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.
Bedford Tourist Information St Paul’s Square, MK40 1SJ
01234 215 226 firstname.lastname@example.org Click here for website
[Tuesdays unless otherwise stated]
3rd February -- The Cromford and High Peak Railway Part I:
George Sullivan and Tommy Tomalin.
George and Tommy examine this unique railway from High Peak Junction to Hopton Top with the aid of a digital presentation compiled by the late Ian Lyman.
10th March -- Quiz v RCTS [Home Leg]
LCGB Bedford and RCTS Northampton compete yet again for a small casket of ashes from Ravenstone Wood Junction signal box. A team from LCGB St Albans will join us to compete for the Fred Cockman Trophy. (Note: this is the second Tuesday of the month)
7th April -- The West Coast Main Line -- Bob Ballard
Bob examines the line from Euston to Hanslope with the aid of slides from the Bob Berry collection and his own camera.
5th May -- BR 1959 to 1966 – Robin Patrick
A monochrome digital presentation by Robin ranging widely from the Isle of Wight to Scotland including steam from Waterloo, railtours and of course Roade Junction.
2nd June -- From Rookie Journalist to Grumpy Old Man --
David is well known as an author and photographer. His varied career included spells with Ian Allan and W H Smith but there is much more for him to describe, such as his encyclopaedic knowledge of the GN main line and 9Fs on passenger trains.
7th July -- The Network South East Story -- Chris Green
Chris is arguably the best known railway manager of the BR era. His presentation tells the story of Network SouthEast from sectorisation in 1982 through the launch of the NSE brand in 1986 to its demise with the arrival of privatisation in 1994, looking also at the achievements of the rail franchises which succeeded NSE and comparing the achievements of the public and private worlds.
August No meeting
1st September -- The Great Northern & London & North Western
Joint Line -- Robin Cullup
Robin describes the complex history, geography and traffic of this once essential artery of the East Midlands rail network.
6th October-- Both sides of the Tweed -- Dennis Lovett
Dennis recalls the two railways that ran between St. Boswells on the Waverley Route and Berwick on the East Coast Main Line. The circular tour criss-crosses the border on North Eastern and North British metals through territory long deprived of the railway.
20th October - AGM plus ???
Our annual outbreak of democracy. As for what follows it, we keep you in suspense: will there be a guest speaker or is there a chance that the photographic competition will make a triumphant return?
3rd November -- Don’t Blame Beeching -- Richard
Richard recalls and illustrates some of the rail routes which closed before the Beeching Plan.
Monday 9th November -- Quiz v. RCTS [Away Leg] We need to travel to Northampton this time to St Crispin Social Club, Berrywood Rd, Duston, Northampton, NN5 4XD. (Note this is on a Monday)
1st December -- Engine Sheds Part 6 -- Chris Banks
Chris continues his grand tour of Britain’s sheds illustrated with colour slides showing engines, depots and infrastructure. This time his distinctive take on the alphabet leads us to London but how direct is the route to Norwood? All will be revealed!
15th December -- Christmas Special
In which we entertain ourselves accompanied by our customary supper from a local chippy.
In the unavoidable absence of the booked speaker we welcomed retired
railwayman George Howe from nearby Potton who showed a selection
of his own slides covering the period 1964-68 - the last four years
The Branch Christmas meeting on followed the now customary format of informality with local members providing the entertainment.
Alan Ledwick punctuated the mayhem with his Stinker Quiz and in a welcome break with tradition the lucky winner, who scored six out of ten, was rewarded with something other than a Christmas pudding.
The next anxiety was the late arrival of the food from the chippie but it was worth the wait. After dinner the digital projector was switched on so that Jack Turner, Bryan Cross and Peter Neal could show some images.
After the bumper raffle draw in which it seemed that everyone must have prizes the evening concluded as oft times before with a Tom and Jerry cartoon, followed by another.
The Branch seems to enjoy this annual opportunity to let its receding hair down: it is a simple formula but it works
As is becoming customary, the Branch welcomed Chris Banks with
part 5 of his “Engine Sheds” series. This time the tour
began at Gateshead but for the remainder of the first half focused
on Glasgow sheds ranging in size from the expansive Eastfield and
Polmadie to the two-road former goods shed at Yoker.
After tea the odyssey ventured out of Scotland to visit Gloucester, Goodwick, Grantham, Guildford, Horsham and many more, once again taking liberties with the alphabet to embrace some obscure sub-sheds.
The tour ended with a return to Scotland at Hurlford. As usual, Chris gave a brief history of each shed and key facts about the locomotives illustrated, supplemented by some amusing anecdotes and tales of shed visits.
This presentation benefitted from painstaking research and much luck in acquiring suitable slides. The Branch thanks Chris once more for an entertaining evening and looks forward to Parts Six to Infinity!
The Branch's brain power took to the road on 10/11 for the away
leg of the Ashes quiz versus RCTS Northampton.
The Branch welcomed back John Downing, well known as a former
Cricklewood fireman and historian of the Midland, with a presentation
about the services which used to run over the Dudding Hill line.
The Branch AGM on 21/10 was sparsely attended. Chairman Bill Davies
added a plea for feedback to his thanks to the Committee and other
regular helpers of the Branch for their contributions and called
on those who natter during meetings to desist. Afternoon meetings
are still under consideration. Yet again the committee was re-elected
Colin Boocock returned to the Branch after a lengthy absence with
his presentation "Irish Surprises". He set out the changes to the
Irish rail network since his first visit in 1956, beginning with
a look at the steam power still in service at the time. Some of
the designers played a part in UK locomotive history, notably Maunsell,
Ivatt, Robinson and of course Bulleid.
Branch Fixtures Secretary Bryan Cross showed a fourth selection
from the late Peter Bland's photographic collection, of which he
The title afforded Branch Chairman Bill ample opportunity to pick
and choose the subjects of his reminiscences, anecdotes and ridicule
and it was clear from the start that he was spoilt for choice.
Having begun his railway service at Toton, Bill always looked
upon himself as a Midland man.
Brian Benford of the Kettering Locomotive Society returned to
the Branch armed with his own venerable projector and projectionist.
In contrast to his first visit, which dealt with LMS locomotives,
he showed slides of LNER motive power from his remarkable archive.
Local member Ted was a late comer to photography, having acquired
a camera only in 1988, but had shadowed other cameramen such as
David Eatwell and Ray Schofield beforehand. Both these luminaries
proffered comments during the presentation.
The Branch welcomed its own Jack Turner, founder and current President
of the LCGB, with a presentation based on his recently published
His early life was spent close to the railway in Aylesbury and
in 1947, aged 14, he joined the LMS as a junior clerk in the goods
Ouiz teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans visited the Branch seeking to wrest the Ashes from the home team. .
Once five fringe teams had formed there were nearly enough aspiring
contestants for each club to field two teams of three.
A year later than originally intended, the Branch welcomed Mike
Fowler and his presentation on the railways of East Lincolnshire.
Even before Beeching the network had begun to wither but the proposal
to close most of it was first issued in 1962 and implemented in
1970, helped on its way by over 60 expensive-to-run level crossings.
Sadly Mike’s aim to show two DVDs was thwarted by technical failure
but, as befits a former radio presenter, he was able to keep going
almost regardless. The talk concluded with an evocative article
from a local paper.
Former Branch Secretary Richard Crane returned to the Branch with another of his "Fifty-Fifty" presentations, this time covering the Great Northern main line.
Again denying any expertise of his subject, Richard began his journey at milepost 50, just south of St Neots, and headed south methodically towards Kings Cross. Extended coverage of Sandy reflected the speaker's early spotting expeditions and at Biggleswade the focus was on his avoidance of cross-country running at school! A representative selection of motive power, from the various Pacifics to the Pilot Scheme diesels, HSTs and electrics, was illustrated by slides from the Colour-Rail catalogue and many of his own taking.
In the approximate 50 year timespan of the presentation the Deltics arrived on and departed from the scene and the decline of steam from 1963 was rapid. Although the electrified GN main line is busier than ever the heavy coal traffic is but a memory as are the filthy WDs that worked it.
The bottlenecks at Sandy, Arlesey and Potters Bar have gone but that of Welwyn Viaduct is likely to remain indefinitely. As Kings Cross approached some shots of Top Shed were accompanied by Richard's admission that he never bunked it. The show concluded with some evocative shots of locomotives at the buffers and the present-day terminus, now tidied almost beyond recognition.
The Branch thanks Richard for another evening's entertainment and congratulates him for overcoming the acoustics in the hall with his own PA system.
17 December 2013 – Christmas Special by Chris Foren
As usual, the Branch Christmas meeting was a less formal affair with local members providing the entertainment. Alan Ledwick returned with his notorious Stinker Quiz, the lucky winner being rewarded with a small Christmas pudding.
Next came the slide projector, used by Ken Dickens, John Parker,
Geoff Biggs, Bill Davies and Roger Whitehead to show wide-ranging
selections of images.
3rd December 2013 -- Engine Sheds Part 4 -- Chris Banks by Chris Foren
The presentation commenced with an in-depth look at Eastleigh. The first two shots portrayed a yard full of lifeless locos during the 1955 ASLEF strike and individual portraits covered almost 40 different classes, ranging from the diminutive C14 to the mighty 9F.
The three sheds of Edinburgh – Dalry Road, Haymarket and St Margarets
- were next, followed by those at Exeter, Exmouth Junction, Feltham
and Fort William with a parting shot of the arguably less than elegant
timber structure at Frome.
11 November 2013 -- AWAY QUIZ versus RCTS NORTHAMPTON by Chris Foren
Some of the Branch's stalwarts travelled to Northampton for the
away leg of the long-running Ashes quiz versus the RCTS.
The Branch welcomed back Colin Briggs with the latest of his presentations which combine his twin passions of railways and association football. This time Colin examined the North-East, described as the cradle of railways and (in the words of the late John Arlott) hotbed of soccer.
The journey began at Wylam with the birth of George Stephenson and the Stockton and Darlington Railway, in the process recalling the cavalcades of 1925 and 1975 and the short-lived electrification between Shildon and Newport.
Newcastle was next with the several bridges across the Tyne and the Central station, arguably one of the finest in the land. After heading for Berwick and the Royal Border Bridge the journey returned to Darlington via the North Sea coast, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, venturing inland to Bishop Auckland.
As the odyssey progressed Colin introduced the major football teams, their grounds and some of their notable achievements. Many of the North Eastern Railway's long-lived locomotives were illustrated alongside their successors and many of the sheds which they inhabited. All too soon this interesting evening came to an end.
In extending its thanks to Colin the Branch can only speculate how he will next link railways and football and hopes that he will return with the results.
22 October 2013 - AGM & PHOTO COMPETITION
We once again combined the Branch AGM and Photographic Competition.
AGM In his inimitable upbeat fashion Chairman Bill Davies thanked the Committee and other regular helpers of the Branch for their contributions and yet again appealed for new ideas. Afternoon meetings will be considered. The re-election of the committee en bloc was no surprise.
Chairman Bill Davies
Treasurer and Sales Peter Crossman
Fixtures Secretary Bryan Cross
Secretary Geoff Biggs
Committee Member John Morgan
1st October 2013 - North Wales Coast Part 3 - David Scudamore by Chris Foren
David Scudamore returned to the Branch with the third part of his presentation on the North Wales Coast. Having reached Llandudno at the end of Part 2 last year, David began with visits to the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay tramway, which closed in 1956, and the Great Orme Tramway, which is still with us.
After a brief glimpse of the pleasure steamer St Tudno, the journey west from Llandudno Junction resumed. Once the route of the Irish Mail, of which there were several reminders during the evening, much of the line hugs the coast, particularly near Penmaenmawr. Amid the more recent photographs shown, the majority taken by David himself, were fascinating illustrations of the tubular bridges at Conwy and the Menai Straits from the Illustrated London News. Lovers of steam were not disappointed with views of A4s on the North Wales Coast Express and 46233 heading the Royal Train in several locations, all sunny!
Passenger traffic has held up and some of the wayside stations closed in 1966 have reopened, including the legendary Llanfair PG. Freight is another matter with only the nuclear flasks to and from Valley providing regular business and the loss of container traffic from Holyhead has had a drastic effect upon the once busy port. It is always a pleasure to welcome a speaker with a comprehensive knowledge of his subject and in thanking David for an excellent evening the Branch hopes that he will return with another equally interesting topic in due course.
3rd September 2013 -- The Peter Bland Collection Part 3 – Bryan Cross by Chris Foren
Bryan Cross showed a third selection from the late Peter Bland’s photographic collection. The effort that Bryan had expended in scanning Peter’s colour slides was clear when he showed some ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples.
This time the major part of Bryan’s presentation comprised views that Peter had captured on a return visit to Ireland in June 1961. By this time little remained of the once extensive narrow gauge network save for some sad and rusty remnants. On the broad gauge enough steam remained more or less serviceable to provide a variety of power for the tours which took Peter around the Emerald Isle. As befitted the ramshackle condition of the network at the time one shot showed most of the railtour participants willingly helping to push or pull a turntable round!
Before his Irish trip Peter had visited the Northamptonshire iron fields and afterwards made an extensive visit to Beckton Gasworks, supplemented by visits to, among other places, the Midland main line near St Albans, the Belmont branch near Harrow and the neighbouring Southern sheds of Nine Elms and Stewarts Lane.
The Branch pays tribute to Bryan’s sterling work in conserving Peter’s collection and shares his regret that Peter had not been more willing to show his fine work during his lifetime.
2nd July 2013 - Five and Nine the Brighton Line: Part 2 - Ron Hart by Chris Foren
Ron Hart made a return to the Branch with Part 2 of his presentation, which he subtitled "The Nuts and Bolts".
Ron began with a brief overview of the territory to be featured and a slight digression into archive film of the Golden Arrow before describing the 1840s experiment with atmospheric propulsion which pre-dated Brunel's ill-starred effort in Devon. He went on to examine the Elevated Electric, the LB&SCR's AC electrification considered equally suitable for main line and suburban routes but outvoted by the third rail at the Grouping and converted by 1929.
After further digressions to Croydon Airport and the Brighton trolleybus system Ron looked at the Brighton's steam locomotives and their designers. He placed the works of Craven, Stroudley and the Billintons in context while according the greatest emphasis to the work of Marsh such as the H2 Atlantics and the large Baltic tanks.
The culmination of Ron's talk was his account of the life and work of Brighton Works where he served as an apprentice in the 1950s in the gang which had worked on the Leader tanks. In addition to routine surgery on the fleet the works built 1,200 locomotives including 73 8Fs and a batch of Fairburn tanks as well as contributing to the design of the BR Standards. Sadly the buildings were demolished and the site given over to car parking.
To judge by the anecdotes, Ron clearly enjoyed his formative years at Brighton and gave those present what Chairman Bill Davies rightly described as a "super insight". The Branch extends heartfelt thanks to Ron and longs for Part 3.
4th June 2013 – How Steam Was My Valley – Chris Jones by Chris Foren
Former Branch Chairman Chris Jones visited us to speak on “How Steam Was My Valley”.
This might have led the unwary to expect a tour of South Wales. Instead, Chris shared some of the influences that shaped his enthusiasm for railways, beginning with his Uncle Mark, a very senior railwayman. His childhood in Swansea embraced the Swansea and Mumbles and the Central Wales line out of Swansea Victoria, which station was made even more decrepit after closure by some of his schoolfellows!
His first railtour was a brake van trip to Graig Merthyr colliery but the industrial scene was a lesser enthusiasm compared with the narrow gauge such as the Corris and Vale of Rheidol. Closer to home the rail network and some of the communities that it served had been in slow decline long before Beeching.
The well chosen photographs served to emphasise this by portraying places like Three Cocks, Fochriw, Colbren Junction and Blaengwynfi where barely a trace of the railway remains. Although Chris grew up in LNWR territory with a touch of Midland influence the GWR was not forgotten, with shots of Swansea High Street (where he worked fleetingly as a porter) and Duffryn Yard shed.
Unfortunately the odyssey could not reach the better-known parts of the Valleys before the end of the evening but there was just time for an acapella rendition of ‘Gwalchmai’, apparently a well-known Welsh hymn tune!
The new and improved Branch PA system emerged from its box for the evening but Chris was able to hold the attention of the congregation regardless of its use. He is to be congratulated for an entertaining and informative presentation.
7th May 2013 – The New Waverley Novels – Dennis Lovett 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.