LOCOMOTIVE CLUB of GREAT BRITAIN
Our indoor meetings are enjoyed by both LCGB members and guests 13 times a
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 (unless otherwise stated) are held at St Johns Church Hall, St John’s
Street, Bedford MK42 0DL 19.30 - 22.00
Click for Map and Rail Links
Admission £1.00 Members, £2 Non-members (includes free tea or coffee)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 email@example.com Click here for website
[Tuesdays unless otherwise stated]
6th December -- Engine Sheds (Part 7) -- Chris Banks
The journey continues as Chris delves into his remarkable slide collection once again. Tonight he takes us from Immingham to Patricroft but which of Manchester's big sheds will be included? This will depend on how liberally Chris interprets alphabetical order. It's called suspense!
20th December -- Christmas Special
Members entertain one another in the time-honoured fashion with assistance from the local chippy and Tom and Jerry.
3rd January Cromford & High Peak Railway Part 3
George Sullivan and Tommy Tomalin resume their journey along this fascinating line, picking up the trail at Hopton and looking at further inclines, plus the deviation made in 1892. They will take us gradually towards the County Palatine of Cheshire with a great deal of detail about locations, locomotives and incidents along the line.
7th February An Evening with my Father’s Slides
David Cross will show a selection of photographs taken by his late father Derek Cross, imagining a journey round the M25 between 1958 and 1968 with steam and some green diesels from all four regions.
7th March An evening of Railway Films
Frank Banfield presents more from his extensive collection, including a selection from the late Brian Lockey collection.
4th April The GN and LNWR Joint Line
After 20 years Robin Cullup takes a fresh look at the early years of this line, drawing on the Joint Line Committee’s Minute Books, before leading us on a journey from Market Harborough to Bottesford and Nottingham, pausing at the GN branch to Leicester Belgrave Road along the way.
18th April Quiz v RCTS - home leg
LCGB Bedford and RCTS Northampton compete yet again for a small casket of ashes from Ravenstone Wood Junction signalbox. A team from LCGB St Albans will join us to compete for the Fred Cockman Trophy. Quizmaster to be announced. This fixture will now take place only once a year, alternating between Bedford and Northampton.
2nd May All Change at Cricklewood
John Downing takes an illustrated look at life and conditions behind the scenes from the days of the Midland Railway to British Railways and meets the men behind the paint and polished brass.
6th June South of the Border – Black and White Steam in the
50s and 60s
David Kelso presents scenes from trips to England and Wales during this period. His PowerPoint presentation covers the North, the Midlands and the South and also North Wales including narrow gauge and the quarries.
4th July Much mardling around on the M&GN
Chris Youett explores the much-missed Midland and Great Northern, aided by what he modestly describes as the largest known collection of colour slides covering the M&GN, taken between 1936 and 1980.
15th August Outdoor trip to Bletchley
5th September On The Route Of The Master Cutler
Richard Crane explores the former Great Central Railway from Sheffield Victoria to London Marylebone, marking the 50th anniversary of closure.
3rd October The East Lincolnshire Railway: its Origins, Development
Mike Fowler returns to the Branch and revisits his favourite subject. Following an acclaimed exhibition in Alford commemorating 45 years since the line closed, Mike has assembled a Powerpoint presentation portraying the East Lincolnshire Railway from Grimsby to Boston and onwards to Peterborough.
17th October AGM and My Travels with David Eatwell
Our annual outbreak of democracy is followed this year by Ray Schofield who looks back on a lifetime of hunting steam with David, and sometimes both their wives, in countries far too numerous to list!
7th November The Hitchin South Diaries 1906-1968
George Howe recalls some of the events recorded in a diary by past signalmen and found in his former workplace, Hitchin South Box
5th December Engine Sheds Part 8
Chris Banks returns with the next leg of his grand tour. With the aid of his prodigious slide collection he takes us from Manchester to Perth. As usual, the route will depend on which sheds can be illustrated and how well Chris knows his alphabet!
19th December Christmas Special
The seasonal mixture of food, films, fotos and frustration!
7th November 2016 – Away Quiz v RCTS Northampton by Chris Foren
The Branch’s delegation to Northampton for the away leg of the Ashes quiz versus the RCTS was not aided in its journey by road closures and traffic problems.
As usual, question master Brian Benford focused the questions
on the more abstruse facets of steam locomotion, leavened by the
token presence in each of the eight rounds of a ‘where is
it’ featuring a shed.
I November 2016 -- Kettering to Cambridge Revisited -- Robin Cullup by Chris Foren
Robin returned to the Branch with his presentation on the Midland route to Cambridge. His great-grandfather, William Morby, had been stationmaster at Grafham. This and a trip over the line in 1958 served to trigger his interest.
After chronicling the stages and complexities of the line’s
origins and its traffic, Robin described it from west to east, illustrated
by as comprehensive a selection of photographs as could be desired,
supplemented by the relevant RCH junction maps where relevant.
Such a comprehensively researched talk as this was a pleasure
to attend and the Branch hopes that Robin will return with another
of his presentations before long. A rather farcical raffle draw
ensured that the evening would be remembered as entertaining.
18th October -- AGM and the Peter Bland Collection (Part 5) -- Bryan Cross by Chris Foren
The Branch AGM was, as usual, poorly attended. In a notably witty
speech Chairman Bill Davies thanked the Committee and other regular
helpers of the Branch for their contributions to its functioning.
Peter Crossman gave 12 months’ notice of his intention to
relinquish the job of Sales Officer.
Senior Branch member Ken Dickens presided over the en-bloc re-election
of the committee. Thanks in part to the absence of a member who
delights in posing awkward questions the formal business was transacted
in 26 minutes.
Tuesday 4 October 2016 – 55 Years of Railway Photography Part 1 – Les Nixon by Chris Foren
Dr Les Nixon made a return to the Branch after too long an absence.
His presentation, “55 years of railway photography”,
comprised an apparently random selection of fine images made at
many locations both at home and abroad.
He prefers to include objects of interest to complement an otherwise
dull or routine subject, to make the best use of the landscape and
to eschew the traditional front three- quarter view in favour of
other viewpoints, such as a broadside.
Tuesday 6 September 2016 -- Colour-Rail Jouney 5 – Paul Chancellor by Chris Foren
Paul Chancellor came to present his fifth Colour-Rail journey. He selected a number of localities – Crewe, Oxford, Dundee/Perth, Exeter, Teesside and London sheds - which were then explored more or less chronologically.
The period covered extended from, in one case, 1919 until almost the present day. Naturally the emphasis of the selection was on motive power, both native and visiting and in conditions covering the full range from workaday grot to utter perfection.
A s an example of the latter, a ‘Schools’ at Stewarts Lane, prompted a question from a member of the audience so worthy of babes and sucklings: “Was it a special occasion?”
Aside from this, plenty of examples were projected where the photographer had chosen to depict the wider scene.
The late Trevor Owen was a master at this and fortunately his collection is now in Colour-Rail’s care. Despite its name the Colour-Rail collection now contains many monochrome images, some of which were used to good effect in portraying the scene before the first faltering advent of colour photography in the 1930s and until it really caught on in the 1960s.
Those present thoroughly enjoyed the presentation which must have
evoked many memories. The Branch thanks Paul warmly for another
good evening’s entertainment.
Tuesday 5th July 2016 -- The Unknown Warrior -- John Hastings-Thomson by Chris Foren
John Hastings Thomson from the Patriot Project told us of their
aim to complete a replica ex-LMS Patriot. The name “Patriot”
was first applied to a Claughton in remembrance of the LNWR staff
who fell in the Great War.
The name “The Unknown Warrior” was chosen by Steam Railway’s readers and helped to secure the support of the Royal British Legion.
With the aid of many interesting photographs John described what parts were required and how they were sourced. Much kindness was extended to the project by the preservation movement as a whole – erecting shop facilities at Llangollen, the loan of casting patterns by Tyseley and the supply of surplus bits of 8F by the County project.
To this was added some luck, such as finding a Claughton whistle on E-bay. Despite all this good fortune a substantial amount of new build was required, principally the frames, cylinders, cab and boiler.
All of this was costly but the project has been most successful in raising funds and attracting high profile supporters such as its new patron, Simon Weston. If the aim of having the completed locomotive in London on 11th November 2018 can be achieved it will be most impressive. Chairman Bill Davies thanked John for a fascinating insight into the project which demonstrated clearly the approach adopted and the spirit of co-operation generated. These thanks were echoed warmly by the audience.
London’s rail network.
The scale of the project is breathtaking and the Branch is most grateful to Patrick for explaining it so clearly, effectively and enjoyably
6th June -- Crossrail, Moving London Forward – Patrick Griffin by Chris Foren
Patrick’s enthusiasm for what is the largest civil engineering project in Europe was evident throughout his first-class PowerPoint presentation, which traced the origins of Crossrail from Marc Brunel’s Thames Tunnel through the beginnings of London’s Underground network in the 1860s and the succession of planning studies on which no significant action was taken.
Funding was secured including a significant contribution from Canary Wharf and a Bill deposited in 2005, receiving significant and public support from politicians.
Patrick explained clearly and methodically the planning and construction processes, pointing out the many obstacles to building a full size tunnel under London (mostly other tunnels), the steps taken to avoid damage to existing buildings and the many other challenges before describing the 66 new trains – a snip at £1bn each - and their phased introduction leading to the full service of 24 trains per hour each way through the central section in 2019.
What will be known as the Elizabeth Line will deliver key cuts in journey times and a notable increase in capacity for London’s rail network.
The scale of the project is breathtaking and the Branch is most grateful to Patrick for explaining it so clearly, effectively and enjoyably
3rd May -- Scotland in the 1950's & 60's - David Kelso by Chris Foren
After a gap of some five years David Kelso returned to the Branch, this time bringing a fine selection of black and white images, projected digitally and captioned informatively, depicting steam in Scotland between 1948 and 1960.
Once his finances had recovered his horizons were greatly expanded. In the ensuing years he travelled extensively in Scotland, capturing the final years of pre-grouping motive power alongside the final LNER Pacifics and the new BR Standards.
The show was arranged by area rather than chronologically and portrayed everything from tired shed pilots and grimy WD 2-10-0s to shiny top link expresses. With regular access to weekly notices there was very little that David missed: in particular he managed to record many rugby and soccer specials, largely double-headed, and, on a couple of occasions, the Royal Train.
Perhaps the most evocative shots were those on the West Highland and Far North lines, where the landscape fully merits the inclusion of trains, but equally charming were some pictures of industrial power.
Many of the locations captured have been swept away and most of the rest changed almost beyond recognition. The Branch extends grateful thanks to David for a fine evening’s entertainment and may well act on the hint that he has another programme available.
5th April 2016 -- Eastleigh Works -- Colin Boocock by Chris Foren
Colin Boocock paid a welcome return visit to the Branch to tell
the story of Eastleigh Works, where he had been an apprentice.
The strategically located greenfield site was chosen by Dugald
Drummond to replace the cramped and cluttered establishment at
8th March -- Quiz v RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans by Chris Foren
This meeting was the second to be held in the afternoon and featured the Inter-Branch Quiz, a fixture of very many years’ standing.
Quizmaster Bill Davies delivered five rounds of 10 questions each, one round having been compiled by chief techie Bryan Cross.
The questions embraced a refreshingly yet frustratingly wide range of subjects and certainly tested the knowledge and guessing power of the contestants. Scores were announced at the end of each round.
At the end and after some tantalising recounts the totals were revealed:- Northampton retained the Ashes with 113 points versus Bedford's 107. The fringe teams clocked up scores ranging from 62 to 106.
Once again the helpful on-screen graphics suffered from spelling mistakes too numerous to list and more than their fair share of stray apostrophes. Fortunately more attention to detail was applied to the questions! Once again, everyone forgot about the Fred Cockman trophy.
2nd February 2016 -- Cromford & High Peak Railway (Part 2) -- George Sullivan by Chris Foren
George Sullivan together with Tommy Tomalin returned to the Branch
with the second instalment of their entertaining presentation on the
Cromford and High Peak Railway. Once again the first illustration
was of the late Ian Lyman who had prepared the script and found so
many of the illustrations.
The many photographs shown depicted the characteristic motive
power deployed on the line and some unexpected oddities such as
wagons branded for Derbyshire County Council. Of the mishaps described,
perhaps the most notable of these was the occasion in July 1955
when Kitson 0-4-0ST 47000 derailed spectacularly, becoming a temporary
and not altogether welcome garden feature.
5th January 2016 -- 175 years of Wolverton Works and the Royal Train -- Phil Marsh by Chris Foren
This meeting turned out to be three presentations in one. The first part recreated an early journey along the London and Birmingham Railway, featuring illustrations of some of its well-known landmarks under construction. Many were taken from engravings by Bourne and featured right hand running for which the railway was not noted. An extract from an early timetable revealed that the journey time from Euston to Birmingham was 5 hours 37 minutes, a marked improvement on the stagecoach.
The focus then shifted to the evolution of the Royal Train from the saloons built for Queen Victoria in 1869, sumptuous on the inside but basic on the outside, through the armoured vehicles built for King George VI in 1941 to the present relatively modern nine coach set which is far more functional than its predecessors.
Finally Phil presented an affectionate portrait and history of
the Royal Train’s home, Wolverton Works, and some of those
who worked there. Hr looked back at its role in wartime and its
provision of the local fire brigade, noting that the future of the
facility is now far from certain given its ownership by a property
15 December 2015 – Christmas Special by Chris Foren
Bedford Branch’s Christmas meeting was a textbook example
of informality. As usual, local members provided the first half’s
Chris Banks entertained the us with the sixth part of his “Engine Sheds” series. The focus this time was on the London area.
As has come to be expected from this presenter, some liberties
were taken with the alphabet.
The first afternoon meeting of the Branch took place when Brian Stephenson gave a digital presentation entitled “Wanderings on the Midland”. The images were produced by scanning from glass plates and negatives, enhanced where necessary with the aid of Photoshop.
Among the notable photographers whose collections are in Brian’s
care and were featured in the presentation were Messrs W Beckerlegge,
T G Hepburn, A G Ellis, F R Hebron, C R L Coles, K Field, D Hepburne
Scott and J M Jarvis.
Once again the Branch’s brain power braved the rush hour congestion
for the away leg of the Ashes quiz versus RCTS Northampton at the
latter’s new meeting place.
Once again the booked speaker was unable to attend. In his place
the Branch was pleased to welcome once again George Howe who gave
a presentation on the Great Northern Railway.
As inevitably as night following day, the attendance at the Branch
AGM was sparse. Chairman Bill Davies profered his thanks to the
Committee and other regular helpers of the Branch for their contributions
and once again sought feedback which might guide those who run the
Branch in their deliberations.
Given the recent re-opening of part of the Waverley route Dennis’s presentation, “Both Sides of the Tweed”, was aptly topical.
It examined the two lines that once connected St Boswells with Berwick-upon-Tweed,
one each side of the River Tweed that forms part of the border between
England and Scotland.
The speaker this time was Richard Crane, former long serving Branch Secretary and more recently promoter of the Bedford – Bletchley line. His presentation, “Don’t Blame Beeching”, examined a selection of the lines closed to passenger traffic from as long ago as 1925 to the appointment of Dr Richard Beeching as Chairman of the BRB in 1961. Many of today’s commentators conveniently lay responsibility for many branch closures at Beeching’s door whilst overlooking the truth.
What Beeching did in fact was to bring to a head the closure process which had gathered pace in the 1950s. With a widely harvested selection of photographs Richard illustrated many of the lines whose passenger services had been abandoned long before Ernest Marples charged Beeching with making the railways pay. The Limpley Stoke to Camerton line, used in 1953 for filming “The Titfield Thunderbolt”, was abandoned in 1925, while the 1930s claimed branches such as those to Kemp Town, Brill, The Dyke, Parkend and Knott End.
By the 1950s more substantial lines were facing the axe, notably
the Midland and Great Northern which only saw heavy use for a few
weeks in the summer. Fate has been kind to some lines. That from
Bathgate to Airdrie, lost in 1956, now has a frequent service of
electric trains. Others have been saved by the preservation movement,
notably the Bluebell which had the distinction of being closed twice.
A near capacity audience listened attentively as Chris described
the creation of first the sector and then the brand.
David Percival entertained the Branch on with his presentation
“From rookie journalist to grumpy old man”. David’s
rail enthusiasm began in Norbury where he spotted many units and
a few steam trains from a creaky footbridge. Later moving to Stevenage,
he left school at the end of 1961 and joined Ian Allan, soon being
able to afford a decent camera which paved the way for his pictorial
contributions to ABCs.
LCGB Branch Liaison Officer Robin Patrick graced the Branch with his presence again on 5 May. This time he brought with him scans of some 200 black and white negatives that had never been printed, taken between 1959 and 1966. Robin joined the railway in 1962, working first at Blisworth and then Roade, and taking full advantage of the opportunities thereby made available to record the changing scene. Unlike some photographers, he took careful note of the power and workings that he recorded, enabling him to explain some of the finer points of day-to-day operations that the typical enthusiast does not always understand.
Inevitably the changing West Coast main line was the main focus of his photography but not to the exclusion of all else. Understandably the focus was on steam but a few diesels were allowed in to relieve the unrelenting grime of steam engines in that period.
As the end of steam drew ever nearer Robin travelled widely and
further afield to record its last knockings, with particular focus
on Scotland and the Southern. Several railtours over long-closed
lines with unusual or distinctive motive power were recalled and
with them the happy days, now long gone, when photographers could
roam almost at will. The Branch is once again happy to thank Robin
for a fine evening’s entertainment and hopes very much that
he will soon have time to scan some more negatives to show us.
The Branch welcomed Bob Ballard, long time RCTS stalwart and mastermind
of Collectors Corner, who presented an illustrated journey from
Euston to Castlethorpe using slides from the photographic collection
of the late Bob Berry and a few of his own. Having begun work at
Euston in 1964, Bob was in a good position to observe the substantial
changes brought about by electrification and was present, albeit
at a safe distance, when The Queen opened the rebuilt station.
Our friends at LCGB St Albans were sadly absent from the quiz
on 10/3 but a contingent from RCTS Northampton joined battle, bringing
with them the Ashes which had chnged hands in Novmber.
The on-screen graphics were helpful but even more laden with stray
apostrophes than last year, leading some to ponder whether the culprit
had a second job as a greengrocer.
We welcomed Tommy and George from Northampton for the second time
in three months. Their presentation on the Cromford and High Peak
Railway had been prepared largely by the late Ian Lyman and began
with a tribute portrait. The railway had originally been proposed
as a canal to link two other canals but it became clear at an early
stage that the topography of Derbyshire and Cheshire was not conducive
to this idea given the gradients and sheer profusion of locks that
would have been required.
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.
The first item was a selection of slides. The smooth running of the
evening, always a precarious ideal, was disrupted by the inability
of some of the presenters to recall which way round slides should
be loaded in the carousel.
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.
Inevitably some sheds and the locomotives to be found there were better photographed
than others but those present could not fail to be impressed by the
variety of classes featured, particularly survivors of pre-grouping
times. The conditions of the motive power depicted ranged from ex-works
to terminal decrepitude.
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.