Indoor Meetings

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.

Local Information

Bedford Tourist Information St Paul’s Square, MK40 1SJ
01234 215 226 Click here for website

Indoor meetings

[Tuesdays unless otherwise stated]


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.


5th January -- 175 years of Wolverton Works and the Royal Train -- Phil Marsh
Phil explores the linked histories of the world's oldest standard gauge railway works, now threatened with demolition, and the Royal Train. There are inside stories to be told! As a preliminary we look at the London and Birmingham Railway in 1838 and compare it with HS2.

2nd February -- Cromford & High Peak Railway (Part 2) -- George Sullivan and Tommy Tomalin
The journey along this fascinating line continues. Starting at Sheep Pasture they will take us to the Middleton Incline and Steeplehouse, onwards to Middleton Top and finally for now to Hopton Tunnel and Incline. Expect about 120-130 pictures and a great deal of detail about locations, locomotives and incidents along the line.

8th March -- Quiz v RCTS Afternoon meeting (2.30 - 5.00)
A new slot for this perennial fixture. 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. Quizmaster to be announced

5th April -- Eastleigh Works -- Colin Boocock
Colin worked at Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s. Few are better placed than he to relate the full 100+ year history of the Works, including its closure in 2006 and subsequent re-emergence in a new guise.

3rd May -- Scotland in the 1950's & 60's - David Kelso.
Brought up in Edinburgh during WW2, David started his railway photography in 1949 after joining both the RCTS and SLS and covered the Scottish railway scene in the early BR days from Stranraer Harbour to Inverness and many places in between. He presents an evening of steam nostalgia in Scotland before the diesel invasion.

7th June - Crossrail ... Moving London Forward -- Patrick Griffin
Patrick is the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Manager for Crossrail, currently the biggest construction programme in Europe. He describes just how much is involved in creating and running a new high frequency and high profile urban railway.

5th July -- The Unknown Warrior -- John Hastings-Thomson
The LMS Patriot Project aims to build a new Patriot Class locomotive to the original design. John Hastings-Thomson describes the project and its aim of steaming the locomotive in September 2017. The principle target is to have the locomotive in steam in London on 11th November 2018.

6th September -- 55 Years of Railway Photography (Part 1) --
Les Nixon Les reviews his photographic career with a presentation that includes pre-1968 steam, foreign and modern traction and some preservation. The accent is on the unusual.

4th October -- The Colour Rail Journey (Part 5) -- Paul Chancellor
Paul presents a digital selection of colour and black and white images (many not seen previously) from the Colour-Rail collection featuring traction throughout the BR period at major rail centres around the UK.

18th October -- AGM and the Peter Bland Collection (Part 5) -- Bryan Cross
Our annual outbreak of democracy is followed this year by a further selection of Peter's black and white images scanned direct from the negatives.

1st November -- Kettering to Cambridge Revisited -- Robin Cullup
Robin takes a new look at the wide area around Kettering, followed by a nostalgic trip along the long closed Midland branch line to Cambridge.

14th November -- Quiz v RCTS Northampton. Monday afternoon meeting (2.00-4.30)
Away fixture at:- Weston Favell Parish Hall, Booth Lane South, Weston Favell, NN3 3EP.

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. </p>

Meeting Summaries

Tuesday 17 November 2014 – Wanderings on the Midland - Brian Stephenson
       by Chris Foren

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.

In the first half Brian examined locomotives of the Midland Railway and LMS between 1900 and 1935, showing how design evolved under the stewardships of Johnson and Deeley and later influenced LMS practice. The subjects were captured at a variety of locations, some such as St Pancras and Nottingham being represented more than others such as Aldersgate and Bolton.

Amid the workaday power was portrayed one-offs such as Fury and the Lickey Banker, with tantalising glimpses of preserved locos said to have been destroyed on Stanier’s orders.

In the second half the story continued to 1968 with WDs, 9Fs, the decline of steam and the advent of diesel power before abruptly changing to colour and up to date images taken by Brian in places ranging from the Rhine Valley and the Gotthard Pass to less than a mile from his home.

The Branch is most grateful to Brian for enduring the journey to Bedford, made more difficult by incidents on the railway. In terms of both content and attendance the experiment of an afternoon meeting can be judged a success.

Monday 9th November 2015 – Quiz v. RCTS [Away Leg]
       by Chris Foren


RCTS Northampton Deputy Chairman Keith Sykes (Left) presenting the Ashes to RCTS Tean Captain Graham Onley.

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.

Habitual question master Brian Benford delivered the questions with almost indecent haste, a handicap given that the teams needed to consult before writing down the answers in the poor light of the slide projector, and did not help matters by introducing ambiguities to some of the questions.

The subject matter majored on the more abstruse areas of steam locomotive matters, including names and sheds.

The eight round contest was surprisingly close one with Northampton winning by 64 points to 62, much less of a hammering than the impression gained by the Bedford team as it huddled round captain Bill Davies.

Given the need to end the proceedings by 9.30 pm, possibly past the caretaker's bedtime, perhaps one less round would have been more comfortable for all. .

Tuesday -- 3rd November -- Great Northern: Kings Cross to Peterborough – George Howe
       by Chris Foren

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.

In addition to being a retired signalman, George is prominent in the Great Northern Society. With the aid of basic but clear maps he set out the origins and development of the GNR, reminding the audience that the present direct route to Scotland via the East Coast Main Line was not achieved straight away: rather, the line from Peterborough via Lincoln to Retford preceded that via Grantham and Stoke Bank.

The GNR’s presence in London was Maiden Lane until Kings Cross was ready and intermediate stations were initially few in number. Much else of interest emerged during the evening, not least the revelation that the good people of Biggleswade clamoured for the railway to go through the town rather than round it.

The proposed branch to Bedford from a triangular junction at Sandy was news to many too. With the history came a varied selection of photographs in slide form garnered from many sources and covering all key periods and many locations served by the line. Of particular interest to many were the images of Langford Bridge box, George’s first. Clearly there is more to this subject than just one evening could hope to cover. The Branch is most grateful to George for once again stepping into the breach at short notice.

Tuesday -- 20th October - AGM plus Jack Turner part 2
       by Chris Foren

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.

He looked forward to the experiment of afternoon meetings. To the surprise of no-one, least of all those concerned, the committee was re-elected en bloc. With the formal business concluded in just over 30 minutes, Club founder Jack Turner took the floor to reminisce, without notes but with his autobiography not far from his mind, about his long career on the railway.

The first section of the talk was a recap of events from 1946, when he joined as a 14 year old school leaver, to 1970 when he arrived at Kensington Olympia as a station supervisor. There he found a complex yet largely unknown mix of freight, milk, parcels and motor-rail traffic, leavened with mystery excursions and the attendant problems of crew relief. More than once he was compelled to act as conductor to drivers who did not know the road.

His next move was to Euston as Operating Inspector, a nebulous job title which at one point led him to Hendon where he kept an eye on the building of the M1 alongside the line. A variety of management roles followed, most involving signalling installations. The flow of anecdotes was constant and attracted far more attention than the projected illustrations. All too soon time ran out on a good meeting which too many missed.

Tuesday 6 October 2015 – Both sides of the Tweed – Denis Lovett
         by Chris Foren

Given the recent re-opening of part of the Waverley route Dennis’s presentation, “Both Sides of the Tweed”, was aptly topical.

St Boswells Station looking North early 20th Century.

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 presentation began with a sequence of pictures illustrating the territory served by the lines, accompanied by recorded music from a pipe band worthy of the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Dennis then described the routes of the lines from St Boswells to Berwick via Duns and from Berwick to St Boswells via Kelso, giving a brief history of each relevant feature encountered en route. The photographs were selected from those gathered by Dennis for his series of books on the railways of the Border region and included several taken to illustrate the present day scene where traces of the long bygone railway could still be discerned.

Passenger traffic was not heavy on either the Duns or the Kelso route and in the former case was ended by the floods of 1948 which also washed out parts of the East Coast main line. Not forgotten was the turbulent history of Berwick, passed between England and Scotland 13 times in all.

Among the many interesting snippets learned was that Duns is the origin of the dunce’s cap! The Branch is grateful to Dennis for an interesting and thorough insight into two bygone rail routes which clearly deserved to be better known.

Tuesday -- 1st September 2015 -- Don’t Blame Beeching -- Richard Crane
       by Chris Foren

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.

For this most interesting talk the Branch thanks Richard warmly and will not be surprised when he returns.

Tuesday 7th July -- The Network South East Story -- Chris Green
       by Chris Foren

A near capacity audience listened attentively as Chris described the creation of first the sector and then the brand.

Having transformed ScotRail from a drab to a sparkling railway he was brought south to attempt a similar miracle, at the same time tasked with reducing Government subsidy by £100m. By a mix of marketing and management he created one railway for London, introducing such products as the one day Capitalcard and the Network Card, both now familiar, to grow off-peak travel.

An unexpected growth in peak passenger numbers led to new trains, new stations and electrification. The concept of total route modernisation, applied first to the Chiltern line, brought impressive results and is arguably one reason for the present success of London Overground.

By 1990 the recession had brought the Golden Age to an end: passenger numbers declined and the unexpected election result of 1992 heralded privatisation. BR ensured a smooth transition to the private sector and at the end of NSE’s life it was in profit. Chris reflected that if Thameslink 2000 and Crossrail had been implemented when first mooted they would have been achieved at a tenth of the cost.

The first 10 years of privatisation had been a missed opportunity during which costs had risen out of control but if any lesson had been learned it was the benefit of continuity as shown by the Chiltern and SWT franchises.

A lively discussion ensued in which Chris fielded a wide range of questions. The Branch thanks him warmly for a fascinating evening.

Tuesday 2nd June 2015 -- From Rookie Journalist to Grumpy Old Man - David Percival
       by Chris Foren

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.

In 1965 he became assistant editor of W H Smith’s staff magazine, making full use of business travel by maximising photographic opportunities in such exotic locations as Bangor, Taffs Well and Weekday Cross. Despite having left Ian Allan he remained involved with the company and later edited Modern Railways Pictorial for a year.

In time his career progressed to the press and public relations office at National Savings, based in the office block near Kensington Olympia seen in countless photographs. Pat of the job was taking part in phone-ins on local radio, giving more opportunities for travel and photography.

In 1995 he took early retirement, enabling him to concentrate on writing and publishing. Why ‘grumpy old man’? Because in David’s view too many books are poorly designed and riddled with inaccurate captions, both being easily avoidable. The talk was rich in his own fine photographs and a wide range of anecdotes and enjoyed by all present. It barely scratched the surface of what he has to say and the Branch hopes to ask him back.

Tuesday 5th May 2015 -- BR 1959 to 1966 – Robin Patrick
        by Chris Foren

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.

Tuesday 7th April 2015 -- West Coast Main Line Euston to Castlethorpe – Bob Ballard
         by Chris Foren

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.

The illustrated journey headed steadily north, embracing such varied bygones as the old Euston, Camden and Willesden MPDs, Oerlikon units, early pilot scheme diesel locomotives, Stonebridge Park generating station and a Class 317 unit at Watford Junction. The staple steam power of the West Coast Main Line was by no means forgotten, nor supporting players such as the Dunstable branch passenger.

An extended break was taken at Bletchley, where the old station, MPD and pre-flyover landscape were fondly recalled. Glimpses of motive power here ranged from Clun Castle via the Deltic prototype to the almost forgotten 10800. The journey ended at Castlethorpe, which despite its rare location in the centre of the settlement it served has not survived.
It was fitting that the last image shown was that of Bob Berry himself on the footplate of the replica Bloomer. This was an informative and evocative presentation which brought home once more just how rapid is the pace of change and the thanks of the Branch are extended to both Bobs.

Tuesday 10th March 2015 -- Quiz v RCTS [Home Leg]
        by Chris Foren

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.

No less than six fringe teams also took part, leaving hardly any audience. Quizmaster Bill Davies and chief techie Bryan Cross delivered 46 questions with many parts, covering a wide spectrum and causing very few arguments.

Scores were announced at the end of each round, leaving the totals to be divulged at the end. To their bewilderment Bedford A took an early lead and maintained it through the contest.

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.

For added amusement there were some choice spelling mistakes, including 'statute' for 'statue' - yes, there was a question on statues.

The final scores were: Bedford A 130, Bedford B 93, Northampton A 65 and Northampton B 92.

The six fringe teams scored between 52 and 88, that named the Hornets (after misplaced enthusiasm for association football, apparently) scooping a reward of confectionery.

The sole member of Bluebirds scored 52 on his own and could find himself in an official team next year if he is unwary.

So Bedford regained the Ashes and everyone forgot about the Fred Cockman trophy

Tuesday 3rd February 2015 -- The Cromford and High Peak Railway Part I -- George Sullivan and Tommy Tomalin.
         by Chris Foren

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.

The enabling Bill was laid before Parliament in 1824 -- before the Stockton and Darlington opened. As with many other projects the cost was underestimated. With the aid of Railway Clearing House junction diagrams, Ordnance Survey maps and Google Earth George described the route starting at the Cromford end. To his relief and that of the audience Tommy clarified the difference between the two High Peak Junctions. A remarkable collection of photographs illustrated many of the installations.

The variety of motive power shown was by no means confined to North London tanks and J94s. The LNWR and its successors drafted in a remarkable variety of locos. The working of the Sheep Pasture incline would have been a challenge in today's health and safety culture and promoted some amusing anecdotes. Sadly time ran out on this scholarly yet entertaining presentation. The Branch looks forward to what are understood to be the next four instalments.

Tuesday 6th January 2015 -- The last four Years of BR Steam - George Howe
         by Chris Foren

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 of steam

. Armed with a serviceable if basic camera, some colour slide film, the undeniable perk of 'priv' travel and later a Vespa scooter, George set out on day trips to record the changing scene. With the concentration of the last steam locomotives in the North-West it was taken as read that he would make repeated trips there, to Yorkshire and to the lines out of Waterloo. Other parts were not neglected - the bleak Dovey Junction and the unpronounceable (to the speaker if not the audience) Machynlleth, the North-East and even Reading also featured, as did the Great Northern main line where George worked in several 'boxes over the years.

Although his show concentrated on steam the usurping diesels inevitably appeared before his lens, including Deltics, DP2, a stray Co-Bo and several Claytons. Fortunately the visual gloom of neglected steam engines was relieved by George's knowledgeable and entertaining commentary. The Branch is most grateful to him for standing in at such short notice and hopes to be able to welcome him again in due course.

Tuesday 16th December 2014 -- Christmas Special
         by Chris Foren

The Branch Christmas meeting on followed the now customary format of informality with local members providing the entertainment.

A selection of the 23 diners. President Jack Turner is on the right.

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.

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

Tuesday 2nd December 2014-- Engine Sheds Part 5 -- Chris Banks
         by Chris Foren

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.

Ex-MR Gloucester Barnwood shed was home to Midland Rly Deeley 0F 0-4-0 Tank No.41537. Built in 1907, it shunted Gloucester Docks.

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.

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!

Monday 10th November 2014 -- Quiz v. RCTS Northampton [Away Leg]
         by Chris Foren

The Branch's brain power took to the road on 10/11 for the away leg of the Ashes quiz versus RCTS Northampton.
Once again Brian Benford of Kettering was the question master. Both sides had to dig deep into their trivia banks to have any hope of answering the questions which, as expected, majored on the more esoteric and abstruse areas of steam locomotive matters.

After a long run of victories Bedford's luck ran out when the home team took an early lead and kept it. The eight round contest was a close one with Northampton winning by 66 points to 62. There was no presentation of awards because Bedford forgot to bring the Ashes and Northampton could not find the buffer customarily presented to the losing side.

The Branch looks forward to the return match in March 2015, possibly with trophies this time.

Tuesday 4th November 2014 -- Last Train to Kensington Midland Style -- John Downing
         by Chris Foren

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.

John dealt first and briefly with the succession of short-lived passenger flows, none of which lasted beyond 1902, illustrating the 0-4-4 tanks which worked them and owed much to the Metropolitan for their design. The freight traffic over the line was more successful and can still be seen. The Midland had several coal depots outside its own territory which generated traffic flows depending on running powers for access.

The two which John examined with his typical thoroughness were from Cricklewood to West Kensington and High Street Kensington, both on the District Line of London Underground and lasting into the 1960s. Some dismantled spurs were included and John projected some useful maps to help describe the route taken by the unbraked freights.

The scope of the illustrations was wide enough to recall the 1992 steam on the District and several generations of bygone District Line stock and it was noticeable from the shots of District Line stations that London Underground is much more inclined to conserve historic architecture than the national railway.

The Branch thanks John warmly for an interesting and erudite presentation.

Tuesday 21 October 2014 -- AGM then Boston to Stafford by GNR - Tommy Tomalin and George Sullivan
         by Chris Foren

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 en bloc.

Following increasingly dismal support the photographic competition was rested this year in favour of a digital presentation by Tommy Tomalin and George Sullivan. The subject was the former GN route from Boston to Stafford, which had been recorded on film comprehensively by Tommy since 1960.

With the aid of maps from the Cobb atlas and a wind-up torch to help Tommy read his notes the route was described and a representative selection of infrastructure illustrated. Traffic depicted ranged from a Deltic on a Skegness train to that rarest of sights, a clean WD, embracing a wide range of first and second generation diesel multiple units and the inevitable pairs of Class 20s on summer Saturday holiday trains. 80080 and its piebald stock forming the Jolly Fisherman special of 1993 made several appearances.

The intricacies of Barkston Junction occupied a significant proportion of the show but unfortunately time ran out before the complex network in the Colwick and Netherton area could be given more than introductory coverage. Tommy and George deserve the Branch's thanks for the evening, a repeat invitation in 2016 to continue the odyssey and a more plentiful congregation to enjoy them doing it.

Tuesday 7 October 2014 -- Irish Surprises – Colin Boocock
         by Chris Foren

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.

The disappearance of much of the rail network on both sides of the border, particularly all but one of the cross-border lines, was displayed starkly on maps. CIE's early experience of diesels was unhappy to put it mildly until the bold decision to replace Crossley power plant with General Motors equipment.

Today modern diesel multiple units carry passengers on both sides of the border and in Dublin the electric DART thrives but in the south the recession has led to service reductions, a surplus of stock and disappointing business on some reopened lines.

Some of the formerly extensive narrow gauge network lives on in preservation. The talk was accompanied by a comprehensive selection of photographs depicting both the workaday and the idiosyncratic.

Many in the sadly depleted audience who have not visited Ireland will surely be tempted to do so following Colin's presentation, for which the Branch extends grateful thanks.

Tuesday 2 September 2014 -- The Peter Bland Collection Part 4 -- Bryan Cross
         by Chris Foren

Branch Fixtures Secretary Bryan Cross showed a fourth selection from the late Peter Bland's photographic collection, of which he is custodian.

On this occasion the emphasis of the presentation was on industrial locos and locations. Clearly Peter had devoted much of 1953 to their pursuit. Remarkably, several of the subjects depicted survive in preservation, including the 0-6-4T Cecil Raikes seen at a colliery near Ilkeston and a saddle tank inherited by the GWR in 1923 found at a factory in Kent.

A trip to North Wales later in the year provided much for Peter to record on the standard and an assortment of narrow gauges, including a very derelict Festiniog Railway at Portmadoc and a newly revived Talyllyn at Towyn. Peter had also managed to record an RCTS railtour starting at Bishopsgate Goods and ride on it around the East of England, taking pictures at every stop.

Although Bryan had expended incalculable time and effort in research, there were gaps even in his knowledge which audience members fell over themselves, often boisterously, to fill for him.

The evening ended with a look at local services between St Pancras and Bedford in 1959, on the eve of dieselisation. Much remains in the collection to be catalogued, scanned, researched and shown. The Branch repeats its regret that Peter had not been more willing to show his fine work during his lifetime and prays that Bryan will be granted the many more years needed to do his work justice!

Tuesday 1 July 2014 - Aspects of a Footplate Career 1964-2007 - Bill Davies
         by Chris Foren

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.

Before him was a table groaning with memorabilia which would have reaped a fortune had it been auctioned or even given as raffle prizes.

Instead, the exhibits served as props for Bill's chronicle of bright ideas from successive managing directors of train operating companies - mugs, marketing literature, miscellaneous trinkets and ties, the latter provoking particularly scathing comment.

Included in Bill's experiences was Test Car Iris. Once to be seen at high speed on the Midland Main Line, it is now back to passenger duty on the Ecclesbourne Valley Rly. [by Bill Davies

Having begun his railway service at Toton, Bill always looked upon himself as a Midland man.

Whether he was critical of some of the entrenched and rigid attitudes that prevailed long after the Grouping was not clear but the tale of the driver who refused to go further than Lincoln St Marks was both entertaining to the audience and revealing of the problems facing BR in the 1960s.

The talk was accompanied by some wide ranging and well chosen slides of which the first few served to illustrate Bill's love for silly notices. Others provoked more anecdotes which if repeated here would probably land someone in trouble.

Nostalgia was evoked and more tales prompted by a series of shots depicting the old station at Bedford.

Laughter filled the air for most of the evening. As some famous comics have shown, there is much humour in the truth. Surely a career in stand-up is the next step for Bill

Tuesday 6 June 2014 - LNER Locos transferred to BR in 1948 - Brian Benford
         by Chris Foren

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.

Equally remarkable was his grasp of detail and minutiae which has served him well in compiling and presenting quizzes over the years. To discipline a potentially rambling subject Brian dealt first with the formation of the LNER from its several constituent companies before proceeding to review its motive power as handed over to BR in the order listed by Ian Allan's ABC. Not forgotten was the WD 2-8-0, of which the LNER bought 200 examples later renumbered in the BR Standard series, nor the Sentinel steam railcar, one of which lasted until 1948.

Many amusing anecdotes came to light, such as the time when a B1 had its whistle stolen whilst awaiting spares at Kettering and was fitted with one from a scrap 4F. Oh, the indignity! It was news to much of the audience that a V2 received a copper-capped chimney after repair at Swindon and that over 4 million miles of light engine running were clocked up in 1924/5.

Brian clearly finds this aspect and level of enthusiasm totally fascinating and the Branch thanks him for a full evening

Tuesday 6 May 2014 - Steam: At Home and Abroad -- Ted Burley
         by Chris Foren

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 first part covered British subjects, both main line and preserved railways. The speaker's preferences for snow, water and silhouettes became clear at once, as did his determination to reach and maintain high standards of composition.

The focus then shifted to Scandinavia and mainland Europe and in particular to Germany, both pre- and post-unification, before heading for the USA and Cuba. The world of steam would not have been complete without visits to China and South Africa, nor to Java, Burma and Cambodia. In his extensive travels

Ted also took pains to capture images of what the more average tourist might see and was not afraid to include non-steam subjects where they were of historical interest. The quality of the images projected was high throughout, whatever the photographer may have thought of some of them himself. Sadly Ted's photographic activity has wound down with the demise of Kodak slide film.

Tuesday 1st April -- 46 Years on British Railways: From Nationalisation to Privatisation -- Jack Turner
         by Chris Foren

The Branch welcomed its own Jack Turner, founder and current President of the LCGB, with a presentation based on his recently published autobiography.
Jack retired from the railway 21 years ago after 46 years’ service punctuated with no less than eight redundancies!

Jack’s first job as a qualified fireman was at Leighton Buzzard, where his first turn was on an LNWR “Super D” 0-8-0 to Dunstable up the 1 in 40 Sewell Bank.
[this photo by Harold Clements in 1951

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 department.

At 16 he became a cleaner at Bletchley and soon found himself firing and relieving at other sheds. After National Service from 1950 to 1952 he found himself at Aylesbury Town shed and learnt the craft of driving

. A job at Bedford fell through and after a spell in the brickworks he became a signalman on the Midland, working in many boxes as a regular and relief man. As might be expected, Jack had a great many stories to tell of incidents and fellow railwaymen, ranging from the absurd to the poignant and covering some of the more unofficial aspects of railway life as well as the day-to-day business.

The accompanying photographs were selected with care and acted as a garnish to the tale. There was never a remote possibility that he would be able to tell the whole tale in one evening and what happened after he became a relief station master will just have to wait for another time!

Tuesday 11 March 2014 - Quiz versus RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans
      by Chris Foren

Ouiz teams from RCTS Northampton and LCGB St Albans visited the Branch seeking to wrest the Ashes from the home team. .

Best “Fringe” Team was “No Hopers”. Captain Dave Britton accepts his team’s Thomas eggs from LCGB President jack Turner

Once five fringe teams had formed there were nearly enough aspiring contestants for each club to field two teams of three.

The established team of quizmaster Bill Davies and chief techie Bryan Cross delivered 44 questions with many parts which appeared to grow in difficulty as the contest progressed.

Scores were announced at the end of each round but not totalled until the end, creating some suspense

Although the questions were compiled with skill and care, a couple of answers were given away in their phrasing, possibly so that all but the most dense would come away with some marks!

The quizmaster’s carefully cadenced delivery embellished the on-screen graphics which worked well until someone clouted the projector, causing a brief shut-down.

The final scores were: Bedford A 131, Bedford B 109, Northampton A 123, Northampton B 84, St Albans A 107 and St Albans B 31.

The five fringe teams scored between 53 and 90, the highest scoring calling themselves the No-Hopers and being rewarded with some Thomas merchandise. Perhaps that will encourage them to offer themselves to an official team in future.

Meanwhile Bedford retain the Ashes and the Fred Cockman trophy. Well done to Roger Whitehead (Captain),Alan Ledwick and Chris Foren.

Tuesday 4th February -- The Railways of East Lincolnshire -- Mike Fowler
         by Chris Foren

A year later than originally intended, the Branch welcomed Mike Fowler and his presentation on the railways of East Lincolnshire.

Mike outlined the development of the rail network which took from 1846 to 1913, explaining the traffic which initially sustained each line. As might be expected in such a rural area bounded by a lengthy coastline, this amounted principally to fish and vegetables, augmented during wartime by armaments.

The carriage of passengers became important too with the growth of holiday resorts at Skegness and Mablethorpe and the port of Grimsby but the ambition of turning Sutton-on-Sea into a significant port was never realised.

Mike Fowler poses by two of his priceless artefacts [photo Geoff Biggs

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.

Unusually a passenger service between Peterborough and Spalding was restored soon after withdrawal. Some of the infrastructure that survived after closure was illustrated with slides and prints.

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.

In his effusive vote of thanks Branch Chairman Bill Davies praised the presentation as an example of how it should be done and expressed the hope that the missing footage would be shown one day – technicalities permitting!

Tuesday 7th January -- 50- 50 Kings Cross -- Richard Crane
         by Chris Foren

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.