LOCOMOTIVE CLUB of GREAT BRITAIN
Our indoor meetings are enjoyed by both LCGB members and guests 13 times a year. All railway enthusiasts are welcome. Only August is without a meeting. Subjects vary enormously – with our guest speakers treating their subjects in a variety of styles varying from light-hearted to technical (but not too technical!)
Meetings are held at 7.30pm on Tuesdays at St Johns Church Hall,St John’s Street, Bedford MK42 0DL (Click for map and Rail Links) Refreshments are served at half-time.
You can buy new and second-hand books and other items at all indoor meetings. We also visit exhibitions, open days etc.
Members only may use the library at all meetings.
Bedford Tourist Information St Paul’s Square, MK40 1SJ
01234 215 226 email@example.com Click here for website
[Tuesdays unless otherwise stated]
4th June -- How steam was my valley!
Chris Jones grew up in South Wales near the sights and sounds of the Great Western but was also exposed to the Midland and London and North Western Railways. Hold on to your hats for an affectionate steam and diesel powered tour of the Valleys which are not as well known as they deserve to be.
2nd July -- Five and Nine the Brighton Line: Part 2 - The Nuts & Bolts
A digital presentation by Ron Hart looking at Brighton Works, some of the notable locomotives built there and his days as an apprentice. That won’t be the half of it if we know Ron: think overhead and third rail electrification, the London and Croydon’s atmospheric railway and the Brighton Belle, all with technical wizardry!
3rd September -- The Peter Bland Collection Part 3
The full extent of the late Peter Bland’s collection of colour and black-and-white photographs is still becoming apparent some three years after his death. Custodian Bryan Cross will show some more of those images in a digital presentation but would rather not commit himself as to the content, except that it will be mainly colour, for who knows what he will find next?
1st October -- The North Wales Coast Part 3
Having reached Llandudno at the end of Part 2 David Scudamore returns to continue his exploration of this significant traffic artery. The ultimate destination is likely to be Holyhead but we may get sidetracked on the way.
22nd October -- AGM and Branch Photographic competition
Our annual outbreak of democracy, followed once again by the photographic competition. Both need support but the difference is that we are obliged to hold the AGM
5th November -- The North East - Cradle of the Railways and Hotbed of Soccer.
Once again Colin Briggs combines his passions. His new presentation, profusely illustrated, takes us from Stockton to Darlington via Berwick-on-Tweed. Wherever there is association football, be it Premiership or lesser league, and a railway installation we will pause and learn something of George Stephenson and Jackie Milburn, legends for different reasons!
Monday 11th November -- Quiz v RCTS
Away leg at St Crispin Social Club, Berrywood Rd, Duston, Northampton, NN5 4XD. (Note this is on a Monday)
3rd December -- Engine Sheds Part 4
What would the first Tuesday in December be without Chris Banks? The hardy perennial returns with the latest instalment of his entertaining series illustrated with colour slides showing engines, depots and infrastructure. This time he takes us from Eastleigh to Frome with all the less glamorous sheds (less glamorous than Frome? Surely not!) in between and, we suspect, a few interesting distortions of the alphabet.
17th December -- Christmas Special
Quizzes? Check. Digital and slide projectors? Check. Brigid and chips? Check. Tried and tested format? Definitely!
7th May 2013 – The New Waverley Novels – Dennis Lovett by by Chris Foren
We welcomed the return to the Branch of Dennis Lovett, this time with his presentation on the Waverley Route old and new.
To set the scene Dennis showed a montage of stills with the perhaps startling musical accompaniment of a pipe band. He went on to explain the genesis of the line as a carrier of coal to satisfy the demands of Edinburgh and the textile towns to the south.
The section from Hawick to Carlisle through territory populated largely by sheep was built principally to keep out the Caledonian Railway, not the best of friends with the North British. Closure in January 1969 of what had become a valuable through route was opposed bitterly: it was said to have been sacrificed to justify electrification on the West Coast main line.
With a varied selection of photographs and extracts from maps Dennis described the route from north to south. Work is well in hand on reinstating the railway between Newcraighall and Tweedbank with the expectation that it will alleviate Edinburgh’s chronic road traffic by providing a park and ride facility.
Even with the propensity of the Scots to just get on with the job the work has proceeded with remarkable speed and is due to be completed in 2015. Traditional rivalries suggest that once the job is complete a clamour will arise from Hawick for a connection to the railway. The Branch extends thanks to Dennis for a fascinating and informative presentation.
2nd April 2013 – Midland and LMS Locomotives – Brian Benford by Chris Foren
Brian Benford, leading light of the Kettering Locomotive Society and prolific quizmaster, paid his first visit to the Branch.
In contrast to the digital razzmatazz of the previous month’s quiz, Brian employed steam age technology in the form of slides and projector to show a mere fraction of his enormous archive. Many of the images projected were recent additions to the archive and had come from the collection of the late John Adams, warmly remembered by many as one of the presenters of “Railway Roundabout”.
After introducing the constituent companies of the LMS the first part of the presentation majored on the Midland, featuring several glimpses of the 0-10-0 Lickey banker and other curiosities amid the more workaday power, such as the ex-Tilbury Baltic tanks and a couple of Flatirons in unexpected places.
After tea the subjects covered included Garratts and amid the curiosities the unique Ljungstrom machine whose wheel arrangement strained the Whyte notation to its limits. Locations were many, diverse and occasionally wrongly attributed but those present showed their customary willingness to offer corrections, both to the speaker and each other. With a selection of amusing anecdotes and reminiscences of footplate days there was something for all interests.
12th March 2013 – Inter-Club Quiz by Chris Foren
The Branch welcomed quiz teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans for the home leg of the contest for the Ashes.
This time there were sufficient bodies for each club to field two teams of three and enough left over to form no less than five fringe teams.
Quizmaster Bill Davies presided over another good-natured contest which covered a commendably broad range of subjects and tested the knowledge and memories of the contestants.
One team was baffled by the depot code WZ and suggested not the correct answer – Warsaw – but Whipsnade Zoo.
The skills of chief techie Bryan Cross in assembling the on-screen graphics continue to progress and the sheer amount of work involved in preparing a good quiz cannot be underestimated. However, just a few spelling mistakes and stray apostrophes!
Not for the first time, Bedford A took an early lead and built on it to win the Ashes and the Fred Cockman Trophy.
The final scores were: Bedford A 129, Bedford B 85, Northampton A 100, Northampton B 90, St Albans A 72 and St Albans B 43. The five fringe teams scored between 37 and 71.
It is to be hoped that their members are sufficiently encouraged to join the official teams in future.
5th February 2013 – Railways of Lincolnshire – Richard Crane by Chris Foren
Richard Crane kindly stood in for Mike Fowler who couldn’t be present. The evening’s subject remained as Lincolnshire.
The tour began at Stamford, which but for local opposition might have found itself on the East Coast main line instead of the Midland. After a brief visit to Essendine the focus switched to the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint, now facing an upgrade after a long period of gradual decline and part closure.
An interlude at Grantham preceded the trip to Boston and nostalgic images of Class 20s on Skegness holiday traffic with the suspicion that today’s train operators would gladly be rid of what remains. The core route today is undoubtedly that serving Immingham and Scunthorpe over which freight traffic remains heavy but with a radically different pattern. For those who, like the speaker, appreciate the finer points of mechanical signalling there is still much to be seen but not for much longer.
Many traces of closed lines can be discerned but several ‘then and now’ shots illustrated all too clearly how quickly and completely old railways can be erased. The Branch wishes to thank Richard who, as a late replacement, made a commendably thorough presentation on a subject in which he professes no expertise!
8th January 2013 – The British Preserved Steam Scene – David Eatwell by Chris Foren
Former Fixtures Secretary David Eatwell paid what he insisted was to be his final visit to the Branch with a slide presentation on the British preserved steam scene. The images projected covered a high proportion of the possible combinations of locomotive and location over the last 40 years.
Thanks to built development and the unchecked growth of lineside vegetation many choice and classic viewpoints were no longer available. The choice of images was wide ranging, covering main line outings and preserved railways, and arranged by logical theme.
David’s fondness for night photography came across particularly well with images from the Didcot evenings that he had once helped to arrange and some other places where he had benefitted from special arrangements best left unspecified. How some of the shots shown had been obtained was the subject of many amusing anecdotes and many memories were evoked of locomotives that have not been seen in public for many years.
David has clear and forthright views on what constitutes a good photograph: in an ideal world it would not include an Ethel or a multi-liveried rake of coaches but would have every loco with its rods down! Even the photographs which failed to match these exacting criteria were of a standard to which some others merely aspire.
Those present enjoyed the evening and hold out the hope, be it forlorn or no, that David will return one more time.
18th December 2012 - Christmas Special by Chris Foren
The Branch Christmas meeting took place on 18/12 and was devoted to the usual festive fun and frolics. Chairman Bill Davies set the tone with an amusing ghost story.
John Parker showed some slides of the Hope Valley line, followed by Ted Burley with a short show on the theme of extremes and Bill Davies with a sideways look at signs, his former garden railway, Nottingham Victoria, trolleybuses and Richmal Crompton!
In the absence of Alan Ledwick and his Stinker Quiz, humour was stretched to its limits by Bryan Cross who presented two short brain teasers with excruciating clues.
The timely arrival of Brigid the Landlady with the food was a relief most blessed.
The replete membership then enjoyed a show by Secretary Geoff Biggs of his autumn trip to New England with the Railway Touring Company.
The evening ended with that most cultural of offerings, a Tom and Jerry cartoon from 1954.
There is still mileage in this successful formula!
4th December 2012 – Engine Sheds Part 3 – Chris Banks by Chris Foren
The Branch was pleased to welcome once again its annual visitor Chris Banks with Part 3 of his “Engine Sheds” presentation.
This time the odyssey began at Consett and ended at Eastbourne, a shed remarkable for having survived extensive redevelopment by the Luftwaffe. The alphabet dictated that several of the larger sheds would be included in this instalment.
Crewe North and South, Darlington, Derby and Doncaster were all given extensive coverage. Each of these sheds adjoined works and some shining ex-works specimens were displayed alongside more careworn machines.
Smaller and lesser-known sheds were not neglected and those such as Duffryn Yard, Dumfries and Dorchester contrasted greatly with the larger installations. The dates of building, major works and closure for each shed were given and the life of nearly every loco depicted summarised.
Which sheds are included has to depend on the availability of material, which has more than a little randomness about it.
The Branch will just have to content itself with Part 4 next year but expects confidently to be as well entertained as it was on this occasion.
12th November 2012 -- Quiz Away to RCTS Northampton by Chris Foren
The Branch’s motley crew, captained by Bill Davies, travelled to Northampton for the away leg of the long-running Ashes quiz versus the RCTS. Yet again Bryan Benford of Kettering Locomotive Society set the questions, which barely acknowledged modern traction and life after August 1968.
The emphasis was overwhelmingly on the LMS and the question master’s fixation on Patriots led one to speculate a possible appearance on Mastermind.
Regrettably some questions could have been better composed but this detracted little from a keen and close contest.
Although Northampton had a slender lead at half time the final result was a win for Bedford by 72 points to 70. Thanks to our hosts for their hospitality, especially Quizmaster Benford.
Left - our Captain Bill Davies clutches the casket containing “The Ashes” (of Ravenstone Wood Junction Signal Box) whilst making his victory speech.
RCTS Northampton Chairman John Harrison is on the right. (photo Geoff Biggs)
6th November 2012 -- 1960s London Part 2 – Peter Groom by Chris Foren
The Branch welcomed back Peter Groom and his trademark black and white slides by public demand.
Peter resumed his interrupted journey round London on Holloway bank, heading north via Finsbury Park and Hornsey to Wood Green and allowing himself a brief encounter with long-gone diesel traction amid the shots of N2s and Pacifics. This time he divided the programme between shed shots and trackside views both rare and commonplace.
The next port of call was Kentish Town where the fact that some Jubilees had five washout plugs and others six came as much of a surprise to some as the revelation that the side tanks of condensing locos were double-skinned! Cricklewood brought a master class on the Weir pump carried by condensing tanks and a warning that the officially recorded withdrawal dates of locos were not always accurate.
On to Old Oak Common. At 81A the Western’s oil-fired pannier was discovered amid more familiar power. Peter’s grasp of fine detail came into its own on many topics, not least the finer points of the King class and the reason for white paint on some Castle buffer heads.
All too soon the available time expired once again leaving the programme incomplete. The Branch thanks Peter for yet another entertaining evening and hopes to see him once again as soon as it can be arranged.
23 October 2012 - AGM & PHOTO COMPETITION by Geoff Biggs
The Committee often ponders the AGM - what do we
do with the rest of the evening? We decided to hold the photo completion
for another year, despite previous low entries. It was the right
2nd October 2012 -- Peak District Railways – Les Nixon by Chris Foren
The Branch enjoyed another visit on 2/10 from the prominent photographer Dr Les Nixon, this time with his presentation on railways in the Peak District.
A map set the scene followed by a brief historical overview of the growth of the locality’s rail network of which the Midland was the prime instigator. The photographic tour began at Ambergate, following the former main line through Matlock towards Buxton and looking on the way at Peak Rail.
A fine shot of the viaduct at Monsal Dale reminded us that protests about the environmental impact of railway lines are nothing new. Next came the Hope Valley line from Sheffield to Chinley, including the still significant cement traffic from Earles and the little-known and long-closed branch serving the dams in the Derwent Valley.
Regular heavy snow enhances the already fine landscape used by Dr Nixon to great effect in his pictures of this, his local line. Perhaps some of the finest shots were taken towards the end of steam in the Chinley area, where the speaker was critical of the counter-productive track rationalisation of the early 70s, later partly reversed.
The tour continued to the still extant line through Peak Forest and the rump of the LNWR’s Buxton – Ashbourne route before brief glimpses of the Woodhead route and the Cromford – High Peak line. The photographs were a mix of typical and unusual traction, bygone traffic flows and interesting lineside features.
The evening was a fascinating insight into this part of the country and those present thanked the speaker enthusiastically.
| 4th September 2012 -- North Wales Coast Part 2 – David
David Scudamore returned to the Branch on 4/9 with the second part of his presentation on the North Wales Coast, eagerly awaited since the first part last year.
The journey resumed at Rhyl with a brief but comprehensive overview of the station, shed and signalling and a brief glimpse of the 15" gauge Rhyl Miniature Railway. As the journey continued westward David explained and illustrated the complex pattern of passenger traffic that has been greatly simplified under privatisation and some of the freight flows, such as chlorine from Amlwch to Ellesmere Port, that are now but a memory.
Notable events in the history of the line were covered, such as the washout of the viaduct at Llandulas in 1879 and its reconstruction, accomplished with much greater alacrity than could be imagined today. Some interesting high-altitude shots of the lime works at Llysfaen were complemented by pictures of 80079 doing its best to conceal the landscape-dominating A55 with exhaust.
At Colwyn Bay there was a brief glimpse of the tramway to Llandudno, run largely with second-hand cars, that closed in 1956. The station, MPD and carriage sheds at Llandudno Junction were examined thoroughly, as were certain local chippies, and at Llandudno there were also historic road vehicles to enjoy.
The Branch thanks David for another excellent presentation and looks forward to travelling from Llandudno Junction to Holyhead with him next year.
| 3rd July 2012 -- Railways Since Privatisation – Bob Breakwell
by Chris Foren
We welcomed Club Chairman Bob Breakwell, a career railwayman who rose to become Managing Director of First Great Eastern, and was thus well placed to speak with authority on the railways since privatisation.
Bob described the structure that had been initiated by Ministers and put into effect by the Civil Service, with competition the over-riding objective. His trenchant, forthright, outspoken and, at times perhaps indiscreet commentary left his audience in no doubt of its defects, which had been pointed out to those in political authority but to no effect. Although one aim had been to reduce costs, it soon became clear that there were no opportunities to do so; if anything the opposite was true.
The early days were marked by clashes between the strong personalities at the top. Continuity was not on the agenda as structures and responsibilities were changed. Railtrack, in particular, was found to be not fit for purpose and put into administration, being replaced by Network Rail. The Strategic Rail Authority was created, found to be lacking and abolished; its functions passed to Department for Transport, leading to the micro-management of today, much criticised.
Despite the expectation that the use of rail would decline, in recent years it has shown substantial growth year on year but the network has failed to make the best use of its capacity and compares unfavourably with practice in such countries as France and Japan.
A lively and wide-ranging discussion brought a most revealing evening to a close. The Branch thanks Bob for an evening well spent.
|12th June 2012 -- The Southern Railway 1900 – 1960 -- Graham
Stacey by Chris Foren
Graham Stacey returned to the Branch with another show of images from the Ken Nunn Collection. From the 2,000 or so that have been copied to digital format from the original cumbersome glass plates Graham selected around 250 covering the Southern Railway, its constituents and successors from 1901 to 1961.
The early part of the show demonstrated just how elderly was much of the power inherited by the SR from its constituents, with long-forgotten classes at sheds, stations and other locations where steam had long ceased to be a regular sight.
It was salutary to be reminded that Strawberry Hill and Slade Green started as steam sheds and that Victoria, London Bridge, Clapham Junction and East Croydon once sported overhead wires. Images of the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch, East Kent and Kent & East Sussex, none part of the Southern, qualified for inclusion on the grounds that one would use the SR to reach them.
Neither was maritime activity overlooked with several views of railway-owned steamships. In time more modern power began to replace the antiques and many examples were shown. Both the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges, which saw Bulleid’s Pacifics in strange places, and the proliferation of LCGB railtours in the 1950s were included.
Thanking Graham for another excellent show, Branch Chairman Bill Davies remarked how much of an improvement the digital projection of black and white photographs was over the episcope that graced, and heated, Branch meetings for many years.
| 1 May 2012 -- Five and Nine, the Brighton Line -- Ron
In a a change to the advertised programme, the Branch welcomed a long-standing friend from RCTS Northampton, Ron Hart, with his presentation “Five and Nine, the Brighton Line”.
Ron grew up in Brighton and spent five years as an apprentice at Brighton Works. These factors combined to shape his enthusiasm. The show began with a brief history of the town and the factors that shaped its growth, including the popularity of sea bathing and the influence of George IV. Ron went on to describe how what became the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway headed north in stages towards first London Bridge and later Victoria, and how the traffic pattern evolved to satisfy the demand that the railway had encouraged.
The evolution of traction was described, from the valiant Jenny Lind class through the elegant Atlantics, the Maunsell era and Bulleid’s Q1s to the electric units of the 1930s and today. In the second half Ron described the route from south to north, illustrating the junctions and other notable features and adding anecdotes, amusing facts and other points of interest.
With much technical ingenuity and hitherto unimagined facets of PowerPoint the audience was treated to moving pictures to complement the wide range of stills. Particularly clever was the simultaneous showing of the seminal “London to Brighton in Four Minutes” and a more recent sequel! The Branch proffers grateful thanks to Ron for a fine evening’s entertainment and hopes for a swift return.
| 3rd April 2012 -- A Colour-Rail Journey -- Paul Chancellor
by Chris Foren
Paul Chancellor is the new custodian of Colour-Rail.
On taking over the business from its founder, Ron White, in 2009 Paul discovered that Kodak had withdrawn their duplicating film. After much experimentation a substitute was found but at the cost of a heavy financial commitment on film and slide mounts.
Slides are still sold and new catalogues issued but there is now also a website to which 400 images are added each month including some scanned from vintage black and white negatives and enhanced with Photoshop.
After some thought-provoking remarks on the future of digital image storage and what can happen to collections after the passing of their owners,
Paul showed an eclectic selection of photographs projected digitally and scanned from slides in the latest catalogue and supplement. The subject matter ranged widely, from electric and diesel locomotives in descending class order to steam power from 1949 onwards.
The locations of the subjects ranged from classic main line such as Goring troughs, Pirbright and Kings Cross to relative backwaters like Newhaven West Quay and some places in South Wales which Paul felt unable to pronounce.
Many of the images were the work of Trevor Owen, who travelled extensively and, to judge by some of his subjects, benefitted from good information. That his collection is in safe hands is proof of the purpose and effects of Colour-Rail.
To conclude the evening Paul showed some of his own recent work which combined creativity and technical excellence. Thanks are extended to Paul for an interesting and informative evening.
13 March 2012 -- Three Way Quiz by Chris Foren
On 13/3 the Branch was host to quiz teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans for the home leg of the contest for the Ashes.
The visitors were out in force but the same could not be said for the home side as once again the resident brainpower was largely conspicuous by its absence. Nonetheless, sufficient bodies were pressganged to form three teams of three and battle was joined. In a very good-natured contest quizmaster Bill Davies failed to be absent this year.
The often ingenious questions covered a commendably wide range of testing subjects and provoked commendably few arguments. The on-screen graphics, assembled by Bryan Cross, showed some of the pitfalls that arise with PowerPoint but showed a considerable advance on the colour slides of yore.
Much to their surprise, Bedford A took an early lead and built on it to win the Ashes and the Fred Cockman Trophy.
Club President Jack Turner, who was to turn 80 it two days’ time, not only helped his team to third place but presented the awards. Well done Jack.
7th February 2012
Trains that passed Roade Junction and Around Northamptonshire - Robin Patrick
by Chris Foren
LCGB Branch Liaison Officer Robin Patrick travelled from York to present slides from Roade and elsewhere in Northamptonshire.
Robin’s career on the railway took him first to Blisworth and then to Roade, where he was a train reporter, later styled “Assistant Controller” which was another term for “booking lad”. He was able to make full use of the gaps between trains to record the evolving scene.
In 1962 and 1963 the abundance of remaining steam power was lacking in cleanliness but had plenty to do, especially on summer Saturdays: such trains as the 10 am Blackpool - Bletchley and the Willesden –Toton empty coal hoppers, fondly nicknamed “tin trunks”, are now but a memory.
More recent images showed how much the infrastructure had changed with the advent of overhead wires and the disappearance of stations, yards, loops and branches.
There was much to see elsewhere in the county too, including the Midland and Great Central main lines and the iron ore quarries where steam lingered well after August 1968.
Derailments, track recovery, experimental traction and a German tank locomotive on a low-loader bound for the Severn Valley were just some of the many subjects that Robin had captured for posterity.
That he had the foresight and opportunity to do so is a cause for gratitude.
Once again, however, many of those present were prompted to chatter among themselves during the presentation, creating a hubbub matched only by Prime Minister’s Questions. This is hardly the respect that the speaker deserved.
3 January 2012 – 50 Miles North of St Pancras for 50 Years – Richard Crane
by Chris Foren
The Branch welcomed its former Secretary and well-known promoter of the Bedford-Bletchley line, Richard Crane. Taking great pains to deny any expertise of the Midland, Richard presented a selection of photographs taken between Bedford and St Pancras in the last 50 years or so by various contributors to the Colour-Rail catalogue, supplemented by many through his own camera’s lens.
The variety of motive power to be seen over the period was considerable and very little went unmentioned. Reminders of the Midland Pullman, the Park Royal railbuses, the Co-Bos and the APT-E, all long gone, were particularly welcome but the workaday 9Fs, Jubilees and Royal Scots, Rolls-Royce dmus, Peak diesels and even the Class 317 electrics triggered no little nostalgia.
The commentary covered the transition from steam to diesel power, suburban electrification and the significant decision to reinstate the cross-London route that has come to be known as Thameslink.
We were reminded how few passenger trains called at Bedford and points south in steam days compared with today’s lavish and well-patronised service. The almost total disappearance of freight and parcels traffic could not have been foreseen 50 years ago but there were plenty of illustrations to remind those present of how the railway used to earn its money. Inevitably a section of the presentation was devoted to the transformation of St Pancras, which might have been flattened but for Sir John Betjeman.
Richard conveyed his fascination for his subject with an enthusiasm matched only by that of those in the audience who could not resist burbling it to one another – a sure sign of an enjoyable evening.
20 December 2011 – Annual Photo Competition and Christmas Party
The Bedford Branch always has a “Christmas Special” on the third Tuesday of December. This time it was combined with the Photo Competition.
Here is Steve Lacey’s winning print. In his own words:- “The picture was taken on 19.1.2011 at Wansford on the Nene Valley Railway. It shows Alan Whenman, 92 Squadron’s Engineer, torching off the old ashpan, after the boiler had been lifted from the frames by the NVR steam crane.
It was taken on a second-hand Canon EOS 300D, which is now 6 years old, on full auto setting (sorry about that to the purists, but the camera’s brain is usually better than mine!).
It was cropped to 8"x10” format and adjusted a bit using Windows Live
Photo Gallery. It was printed on an Epson Stylus Photo R285 using
Epson Ultra Glossy Photo Paper.”
Well done to the prize winners and thanks to all who entered. Thanks to Judges David Eatwell and Bryan Cross.
Afterwards the Party started with dinner supplied by The Phoenix across
the road (thanks to Brigid). Then came Alan Ledwick’s “Stinker” quiz
– nearly impossible as usual!
The event was rounded off with the raffle and a Tom and Jerry cartoon. A great night thanks to Master of Ceremonies Bryan Cross and of course all the participants.
| 6 December 2011
The Branch returned to its regular meeting place of St John’s Church Hall and admired the new décor and amenities, especially the serving hatch.
Annual visitor Chris Banks christened the refurbished habitat with Part 2 of his “Engine Sheds” presentation, warning as he began that Part 12 has been compiled with more to come! Part 2 began at Bournemouth and ended at Carnforth, giving building and closure dates for each shed and a brief life of nearly every loco depicted. Lovers of Carlisle (especially Kingmoor) enjoyed most of the second half whereas aficionados of Cardiff East Dock waited in vain for even the briefest glimpse.
Locomotives illustrated displayed variable standards of cleanliness, many more neglected than pristine. The presentation evoked some deep-seated memories in members of the audience. The format is simple but most effective and the Branch has already invited Chris for more of the same next year.
7 November 2011
Above - Our leader accepts the Ashes from RCTS Northampton Chairman John Harrison. David Pick
1 November 2011
4th October 2011 Peter Bland Collection Part 2 The Branch met at a new, temporary and half-timbered home on 4/10 when the Branch’s own Bryan Cross showed a second selection from the late Peter Bland’s photographic collection.
Bryan has devoted much time, effort and skill to scanning Peter’s black and white negatives and turning the results into viewable images, for which he rightly commands the gratitude of all. With the aid of the Branch’s new digital projector and countless hours of Photoshop he showed samples of Peter’s extensive travels between 1947 (when he was still a teenager) and 1954 in which he photographed many locos with little, if any, life expectancy.
The main area of search was Scotland but he also recorded oil burners at Wakefield and the imminent end of passenger services at locations as diverse as Rickmansworth Church Street and the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley.
In June 1951 Peter spent an intensive week in Ireland. The major part of the presentation covered this trip, which must have been either very well organised or extremely lucky! Peter’s tour embraced both broad and narrow gauges and discovered many curiosities that so typified the Ireland of the time.
Despite the presence of some relatively modern steam in Ulster much Irish motive power and coaching stock was well past decrepitude and the finances of the network precarious. Sadly time ran out before the colour section could be projected but there is every reason for optimism that further parts of the Peter Bland story will appear on the Branch programme. If only Peter had been more willing to show his fine work during his lifetime.
20th September AGM Our annual outbreak of democracy. The Committee was completely re-elected. This was followed by “Scenes from the 60s” by Peter Crossman.
6th September The North Wales Coast Part 1 David Scudamore drew on his extensive knowledge and slide collection to begin a journey from Chester towards Holyhead. He looked at the railway from its construction to the present day. How far he gets will depend on the audience but past form suggests somewhere around Abergele and Pensarn.
5th July UK High Speed Rail: HS2 and Beyond Peter Allen took advantage of inside information to update us on the continually evolving prospects for this controversial proposal.
7th June Back To London in the 1960s Well-known photographer and rivet counter (his words!) Peter Groom is always a welcome and entertaining visitor. This time he showed us the major London sheds on all four Regions and some, like Southall and Feltham, that are a bit further out.
3rd May From Kodachrome to Digital – David Eatwell New Speaker David described his transitional years onwards. 5th April Carlisle: A Railway Mecca and Football Outpost Once again Colin Briggs made a connection between railways and football in the third of his distinctive presentations on this theme.
8th March Quiz v RCTS For over 50 years LCGB Bedford and RCTS Northampton have competed twice yearly, in this enduring quiz, for “the Ashes” – a small casket of ashes from Ravenstone Wood Junction signal box. This was a good quiz with varied content. We lost 128 – 124. Better tactics needed!
1st February London’s Disused Stations – The Midland Railway Author and publisher Jim Connor returned to acquaint us with another selection of abandoned stations. This time he showed us just how many there are south of Hendon and why their life was so short.
4th January The David Mills Collection David Mills was a popular and prolific transport photographer. His brother-in-law, Roger Whitehead, showed us a selection of images from David’s extensive collection of colour slides, 1960 onwards, covering all rail scenes including BR, preservation and overseas.
|Tuesday 2nd November 2010 -- "Rails to Victory: Allied Military
Locomotives of World War II" -- Mike Hudson
by Chris Foren
The Branch welcomed Mike Hudson with his presentation "Rails to Victory: Allied Military Locomotives of World War II".
The use of Stanier's 8F overseas is well known, as is the post-war influx to BR of heavy freight locomotives built for use in Europe, but the carriage of troops by the Liverpool and Manchester in the 1830s is less common knowledge.
Mike referred briefly to the use of North British, Great Western and Great Central locos in the 1914-18 conflict before turning to the very complex story of the deployment and construction of motive power in World War II. Such classes as J15s, J50s and Jinties were requisitioned for use in France but abandoned after Dunkirk and not retrieved until after the end of the war.
Locomotive builders such as Vulcan Foundry and North British were kept fully occupied constructing motive power for use in Europe and the Middle East. Even before the USA entered the war preparations were advanced for mass production of S160 2-8-0s and what have come to be called USA tanks. Both types saw service in some surprising places apart from the UK.
Not to be forgotten were the so-called MacArthur 2-8-2s deployed in the Far East. Redeployment of locomotives was not confined to the standard gauge: thus Indian engines were sent to Egypt and South African to the Sudan. The multiplicity of gauges in Australia made its railways a useful source of supply. Fortunately Mike was able to illustrate, mostly from his own photographs, many instances of British and American-built locos around the world and, in just a few instances, at work in preservation in the UK.
All in all this was a fascinating presentation and all without notes!
Tuesday 4 October 2010 -- Trains in the Snow -- Les Nixon
by Chris Foren
photographer Dr Les Nixon gave his presentation “Trains In
The Snow”. As he demonstrated clearly, photography in adverse
weather conditions calls for patience and often presents difficulties
in reaching the preferred location.
In the second half we ventured further afield – Turkey, South
America, South Africa, the USA and a particularly fine sequence
shot on the Ji-Tong line above Reshui.
|Tuesday 21 Sept 2010 -- BRANCH AGM & PHOTO COMPETITION
The Branch AGM was held on 21/9 and, despite the added attraction of the photographic competition, was poorly attended.
This year it was the turn of the Secretary to be absent. Bill Davies, the Chairman, thanked the Committee and other helpers for their contributions during the past 12 months but only Bill and Wendy Roffe, who make the tea, received applause!
The so-called awkward questions were parried effectively and it is now known what a 'cordless presenter' is (a remote control).
Branch Liaison Officer Robin Patrick report on Main Club affairs then conducted the voting. Yet again the Committee was elected unopposed, though there are still vacancies.
Fixtures Officer Bryan Cross previewed the 2011 programme and afternoon meetings, which other societies have found successful, are being investigated.
Once the democracy had been completed it was time for the photographic competition, judged by former Branch stalwart David Eatwell whose views on what constitutes a good photograph are by his own admission fairly fixed and rigid.
David was generally successful in being constructive about most entries but it was clear that not all photographers see things his way! With the rapid decline of slide film it was noticeable how many prints and digital images were entered and how few recent slides.
by Chris Foren
Tuesday 6 July 2010 – Locomotive Archaeology report by Chris Foren
The Branch enjoyed another visit from Dr Michael Bailey on 6/7.
On this occasion he spoke on "The Archaeology of Early Steam Locomotives".
Dr Bailey described 10 projects, ranging in scope from tracing locomotives lost at sea to following his own recommendations for restoration of a relic last used in 1873.
The common factor was lengthy and careful research into each subject, including locating and conserving drawings.
The RAF Sub-Aqua Club assisted in two cases. In one, an engine had set sail for Nova Scotia in 1857 but got no further than Islay where the ship foundered. Divers used explosives to remove the concrete-like residue of marine life so that wheels, bits of firebox and the like could be retrieved from the deep.
Checking the builder's plate against the maker's records revealed that the loco had been a 4-4-0, a rarity in 1857.
One product of Dr Bailey's work was the Planet replica, based at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, in which modern materials and techniques were employed whilst preserving the appearance of the original.
This was a fascinating presentation and surely dispelled any suggestion that archaeology is dull. It also demonstrated that the award of the MBE to Dr Bailey in the Queen's Birthday Honours List was well deserved.
Above: Bedford Branch Chairman Bill Davies congratulates Dr Michael Bailey of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on his railway-related MBE [photo by Bryan Cross]
Tuesday 2 March 2010 -- Inter-Club Quiz by Chris Foren
For this year’s home leg of the contest for the Ashes teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans joined us once again, plus four unofficial teams.
Branch Chairman Bill Davies acted as quizmaster, using PowerPoint technology with irritating graphics to illustrate the questions.
Once again the subject matter was wide ranging and the answers expected, but not necessarily given, ranged from Gladstone to James the Engine. Despite the care taken in compiling the questions it became apparent that quizmasters do not know everything, such as the difference between the Royal Border and Royal Albert Bridges!
The teams did not know everything either and one clocked up a first by scoring nil points in round 2.
Bedford fielded the same A team which narrowly failed to retain the Ashes at the away leg in November. This time it fared rather better and maintained a narrow lead throughout a mostly high-scoring contest. The scores attained by the fringe teams ranged from 43 to 73 points. By comparison the fortunes of the official teams were mixed.
The final scores were:
Bedford A 115,
Bedford B 67,
Northampton A 109,
Northampton B 88,
St Albans A 33,
St Albans B 64.
Bedford A therefore win the Ashes and the Fred Cockman trophy. As has been remarked before, a quiz such as this cannot be just thrown together if it is to be any good. The Branch echoes the thanks proffered to Bill Davies by the captain of the winning team for an awfully good quiz.
Tuesday 22 September -- AGM plus Photo Competition
Welcome to new Chairman Bill Davies
|Incoming Chairman Bill Davies seems pleased to receive the File of Office but outgoing Chairman Bryan Cross seems reluctant to let go! (Geoff Biggs)|
|The AGM began with the sad news of the death of Peter
Bland, a long-standing committee member. With both the Treasurer and
the member who usually asks awkward questions absent the formal business
was concluded efficiently. Robin Patrick, representing the MC, paid
tribute to Bryan Cross who retired as Chairman after 19 years. Fortunately
he will remain as member for indoor fixtures. As usual the Committee
was elected unopposed, now with two vacancies.
|Neither the AGM nor the Branch photographic competition has been well supported of late so the decision was taken to have both on the same evening. The judge, Phil Gilbert, spoke constructively about each entry and observed that in the digital age 90% of the entries had been on film. As only three black and white prints had been entered no prize was awarded in this category.||Photo Competition Results OVERALL WINNER
British Steam, Overseas Steam, Modern Traction, Computer Prints
- all Ted Burley
Non - Traction - Roger Whitehead
Colour Prints - Bill Davies
Black & White Prints No Award
TED BURLEY won September's Photographic Competition
with this superb shot taken on the Heber Valley RR in Utah, USA
in February 2008.
Tuesday 3 March -- Inter-Club Quiz by Chris Foren
How quickly the contest for the Ashes comes
This year’s home leg took place on 3/3 when teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans Branch joined us once again, augmented by a team labelled “A N Other” comprising anyone else who fancied taking part, including some of the brainpower on which the
Branch Chairman Bryan Cross again drew the short straw as quizmaster but this time he drew on the absent brains of Bill Davies to supply some of the questions. The subject matter ranged from 1900 to 2009 with perhaps an undue emphasis on the Pre-Grouping Atlas.
The arguments, on which our MC seems to thrive, began with the second question and continued throughout the quiz. Once again
The home team took an early lead but peaked too early and by the end of round three was trailing by two points. In round four we drew level with
This was rivalry at its friendliest and although it may not have sounded like it at the time all present appreciated the work invested by
The final scores:
LCGB Chairman Jack Butcher (left) congratulates Captains Chris Foren (LCGB Bedford) and Ken Fairey (RCTS Northampton) on their teams' nail-biting finish. [Geoff Biggs
Friday October 24th - Branch 50th Anniversary Dinner
Concluding the Branch’s 50th birthday celebrations, a dinner was held at “The Barns”, Bedford. Pictured are (from the right) Charles Firminger, Club Bulletin Editor who spoke at the branch’s first ever meeting; Club Chairman Jack Turner, who is Club Member No.1 and a founder member of the branch; and Mrs. Turner.
Members and guests enjoyed a splendid dinner followed by nostalgic cabaret from Branch Chairman Bryan Cross followed by Branch Librarian and noted raconteur Bill Davies.
We must thank everyone who made this and other 50th Anniversary events what they were. Thanks also to those people who started the Branch all those years ago.
Tuesday 7 October - Branch Photographic Competition
Our photographic competition was judged by former Branch Chairman Peter Butler. Our judge stressed the importance of record shots without sounding derogatory but preferred images that had been composed carefully, using such techniques as framing the subject with trees. Unusually, almost every class was won by a different entrant. The winners were as follows: British steam slides, overseas steam slides and the Derek Robinson Trophy: Ted Burley. Modern traction slides: Bryan Cross. Non-traction slides: Chris Foren and Ray Schofield (tie). Computer generated prints: Bill Davies. Film-based prints: Richard Crane.
Next Year’s Photo Competition will be run on AGM night Tuesday 22 September 2009. The photo shows the winning modern traction slide:- an overflowing Class 31 at Cambridge on the last day of the Cambridge Buffet Express.
Tuesday 23 September -- AGM plus Charles Firminger.
Saturday 20 September – Branch 50th
Anniversary Open Day
Our 50th Anniversary Rail Day was at St Johns Hall, Bedford. Several member and friends lent a wide variety of relics and artefacts for display – nameplates, totems, lamps, photographs and much more. Four model railway layouts added interest, the shunting puzzle in particular proving very popular. An added highlight was the arrival of Ian Pearce of BBC Three Counties Radio who dropped in to cut the birthday cake. We thank everybody who helped with this great day. The Photo (by Bryan Cross) shows a small part of the wonderful display of railwayana on show.
Tuesday 2 September – Chiltern Railways
|On 5th March we hosted the home leg of the long-running twice-yearly
quiz against RCTS Northampton for the Ashes. LCGB St Albans Branch joined
Branch Chairman Bryan Cross was our very able Quizmaster and everyone was impressed by his use of a Power Point Presentation to pose and illustrate the questions
The first round was close but Northampton pulled ahead and St Albans fell further behind as the contest proceeded.
We would have liked to regain the Ashes in our 50th anniversary year but it was not to be this time so Northampton pick up the engraving bill once more!
The final scores were: Northampton 175,
St Albans 129.
|The photo (by Bryan Cross) shows RCTS Captain Ken Fairey (left) receiving “The Ashes” from Club Chairman Jack Turner.|
|Dr Michael Bailey returned to us on 1/7 to continue
his compelling account of the life and work of Robert Stephenson.
The 29-year-old engineer in chief of the London and Birmingham Railway, the largest civil engineering project since the Great Wall of China, built a team of mostly young men on whom he relied heavily to design and build the railway with only mining and canal practice to guide them.
They encountered many unexpected problems which called for radical solutions. Chief among these was the band of quicksand in Kilsby Tunnel which delayed the completion of the line but provided a good example of Stephenson’s technique for solving seemingly intractable problems.
Until the tunnel was finished passengers were conveyed by road between Rugby and Blisworth (so no change there then). Few contractors had the expertise to undertake the work of construction and eight went to the wall. In this period Stephenson oversaw the advent of wooden cross sleepers and bullhead rail and the link motion which bears his name.
In addition he was appointed consulting engineer for such railways in England as the London and Blackwall, the North Midland and the Birmingham and Derby Junction as well as projects in France, Germany and the new country of Belgium.
Inevitably there were conflicts of interest, particularly where locomotive procurement was concerned, but the reporting lines he established and the standard and volume of written communication would be a cause for envy today if more were aware of it.
Once again Dr Bailey gave us a fascinating evening and provoked some searching questions. We look forward to Part 3!
The Bedford Branch's 50th Anniversary
year got off to a fantastic start with 2008's first clubnight.
[photo -- Bryan Cross