” has recently been reprinted). The wonders of modern technology have enabled David to digitize his images and present them on screen in a PowerPoint presentation - how times have changed from the days of the old epidiascope (thankfully – Ed).
Beginning on New Year’s Eve 1977 at Doncaster and running in monthly blocks – each month being given a descriptive name – during the course of the year we visited locations such as Newark (including a visit to the station’s North box in its final week of existence), Shirebrook, King’s Cross, Spalding (the copious Flower Show traffic), sundry locations in east Nottinghamshire (family connections), Northumberland (the Morpeth area), the “Lenwade Awayday” on 17th September, early preservation scenes at the NYMR and the North Norfolk (this was the year when the J15 was first recomissioned) and a rare photo of Liverpool Exchange station. When not travelling around the country or photographing Deltics on the ECML, David seemed to spend each weekend or school holiday down at Norwich Station, whether it be photographing first-generation DMUs outside their depot, noting the presence of the preserved ‘S15’ undergoing repairs on shed, or recording the work involved in moving the scissors crossing between Platforms 2 & 3. However, of most interest was his family summer holiday to Ireland, which seemed to encompass most of the country, starting and ending in the Dublin area but venturing as far as Waterford, Rosslare, Galway and Killarney, and noting the variety of first-generation General Motors diesel traction on offer. And if that wasn’t enough, he also visited the Isle of Man, recording scenes of the steam railway (including Douglas station still with its canopies), the Snaefell tramway and a brief look at Ramsey station together with some remains of the Northern line to Peel.
By the time we had reached the year’s end we were all pretty well out of breath but hungry for more! Chairman Peter Adds thanked David on behalf of a most appreciative audience. (Gordon Bruce)
“The Lone Star State Railways”
Chris Mitchell, wearing appropriate headgear, opened his presentation by drawing a parallel with Kevin Whately’s comment on “Keeping Britain on Track” that “railways are all about people”. It’s the same with the USA. He put down some recent historical markers – President Kennedy’s assassination on 22nd November 1963 and the 9/11 plane hijacks and the destruction of New York’s “Twin Towers”, which he happened to see “live” on TV when visiting. We learned that the USA has a population of some 330,000,000 people, about 1% of whom are native Indians living a traditional way of life.
The American Civil War of 1861 was something of a disaster for the pro-slavery Southern States (including Texas) as they had wrongly gambled that Europe (who took their cotton exports) would come to their aid. And what of Texas, known to one and all as “The Lone Star State”? It is fiercely independent, and was once a separate republic. However, it could not defend itself against Mexican attacks and eventually became part of the Union in 1845. It is the largest of the “connected” United States, and the second most-populated. About 10% is desert, but there are also significant forests, prairies and swamplands. Ranching is still important, along with oil production & modern technologies (e.g. Houston Space Center). Railway-wise its total track mileage is approx. 249,000, the largest in the world. Freight is the big money-earner with 82% of interstate traffic going by rail.
A family wedding took Chris and Sue to Ennis, a city that is a south-eastern suburb of Dallas, and at the last census its population was just under 20,000. It’s at the junction of the rail routes from the ports up to Dallas/Fort Worth, and the old Wells Fargo offices still preside over Main St. Chris explained that the town owed its existence to the railroad – the Houston & Texas Central Railroad – which purchased a large tract of land in Ellis County for $5 per acre, to establish the line’s northern terminus in 1872, and the town took its name from an early official of the railroad – Cornelius Ennis – who later became a H&TC director. The railroad had chosen Ennis for its northern H.Q. as part of an agreement that the town provided water for the machine shops and roundhouse, and these facilities would stay in the town so long as the water was provided! The courts upheld this agreement despite later challenges. Half a dozen churches were built with railroad money! Ennis is the state polka centre, and prides itself on its Czech heritage! That’s as may be but the real eye-opener from the railway viewpoint was the re-creation of Ennis station, built in 1895, and the museum presided over by a very elderly gentleman who had been stationed at Attlebridge with the USAAF in WW2. Chris reckoned that he was 91 in 2011, and he was an absolute fount of knowledge. People again! We saw photographs of the station in the good times, with steam and early diesel locomotives, and an excellent model of the half round-house with 14 roads. The last passenger train ran in 1959, co-incident with the complete dieselisation of the area’s railroads. That said, a daily service of three passenger trains each way to Dallas/Houston was not particularly generous. Also in the museum was a caboose, a superior brake van in which the crew spent a week. Chris learned that the turntable from Ennis had been moved to the Fort Worth Stockyards, which sound redolent of railroading, but are really a large district originally built close to the railroads as a livestock trading centre. Buildings are in the Mexican/Spanish style. Chris found the turntable, but its area was (unusually) off-limits that day. The Grapevine Vintage Railway operates heritage services between the Stockyards and Grapevine City, using a late 19th century 4-6-0 and a GP7 diesel to haul its 1920s coaches. [Looking at the Grapevine website, I see that Thomas has crossed the Atlantic - Ed.]
Other transport of note is the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, which operates vintage trolleys in Dallas. Modern transport is provided by the DART light rail system which looks like a larger version of its European counterparts. Trinity Railway Express connects Dallas Union Station with the T & P Station in Fort Worth. We also saw something of the construction of the new DART line to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Chris then moved into rural America, particularly the town of Playford which is no longer rail-served but which originally had a line to serve local oil-wells. There was a plaque marking the old station site, whilst the dusty main street was truly Wild West, with only cars replacing horses in front of the hitching-rails. He concluded with a modern publicity film showing the modern passenger and freight trains, the latter with 4/5 locos at the front. All in all, a very different look at the railways of Texas which took a lot of time and effort to put together. (EM)
“Caught on Canvas”
The presence in the audience of no fewer than four ladies was a clue that this meeting would contain more ‘of general interest' than do many; and so it proved. Our speaker was Wrenford Thatcher, an artist whose main subject happens to be railways, and in particular railway scenes which he recalls from his boyhood in the 1950s.
Why did railways exert such a pull on his imagination and artistic talent? Both grandfathers were engine drivers (one began on the GER in 1899), which certainly drove his passion for steam as he grew up. Although showing artistic ability from an early age, he laid aside his brush to work in the electronics industry, as well as teaching physics. Now in semi-retirement, he enjoys re-creating steam scenes in his Sheringham studio.
But it was with photography rather than paintings that the evening began. Like many of us, Wrenford began taking pictures with his Box Brownie, snapping everyday local scenes such as N7 0-6-2T 69654 shunting at Hatfield. Already in these early pictures he was aware of the patterns of light and shade which were to become significant elements of his paintings.
We moved from boyhood snaps to the digital era of photography; Wrenford's more recent photographs included main-line steam specials – a lovely shot showed 4-6-0 5029 Nunney Castle inside Bristol Temple Meads – and scenes taken on the North Yorkshire Moors and West Somerset lines. Closer to home, we saw the B12 and 0-6-0PT L99 each in charge of the quad-art coaching set on the NNR.
In the second half we turned from photographs to the 'real thing' – the paintings themselves, all executed in oil on canvas. Wrenford had brought several canvases for us to examine, and the rest we were able to see in photographs.
The effects of light and shade often played a large part in his compositions: a shiny station pilot lights up the gloom of Liverpool Street, prominent diagonal shafts of light create a pattern around A1 60120 Kittiwake at Newcastle.
One canvas which captured the audience's attention was a striking panorama of the scene north of King's Cross and St Pancras in 1952. Full of railway activity, it shows a long train of coal empties in the foreground making for Willesden Jct along the North London Line. In the background the dome of St Paul's stands out from the mass of surrounding buildings. To create this painstakingly accurate scene Wrenford worked from Ordnance Survey maps, plotting details of the buildings which would have been there in 1952 and how they related to one another.
Moving closer to home, a recent painting shows the attractive signal box at Roughton Road Junction where the N&S Joint line to Mundesley and North Walsham once diverged from the main Cromer Beach - Norwich route. In the early 1950s Wrenford's grandfather owned a piece of land next to the box. In another panoramic view trains of blood-and-custard stock waited to leave the long-gone Cromer High Station, with the town's church prominent in the background. The area around King's Lynn station has undergone a lot of change in recent years. Wrenford's painting of it 'as it used to be' shows it in 1959 under a blanket of snow (a lot more difficult to paint than it might appear).
Many paintings have typical railway backdrops: grimy yards or townscapes. Wrenford's wife once commented that they never benefited from a scenic background – so to rectify matters he painted a Gresley K2 Mogul on a freight in the Highlands, with a mountainous backdrop.
Wrenford brought several smaller reproductions of his work for us to browse and maybe buy, as well as copies of his book Lines into London: London Railways in the Post-War Years, described as "a nostalgic journey through the last years of steam and the early diesels around London". For anyone wanting to see more of his work, he will be exhibiting at Picturecraft Gallery, Holt from July 11 to August 7, 2013.
On a sadder note, we were told about two recent deaths: Cedric Dann who was a NRS member until five or so years ago until illness overcame him; and Colin Hall, a signalman at Yarmouth, who suffered a heart attack while on duty at the early age of 51. (Mike Handscomb)
“Beauty & the Beast”
Ian Woodruff recounted the tale of two locomotives experimenting with high-pressure technology – the LMS Fowler “Fury” and the LNER Gresley “Hush Hush”.
For visual effect, Ian displayed three Bassett-Lowke “O” gauge 4-6-0s (a super-enterprise steamer and 2 Royal Scots) plus a largely scratch-built model of the original water-tube boilered LNER class W1 4-6-4 (4-6-2-2?). (Peter Willis added his “OO” gauge model of the same loco.) These were accompanied by a series of screen images of the two locomotives and significant events during the experiments. Ian next produced his hi-tech “lollipop on a stick” cubic inch to illustrate the tiny space in which the super-high-pressures needed to be contained. We heard also that several other countries had experimented with high pressures but with poor results. The focus of the project was greater efficiency not higher speed. At the dawn of railways, the earliest locomotives used 15lbs pressure per square inch (p.s.i.) similar to a modern pressure-cooker and to Ian’s Bassett-Lowke super-enterprise steamer. In the early years of the 1800s Trevithick’s loco Pen-y-Darren employed the then terrifying pressure of 50 p.s.i. As the steam age progressed and the iron and steel industry manufactured stronger and more durable products p.s.i. pressures rose by the mid-1920s to average 200. Subsequently, 225 p.s.i. (LNER V2), 250 p.s.i. (LNER A4) and 280 p.s.i. (Bulleid Pacifics) had become acceptable.
In 1928, Henry Fowler, then Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the LMS Railway, began experimenting with high-pressure water-tube boilers, which hitherto had been produced only for the marine trade, never before having been secured to a moving base. Fowler took a basic “Royal Scot” chassis (frames and wheels) and topped this with a water-tube boiler utilising an incredible 1,800 p.s.i. for the top chamber and 1,000 p.s.i. for the tubes below. He employed 3-cylinder compound propulsion with the high-pressure cylinder inside the frames and the two low-pressure cylinders outside. Loco 6399 Fury was ready for trials by 1929, but at a press demonstration one of the 1,000 p.s.i. safety valves lifted, the ensuing roar causing mild panic with everyone present diving for cover! Various problems beset the project but on 6th February 1930 Fury was at last handed over to the LMSR at Glasgow’s Polmadie depot. Troubles continued and, in reality, the last straw occurred a few days later on 10th February. A gentle 25-mile test run out to Carstairs was planned, turning on the triangle there for the return trip. Nearing Carstairs a check confirmed that the fire was low, although all the cab gauges appeared to be satisfactory. In the cab that day were Driver Hall and Fireman Blair together with Mr Pepper, an engineer from Derby Works, and Mr Schofield from the Superheater Company. At this point, one of the 1,000 p.s.i. tubes suffered a blow-out and, within seconds, propelled the fire, gallons of boiling water and high-pressure steam at 290° C out through the cab fire-door. Driver Hall stayed in the cab but to one side of the line of fire; Fireman Blair jumped from the footplate; Mr Pepper, showing great gymnastic ability, managed to grab the top of the cab roof to bring his body above the blast. Unfortunately, Mr Schofield caught the full force of the explosion and the ricochet off the back of the tender. He was badly injured and was rushed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he died the following day. Driver Hall escaped unhurt but shaken; Fireman Blair was injured in his fall from the cab to the tracks but recovered and Mr Pepper was severely shaken but survived. After this episode Fury was quietly dumped on Carstairs loco depot where it remained for over a year by which time Henry Fowler had retired. His ultimate successor, William Stanier, viewed the experiment as wasteful as records showed that Fury was uneconomic regarding coal usage, had been towed more miles than running under its own power and, more to the point, hadn’t earned the LMS one penny! In 1936, Stanier rectified the last fact by rebuilding the experimental engine as a normal* “Royal Scot” numbered after the last engine of the class already in service. Later named British Legion no. 6170 was finally withdrawn in 1962, thereby completing 26 years of useful revenue-earning. (* Well, not quite – remaining Royal Scots had a no. 2A boiler; 6170 had a non-standard no. 2 boiler which increased its time in Works.- Ed.)
Ian turned next to the rival high-pressure locomotive, Nigel Gresley’s class W1 no. 10000. Because Gresley’s A1 (later A3) Pacifics were rather greedy for coal, he was looking for an alternative means of steam production which might bring economies of fuel. First conceived in 1924, 5 years passed before his ideas were put into a practical framework. During 1928/29 a Yarrow marine boiler was fitted at the Clyde shipyard onto a chassis built at Darlington to produce a 4-6-4 (4-6-2-2) locomotive with 4-cylinder compound propulsion, 2 inside high-pressure cylinders and 2 outside low-pressure ones. Boiler pressure was set at 450 p.s.i., a reasonable figure compared to the norm of the period. Layout of the cab was like no other, but crew protection was improved with additional safety flaps for the firehole doors. Valve gear was standard with the Pacifics, but the smokebox at 16’1” was the longest in the UK. Weighing-in at 166 tons for loco and tender made it one of the heaviest in the land and lengthwise could only be accommodated on a 70’ turntable. Originally fitted with a B17 type front bogie and a 3-axle Group Standard tender, the latter was quickly exchanged for a brand-new 4-axle corridor type providing capacity for 5,000 gallons of water and 9 tons of coal. By pure chance this tender still exists, paired with the preserved A4 Pacific Union of South Africa. While on names, there was evidence that no. 10000 was to be named British Enterprise although no plates were ever fitted. Was this because there was already in service one of Gresley’s A3 Pacifics (LNER 4480, BR 60111) built in 1923 called Enterprise? Many classes of steam locomotive were given nicknames and, apart from “Hush-Hush”, no. 10000 acquired “Galloping Sausage” and also “Grey Elephant”, but it will always be remembered as the “Hush-Hush”. Ian mentioned that this name had two origins, first that the engine was constructed under strict security and, secondly, because of the compound propulsion steam finally discharged into the air from the low-pressure cylinders which created a soft exhaust.
Because of its fame and unusual, but good, looks no. 10000 was on call for many shows and exhibitions, one of which was at Norwich on 2nd/3rd May 1931. Gresley was constantly “tweaking” his engine to effect improvements, consulting and exchanging information with André Chapelon regarding exhaust systems and valve gear, fitting a double chimney in 1934, and to provide hot air into the firebox by taking in the outside air through apertures in the front end and passing that air through the sides of the boiler. Early injector troubles were cured by designing a brand-new injector built to work with a high-pressure boiler. Tests for coal consumption suggested that the usual 66lbs per mile was down to 44lbs per mile so enjoying a considerable saving. While working with its water-tube boiler, the locomotive was liveried in light battleship grey with shiny steel bands around the boiler, although slightly darker “shades of grey” were used later on.
Unlike Henry Fowler of the LMS with Fury, Nigel Gresley of the LNER with no. 10000 actually got payload mileage from his engine. Before entering Darlington Works for its first major overhaul in May 1933 it had run 70,000 miles. Returning to traffic in June 1934 it chalked up another 20.000 revenue-earning miles before again being sent to Darlington in August 1935. Its final journey in original form was from Darlington to Doncaster in October 1936 from where it emerged in November 1937 in its new guise, resembling an elongated A4 with no name. Now, virtually an A4 but with 20” x 26” cylinders (against 18½” x 26” of the A4s), the rebuilt engine and tender weighed-in at 167 tons and produced a tractive effort of 41,435lbs. In 1948 the locomotive was renumbered 60700. From 1937 up to 1955, the date of a derailment at Peterborough involving the collapse of the front bogie, it had run another 600,000 miles. With the rebuilt bogie fitted, the engine completed a further 185,000 miles before withdrawal in 1959. The saga doesn’t quite end there as the water-tube boiler removed from the experimental engine in 1936/37 was installed and used in the workshops at Darlington and was in service until 1965.
Ian certainly opened our eyes to two of the major experiments into high-pressure which were conducted in the pre-WW2 period, both of which failed to make any lasting impression on locomotive design, or did they? Who knows?
“It is better to have tried and failed that never to have tried”. A wonderful story. Well told!
P.S. Ian, you have convinced me, I’ll go for the 4-6-2-2!
The 19th Show went ahead on Saturday 26th January thanks mainly to the various volunteers who helped to clear the snowbound car park and approach footpath.
Visitors were greeted in the entrance area by a display of Mike Young’s photographs showing a wide variety of subjects, including views both in Norfolk and nationwide from BR steam to heritage lines.
The Blake Room played host to the usual individuals plus one or two others. Ray Meek had a display of foreign railways, Arthur Barrett showed an amazing quantity of material illustrating railways past and present in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, while Peter Allison had a smaller than usual selection of his “toy trains”, very popular with the young children who visited.
The M&GN Circle were present as ever, but there was a newcomer in the shape of a representative from the “Bramley Line” group which is hoping to reactivate the long closed line between March and Wisbech.
Mike Handscomb ran the sales stall of donated second-hand books, videos etc. and was very pleased with the takings of £177.80 which produced an income for the Society of just over £60.
Robert Scarfe’s DVDs on a variety of topics entertained those who wished to rest their legs in the Side Room.
A few steps further on brought visitors into the North Room where there were a number of varied layouts on display. Peter Willis, a member of the Hornby Railway Collectors’ Association, had a large 3-rail Dublo layout, running a wealth of vintage stock. Chris Mitchell’s offering had a German theme. David White had examples of his London Underground models, referred to, rather musically, as “Tubular Belles”. The Whitwell MRC had their OO-gauge “Feltwell” on show (above). Brian Cornwell’s Lego trains (below) contrasted with Chris Seago’s “Pizza” layout; the former was a great hit with the “trainee” enthusiasts and the latter impressed with its ingenuity and attention to detail. Bob Palmer from the Norwich MRC had acted as 12th man at short notice with his Z-gauge trains and the ever dependable Mardlers demonstrated their loco building skills. The Southwold Railway Trust completed the displays here with news of the latest steps towards the reintroduction of a railway to the Suffolk town.
With several exceptions, the main church featured a foreign theme. The Norwich MRC had their impressive Swiss layout (below) based on Rhaetian Railway practice. The GN15 group showed 4 separate models featuring a variety of subjects. Terry Durrant’s “Les Trains de Grand-père” contained, unsurprisingly, vintage French stock, while Graham Smith ventured further than anyone with his excursion to the Brazilian mountains via the “Campos do Jordao” with trams actually working via live overhead (below). By contrast, Ken Mills showed a display of superbly detailed O-gauge British locos and rolling stock. The preservation movement was represented by stands manned by members of the Mid-Norfolk and Barton House Railways, the latter proud to announce their forthcoming 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2013. Other visual displays showed high quality photographs from Andrew Wright and examples of poster reproductions from Belgium, France and Switzerland from Graham Kenworthy. Last, but certainly not least, we were treated to a superb show of the work of two transport artists with original works by David Rowlands and Alan Stammers.
Towards the end of the proceedings the raffle was held and the proceeds plus donations made during the preceding year enabled the Society to present a cheque for £400 to the Mid-Norfolk Railway’s Engine Shed appeal.
Thanks go to all visitors and NRS members who made the day so enjoyable, but a special “Thank You” must go to the superbly organised catering staff who kept everyone well supplied with food and drink throughout the whole day. (Graham Kenworthy)
Round the Country at Government Expense
Despite sub-zero temperatures with snow and icy conditions under foot this meeting was attended by 21 intrepid members displaying their dedication........to the cause.
Brian Cornwell, a career civil servant who has now been with the DVLA for 26 years but previously spent 4 years with the Railway Inspectorate, presented his talk, with an “inherited” title of “Round the Country at Government Expense”, highlighting his extensive travels by rail during 2012 in order to attend DVLA offices and up to 100 magistrates courts in England and Wales in the course of his employment. Brian manages 27 DVLA prosecutors in locations such as London, Brighton, Bournemouth, Exeter, Swansea, Shrewsbury, Bangor, Preston, Leeds, and Newcastle which involves long train itineraries from Norwich.
January 2012 was described as a fairly typical month with trips to Borehamwood, Sevenoaks, Hartlepool/Stockton, Peterborough, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham. Brian described the individual journey itineraries in detail showing excellent pictures of the types of train used and described their performance characteristics. Brian’s manager’s office is at Borehamwood on a site adjacent to Elstree film studios which produced such classic films as “Oh, Mr Porter” and “Brief Encounter” – a clip of the latter was shown and Carnforth remains a place of pilgrimage for fans of that film. A trip to Sevenoaks reminded Brian of the Hither Green derailment which happened on the evening of Sunday 5th November 1967 and some newsreel of the accident which claimed 49 lives was shown. The cause of the accident was a 7” section of rail which broke away next to a rail joint. A trip to Hartlepool was marred by a failed HST at Peterborough and the resultant delay necessitated a colleague coming to his aid at Thornaby, the closest station he could reach in the time available.
February 2012 was busy but Brian focused on trips to Brighton and Chester. Brighton gave Brian an excuse to show the black and white film of a 4 minute dash to Brighton from London’s Victoria station. Notwithstanding predominantly semaphore signalling in the London area sighting was obviously good with extremely rapid progress achieved! At the same rate of progress Norwich to London would take about 9 minutes! Chester was reached by Super Voyager via Euston and this gave Brian the opportunity of showing a photomontage illustrating how the much-missed Doric Arch would look if recreated outside the modern Euston station. In keeping with the wintry weather outside a YouTube clip was shown of 37419 in similar weather conditions attempting to start its engine amid prolonged spluttering noises and dramatic exhaust effects.
March 2012 highlights were trips to Cardiff, Swansea and Welshpool. Brian reminded us of the HST history and that on 27th September 1985 a special press run of a shortened 2+5 set from Newcastle to London touched 144mph north of York – the world record for a diesel train conveying passengers. The DVLA HQ is located in Swansea with some 6000 staff employed there. Whilst travelling to Welshpool by a variety of DMUs Brian changed trains at Ely and photographed DRS 37087 returning a DVT to Crown Point after overhaul – the loco has subsequently been withdrawn for scrapping as life expired. The excellent photograph again demonstrated the quality of mobile phone pictures.
April 2012 concentrated on a family trip to Aachen to visit one of Brian’s sons studying there. The trip was made via St Pancras International by
Eurostar – the departure of which was interrupted by a lightning strike outside the station – to Brussels where arrival was 90 minutes late but a connection to Aachen via a DB ICE train service was still made. By chance, Brian’s selected hotel in Aachen happened to be directly opposite the station entrance! An excursion was made to Cologne/Koln where pictures of various types of train seen were shown together with views taken of a pedestrian bridge beside the railway bridge over the River Rhine notable for the thousands of padlocks attached to the fencing – each padlock has a message written on it and usually the names of a couple. Similar adornments have appeared in other European cities such as a bridge crossing the River Seine in Paris. Aachen is notable in having one of the largest model railway shops seen by Brian and he was pictured outside with a beaming smile. The return journey from Aachen was made by a Thalys TGV set to Brussels then Eurostar back to London.
May 2012 focused on a trip to Leeds via a Class 158 to Peterborough then an HST. Mention of Stoke bank and the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s world steam record (which will see all 6 surviving A4s brought together) allowed the playing of a sound recording of Driver Duddington describing how he handled Mallard on that record- breaking run.
June 2012 featured Peterborough station and an artist’s impression was shown of how Peterborough will look following the £43m improvement scheme now being undertaken providing additional platforms – a Class 185 appeared to have been on a special working! Types of locomotives to be seen at Peterborough included various owners’ 66s and the new Class 70s.
July 2012 highlighted the various tram systems in the UK including Croydon, Manchester, West Midlands, Sheffield and Nottingham. A 750V DC overhead system seemed of universal application with the trams built by a variety of European manufacturers.
August 2012 featured a trip to Bristol Temple Meads. An excellent aerial view showed the curved alignment of the existing operational station plus the original Brunel station (proposed to be used again for trains which would displace the interim car parking use) and it was somewhat sad to note a large cleared site where Bath Road diesel depot once existed.
September 2012 took us to Exeter which offered a fine range of destinations including a 10hr 19min journey to Aberdeen by a direct Super Voyager service! October 2012 recorded trips to Bournemouth and Leeds/York.
November 2012 trips involved several journeys on the London Underground and given the 150th anniversary celebrations being held in 2013 Brian gave a rundown of notable historic events and the pictures showed Metropolitan Railway steam locomotive No 1 which has run anniversary steam hauled passenger services in January 2013; electric loco Sarah Siddons, the new S stock and an interesting version of Harry Beck’s network map with distances between stations inserted on it. A very sobering film sequence was shown showing rescue workers’ efforts following the Moorgate accident in February 1975. 42 passengers were killed when the Northern Line train ploughed into the tunnel end wall after the driver appeared to have become incapacitated for reasons unknown.
December 2012 featured a cold snap during which Brian enjoyed a journey over the Settle & Carlisle line en route to Glasgow returning via Edinburgh and Peterborough.
Brian summarised his rail journey statistics as involving more than 30,000 miles travel at a total cost of more than £10,000 spread over 56 working days. Some 40 hours’ worth of delay was experienced which may help to explain the need to consume more than 200 cups of coffee! Excellent value for money was enjoyed by the taxpayer as Brian and his team’s efforts recovered more than £26m from less than law abiding vehicle owners.
The audience warmly appreciated Brian’s presentation and Chairman Peter Adds formally expressed the Society’s thanks for both a superbly presented and interesting talk. (Peter Adds)
Chairman’s Address - Britannia, Royalty & Railways
The Chairman’s Evening is almost guaranteed to spring a surprise or two. Even if you were aware of Peter Adds’ particular railway interest (signalling) it would not have helped, and for the best part of 2 hours we were taken through his career, never knowing what was coming next.
Peter was born in 1950 at the General Lying-In Hospital, London, near the old County Hall. His railway interest was given a big boost around 1960 when his father – a Chartered Surveyor then a local authority employee – used to leave Peter to watch the trains at Swainsthorpe. On a wet day the signalman took pity on him and invited him into the box, and told him he could come in again if he saw the same signalman’s car outside! Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Peter’s career was as a Chartered Surveyor with the British Rail Property Board (and its successors) in London, and he might be said to have “fallen on his feet”, starting at St Pancras in 1971.
Early in the presentation we saw Sir William McAlpine sat on the verandah at the rear of the General Manager’s saloon as it passed Meldreth in 1984 before moving to Sir William’s Fawley Hill Railway, famous for its 1 in 13 gradient and its amazing collection of just about anything connected with railways. We were also treated to an intriguing 1962 photo of 70000 Britannia on its way into Norwich. Peter could not recall if this was the Easter Saturday or the Whitsun Saturday - a “dated” train or even a special suggests the latter but does anybody know?
There was an extensive and elaborate “Royalty & Railways” exhibition at the little-used Windsor & Eton Central station which was opened in 1982 and the combined muscle of British Rail and Madame Tussauds restored the station and put on a remarkable show including Europe’s first animatronic (*) figures. A full-size replica of G.W.R. 4.2.2. “The Queen” was specially-constructed and placed on display. The exhibition closed in the early 1990s with the loco itself remaining in situ but it is pleasing to note that parts of the scrapped tender are being re-used to create the replica “Brighton Atlantic”.
Anyway, to return to his early days, Peter showed a photo of his class at the City of Norwich School, where he helped create a Railway Society, “Railsoc”, and we saw them visiting Willesden M.P.D. in its last days. He also had an excellent photo of a pair of Class 15s (D8227/32) on the Coltishall – Mile End sand train passing Swainsthorpe on 17th July 1967. We also saw something of Bressingham when 70013 Oliver Cromwell was giving short rides and the Beckton Gas Works tank being driven by our member David Ward.
The large marshalling yards at Neasden made way for commercial development and it was here that Peter encountered “The Goat Man of Neasden” – an urban squatter with some 40 goats which needed to be removed. Like the bad penny, both man & goats reappeared in Cornwall some 3 years later! Peter’s role as a surveyor seemed to have expanded into project management, overseeing developments at Watford Junction (new station & offices) and Welwyn Garden City (new station and the Howard Centre shopping centre). However, the old railway never quite went away as he showed a 1983 photo of a coal wagon at Newbury where the coal was simply shovelled into bags via a movable set of weighing scales!
Peter’s “day job” ensured that he was kept abreast of unusual workings, and we saw Class 91 91012 heading north through Stevenage extremely rapidly on 26th September 1991 on its record-breaking run from King’s Cross to Edinburgh in just 3 hrs 29 mins, with the benefit of a specially-arranged clear road and a maximum permitted speed of 140 mph.
He had a couple of runs on the sadly ill-fated APT, one as far as Crewe and the other one to Preston. We saw Holborn Viaduct station just before closure; it was instructive to learn that there is now an almost I in 30 gradient on the Thameslink line into Blackfriars. Finally, we saw 70000 Britannia ghosting as 70014 Iron Duke on a special at Sandling on 7th May 1994 affording the public the opportunity of travelling into the just-completed Channel Tunnel on specially-sourced Class 319s – the only domestic trains permitted to enter the Tunnel – clear of the first crossover then returning via the crossover back to Sandling.
In his spare time, then resident in Hitchin, Peter helped organise a series of more than 20 special trains under the collective title “Sparkle Express”, beginning with a pair of Class 321 units from Welwyn Garden City to York. Other trains were usually Class 47 hauled (but 33102, 90022 and HSTs did share the honours) and ran from Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Cross serving intermediate stations en route to a variety of destinations including Chester, the Lake District, Paignton, Bristol & Bath, Portsmouth, Weymouth and York. A train ran from Cambridge to Minehead using two “Manors” in tandem on the West Somerset Railway and 4 GW HSTs ran to Paignton (for the P&DR), Tenby, Whitby (for the NYMR) and the first direct HST to Minehead on the WSR. The last train ran on 25th September 1999 from King’s Cross to Scarborough, with an optional tour on the NYMR being fittingly hauled by 60007 “Sir Nigel Gresley”, and on the return train loco 47757 had to be replaced by 66079 at Peterborough. Proceeds derived from these trains (some £30,000) were donated to the Guide Dogs for the Blind, RNIB, and other charities plus donations to local hospices.
In August 1999 he project-managed the recovery of more than a mile of track from the stub end of the former Bedford line at Cambridge, arranging for 4 trains to take the redundant track panels to the Mid-Norfolk Railway and, to avoid bias, he is a volunteer signalman on the North Norfolk Railway. He also served as a Bressingham Steam Museum Trustee between 2005 & 2010, and since 2011 has been the BSM’s nominated Trustee on the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust, custodians of 6100 Royal Scot, 70000 Britannia, 6024 King Edward I and two presently scrap condition “West Country” locos.
All too soon the meeting had to close, and we must express our thanks to Peter (with moral support from his wife Marie) for a remarkable evening’s entertainment. (Edward Mann)
(* animatronics = the art of animating a lifelike figure of a person/animal by electronic means)
The evening began with Robert Scarfe’s video showing the closure rituals of two of the mechanical signalboxes between Wymondham South Jcn and Harling Road (inclusive), namely Eccles Road and Harling Road, closed on the night of Friday 30th November 2012 after more than 125 years service. The “fly on the wall” behind the scenes filming recorded the end of an era complete with the personal emotions of the last resident signallers to operate these signalboxes.
David Pearce admitted to sending (highly collectable) Christmas cards portraying appropriate scenes taken from his photographic collection. Some of the images used since 2009 were shown variously taken at locations such as the North Norfolk Railway, Norwich, Caistor St Edmund, Shap, Toton, Grantham, Middleton Towers and Dereham, to name but a few. The images were taken in all manner of weather conditions including seasonal snow and during the day and night – an excellent picture captured during almost total darkness at Weybourne was then followed by a tumble down the footbridge steps! Such dedication to the cause! An interesting sequence of his sons viewing a Hornby Dublo 3 rail layout on his dining room table ably demonstrated the virtues of a mobile telephone camera.
John Hanchet produced images taken during three recent photographic charters on heritage railways. The first sequence was of T9 30120 on the Severn Valley Railway with an excellent shot of the T9 exiting a tunnel followed by “Schools” 925 Cheltenham and then Ivatt 46521 on the Great Central Railway. John highlighted the ability to capture scenes uncluttered by intruding spectators etc during such photographic charters but did point out the personal sacrifices involved such as crossing a muddy field to secure a stream in the foreground of the picture and then being kept waiting for more than half an hour in windswept sub-zero temperatures for the train brakes to be released!
Chris Mitchell presented images taken both currently and collected from the past illustrating the Crossrail scheme with a view to producing a digital book. Various images shown included the long closed Broad Street station, including the last day of service; the recently re-opened East London Line; the DLR and current Crossrail construction works.
Steve Cane showed extracts taken from a commercial video showing the transition between steam and diesel traction on the lines out of King’s Cross station. Views were enjoyed of A4s and first generation diesels, including the prototype and production Deltics, and this was followed by film taken of Greenwood signalbox, made famous by Terence Cuneo’s painting “Morning Shift”, which controlled the transition between quadruple lines to double track south of Hadley Wood. The film showed the engineering works which saw the construction of three new double track tunnels to the west of the historic ECML formation enabling quadruple tracks to be opened between Greenwood/Hadley Wood and Potters Bar in 1959.
During the transition between projection modes Mike Handscomb discussed books produced by Lewis Cozens including his recently acquired copy of a “Rail Speed Pocket Chart” enabling budding time recorders to convert seconds recorded per quarter mile into mph. Sadly Mike had to pay a higher price than the original 9d! Mike then spoke of the manufacturing company Barnards of Norwich who evidently had produced railway locomotives and rolling stock. One member in the audience recalled that the company did have a narrow gauge works railway (and others may have recently read about Barnards in the Norwich Evening News of 24th December – Ed.).
Ken Mills, followed by Peter Willis, then showed slides of heritage railways including the NNR and the NYMR – some even proved that the Summer of 2012 did actually include some sunny days! Chris Mitchell returned to the fray showing images taken on 25th July 2012 when he and Peter Willis travelled on “The Elizabethan” special charter train to Edinburgh – see last Newsletter for a full report – with a Deltic northbound and A1 Tornado southbound.
The smash hit of the evening was the inadvertent falling to ground of Malcolm Cooper’s Carousel projector as it was being taken out of its case which prevented Malcolm from displaying his slides. Hopes were expressed that the damage was repairable.
The evening’s fare was rounded off by a splendid video filmed at Wymondham, Spooner Row and Besthorpe showing A4 60009 Union of South Africa hauling a charter bound for York on the -5°C morning (great frozen scenery!) of 13th December 2012.
The Chairman, Peter Adds, who had been acting as scribe for these notes, duly thanked Edward Mann for acting as MC introducing members’ contributions, and those members who had thoroughly entertained all present during the evening. He then expressed Seasonal Greetings to all present on behalf of the Committee after the audience had warmly appreciated the evening’s show. Thanks also to projectionist Andy Wright. (Peter Adds)
Editor’s Note: We were grateful to Graham and Joy Kenworthy for providing seasonal refreshments. The customary collection for St Martin’s Housing Trust (perhaps better known as the Norwich Night Shelter) at this and the preceding meeting raised £140.
The Central & Pacific Railway of Argentina
Despite a cold and wet evening in early December, there was a good gathering of members for Ken Mills’ latest South American presentation. This time we were treated to views of Argentina which warmed us up for a couple of hours.
Another huge country eleven times the area of the UK with extensive rail routes, Ken began with the Pacific Railway which runs from Buenos Aires west to Mendoza on 5’ 6 “ wide gauge rail. His slides started in Junin which had large workshops and engine sheds. The Pacific was originally British owned and on shed we saw many locos manufactured in Britain, among them 4.6.2s produced in Newton-le-Willows in 1948, Hunslet shunters 1900-1910, and a 1904 4.6.0 manufactured at Queen’s Park for the North British Company. Good quality Welsh coal was used initially until coal was found in Argentina. Most of the locos, by the time of Ken’s visit in 1972, were running on oil.
Next stop was Rufino which had an attractive station. One of the tracks here apparently continued on for 250 miles completely straight with no cuttings or embankments. Rufino was also memorable for its array of semaphore signals. At one end of the station we saw a magnificent signal gantry which spanned all four tracks. All the stations had large depots and at Rufino’s there were many 2.8.0 locos and one huge Beyer Peacock 2.8.2.
Many of his photos were of freight traffic, and Ken said that at Monte Coman there were only about 8 passenger trains a week and that bus travel was much quicker! Because of the arid conditions locos often had a water tanker behind the tender.
Next were shots of large wine tankers at Huinca Renanco. The Mendoza wine region is designated as one of the nine world “Great Capitals of Wine”, and wine freight trains left twice daily for Buenos Aires from where the contents were shipped onwards around the world.
After Mendoza the track changes to metre gauge and using a rack 0.6.8.0 loco the line reaches the foothills of the Andes before crossing them into Chile. The track changes from rack to adhesion depending on the steepness of the incline, so the loco must be extremely difficult to drive. The eight wheels are used for normal adhesion travel but then the six wheels are needed for the rack sections. (Sadly, this very interesting line is now closed – Ed.)
After the break we moved on to Argentina’s Central Railway. Construction started in 1863, and initially ran from the terminus at Rosario west to Cordoba, some 396 kms. At Rosario’s North depot Ken had photographed a large selection of tank engines, plus a rare 4.8.4 compound.
We moved on to a town which translated into English as “one-eyed deer”; a comedian in the audience shouted “not to confused with no idea!” Here we saw a magnificent photo of a 1914 P.S.8 4.6.2, number 118, which were Argentina’s equivalent of our Black Fives. Out of interest, this same loco was being restored at Rafaela in 1997.
Next we saw the busy freight hub at Rio Cuarto which had a junction with the Pacific Railway. A large amount of cereals are grown in this area, and a huge grain silo could be seen at the station’s freight sidings.
Finally at Via Maria Ken had enticed about half the depot to pose for a photo on a 1907 4.6.0 wood-burning compound which was in immaculate condition considering it was already 65 years old in 1972.
The Chairman thanked Ken for another great travel experience with some wonderful unique shots and a very interesting commentary. (Steve Cane)
1960s Steam in Ulster and Making Your Garden Grow
Our own Edward Mann opened his presentation by explaining how political changes in Ireland in the 20th century had had a profound effect on Irish railways. When Ireland was partitioned with the creation of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland in 1921 many of the railways, most notably the Great Northern Railway (GNR) that crossed the new border at many places, struggled as trade and traffic collapsed. After the Second World War, the Northern Irish state took over railways on its side of the border and formed the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) while, in the south, the railways of the Republic, as it would soon become, came under the control of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE).
While the Republic embarked upon a dieselisation programme in the 1950s Northern Ireland, which had a lot less interest in maintaining its railway network, only kept steam for freight and express trains while introducing DMUs for branch lines and commuter services. Some of CIE’s steam locos were even sold to the UTA when they became surplus to requirements. Steam in Ireland finished in 1971 with the employment of UTA’s Jeeps, the Derby built WT class 2-6-4 Fowler style tank engines, moving spoil and construction materials for a motorway building programme.
Edward then showed excerpts from the video Swansong of Steam in Ulster - a film shot during the early 60s of steam on the UTA. We saw steam action on the Dublin-Belfast main line double headed behind 0-6-0 locos 101 and a class J15 as well as a heavy goods train, hauled by an ex-GNR 4-4-0 U class. We also saw UG class 4.4.0 no. 47, the last loco built at Dundalk Works. Later we saw ex-GNR S class 4-4-0s one ex- CIE, still in its GNR blue livery, and one in UTA black on the Belfast-Bangor line. The action then moved to Great Victoria Street Station, the original GNR Belfast main line terminus for the route south to Dublin, where we saw T class 4-4-2 tank engines, which were built by Beyer Peacock and Nasmyth Wilson, shunting, and an S class, hauling a passenger train out of the station. At Adelaide Shed 1½ miles from Great Victoria Street Station we viewed Slieve Gullion No. 171, an S class being coaled and WT class tank engines. Some of the last 4-4-0 steam locos ever built were built by Beyer Peacock for Northern Ireland’s railways in the late 40s and we saw members of this handsome VS class, which was the mainstay of the Belfast-Dublin service. A GAA special from Belfast to Dublin was shown with shots taken at Lurgan and Lisburn stations. A heavy goods train was seen on the line between Portadown and Belfast being hauled by a SG2 class 4-4-0.
The action then moved from the Irish standard gauge (5’3”) to the 3’ narrow gauge of the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway. The TDLR, built very cheaply for only £2700 per mile in 1891, was closed to passenger traffic in 1939. However, up until 1953 monthly cattle trains were run from Dingle hauled by two ancient Hunslet 2-6-0 tank engines. These engines, with their cowcatchers, were seen struggling up the 1 in 30 inclines with a heavy cattle train. On the standard gauge the unique layout at Limerick Junction which caused Dublin-Cork trains to reverse was shown with classes J15 and D4 at the single mainline platform. For some years the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise express continued through to Cork and some shots of this train, hauled by the superb CIE 800 class 4-6-0 locos with GNR stock, including a Pullman car, one of only three in Ireland, was seen at Cork Station. We also saw a shot of one of the Woolwich Moguls (constructed by the British Government at Woolwich Arsenal) which had been bought as a kit of parts after the First World War and assembled in Ireland. We then moved back to the branch lines with No. 193 - a class J15 0-6-0 loco - hauling ancient 6 wheeled coaches on the Kenmare branch line which was closed in 1959.
After the break Edward showed a film of Bord na Mona, the Irish Peat Railways. Bord na Mona operates the largest industrial narrow gauge railway system in Europe. This 3’ gauge system, employing 2300 people, extends for approximately 1000 miles and supplies peat for power generation, briquette production and horticulture. We were informed that peat was created approximately 9000 years ago and now provides approximately 14% of Ireland’s energy for electricity generation. Peat was seen being gathered into ridges and then harvested into long stockpiles from which it is loaded into open bogie wagons by mechanical diggers. A typical train of 15 wagons, each containing 10t of peat, was observed on the Mountdillon system hauling peat to the Lanesborough Power Station where the tippler unloaded the peat. The detailed working of the tippler was shown with each bogie wagon being tipped 360° while still being coupled to the rest of its train. The under track mechanism that moved each wagon into the tippler and the pivoting couplings was also shown. At the Bellacorick & Bangor Eris bogs in County Mayo trains were shown moving slowly along the uneven track. An old coach from the West Clare railway was seen being used as crew transport to the bogs. Much of the track is temporary and is moved from bog to bog as the need arises. Prefabricated track panels were seen on flat wagons. The railway systems at the bogs, there are approximately 100 of them, are self-contained and have their own workshops. Some locomotives are now constructed at these workshops. We were shown workshops at Bellacorick and Boora in County Offaly, where an inspection saloon powered by a Morris Minor engine moved along the track. Bord na Mona employs a variety of motive power with old Ruston Hornsby locos only used on works trains, these units now being powered by Ford engines. The mainstay of the fleet is Hunslet Wagonmasters, the early units being 0-4-0s with connecting rods and jack shafts while latterly the drives are all hydraulic. Simplex locos powered by air cooled Lister engines were used in the 1980s for works trains and a Deutz loco was seen hauling a fuel tanker. Gleismac locomotives were built at Dundalk in the old GNR works. A curious Massey Ferguson tractor conversion was seen. The ‘Clonmacnoise and West Offaly’ railway is a venture to show tourists around the Blackwater bog where peat is transported over the impressive bridge across the Shannon to Shannonbridge Power Station (unfortunately this tourist train no longer seems to run – Ed.). Nearby part of the old Grand Canal, built in 1804, which linked Dublin with the West has been used as a track bed for the peat railway and the remains of an old canal lock were still to be seen. A modern level crossing gate and swing bridges were also shown.
Gordon Bruce thanked Edward for a most interesting talk and film show pointing out how good it was to see so many straight boilers in the steam locomotives of Ireland observing that if Stanier had not moved to the LMS from the GWR we may have seen many more straight boilered locos on British tracks. He also pointed out that although to our eyes, and especially to the permanent way engineers in the Society, the Bord na Mona railways track looked incredibly uneven it should be remembered that we were looking at a track that was often not permanent but temporary and probably perfectly adequate for its industrial use. (Peter Davies)
Pre-War Digital Images
It had been almost ten years since Keith Halton last visited us; again he didn’t disappoint with his collection of photographs from the Keith Risdon-Prentice collection which he has painstakingly digitized and collated. He has so far scanned over 800 photos mostly from the early 1930s through to the 1950s. Keith Risdon-Prentice had family connections to the fertiliser industry in Stowmarket and was able to travel quite extensively, using both Leica and Contax cameras.
Our first treat was a black and white photo taken of a B12 on Norwich turntable in 1933, remastered (“photoshopped”) into colour. From there we were treated to scenes at Potters Bar of G.N. Atlantics, Pacifics and even a D2 4.4.0. We also saw a Gresley A1 on a down Newcastle train hauling the Tourist stock complete with their uncomfortable bucket seats. Then we travelled north to York in 1935 and saw a J78 Crane tank, A4s, J21s, Q7s, A3s and an original B12/1. Slightly further south we saw ex-GCR B2 (later B19) 5423 “Sir Sam Fay” at Doncaster along with B3 6165 “Valour”, both Robinson designs.
Then we did a little “shed bashing”, 1933-34 style, taking in the roundhouse at Selby, Sheffield Neepsend, York, Gateshead and Dundee, saw a V2 at Aberdeen, and finally back to Edinburgh before travelling south to New England, March and its sidings, followed by some wonderful memories of the Wisbech & Upwell tramway.
Finally, we arrived in Norwich in 1939 where we saw D1s, E4s, B17s, J15s, and a J39 on a Cromer excursion as well as a B17 arriving on a down Liverpool St – Cromer service plus B12s, K2s and various 2.4.2Ts.
The next destination was Belstead near Ipswich, where we were treated to B12/1 8518 on an up “11.15 excursion”, then on to Ipswich shed where we found another original B12/1, 8551, and then we witnessed the naming of B17 2845 “The Suffolk Regiment” at Ipswich on 22nd June 1935.
In Part 2 we travelled even further south to Colchester and saw a variety of locomotives hauling really ancient stock on what were presumably excursion trains. Then it was further south to Bethnal Green station in 1944, where we were able to look down the famous bank to our right and the entrance to Bishopsgate Goods Station off to our left. We also saw some passenger and mixed goods trains and some more very mixed stock before nipping into Stratford Works where we found a nicely reshaped J15, the driver having skilfully removed the front buffer beam and successfully reshaped the frames !
Being around London we were then treated to various Metropolitan locos, including the Beyer Peacock 4.4.0Ts (Classes A & B), the Hawthorn Leslie E class 0.4.4Ts, H class 4.4.4Ts (LNER H2) and K class 2.6.4T no. 115 (later LNER class L2). Also visited was the Port of London Authority Railway at Custom House where no. 69 (Hudswell Clarke) was on shed and thence to Beckton Gas Works where we saw no. 9, an 0.4.0T with cut down chimney and cab to enable it to pass through the restricted clearances.
Then it was on to Southern rails with views taken at Victoria, Queen’s Road, Rye, Polegate, St Mary Cray, Petts Wood, Tonbridge, Vauxhall, Clapham Junc and, finally, my home town of Tunbridge Wells. At these places we saw Lord Nelson, Schools, King Arthur, River and J class (ex-LB&SCR 4.6.2Ts) locomotives, as well as the inevitable 2.6.0s. Of particular note was “Terrier” tank “Martello” in the Hayling Island branch platform at Havant.
From Southern rails we quickly travelled north again to Melton Constable to find M & G N “A” class 4.4.0 no. 24, then to South Lynn where we found a “C” class 4.4.0 and GNR J3 0.6.0 no. 90 before visiting Yarmouth Beach to see some “A” class 4.4.2Ts (LNER C17).
Being near the coast we crossed the North Sea to Holland where we found a strong British influence, with locomotives built by Sharp Stewart, Beyer Peacock and Neilson Reid, whilst a Dutch-built streamliner with a one-piece lift-off body was particularly ugly.
Our fantastic evening was then rounded off with a quick trip to France in 1934/35 where we saw Nord Pacific 3.1253 at Calais shed, then a de Glehn compound 4.4.2 with bogie tender, 0.10.0Ts, a Prussian P8 4.6.0 and a Prussian T16 0.8.0T (possibly war reparations).
This was, without doubt, a wonderful evening seeing pre-war photographs brought up to very high standards by Keith. We have promised him that we won’t leave it anywhere near so long before we invite him back. (Ian Woodruff)
Steam in the Freezer
Dr Michael Rhodes is an eminent gastro-intestinal surgeon but, on the strength of this presentation, his first love was the dwindling fleet of Chinese steam locomotives. His presentation to us was based on an exhibition of his work held at the NRM in 2008, and he’d been over to China 25 times between 1992 and 2007. The majority of his visits were to N.E. China, where the winter cold is unremitting, but he and his companions appeared possessed of iron constitutions and digestive systems to match (they drank beer as the water was dangerous) ! Perhaps he was a late convert to digital photography in 2003 which freed him from worrying about film stocks.
The principal freight locomotives were the brutish QJ 2.10.2s, which seemed to follow U.S. practice but which were often hand-fired because the mechanical stoker wouldn’t accept the coal on offer. They were probably at least double the size of a 9F ! They seemed to handle most of the traffic, and their condition varied from the good to the deplorable, but 2,000 tonnes could easily be taken by one.
China once boasted an extensive narrow-gauge system, much extended in the 1950s, but only a few of these lines remained in 2008, and the forestry lines have all gone. However, in central China, near Shibanxi (10), a colliery line survives which is partly electrified. This has been turned into a tourist line and the country’s shortage of coal has seen nearby mines reopen. Another logging line in the far north-east of China was at Zhanhe (15), which had a light railbus which needed to be turned manually.
Although many of Michael’s photographs were taken in open country, the industrial locations – the deep and opencast collieries, steelworks, power stations – all with their own railways or main line connections – were duly recorded, and the dreadful-looking Stalinist housing for workers could be seen close by. Depots and yards received their share of attention, but it’s fair to say that much of the infrastructure seemed decidedly primitive by our standards, heavily labour-intensive and with no Health and Safety.
Jitong (1) – the last steam main line – is amazing; it has tunnels, viaducts, ledges and semaphore signals that could have come from the GER. It is comparatively new and the first Western crew went over there in 1997. Michael paid 13 visits before the diesels took over, and his persistence in getting the “right” shot was finally rewarded at the seventh attempt. He wanted a snow shot at Erdi viaduct, a dry and windy spot, and 2 QJs crossing the viaduct with a lengthy freight train made for a wonderful picture.
A gifted raconteur, he spoke highly of the local food and the impromptu meals served up for him and his group. But he admitted they needed great local guides. These “Mr Fixits” are presumably, sadly, now out of a job – more victims of dieselisation !
A book of photographs – with complementary DVD – was available from Michael and both are highly recommended. The few numbers in this report are just some of the locations visited by Michael and his companions. Note the concentration of numbering in the north-east. (EM)
1960s East Anglian Railway Images in Colour
David Soggee is a well-known railway photographer, and his East Anglian subject matter attracted so many members that the Blake Room was bursting at the seams. The meeting had the unprecedented start time of 19.00 in order that it could finish early and allow David time to catch the 22.00 train to his home at Ingatestone. On several previous occasions Edward had emphasised the earlier-than-usual start time, but "19.30 hrs" is such an ingrained hour that several members turned up after David had begun his presentation and were forced to to shuffle seats around in the dark.
David took his first colour photograph in 1958, and for many in the audience his photos had a never-seen-before historical significance.
It's now 50 years since steam haulage ﬁnished on the GE main line. To mark its passing the RCTS's London Branch decided to run a special train, and on 31st March 1962 David was aboard the Great Eastern Commemorative Steam Rail Tour, taking pictures along the way. From Liverpool Street 'Britannia' 4-6-2 no. 70003 John Bunyan took six Gresley coaches down the GEML to Norwich Victoria. After a pause for pictures, a Hunslet 0-6-0 diesel shunter pulled the rake back to Trowse Upper Junction. At Norwich Thorpe 70003 was replaced by J17 no.65567, and the veteran 0-6-0 hauled participants through Wymondham and Dereham to County School and Foulsham. Then it was back to Dereham for the Swaffham line, and down through Watton to Thetford, where the 'Britannia' took over once more. The shot of 70003 and 65567 lined up under Thetford footbridge is a familiar one, and David was among those who'd captured the historic scene. The train returned to Liverpool Street via Cambridge and Tottenham Hale, but darkness scuppered the chance of any further photos.
Wayside stations on the Buntingford branch – Wareside, Widford, Much Hadham, Standon, Braughing and Westmill – were charming GER structures. David showed us most of them in a 1958 sequence taken before passenger services switched from steam to dmu. He also took a close-up of a Braughing totem (£1,800 at a recent Shefﬁeld Railwayana auction). At Buntingford N7 0-6-2T no.69693 drew forward from its short train before being coaled – by hand, from an adjacent wagon. To while away the time between trains David strolled along the nearby lanes, and his non-railway pictures – unspoiled Essex villages, roads with grass verges and devoid of cars – looked truly to belong to another age.
Other East Anglian scenes included the Aldeburgh branch, with grounded GER coach bodies at Thorpeness station; the Yarmouth – Lowestoft stretch of the N&S Jt ("stand on Gorleston Links Halt more than ten minutes in winter and they'd take your body away in a box"); and the last day of M&GN passenger services in February 1959, including a dmu at Norwich City station. One eye-opener came from pictures taken from the footbridge at Heacham station. After the many Saturday excursions had disgorged their passengers at Hunstanton, the coaching stock would be worked back to Heacham and then parked along the curve of the West Norfolk Junction line, which by then was open for freight only as far as Burnham Market.
Moving brieﬂy away from our region David also showed pictures of Castles, Black 5s and 94XX 0-6-0PTs at Worcester shed (85A) and 2-6-0 no.3442 The Great Marquess on a railtour at Whitby. Chairman Peter Adds thanked David for giving us a most entertaining and interesting evening. (Mike Handscomb)
Our opening meeting - Members’ Summer Round-Up - has traditionally been the chance for members to display their photographs etc, and our large audience no doubt had high expectations. Projectionist Andy Wright could not have expected the easy ride that was to follow as only 4 people came with memory sticks and films. That said, the quality was uniformly high and Malcolm Banyer set wheels in motion. He had roamed far and wide in Wales and the Isle of Man, beginning with the last tram shelters from the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Tramway. The Laxey Mines Railway, and the Isle of Man Steam Railway followed (his party had no. 8 “Fenella” to play with) before moving on to the Snaefell Mountain Railway, Douglas Horse Trams, Groudle Glen Railway, Jurby Transport Museum and the strange “Peel” cars with their 50 c.c. engines and sawn-off appearance. Back into Wales he took us to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, Bala Lake Railway, Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth, the Corris Railway, including the old C.R. stations at Fridd Gate and Machynlleth, the Tal-y-llyn and Vale of Rheidol Railways as well as the little-photographed Aberystwyth Cliff Railway and the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway. His group would welcome additional participants, so please speak to him. Keith Buttifant recalled our glorious May visit to the Hemsby Miniature Railway (NRS/NL 57/3 p.9). He had spent a lot of time filming from the back of otherwise empty trains and a very pleasing film had resulted. A return visit is hoped to be arranged next year.
After the break, Robert Scarfe’s film concentrated on the bigger engines. Tornado was seen at Eccles Road and Welney Washes, for example. H.R.H. Prince Charles was able to underline some more track in his rail atlas when the Class 67-hauled Royal Train passed through Brundall en route to Great Yarmouth. The duo of 9466 and 34067 “Tangmere” were seen on their way from to Cromer and Sheringham and we also saw 1450 on the Titfield Thunderbolt, the B12 inauguration ceremony and Steam Galas on the MNR (61306 “Mayflower”) and the NNR (Tornado).
Mike Fordham had been down to Swanage for their Steam Gala and also included photos of Poole where the railway crosses the High St on the level. Ex – Port of Par locos “Alfred” and “Judy”, both with cut - down cabs and chimneys because of a low bridge under the Cornish main line, were in evidence along with 34070 “Manston” and M7 30053. He was disappointed that every engine seemed to be facing the same way, which was not so good photographically, and frustrated his attempts at Corfe Castle. We also saw 34026 “Yes Tor” and 78019 which had been in Norfolk in June.
Finishing the visual show early, Steve Cane said a few words about his background. He grew up in Luton and did a paper round before breakfast. Always interested in trains, he used to make a point of seeing “The Palatine” (0755 St Pancras, 0830 pick-up at Luton, Manchester Central arr 1148 - Ed.) presumably with a Britannia, Royal Scot or Jubilee on the front. Earlier this year Steve and his wife celebrated their Ruby Wedding by going to Manchester’s Midland Hotel and which, he found, had the old Central Station (closed 1969 – Ed.) “round the back”.
Arthur Barrett had ranged far and wide, visiting the Launceston Steam Railway in Cornwall, Honing – where his wife’s uncle was once Stationmaster – Rudyard Lake Railway (Leek), Steeple Grange Light Railway (Wirksworth), and made a circular tour (bus, train and tram) from Buxton to Macclesfield, Manchester, Altrincham, Oldham “Bumps” Manchester and back to Buxton. Also visited were Peak Rail, Foxfield, Churnet Valley Railway (a Peppa Pig Day made sure his stay was short !) and the Cleethorpes Coast Railway. He also fitted in his customary walks through the Monsal Trail tunnels.
Graham Kenworthy was unimpressed with the Gwili Railway (the lack of a volunteer fireman meant his train was diesel-hauled) but spoke highly of the National Wool Museum at Drefach-Felindre in deepest Carmarthenshire and of the GW main line west of Swansea. He also mentioned that he had been up the Jungfrau (by train) and we look forward to seeing his photos, though not as many as a fellow participant took on the 10 day holiday (getting on for 2,000) ! After the speakers Mike Fordham closed the show with some photos of the Chatham Dockyard - well worth a visit - though sadly the Nanny State has got the better of the Ropery (where they make rope !) which is now closed to visitors. (EM)
Twenty-four members, partners and friends assembled at Yaxham on a gloriously sunny evening on Thursday 26th July. This was in marked contrast to our planned visit on 7th June which was “rained off”. The railway describes a “U” shape and, as well as having rides, some people drove the two diesels – under supervision, of course! Ruston diesels no. 6 “Colonel” (202967 of 1940) & no. 14 (22210 of 1943 masquerading as no. 25 “Army”) did the honours. Many thanks to Paul Hemnell and the other members of the YLR for making us so welcome. (EM)
A double-header - Andy Wright's "A Line in the Land"and Peter Davies's "Bangalore to Calcutta - 28 Hours by Rail" - on 17th May was the title of our final programme prior to the summer recess and over 40 members and guests were treated to two enjoyable presentations.
As "pilot engine", Andy went first showing 3 archive film clips of local railway historical events.
The first was a look at the Norwich to London electrification scheme. A newspaper cutting dated 4th November 1982 covered the Government's announcement to complete the electrification from Colchester to Norwich. Simultaneously, track and signalling improvements were to be carried out to permit 100 mph train speeds. The footage showed drainage improvements, the installation of continuously welded rail and new colour light signals replacing semaphores. Major infrastructure projects were replacing numerous manually operated gates by automated barriers, and major tunnel and bridge works at Ipswich and Trowse respectively. A new power box at Colchester was to control the new railway, including branch lines. The completion of the scheme was celebrated by the naming of a Class 86 electric locomotive "Royal Anglian Regiment" by H.M. the Queen Mother as Colonel in Chief. (It is surprising to note that over 25 years has passed with this infrastructure in place, and did she say "Royal Anglican Regiment" ? - Ed.)
The second footage was "Rails to Dereham", showing the line and dmu services from Wymondham to Dereham just prior to closure in 1969. Substantial freight workings comprising 30 wagons and more were to be seen, hauled by the Class 31 Brush locomotives. It was interesting to compare the intermediate stations on the line with the excellent work recently done to them by the Mid-Norfolk Railway.
Final footage was a 1950s look at the former M & G N Joint. The 236 route-mile system was closed, with a few exceptions, on 28th February 1959. A look at the final services to Melton Constable and the railway works that was the Crewe of Norfolk brought back many memories of what had been lost. The refreshing traditional-English speaking narrator covered the emotive closure interviews with local residents and railwaymen factually without the sensationalism of today's journalists ! We also saw something of the last days of the Aldeburgh branch (and some rather poor Look East interviews - Ed.) before its 1966 closure.
After the interval the "train engine" in the guise of Peter Davies took the strain by showing pictures of a recently-completed rail journey from Bangalore to Calcutta along the east coast of India. To put the journey into context India's railway statistics had been researched by Peter thus:
25,000 route miles 1.4 million railway personnel
7,500 stations 9.000 locomotives
20 million passengers daily 60,000 coaches
2.8 million tons of freight daily 250,000 freight wagons
Before starting his journey in Bangalore, Peter sampled the new metro system serving its suburbs. The main station was of exquisite British Colonial architecture synonymous with much of India's railway inheritance. Examples of express electric passenger engines designated WAP and diesel freight engines designated WDM were comprehensively covered along with interesting facts as to how Indian railways had developed the best technologies of Alco and General Electric. His journey was on the 2345 mail train consisting of 26 coaches where his accommodation was in a sleeping coach of bunk beds. Much needed ventilation and photographic opportunities were available from the open doors of each coach. Scenes of the picturesque rural countryside and coastline were replaced by high-density housing suburbs as Calcutta was approached, 28 hours after leaving Bangalore. Calcutta, the former capital of India up to 1911, has many examples of its British architectural legacy, not least a substantial riveted steel bridge spanning the river and designed and built by the Cleveland Bridge Co. The curtain on proceedings was appropriately preceded by museum photographs of Garratt steam locomotives and other examples of 2.6.0. and 2.8.0. wheel configurations.
What an evening to ponder and what will the new season bring to equal such railway jewels ? We wait and see ! (Chris Mitchell)
150 years of the Great Eastern Railway by Graham Kenworthy
The GER came into existence in 1862, so we expected Graham's talk to take us at a quick canter through the century-and-a-half which followed: expansion in late Victorian years, the 'Jazz' service out of Liverpool Street, the LNER's 25 years of glory, the demise of steam under BR.....but not a bit of it! Instead Graham – valiantly contending with a sore throat – transported us back before 1862 to the GER's 'pre-history'.
The Great Eastern was formed by amalgamating the Eastern Counties Railway with several smaller lines: the Norfolk, the Eastern Union, the Newmarket and Chesterford, the East Norfolk, the Harwich, the East Anglian and the East Suffolk among others. After running through a 'family tree' of these predecessors, Graham proceeded to show pictures of evocative reminders of these old companies: maps, pictures, posters, documents, and artefacts.
A piece of Eastern Counties Railway rolling stock has survived (several of us were surprised to learn) in the form of a first-class carriage of 1851 at the NRM. Ancient ECR plans of the stations at Audley End (then known as Wenden), Cambridge and Ely showed just what has changed in the intervening years. Two more ECR reminders were wax seal impressions from Harston and Aldeby stations and an excess fare counterfoil.
Turning to the Eastern Union Railway, we saw early plans of Colchester, Brantham and Ipswich and a document from the Ipswich and Bury Railway, itself a predecessor of the EUR. Bury station, as we saw in a photograph, was built with an overall roof, but this was removed as early as 1893.
After the break we moved on to the smaller companies. Engravings of the station buildings at Brandon and Thetford (built by the Norwich & Brandon company, later to become part of the Norfolk Railway) showed views not too different from today's; let us hope that the attractive flint structures can manage to survive. A curiosity was Norfolk Railway 2-2-0 Eagle, later rebuilt as a self-propelled inspection saloon, prompting an audience member to wonder where they stored the coal. On a map of Lowestoft, Graham pointed out the site of the coke ovens, commemorated for many years afterwards by the eponymous junction. Other delights – certainly to the ephemera collector! – were a share certificate from the Ely and Huntingdon Railway, Thetford and Watton Railway tickets, and a T&W handbill advertising cheap tickets to 'watering places'.
To conclude a most entertaining evening, Graham challenged us to identify the eight shields on the perimeter of the GER's heraldic device. Most of us could recognise only Norwich; Graham put us out of our misery by telling us that they are (clockwise from 1 o'clock): Maldon(!), Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, Hertford, Northampton, Huntingdon and Middlesex.
A surprisingly large attendance gathered for the Society's Annual General Meeting on 19th April. The Secretary will be arranging for the circulation of the Minutes in due course but, in the meantime, here are the main points:
* Peter Davies's year of office as Chairman came to an end, and our new Chairman is Peter Adds. Gordon Bruce was elected as the new Vice-Chairman. The customary - if unusual - "badges of office" were exchanged.
* Although Andy Wright stood down as Treasurer he remains the Society's Webmaster. John Laycock is our new Treasurer.
* The subscription will rise to £18.50 from January 2013.
* Although 3 members sadly passed away during the year, the membership rose by 11 to 93.
A good attendance of both members and guests enjoyed John Day's presentation of "U.S.A. Today - Railroading Across the U.S.A." on 5th April.
Away from the tracks we saw a few shots of the "Railfan Garden" with its 4 stones to represent people killed, though not, apparently, by the resident rattlesnake !
The famous Cajon Pass area is very busy with well over 100 trains daily, on the (now) three tracks - with trains at different levels - and is a Mecca for enthusisats. Often, these trains will be over a mile long and double-stacked with containers ! The famous Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles is not far away.
Also deserving particular mention is the Tehachapi Loop. It is a ¾ mile-long spiral on the Union Pacific Railway through Tehachapi Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains of S. California, the line connecting Bakersfield (of country music fame) in the San Joaquin Valley to Mojave in the Mojave Desert. The Loop gains a total of 77' in elevation as the track ascends a 1 in 50 (2%) grade and trains of over 4,000' long can be seen passing over themselves on the spiral ! Passenger trains do not normally use the line.
We also saw the huge marshalling or rail classification yard and repair facilities at Barstow, S. Cal, just to the west of which lines divide for Los Angeles or San Francisco. John and his group of fellow-photographers use 4wd vehicles to reach some of the remote locations, and scanners to listen in to the railroad frequencies and the Trainmaster's telephone number is in the phone book, so a photo-shoot can be planned (or perhaps cancelled) with more than a little inside information ! When they're told that the track gangs might go out for a couple of hours it means there'll be no traffic & it's time to pack up ! Although most lines appear to be railfan-friendly, the notable exception is the Apache RR which runs to a paper mill in Snowflake, Arizona.
Moving up into Oregon we saw something of the Mount Hood RR, predominantly a heritage line but which also carries a little freight. In Montana rail is used to transport gas some 50 miles as the native Indians refused permission for the pipeline (which rail links) to cross an ancient burial site. On some hilly sections it was not unusual to see heavy trains with 2 locos leading, 6 "helpers" in the middle and 2 more locos at the rear. Through wiring enables one crew to do everything.
John showed us a photo of an old diesel, in which B & B was possible @ $299 + taxes for 2 nights, but this was eschewed, partly on cost grounds, and partly because of bad reviews ! We saw something of street-running in La Grange, Kentucky, even when a fair was in progress close to the tracks ! The Trainmaster here has a second job as owner of the Big R Bar-B-Q !!
Roanoake, Virginia (John certainly gets about !) was originally the home of the Norfolk & Western RR, immortalised in O. Winston Link's amazing photographs, which was the last major line to convert from steam to diesel around 1960. Its prosperity rested on the huge coal deposits, and coal is still a major traffic. John has visited the O. Winston Link Museum 3 times but, for a city with such a glorious railroad history, it has long been without a passenger service.
We closed with some photographs of the ex-China Railways QJ no. 7040 and the privately-owned Union Pacific no. 844. Thanks to John for an enthralling evening. (EM)
Meeting Report 15 March 2012
On the 15 March 2012 we were pleased to welcome John Hull, Vice-Chairman of the Mid Norfolk Railway. He also holds the somewhat mystifying title of ‘Infrastructure Permanent Way Liaison’.
But it was with the history of the line that he began, taking us back to 1845 when the line from Wymondham to Dereham was planned. It opened to freight in November the following year and to passengers in 1847. More than 10,000 tons of coal was carried in the first year. By the end of that decade the line extended to Fakenham and reached Wells in 1857. After becoming part of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862, the line was doubled between Wymondham and Dereham in 1882.
In addition to passenger traffic and freight during peacetime heavy use was made by the Air Ministry of the sidings at Dereham as a reception centre for materials to construct local airfields.
After the war the branch became part of the Eastern Region of British Railways and John told us about the introduction of the earliest railcars to the line. However the 1960’s heralded the era of Dr. Beeching and from 1963 contraction began with the line from Dereham to Wells closing to passengers from 5th October 1964. By the end of the decade only freight traffic remained with the further expansion of road transport reducing the demand for this service.
So what of the preservation movement? John told us about the development of the Wymondham, Dereham and Fakenham Railway Action committee in the mid 1970’s and its efforts to restore passenger traffic to the line. However the complete closure of the line came in 1989 after which various groups with an interest in the line sought to work together. In 1995 the Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust was set up and gained charitable status. Within three years the Trust had acquired the route from Wymondham to Dereham.
(Above, Class 37 003 waits at Thuxton with a short freight train for Wymondham on 19 February 2012 during the Mid Norfolk Railway’s Mixed Traffic Weekend: Andy Wright)
John went on to show a collection of slides depicting the railway during the 1970’s and 80’s and explained the efforts to extend the line from Dereham to County School. As a railway he alluded to the different character the Mid Norfolk has compared to the North Norfolk Railway. John sees them as complimentary rather than competing railways.
A key aim for the MNR is to reach County School within striking distance of the tourist trade in the North Norfolk area. At the other end of the line the hope is to establish a station within a short walk of Wymondham mainline station. Much depends on Network Rail in this regard. Other developments include the acquisition of an ex Virgin Mark 3 Restaurant Car, which saw use in the recent February Gala, and raises the prospect of a dining service with the opportunity to generate additional income and interest in the railway.
The inevitable questions were asked about steam on the MNR and we were advised to keep our ears open for news of visiting steam locomotives. After April we shall just have to see what may flower as spring turns to summer. All in all John delivered an entertaining and informative talk.
History of the Port of Felixstowe.
This was a joint presentation by Ian Heeley, who had worked at the Port for 23 years, and Brian Hall who was a construction worker.
Ian gave a brief overview of the history of the port from its planning by Colonel George Tomline through the opening of the railway from Westerfield to Felixstowe in 1877. This was followed by work on the dock commencing in 1882, with the first ship using the dock in 1886. This year also saw the acquisition of the railway by the Great Eastern Company.
Colonel Tomline died in 1889 and the Dock passed to his heir, Captain Ernest Pretyman.
Development in the following sixty or so years was modest, traffic consisting mainly of grain inwards to the mill on the north side of the dock and outward grain, malt and flour. The major changes in the immediate vicinity were in connection with the establishment of naval and air stations, which were particularly active during periods of requisition in World Wars I and II.
In 1951 Mr. H.Gordon Parker bought the Felixstowe Dock & Railway Company after it had been released by the government, and, with assistance from Ian Trelawney as General Manager, set about reviving the port.
The last sixty years have been a period of continuous development and expansion, not least since the advent of container shipping in the late 1960s. This has led to it achieving the position of the busiest container port in the country and high in the top ten in Europe.
Members were duly amazed by photographs taken by Brian of vessels arriving from the Far East with cranes for container handling already assembled and our speakers described the delicate methods required to off-load them to the dock side.
Mention was made of the various facilities operated by the port itself, including the fire brigade, police force and hospital. The good labour relations enjoyed were also covered, reflected in the very low number of industrial disputes which had occurred over the years.
A final sequence of images of the port area taken from very high viewpoints left a lasting impression on the audience as did the very distinctive delivery from our speakers.
Graham Kenworthy, March 2012
Meeting Report 16 February 2012
The first half of John Hanchet's presentation on 16th February was intriguingly entitled "A Blurb on Preservation". "Blurb", we were to learn, was effectively an on-line publishing system - available on download - by which you could be your own author / publisher. It is probably best suited to the coffee-table type of photographic album, with relatively little text, and the 80 page book John had produced cost him around £27. Its advantages lie in its versatility - no piles of prints to pass round; no digital displays either. Mind you, "Blurb" publications are not for the faint-hearted, and as with any photographic album considerable photographic talent is essential, clearly apparent as John took us through the entire book.
John is a member of Norwich and District Photographic Society - there appears to be little railway interest among their members but they do know about producing photographs acceptable to photographers. John largely achieved this - sometimes the train was secondary to the landscape and there were some excellent views of people and railway structures. He likes foreground in front of the train and enjoys photographing trains in the countryside. He is a supporter of photographic charters - no idiots spoiling the pictures - and I particularly liked his night shots (often on the G.C.) although he said that a tripod was required. Food for thought, as they say.
John probably broke new ground in the second half of his presentation, when we saw part of a German-language DVD on Meiningen Locomotive Works, a little to the north-east of Frankfurt. It's probably well-known that Tornado's boiler was manufactured here, but the DVD was something of a step back into a bygone age as the repair facilities seemed to have comparatively little modern equipment. The works seemed about the same size as (say) Derby or Eastleigh, and much smaller than Crewe or Swindon. The former Prussian State Railways works was opened in 1914, and probably the largest number of employees worked there shortly after WW2. We saw locos being dismantled for repair, badly scaled tubes being removed, and a the strength of a boiler being determined by a metallurgist. Wheels were likewise removed and re-profiled, cylinders re-bored, and gradually the engine was re-assembled prior to its test runs. Health & Safety tended to be in the background ! It was hard to date the DVD - it was obviously post-reunification and probably just after the merger of the Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn in 1994. Nowadays, the works undertakes steam locomotive repair from all over Europe, and is responsible for the safety inspections of all operational German steam locomotives. (EM)
We tend to think of the Channel Tunnel or Crossrail as big deals in terms of rail tunnelling, but both are easily outclassed by the 57km-long Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) which engineers have been boring under the Swiss Alps - through rock, not simple clay! - since 1995.
This massive piece of engineering was the subject of Chris Mitchell's illustrated talk on February 2. He called it Emmental Cheese and Marmots. Why? Well, the cheese's manufacturing process is designed to produced the familiar holes - or tunnels - and marmots are renowned for living in burrows, often within rockpiles, and hibernating there through the winter. (They also use whistles to communicate, as do, apparently, the rail tunnellers.)
The GBT is expected to open in 2016 and is the world's longest rail tunnel. Its purpose is to increase transport capacity across the Alps, especially for freight between Germany and Italy, and to shift freight from road to rail to reduce environmental damage. It will also cut the journey time for passenger trains from Zürich to Milan by about an hour and from Zürich to Lugano to 1 hour 40 minutes.
Chris is professionally involved with Crossrail and was privileged to visit the GBT with an Institution of Civil Engineers party last year. He showed pictures from a journey over the 'old' route - spectacular mountain scenery and spiral tunnels - as well as a video of the TBM's breakthrough last July.
For the meeting's second half Chris took us on a journey south over the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) railway, the second-largest Swiss standard-gauge network. From a blend of Chris's own and borrowed slides, we saw the wide variety of motive power from several countries which can be found on this three-voltage route. They include the tilting Cisalpino units as well as many locos liberally covered with advertising vinyls.
A fascinating evening ended with two short DVDs, one of rail activity around the north end of the existing St Gotthard tunnel at Göschenen, the other a journey over the BLS through Spiez and the Lötschberg Tunnel to Brig.
Thanks are also due to Chris for introducing a novel but appropriate accompaniment - slices of Emmental - to our half-time refreshments.
This was held on Saturday 28th January, and seemed to be enjoyed by young and old, and by members and non-members. Alan Thurling acted as roving reporter, for which I'm very grateful. The EDP/EEN kindly sent a photographer/reporter, and local members will have read about the Show a few days later (Click for EDP Report). Our Shows began life as Open Days (with members' work predominant) back in 1997, and the indefatigable Mike Fordham has organised the lot ! This report is, however, confined mainly to the visiting displays etc.
Archivist Raymond Meek produced an excellent display, themed on the 3 Norwich stations - Thorpe, Victoria & City. David Rowlands asked to be described as an aviation artist, though his display of paintings & prints covered various transport subjects. Our visit to the Tata Steelworks at Scunthorpe last year was recalled in a suitable painting. Not content with one artist, Brian Lewis of Sheringham doubled the number.
The Norfolk O Gauge Mardlers had a demonstration stand of O Gauge locomotives - including a Gresley P2 - mainly kit built locos from brass and nickel silver, with matching rolling stock. The Norwich Model Railway Club (Cyril Davies) had an N gauge layout with much to admire in a small space, including models of 160 people. "Nibley Knoll" (Graham & Caroline Watling) was the name of an 009 narrow gauge railway incorporating kit-built and ready-to-run locos and coaches, with excellent landscaping and water features.
"Rosebud City Union Station" (below) was the first part of a 22' American N gauge layout based on a Montana location. Brian Willcocks is hoping to run large trains (up to 14 coaches) through an urban landscape. Andrew Ingram (well-known to Society members) had an excellent presentation of steam-era photographs taken in the Peterborough area. The Broadland Model Railway Club (Geoff Dimmer & Alan Ball) had a dual gauge display - a quarry in 009 narrow gauge and an 00 gauge main line.
The Great Yarmouth Model Boat Club was represented by founder-member Alan Jones. The have resurrected the old Yarmouth Model Boat Club and had a fine model of a New York Harbour steam tug which used to be used to shuttle barges loaded with railroad cars. Graham Smith's LGB layout represented North German Islands narrow-gauge. Two of these islands still have railway systems, and buy in locos/stock from almost anywhere, thus simplifying the modeller's task. The Friends of Norwich City Station (FONCS) (Jon Batley) are carrying out a sort of modern archaeological dig to expose as much as possible of what's left of City station. They hope to incorporate a grassed memorial area with an M & G N bench and information boards.
Ronald Frith and Roger Upson-Smith had a Meccano display, with several models (some working) from kits ranging from the 1920s to the present - this was very popular. Brian Baker from the 7¼" Gauge Society brought along 3 goods vehicles in this impressive scale. Ian Wells flew the flag for Wroxham's Barton House Railway - it has two ride-on railways of 3½" & 7¼" gauge and an interesting museum. From over the border James Hewett, from the Southwold Railway Trust, publicised its plans for Wenhaston, where they hope to construct a 3' gauge line on ½ mile of track, and if planning permission is granted the site will include a workshop, cafe, lakes and a wild flower meadow.
The George Williamson Memorial Layout (courtesy of David Hall, Diss Model Railway Society) was a restored N gauge layout with a Peak District BR (LMR) flavour. Peter Willis, a member of the Hornby Railway Collectors Association, had "Binns Road" - an 00 gauge layout of Hornby LNER, LMS & BR locos and rolling stock. Robert Scarfe showed a selection of films (many his own) during the afternoon, and the advantages of Blu-Ray & HD were there for all to see. Jane Goodyear, John Hanchet and Andy Wright had excellent photographic displays.
Thanks to all other NRS members who displayed models, publicity material and so on - sadly, space simply does not permit of an exhaustive listing.
And that's almost it. Thanks to Ann, Bernice, Christine, Janet, Jenni, Joy, Marie, Maureen, Rose & Sue for keeping the large crowd fed and watered throughout.
And finally - our raffle raised funds to aid the painting of "Wissington" (HC 1700 of 1938). Chris King won 1st prize (a framed print of an aerial view of "The Sheringham Crossing" taken by Mike Page). Thanks to all who bought tickets. Ian Lake, Wissington Project Co-ordinator, has replied: "Once again, many thanks to you and the NRS for supporting the Wissington project. As we close in on the end of the restoration, the funds will prove very useful - every penny is appreciated. Please convey our thanks to all of the NRS. You will be pleased to know that we are getting very close to test steaming the boiler in the frames".
Meeting Report 19 January 2012
Brazil was the next country to be visited as Ken Mills continued his South American journey on 19th January. It is a vast country, the fifth largest in the world, both by size and population, which is close on 200 million.
He began with a visit to the steam-worked Tubarao coal mining complex which is, unusually, isolated from the rest of the rail network. It was metre gauge, and we saw several non-compound Mallets, including a 126.96.36.199. Trains were fully fitted, and weighed around 1400 tons. The loco fleet was around 27/28, and a Manning Wardle 0.4.0ST was on display. A very impressive 2.10.4 "Texan" was also seen. When Ken visited, flooding had destroyed part of the 70 mile line and coal was brought to the trains by conveyor. Although mainly U.S. locos were used, there had been a lot of withdrawals in the 1970s, and some locos from Argentina were brought in to replace them.
After returning to Rio de Janeiro it was time to vist the Rio Tramway (Santa Teresa Tram), which runs over 2 routes - from the central area to Dos Imilios, and from the central area to Paulo Mattos. Overhead trolley type collection was in use but, most amazing of all, were slides of trams crossing the 148' high Carioca aqueduct. The aqueduct dates from the 1750, and is just wide enough to take the single track tramway.
Apart from its famous beaches (which were strangely absent from Ken's presentation !), Rio is well-known for its (huge 130' high) statue of Christ, perhaps the country's best-known image, and which is illuminated at night. This is located on the top of Mount Corcovado but post-dates the railway (originally steam, but now electric) and lies in a stunning setting. An hourly service runs, though some trains require a minimum of 10 passengers.
Continuing on a colourful theme, next stop was the VFCO Sao Joao del Rei, an amazingly decorative railway,some 250 miles inland, this time on the 2'6" gauge. Perhaps the most notable of the embellished locos was a Baldwin 4.4.0 of 1912.
The EFCJ (Campos Do Jordao) is in the Sao Paulo area is an electrified, metre gauge line that climbs from Pindamohangara to what is known as "the Brazilian Switzerland". The line is 29 miles long, and services run at 40 minute intervals. A variety of overhead-collection cars are in use, some British dating back to the line's opening. Contrastingly,Sao Paulo itself suffers greatly from weekday smog (it is clear at weekends) and a metro railway has recently been constructed.
Next visit was to a cement company's line at Cajamar, north west of Sao Paulo. Once again, U.S. makers were on show, with products from Alco, Baldwin & Porter, notably a strange 2.4.0 + small 4 wheeled tender. As with other Brazilian "sheds" there were no sides, just a roof.
Finally, leaving the best till last, was the Santos a Jundiai cable railway or inclined planes. Ken visited in the 1980s shortly before the final steam-worked section was electrified.and diverted over a slightly different route. The railway needed to climb a steep escarpment to reach Sao Paulo from the coastal city of Santos. The song tells us "They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil", and coffee exports were the line's major traffic. But it was hard work to gain the necessary height, and the 5'3" gauge line had 5 inclined sections at 1 in 12½ (8%) each well over a mile long. We saw curious steam loco-brakes which gripped the cable, products of Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn & Kerr Stewart, and some economical 3-line trackwork with catch points. The cable system, necessarily, had some wonderful Victorian - era winding gear. Efficient overhead - electric trains have now taken over on what Ken (a front passenger on one of the loco-brakes) regards as the most interesting railway in the world !
Many thanks to Ken for unearthing more "hidden gems" and to Graham Kenworthy, the projectionist. (EM)
Meeting Report 5th January 2012 - Chairman's Address
The Chairman's address on 5th January fell to Peter Davies, and the presentation was entitled "Lawrence, Arabia and all that Hedjaz". It was necessary to have an understanding of the region's history and politics, though Peter lightened the evening with some clips from the classic 1960s film - "Lawrence of Arabia".
The Ottoman Empire was in terminal decline in the late 19th century, and the countries we now know as Greece and Romania (for example) had broken away following the Russo-Ottoman Crimean War, leaving them with what we now know as Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia & Syria. When Abdulhamid II became Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1876 he took up the pan-Islamic banner to get the support of his Muslim majority subjects (nothing new there - Ed.). His standing in the Islamic world was based on his position as Cailiph, and the holy city of Mecca was under Ottoman control. Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives, but the overland route from Damascus to Mecca could take over 40 days and the pilgrims suffered seriously from attacks by Bedouins, disease, extreme heat and the lack of clean drinking water ! A railway would be a great asset !
German influence was at work behind the scenes, but raising the money to build the line was entirely down to worldwide Muslims albeit with a significant pledge from the Sultan etc. A German engineer - H A Meissner - was brought in to oversee the line's construction, which actually began on 1st May 1901. Military conscripts undertook the unskilled work, but foreign workers were employed on such as bridge, station and tunnel building. The line was, perhaps surprisingly, subject to winter flash-flooding.
It was pleasing to learn that very little of the Muslim money for the line's construction was "diverted" to third parties, and we saw how building styles changed from north to south. Rails were supplied by by a number of European & American manufacturers. Steel and wooden sleepers were used, depending on location. However, the line was built to the odd gauge of 1.05M. Unusually, the line opened free from debt and the demands of shareholders. A branch line was built from Dera'a (now in Syria) to Haifa (now on the Israeli coast) to assist the importation of raw materials etc. The train from Damascus to Medina ran 3 times a week, journeys usually took between 3 & 4 days.
Political changes were afoot, and the line was never built beyond Medina, to which point completion had taken place on 1st September 1908. The line never recovered from the combination of Lawrence's guerrilla attacks in 1917/18 (despite the Turks being adept at repairing damage), the emergence of a French-controlled Syria & Transjordan, the British in Palestine and the separate Saudi Arabian state.
Plans to revive the railway after WW2 were agreed by Syria, Jordan & Saudi Arabia, and a British consortium was placed in charge of the project. Although the project was due to be completed in 1968 the growth in air travel and considerable improvements to the road network meant that the railway's reconstruction was uneconomic and it was soon suspended. An occasional enthusiasts' steam service runs twice-weekly between Amman (Jordan) & Damascus.
Although this has really been a historical account, Peter's presentation was lavishly illustrated with photographs of strange locomotives, rolling stock, civil engineering features and long-forgotten wrecked engines etc, all of which made for a thoroughly different and enjoyable evening. (EM)
The Members' Informal Evening on 15th December was full of surprises, both at home and abroad, and proceedings closed just before 10 p.m., more by accident than design !
First to show was Mike Fordham who brought a friend's DVD shot in Paraguay earlier in the year. The country's infrastructure is, sadly, Third World, with such oddities as bridge without a road. Railway footage showed some rusting boilers, and some impressive Yorkshire Engine Co. exports of the early 1950s, both nothing working. Indeed, it wasn't clear if there was still a rail service at all !
Arthur Barrett showed part of an A-Z of Steam DVD, which apparently ends with Zimbabwe. It opened with A for A3, and "Flying Scotsman" was prominent on a non-stop run from King's Cross to Edinburgh in 1968, and on its U.S.A. visit in 1969. B was a strange selection with ex-LSWR B4 0.4.0T "Normandy" on the Swanage branch, followed by "Black 5s" in the late 1970s. C was the ex-SECR "C" class 0.6.0 filmed in black & white on a "last day" somewhere on the Southern Region. An undertaker was prominent, a not unusual character at "last days" in the 1960s.
Warren Wordsworth reminded us of Society and other local activites earlier in the year, with the "failed" 8F 48305 on the G.C.R. , 6023 on the Mid-Norfolk Railway and the usual mixed bag on the North Norfolk Railway - 45305, the ex-L.T. Pannier tank, J15 65462, "Flying Pig" 43106 and 92203 "Black Prince".
Technical problems prevented Robert Scarfe from showing his film of Thetford signalbox next, so Mike Handscomb read an extract from Nicholas Whittaker's "Platform Souls". He was a train-spotter of the 60s variety and preferred old railway films to slide shows. However, he recalled a visit to Barry scrapyard - the "Elephants' Graveyard" - before anything had been removed, and their unfortunate companion who had his Parka (remember them ?) tied to the strings of a luggage rack (remember those ?) just before arrival at Cardiff and the ensuing chaos !
John Hutchinson produced an Alpine Railways DVD showing the "Crocodile" electrics before moving to some impressive snow clearance work over the Bernina Pass by the last steam snow-blower retained by Rhaetian Railways (it was used twice in 2009). This route is the highest adhesion railway in the Alps at 7% or 1 in 14 !
During the break Robert Scarfe had managed to fix the problem and we were treated to an excellent session inside Thetford signalbox filmed last November. Thetford will soon lose its rare co-acting signals at the end of the Up platform and the signalman clearly explained offer and acceptance procedures to/from Brandon and Harling Road. As darkness fell a Sandite train, top'n'tailed by Class 37s, made a welcome change from the units. The signalman's helpful commentary gave no hint of his impending redeployment or redundancy.
Edward Mann showed some vintage video of a couple of industrial railways serving the aluminium industry in the Fort William and Kinlochleven areas. Rudimentary trestle bridges passed for civil engineering, even though the Kinlochleven line was electrified @ 500V D.C. Then the film moved to the oil shale mines near Winchburgh, not far from Edinburgh. This 2'6" gauge 4 mile line was Scotland's first electric railway - it closed in 1961.
Malcolm Cooper produced some impressive photos of the Warley Model Railway Show of 2010, especially the Twittering & Oysterperch Railway, though strangely this amazing line was not there in 2011.
It was now the turn of those with slides, and Ken Mills showed slides of his July 2011 visit to Northern Ireland interspersed with those he took back in 1963. One of the most impressive locos was the Great Southern & Western B1(a) 4.6.0 now preserved at Cultra - one of a class of three which worked the Dublin - Cork services - which Ken also saw on his earlier visit, and which are very similar to "Royal Scots". Seen at Cultra this time was what was effectively a 5'3" gauge L.M.S. 2P 4.4.0 ! He saw some early Irish Republic diesels at the RPSI at Whitehead, one of the well-known "Jeep" 2.6.4Ts, and no. 171 - the Irish equivalent of the J15 !
Peter Adds rounded off proceedings with slides from his 25 years commuting from Hitchin to King's Cross. We saw the layout at Sandy, where the old Cambridge - Bletchley line crossed over, the last Deltic-hauled "Tees-Tyne Pullman" and the line-up of staff, Moorgate services, York Road, and then up to the Settle & Carlisle where the BR Publicity Dept had a HST to play with for a day !
Thanks to Andy Wright for operating the digital projector and to Ian Woodruff for keeping the slide projector moving.
Those present will recall that, at our break, tradition was followed and the needs of the inner man were satisfied by mince pies etc provided by Graham & Joy Kenworthy in return for a donation to the Norwich Night Shelter, otherwise St Martin's Housing Trust. Though the division of labour remains unclear, Graham & Joy would like to thank everyone for contributing a record sum - "comfortably into 3 figures" - which was much appreciated.
Meeting Report Thursday 1 December 2011
A near-record turnout assembled to hear an extremely well-prepared talk by Paul Hudson. Known to many members as a Plandampf regular and contributor to past talks on that subject, Paul is a long-standing member of the Welsh Highland Railway and has worked regularly on the working parties restoring the railway to its original southern terminus at Porthmadog. This put him in a good position to record the progress of the line and the train workings over it.
We were treated to a brief history of the line in its early years, up to closure before World War 2, followed by the machinations of rival groups to secure its reopening, with that backed by the Festiniog Railway being the successful one. Paul then took us southwards from Caernarfon, following the track of the standard gauge line to Afon Wen as far as Dinas Junction, the original northern terminus. From there onwards he was able to intersperse shots of the abandoned trackbed, and of the actual restoration process, with those of today’s fully operational railway. At the south end he included pictures of the rival group’s operation on the trackbed of the old Croesor Tramway, finishing with scenes of the awkward layout at Festiniog, to be the subject of future rebuilding.
The evening was well-researched and held the attention throughout. Our thanks to Paul and also to the projection crew, for whom this was an especially challenging evening, with frequent changes from slides to digital and back.
Meeting Report Thursday 17 November 2011
On 17th November the Beachy Head Project was explained to us by Paul Curson. Ken Mills reports.
You would be forgiven for thinking, from the title of the talk, that it concerned the building of a huge concrete wall in front of the
famous headland to prevent it crumbling into the English Channel. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, and it related
to the construction of a new-build steam locomotive which bore the same name.
Paul commenced with the official reason why the 4.4.2. wheel arrangement of a steam locomotive had acquired the name
"Atlantic". This was, apparently, due to the 1894-built Baldwin engines of the same wheel arrangement which worked on the
Atlantic Coast Line, a railway on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A.
We then learned something of the life of the designer of the renowned "Brighton Atlantics", Douglas Earle Marsh. Born in Norfolk
in 1862, educated at Brighton College and University College, London, he joined the Great Northern Railway in 1895 as Assistant
Mechanical Engineer to the famed Harry Ivatt at Doncaster Works. Here, he assisted with building of the 22 GNR "Small"
Atlantics (LNER Class C2) during 1898-1903 and enjoyed a couple of years on the construction of the "Large" Atlantics (94
engines of LNER Class C1 1902-1910) before accepting the chance to become Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London,
Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) in November 1904.
Armed with several borrowed drawings from Doncaster, Marsh lost no time in ordering a batch of 5 Atlantics for his new
employers from Kitsons of Leeds in 1905. It was no surprise, therefore, that the 5 engines for the LB&SCR closely resembled
their GNR forebears. The new additions were allocated the LBSCR numbers 37 - 41 (SR 2037 - 2041 as class H1) (BR 32037 -
32041 Class H1) and featured larger cylinders and higher boiler pressure than their GNR counterparts. Five years later, a second batch of 6 Atlantics were built using LBSCR numbers 421 - 426 (SR 2421 - 2426 class H2) (BR 32421 - 32426 class H2) employing greater heating surfaces in the boiler and again a slight increase in cylinder size produced a healthy tractive effort of 24,520 lbs.
While the H1 class locos were all withdrawn by 1951, 5 of the 6 class H2's survived until 1956. However 32424 (named "Beachy Head" by the SR in the mid-1920s ) hung on (and operated several "special" trains in the meantime) until cut up at Eastleigh in April 1958, despite a last-ditch attempt to purchase the locomotive privately.
So ...end of story ? Fast forward to 1986…
With the preservation movement getting into its stride, a group of enthusiasts - working on a rumour - discovered four former GNR locomotive boilers in industrial use at a sawmill in Maldon, Essex. After some examination, two of the boilers were found to be from the GN "Large" Atlantics,
and one of these two had only been used for no more than two years. Silver crossed palms, and the latter boiler was delivered to the Bluebell Railway in 1987. Since 1991, the "Manston" group of enthusiasts were known to possess a spare tender frame from an old C2X 0.6.0., but suitable for an Atlantic. In 1995, after much wrangling, a cheque was drawn and the Bluebell received another birthday present.
The key pieces of the jigsaw were now starting to fall into place. At a meeting in August 2001 it was decided that the "Beachy
Head" project should be got under way along with some promised sponsorship. An early requirement was a shed building large
enough to accommodate a locomotive, tender, boiler and frames separately. A two-road kit-built depot was delivered in
September 2005 and erected by a society member by March 2006. A small drawing office was situated within the depot to house
all the "paper-trail" documentation required by law for new constructions. Basic equipment such as a milling machine, a lathe and
pulley-blocks were obtained second-hand, while small items like the regulator handle , whistle, shed plate and class plate were
donated. The frame plates (1¾ tons each) had been cast, cut and delivered from Corus Steel in 2004.
York Railway Museum provided the locomotive drawings and over 700 individual plans were copied by the members of the
project group. Paul showed us pictures of a selection of locomotive parts already acquired, reminding me of a No. 10 Meccano
set waiting to be bolted together, with the cylinder block being an especially complicated piece of engineering. Project policy was
to fabricate the small jobs in-house but sending away the larger and more complex work to the professionals. Bogie wheels were
at Rileys in Lancashire, while the 6'7½" diameter driving wheels would go to Pridhams. As the LBSCR was a Westinghousebraked
railway, it was hoped that the necessary pump and brake gear could be tackled locally.
Finishing up with questions from the audience, we found out that the new Brighton Atlantic No. 32424 "Beachy Head" would
hopefully be in steam within five years , and that it was envisaged that as the engine would be working only on preservation lines
the project would not be be seeking "main-line" authorisation.
A hearty vote of thanks completed the evening along with best wishes for the project's successful finale.
Meeting Report Thursday 3 November 2011
Jill Wright gave an illustrated presentation entitled ‘Return to Indian Railways’
Being married to not only a keen railway enthusiast but also one of the Norfolk Railway Society’s most dearly-loved members until
his tragic death two years ago was always going to be a challenge for Jill Wright. But clearly David’s love of railways was shared
by his wife, in spirit if not in minute detail, and this evening Jill came to tell us of not one but two railway-based expeditions she
had made since her husband’s passing.
In the first half of the evening Jill recounted a visit to north-east India made in November 2010, to fulfil a life-long dream to revisit
the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Eschewing a railway-themed package holiday for a more ‘mainstream’ tour, her visit to India
began in Calcutta, a city seen to be teeming with buses, trams, rickshaws, taxis (mostly LPG-fuelled) and motorcycles. Her hotel
was a large floating edifice on the Hooghly River. Many buildings dating from the days of the Raj remain. Moving on to Kurseong,
we saw the HQ of the Darjeeling line, and also the congested hillside town of Darjeeling. Sadly the weather was not too kind to
Jill’s party, and the lower part of the line proved impossible to traverse due to storm damage to a bridge, however we did get to
see a couple of the vintage Sharp Stewart locos in use. A total of 34 of these machines were originally supplied to the Railway
between 1889 and 1925, but only a dozen or so remain on the line in various states of repair or disrepair. A number of diesels
have taken over some of the duties, notably on the lower section. Various experiments with oil-firing and railbuses proved to be
less than successful, and were quickly abandoned.
Since 1999 the DHR has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is operated by Indian Railways, with assistance
from a local railway society. While not all of the famous loops and switchbacks remain in use today, there was still plenty for Jill
to admire and enjoy during her trip over the legendary line between Kurseong, the summit at Ghum, and Darjeeling. At all of the
settlements traversed by the line street running is commonplace, and hence the locos have very loud horns which sound almost
continuously to warn locals of the advance of one of the 2 daily trains. Indeed, one fact not mentioned by Jill but gleaned from
Wikipedia is that “people with sensitive ears (especially foreigners from countries that are more quiet than India) should wear ear
protection while riding the train”!
After the coffee break we moved from India to Canada, for a journey from Vancouver to Toronto undertaken in May this year.
Some impressive aerial views of Vancouver opened proceedings, including the massive freight yards down by the water’s edge.
The present Vancouver station is a vast modern affair, but the original station building still survives, along with the former halfroundhouse,
as a shopping and restaurant complex. A steam loco stands on display outside the former roundhouse.
The journey she undertook was on the tracks of the Canadian National Railway, along the North Thompson River, to Jasper via
the Yellowhead Pass. Everything seen was on a massive scale – from the jaw-dropping scenery of the Rockies, the huge
double-deck container trains, the sheer length of the journey, to the length of the passenger train itself. Jill didn’t miss the
opportunity to ride part of the journey in one of the dome-roofed tourist carriages.
Passing into Prairie country and through Edmonton and Winnipeg, Toronto was eventually reached on day five. A visit was made
to the railway museum in a former roundhouse, ending up – as so many tourists to the city do – looking down from Toronto’s most
famous building, the CN Tower, reminding us that the ‘CN’ refers to the Canadian National Railway, on whose land the edifice
An exhausting trip around the world, which was warmly appreciated by the large audience in attendance. (Gordon Bruce)
Meeting Report Thursday 6 October 2011
A large audience gathered for Donald Wilson's presentation on Modern Wanderings in South America. Our Chairman had first met Donald on one of Hugh Ballantyne's famous railtours, and it transpired that Donald had visited no less than 55 countries.
Argentina is the sub-continent's second-largest country and its railways date back to the 1860s, usually built to assist agricultural development. At their peak they covered some 27,000 miles, with about two-thirds 5'6" gauge, one-third metre gauge, about 1,500 miles standard gauge and a little 2'6" gauge in Patagonia. Apart from its railways, Buenos Aires has the only South American underground system (with a surface level depot so "underground" cars can be seen in the streets), and although most of its trams were dispensed with in the 1960s, a minor resurgence has occurred. The infrastructure is comfortingly British, reflecting past investment in the systems, but outside the suburbs services can be very infrequent, maybe weekly, because of the vast distances and airline domination. Donald travelled the line from Esquel to Jacobacci behind its two steam locomotives - a Baldwin and a Henschel - experienced a tender derailment, and a freezing night on the train awaiting rescue, was sold a "child" ticket for the adult fare by an unscrupulous Stationmaster and had his bags ransacked by a "reformed" hotel clerk but generally seemed to enjoy himself amongst very friendly people.
The civilisation of Argentina gave way to the high mountains of Ecuador and the Guayaquil & Quito Railway, which had some very impressive climbing over the Andes, past "The Devil's Nose", spectacular views, spindly viaducts and reversals to gain height. Railway officials enabled him to jump the long queue and sit in the seat of his choosing without regard to its prior (rightful ?) occupant ! Ecuador was, apparently, the last country to allow roof-riding on its railways ! Travel was in diesel railbuses, not unlike those seen in Ireland 50 years ago, but the company had acquired some French articulated Bo-Bos in the 1960 for freight work.
And so to Paraguay where "Third World" is all that can really be said. This was the last all-steam country in the world with some of its British (Neilson) locomotives past their century. Some of the civil engineering did not inspire confidence !
A thoroughly entertaining evening, and we hope Donald will return to share some more of his travels with us.
The new season of NRS meetings began on Thursday 15 September 2011 with a members' round-up of 2011. It began with Mike Fordham's record shots of the party at Tata Steelworks at Scunthorpe on Sunday 17th July. Graham Kenworthy then took us to Italy, more precisely the Genoa area. Genoa boasts a very imposing station; the electrified coast line south-eastwards towards La Spezia seemed very busy using double-deck stock and huge mosaics were to be seen.
John Hanchet took us slightly further afield, to Czechoslovakia showing Prague's numerous trams, the imposing Skoda "475" class 4.8.2., and to Austria with a charter and some delightful turn of the 20th century steam locos with carriages to match. "Britannia" and 43106 at the NNR also featured.
Peter Willis and Arthur Barrett both showed DVD/video of the Welsh Highland Railway, now open between Porthmadog and Caernarfon and gratifyingly busy before Arthur moved to Derbyshire to explore the various tunnels converted to cycleways between Rowsley and Miller's Dale on the former Midland route through the Peak District which closed to passengers in 1968. It was good to see how much had been spent to achieve this. Arthur rounded off at the multi-gauge Ryedale Miniature Rail Gala in North Yorkshire.
Peter Allison had been to the NRM "outstation" at Shildon, which seemed much-improved since my visit a few years ago. Notable was the unrestored "Turkish" 8F. Chris Mitchell took us on a tour of the signal boxes from Wymondham South Junction to Ely, which are due for early replacement, then to Falsgrave (Scarborough) now minus its famous signal gantry, and to the Fawley Hill Railway which we visited a couple of years ago. Robert Scarfe had been chasing black-liveried 70000 "Britannia" across East Anglia before Gerald Siviour concluded proceedings with slides of the "King" on the MNR, our visit to the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, "Princess Elizabeth" on the "Scarborough Spa Express", the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the recently-opened Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire.
Thanks to all who gave us an absorbing evening, and to Andy Wright our projectionist.
Below are reports of meetings earlier in 2011
In the 1960s many of
Jim began with the
The second part of Jim's presentation focused on the North
London Railway's city extension from Dalston Jct to
You never know what's coming next at a Members' Informal
Evening. On April 7 nine members
produced the customary mixed bag.
Two offerings showed how much our members have changed over
the years! Mike Fordham's pictures from past 'driving' visits to the Yaxham Light Railway focussed as much on participants (with
more hair) as on the ex-industrial diesels they were attempting to control. Ken
Mills relived a visit to the late Jack Ray's Crewchester
Gauge 0 layout at
Just back from this year's Dresden Steam Festival, John Hanchet showed some excellent photos. They included the
impressive olive-green Pacific no.18 201, and Saxon-Meyer articulated tank
locos on the charming narrow-gauge Döllnitzbahn.
Staying across the Channel, on Ian Woodruff's 2007 film a shortened TGV set
reached an eye-popping 574.8 km/h on the LGV Est.
In a brief switch to rubber-tyred
transport, Philip Moore's pictures of a visit to
the Ensignbus depot at Purfleet
revealed a building crammed with a surprising variety of current vehicles and
buses for sale, as well as a collection of historic types.
As a break from visual offerings, John Hutchinson related
some statistics from British Railways in Peace and War and It Can Now Be Revealed, booklets produced during and after
WW2 to record the railways' achievements. How swiftly they managed to repair
bomb damage back then! Browsing through a borrowed copy of Railway
Magazine for August 1973, Mike Handscomb had
been intrigued by items about diesel preservation, shedcodes
and an abortive Channel Tunnel Rail Link project.
From his slide collection Peter Adds produced a fascinating
selection from the 1960s/70s. Notable were a trip from Norwich behind
double-tendered no. 4472 Flying Scotsman, the final day of steam on LT, and
scenes from an early-stage North Norfolk Railway. Graham Kenworthy
always comes up with interesting local pictures; this time he showed some from
the late H N James's collection, including several views of up trains at
Despite the evening of April 21
being unseasonably warm, an encouraging number of members gathered to carry out
the necessary, if less than exhilarating, business of the Annual General
Full Minutes will be distributed in due course, but
meanwhile here are the main points:
* John Clarke's term of office as
chairman ended, and the chairmanship was passed to Peter Davies. Peter Adds was
elected vice-chairman and the customary 'badges' of office were handed over.
* Richard Joby
was awarded honorary membership in the light of his many years' service to the
subscription will rise to £18.50 from January 2012.
constitution was amended to cater for the (unlikely) event of the Society
having to be wound up
It's 40 years since the NRS and the Ipswich
& District Historic Transport Society began
their reciprocal visits (although one or two gaps have occurred). As the NRS
was 'at home' this year, on May 5 we welcomed
four I&DHTS visitors.
Rare aircraft films from Don Kipp
and Roger Coton took up the first half of the
evening. Promotional shorts for the Fairey Gannet, Fairey Rotadyne (a
plane/helicopter hybrid which never succeeded) and Westland Lysander
were followed by a MoD film 12 Squadron Buccaneers. This showed Blackburn
Buccaneers on a NATO exercise off Gibraltar, accompanied by a prominent
Vangelis soundtrack – and, yes, the film turned out to be directed by Hugh
Hudson, best known for his later Oscar-winning Chariots of
Fire which also featured a soundtrack by Vangelis.
We reverted to tracked transport after the break, when Mervyn Russell's illustrated talk Peter
Schuyler Bruff & the Stoke Hill Tunnel
showed how Bruff ('the Brunel
of the Eastern Counties') had formed the Eastern Union Railway and built his
line through the 361 yd Stoke Hill tunnel to reach
When it is complete, probably in 2019, Crossrail
will enable 25kV electric trains to travel from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the
west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. They
will travel through 21km of new twin tunnels, bored under five separate
contracts, which weave between existing underground lines, sewers, tunnels
and building foundations at depths of up to 36m. The largest addition to the
south east rail network in 50 years, Crossrail will
We are fortunate that one of our members, Chris
Mitchell, through membership of the Institution of Civil
Engineers has been tasked with promoting Crossrail as
a major project in this country. On May 19 Chris gave
us the 'inside track' on the scheme in an illustrated presentation
entitled Crossrail: Crossing the Capital, Connecting the
Chris told us that the the £15.5bn
scheme had now reached the 'point of no return', i.e. cancellation would now
cost more than completion. After a brief history of cross-London underground
travel, which began with the Metropolitan's Paddington – Farringdon Street
line in 1863, his series of maps and charts showed how Crossrail
will support London as a capital city and key financial centre by transporting
large numbers of passengers to and from key business centres, thus easing
crowding on many existing tube and rail routes. The journey from Heathrow
to Canary wharf, for example, will come down from 71 to 43 mins.
28 surface stations will be upgraded and eight new stations
will be connected to the existing Underground and rail networks. Massive
worksites have been set up at Tottenham Court Road and
Farringdon, geology at the latter causing many headaches. A
ruling gradient of 1 in 100 has been specified so that freight trains will be
able to use the route.