Reviews Of Recent Meetings

12th April 2023

Lynton & Barnstable Railway Trust by Mark Pearce

Members and visitors had a most enjoyable talk on Wednesday 12th April by Mike Pearce a local enthusiast and shareholder with the current L& B Railway Trust.

The first half was devoted to the period between 1898 when it opened and 1935 when it closed. Mike   described the pivotal role that Sir George Newnes (1885 -1935) played after he built the Lynton Cliff    Railway down to Lynmouth to try and cut out the use of horses on the long drag up to the top of the near vertical rise. He planned a route for a narrow- gauge railway (1’ 11½”) from Lynton to Barnstaple where it connected with the national railways of the time, the GWR and the LSWR. This would allow tourists to  visit this remote but beautiful part of Devon on the coast of the Bristol Channel and part of Exmoor.

He ordered 3 No steam locomotives from Manning Wardle and named them after local rivers. He subsequently ordered a 4th locomotive from Baldwins in the USA, and they fitted it with a cowcatcher, not to move cows off the line but sheep as this was prime grazing land. The first station was Wooda Bay as this was the nearest station for a proposed tourist destination on the coast and there were proposals to build a branch line for which the Baldwin’s engine was partly ordered for, but the branch was never built.

On the official open day, a special train ran for local dignitaries and senior officials hosted by Sir George Newnes and large crowds gathered at various stations, particularly Barnstaple and Lynton.

Services for the general public commenced the following week. All services from Barnstaple were,following convention, down and the engines led chimney first to ensure that the firebox was always covered by water. A number of black & white photographs were tinted with colour wash and sold at local shops and Malcolm showed them to us.

Services continued through to Grouping in 1923, when it was taken over by the Southern Railway. The SR made some limited improvements, but few supported the line. It was closed in 1935 and all its assets including infrastructure, locos and rolling stock were disposed of by auction. No one bought the locomotives and all but one was scrapped. Lew went to Brazil and its ultimate fate has never been determined. A wreath was placed at Barnstaple Town station with the following message “Perchance it is not dead, but sleepeth”

After the break, Mike covered the resurrection of the railway up to its current status and what is planned for the future. An Association was formed and fund raising started. It bought Woody Bay station in 1995. (note the change of name from Wooda Bay). In 1982, it bought 0-6-0T Axe for £3000, an engine used by the French military in World War 1. 

In order to raise funds, a demonstration line, Lyn Barn, on Milky Way Theme Park, near, Clovelly, was built and this raised a lot of money for the L&B.

In 1995, the Association was changed into a charitable trust to gain tax advantages.

Woody Bay station was restored and opened to trains in 2004 with the first train hauled by a Hunslet     diesel loco. The line was slowly rebuilt southwards with contractor Nuttalls, the original contractor in the 1890s, rebuilding a bridge at its own cost. The line was extended to Killington Lane, its present terminus. It is however gaining planning permissions both in the Exmoor National Park and the local authority and plans to extend to Blackmoor Gate station, that it has now purchased, and to a nearby reservoir at Whistland Pound.

Further south, Chelfham station, has been bought by a Community Interest Company and has been      restored. Next is Chelfham Viaduct that is owned & maintained by Highways England but will be sold to the L& B for £1 when it finally runs trains across it.

Many former coaches, both from the railway and elsewhere have been restored and are now running on the line.

Finally, the Ffestiniog Rly has been very supportive and has built a new engine, Lyd, and loans it to the railway. A replica Lyn, numbered 762, has been built and is now running.

David Brace


22nd March 2023

The Spa Valley Railway presented by Brian Halford.

When the railway line between Grove junction at Tunbridge Wells and Eridge was closed  in 1985, the infrastructure was sadly neglected and the stations semi-derelict, although Tunbridge Wells West Station was the location of the former steam locomotive shed, 75F, a stabling point for Class 205 and 207 diesel-electric multiple units and a train crew signing-on point.

In his excellent, illustrated, presentation, Brian took us from an initial abortive rescue attempt through the formation of TWERPS (the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society) to the successful operational railway of today. Pictures taken along the railway through the preservation years illustrated the massive progress that has been made and will have inspired those present at the meeting to plan a visit.

Despite set-backs, beginning with the development of a supermarket on half of the Tunbridge Wells West site, the sale of the station building to a restaurant chain, the encroachment of new housing on the railway at Groombridge and the separate sale of the station building there, the Society has made it back to the station at Eridge shared with South Eastern trains on the Uckfield branch.

Assistance from Sainsburys with the restoration of the locomotive shed at Tunbridge Wells West as the main operational centre, a sympathetic local authority and helpful cooperation with Network Rail at Eridge have been of considerable assistance, but there is much still to be done. Bridge repairs and the (inevitable) embankment slip need attention and there is no facility to enable locomotives to run round their train at Eridge, but some 41,000 tickets were sold on last winter's 'Polar Express' trains and the prospect of two Bulleid pacifics in operation later this year auger well for the future.

Tony Wright


8th March 2023

The 1970s and 1980s with Terry Foulger.

Member Terry Foulger stood in at short notice to give us a talk about the UK railway scene in those two decades. After further problems with our computer, Terry showed us a wide range of locations and it was amazing how much has changed since thar period, if not in infrastructure, it was also the widespread changes in motive power that have taken place since then.

We saw London termini with the old London Bridge before its total rebuild.  St Pancras was shown as the sleepiest terminal in London including trainspotters’ cars at the platform end and Kings Cross before they cleared the various buildings between the station and Euston Road. Finsbury Park MPD was shown with Deltics on display and even moved outside for photographers. Reading featured quite strongly before the total rebuild and Swindon was shown when it had just one island platform and all down trains stopping had to cross over the up line. Banbury showed the old signal box at the north end of the down platform and coal trains travelling from UK coal mines to Didcot Power Station. Whitby was shown before the    restoration of the old platform for the North Yorkshire Moors railway services and Scarborough featured a steam special.

Ships were also included including Watchet harbour on the West Somerset Railway, Southampton cruise liners and Terry’s favourite Teignmouth.

All in all, a very nostalgic evening, especially for those of us who used to visit all these places. So, thank you Terry for giving us an evening to remember.

David Brace


8th FEBRUARY 2023

COLORAIL with Paul Chancellor. 

Paul Chancellor presented another excellent selection of Colorail photos from their latest catalogue, highlighting the work of several current and past photographers.

22nd FEBRUARY 2023

Exploring my local railway with Alan Norris. 

Alan, a resident of Ash in Surrey came in at short notice to give us a talk about the history of his local  railways in Ash and Wanborough. He started by referring to the first railway from London, through Woking to Southampton (the LSWR) and this was rapidly followed by a branch to Guildford.

The South Eastern Railway followed linking Redhill and Reigate to Guildford in 1852 and this was later    extended through Ash, a new military town at Aldershot and on to Wokingham where it joined the LSWR and jointly ran to the LSWR’s terminus at Reading. Next, a branch line was added from Ash Junction to join a LSWR branch from Pirbright Junction through an additional station at Ash Vale to Farnham Junction  and the LSWR then extended through Farnham to Alton and, at one time onto Winchester. This link line also had had station for Aldershot called Aldershot Town and the South Eastern Railway renamed their Aldershot station to North Camp.

A final addition was Wanborough that was located 4 miles west of Guildford but actually in Normandy  parish. The owner of Wanborough Manor was Sir Algenon West, who by chance was a Director of the South Eastern Railway! The station opened in 1891.

The SER from Reading to Redhill and on to Folkestone and Dover was much used by the military at Aldershot and in 1940 after the evacuation of Dunkerque, normal services were suspended to allow for the troops to return to their original camps. The troop trains were parked at various local stations and the local women fed them and gave them tea. Alan showed us several pictures of this happening.

Very few of the local lines have been closed namely the link through Ash Green and Tongham and this is a right of way for cyclists and walkers. At least one of the stations, Ash Green, still has the former station as a private dwelling. This link was closed well before Beeching in 1937.

Main line trains were diverted via Farnham and Alton whilst the main line to Southampton was electrified in the 1960s.

Despite the extensive coverage of these local lines Alan finished well early and so we all had an early night.

David Brace


11th January 2023


Leslie McAllister finally managed to return after three postponements to present an excellent evening’s viewing of the narrow gauge scene in southern Iteland. Most of the images were superb colour shots   taken by the late Lance King, who had used a larger format Rollei camera, so producing very fine details and colour saturation.

The images covered from Letterkenny in the north to Youghal in the south. Non-steam traction ranged from a horse (the Fintona tramway), through the diminutive ‘Phoenix’ 4 wheel loco (converted from a bad steam to useful diesel) on the County Donegal line to examples of the ubiquitous Walker railcars, like the two preserved on the Isle of Man. Steam loco types covered skirted 0-4-0 tanks to West Clare’s large 4-6-0s. Also included were the early mainline wide gauge A class diesel-electric from Metro-Vickers which were later rebuilt with better General Motors engines. All types of traffic were covered, passenger, coal, cattle and general goods. The pictures were also enhanced with Leslie’s very amusing anecdotes which partly caused a late finish - no-one wanted the show to end. We must get him back again

John Clark

14th December 2022

NIGHT TRAIN TO PARIS starring Jean Kent and Albert Lieven

Our Xmas meeting had 26 members and 1 guest. It was generally successful with the film shown in two parts and with the buffet, supplied by the Wote Street Club in the middle. The film, made in 1948, was in black and white and had a complicated plot involving the theft of a very important diary that changed hands several times in the journey south through Dijon, and Domodossola to Trieste. Various police from Paris, railway staff and other people were all involved. The final thief leapt out of the train only to be hit and instantly  killed by a passing train, much to the  amusement of our audience.

David Brace


23rd November 2022


The Society welcomed John Fissler tonight for his two part session, the first describing the history and development of the Rhätische Bahn in south east Switzerland in the Graubunden Canton and the   second part an hour long film made by John of the Rhätische Bahn in action and highlighting many if not all of the scenic locations across the Graubunden network.

In terms of route mileage the railway is the largest of the Swiss private railways connecting with the SBB at Chur and Landquart and serving the major tourist centres of St. Moriitz, Davos and Klosters. It’s western limit is Disentis Muster where there is an end on connection allowing through Glacier Express trains from Zermatt to St. Moritz, Arosa and Scuol Tarasp, the latter being the easternmost limit. From St. Moritz, there is also a more southerly route through the Bernina Pass to Tirano in northern Italy. Building of the metre gauge  line had begun in 1889 with the last section to Scuol Tarasp being completed in 1913 and to Arosa in 1914. Chur to Arosa has a maximum gradient of 6%, exceeded only by Scuol Tarasp to Bever at 3%.This is challenging terrain abounding with sensational feats of infrastructure and architecture.

The railway began with steam traction and some examples can still be seen on the network on special days as we saw in John’s film. Also preserved are metre gauge ‘Crocodiles’ often seen following steam services with a water bowser. Electrification took hold from about 1912 and for many years different versions  of Ge4/4 locomotives largely ruled the roost but times are changing. More modern Allegra class multiple units and even more recent Capricorn trains are seeing off mid Twentieth Century locomotives and coaches. But the magnificent mountains and astounding infrastructure remain constant - the Albula Pass, the Landwasser viaduct, the winding spiral at Alp Grüm. I could go on. Breathtaking but somehow the lines have  to be kept  open and  in that respect John spent some time  showing the magnificent snowblower in action and other tractors and snowploughs going about their work in the worst of weathers.

I have enjoyed several breaks in Switzerland over the years both as holidays or weekends with the Society and, because Graubunden was the first area that I visited, I have always had a particular interest in it. I haven’t been back since 2004 and it came as a bit of a surprise to see how much change has taken place, some of John’s images having been recorded quite recently. For me the changes were most noticeable at Chur where a new station and major track realignment has taken place and in terms of new motive power and rolling stock. For me this was a thoroughly enjoyable session resoundingly endorsed at the end of the evening by the appreciation shown by those attending.

David Hinxman


9th November 2022

Members Photo Evening

Taking the place of the photographic competition, this was an opportunity for members to show their own railway images and to tell us when and where they were taken and any other snippets about the photographs. One or two technical issues had to be overcome during the evening which was unfortunate but in the end all was well and a good range of interesting images was shown. Thanks to David Brace for going the extra mile and to Tony Wright for keeping the show on the road.


26th October 2022

More of Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue with Rev. Alastair Wood

Alastair returned to us to give his latest rendering following his earlier talks based on the  subject title. He came with his unique sense of humour and extensive knowledge of the railways of the UK coupled with his job at the moment as a Reverend of a parish near Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge. He referred from time to time to the excellent pictures by Jack Boskett.

His location near Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire enabled him to photograph many specials on the Westbury to Bath line which he showed us. He used to use a local footbridge but Network Rail staff added extensive wire netting to stop users from falling off or throwing things on the track, so he cut a hole with wire cutters for his camera and put temporary wires back in place after he had finished photographing. One day NR staff came across him kneeling near his hole. They asked him what he was doing. He replied “isn’t it obvious? I am praying”!

With his church background he searches his congregation for people interested in railways and he is always pleased to receive old railway photographs in print and slide form, whether black and white or colour, and print or slide form. He often spends time digitally cleaning up some well speckled scratched, dirty and dusty examples that he has scanned.

He started his presentation off by looking at something old, mainly black and white, scans from prints by his father, friends and parishioners in the south Manchester area where he was brought up. These were real gems of the local services serving Marple, Romiley and Rose Hill and on the Midland main line into the Peak District, many from the pre-nationalisation era.

He moved on to Something New where he showed a selection of modern traction trains in various parts of the country where he has worked or has had reason to visit. In recent months Alastair has been able to photograph Jubilee 4-6-0 No.45596 Bahamas on railtours close to home.

He then moved on to Something Borrowed. In this section, he showed us a selection borrowed from some of his friends’ collections, with their consent, and purchased as negatives and pictures by others and showed us a selection.

Without doubt a very good evening and we only hope he will return.

David Brace & Tony Wright


12 October 2022

The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway by John Baxter

John came to give us a talk about the Somerset & Dorset Railway (S&D). Whilst it was interesting, it would have been better if he had shown more pictures and less reminiscing about his last 40 years with the S&D, partly at Washford on the West Somerset Railway and more recently at Midsomer Norton, near Radstock, on the S&D itself.

The S&D comprised two independent companies, initially. The Somerset Central railway was a broad gauge line linking Burnham on Sea on the Bristol Channel coast via a flat crossing of the Bristol & Exeter line (later GWR) to Glastonbury, Wells and Evercreech. It was worked by the GWR and later extended to Templecombe. The second company was the Dorset Central railway. It was a standard gauge railway, initially from Wimborne to Blandford. It was worked by the LSWR.

In 1862 the two companies were amalgamated and initially extended south from Templecombe. The GWR were thrown out and it was jointly operated by the Midland Railway and the LSWR. This immediately set up difficult relations with the GWR for the next 100 years.

Templecombe became the most important exchange point with a steep incline from the north side with engines at either end for that short distance. A separate station was built on the low level and there was also an MPD.

John then went on to describe a number of accidents, mainly runaway trains or engines on the steep inclines over the Mendips. He also mentioned the closure period, initiated by Dr Beeching but activated by Barbara Castle with active support from the Western Region who had always supported closure.

John finished his talk describing the reinstatement of Midsummer Norton and, prior to that, the move from the West Somerset Railway with stock and many artefacts, some of which were moved to the Watercress Line.

David Brace


14 September 2022

Society trip to Poznan, Poland in May 2019 with Richard Green.

It was a pleasure to welcome Life Member Richard Green to give his long awaited covid interrupted talk on the Society trip to Poznan in May 2019. For most of us the trip started by minibus to Heathrow and then a flight to Berlin Tegel airport. Malcolm and Alison Bown travelled independently and met us at Poznan. The excellent hotel was a short walk to Poznan station. Day 1 took us to Piła Główna for photography in the morning of a variety of locomotives in different liveries awaiting their next turns of duty interspersed with passenger services and then to Krzyż,  where there was a large number of locomotives parked up and very much looking as if they had been withdrawn from service. In the afternoon we made our way to the 600 mm gauge Maltanka park railway. Language was a problem. We thought we had purchased return tickets but the powers that be at the park railway soon made it clear that we had to get off and buy return tickets! 

On the Saturday we went to Wolsztyn for their locomotive parade. We had steam all the way but were joined by steady rain which persisted the whole day. With very little shelter we were soaked through and cold by the end of the day but the number and different types of steam loco was impressive, the cavalcade growing with every passage of the locomotives through the station it seemed. It was an impressive sight as witnessed by short pieces of video which Richard had included in his presentation. The UK was represented by Beyer Peacock 0-4-0ST No 1827 of 1879, originally the Gorton works shunter and latterly in service with the Foxfield Railway.  Our return to Poznan, again behind steam, was uneventful and, because of the weather, subdued.

Suitably dried out and warmed up by the next morning the menfolk headed off for Nowy Tomyśl while the ladies engaged in some sightseeing and culture. At Nowy Tomyśl we saw freight and passenger trains among which was a four coach train arriving top and tailed by Pt47-65 and Ol49-59.  The train was then split in the middle and, after some shunting, the two sections departed westwards together, as advertised, for a spell of parallel running.  Unfortunately the Pt47 was running tender first but it made an interesting spectacle as did the several freight and passenger trains that passed through. The afternoon trip to Gniezno enabled us to observe some main line activity.  Several members also explored the remains of the narrow gauge branch nearby.  When it was time to depart we were unable to board the booked IC service as it was so overcrowded.  The same was true of the following late running departure.  We eventually travelled on the 17:35 but our IC tickets proved not to be valid on this KW operated service, so we were required to pay the appropriate fare.  A young man on the train who helped with translation took representatives to the IC office to complete a claim form and, in due course, a refund due to Richard and David Brace of £32.91 was received.

As usual Richard’s talk featured images supplied by those who travelled. Most of the images were of trains but there were cultural contributions too, for example the battering rams on the town clock in Poznan who came out to lock horns when the clock struck and the Enigma machine modelled as a street attraction (although there was no reference to Alan Turing!). We ate in the town on a couple of occasions and were impressed by the ornate buildings in the square as well as by the quality of the food and the very reasonable cost of our meals. A trip to remember and a very long train journey home – Poznan to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin to Cologne, Cologne to Brussels Midi, Brussels Midi to St. Pancras, then to Waterloo and back to Basingstoke. Well done Richard. Another amusing and entertaining session but, as to locomotive numbering, my Janet is still trying to get to grips with it! 

David Hinxman


24 AUGUST 2022


Rail Operations is a relative newcomer to the enormous field of train operating companies (TOCs) now authorised to run trains in the UK. It grew out of the significant growth in orders for new multiple-unit trains which became more cheaply available following the financial crash of 2008 – 2009. These trains needed to be moved around the country, for delivery and testing, and as older trains were cascaded to new operators they too needed to be moved to works for refurbishment or for scrapping. Most TOCs were ill-equipped for this work, which often needed different operating equipment and couplers (there are 9 different coupling systems in use across the UK), and Rail Operations stepped-up to undertake this specialist work. 

As an example, Rail Operations undertook all the rail testing and associated movements of the new Crossrail units, every one of which has had to show 5,000 miles of fault-free test running.

Whilst much of this work continues, the company is undergoing a broadening of its activities, with anticipated growth in inter-modal (container) freight, and new locomotives are required to replace ageing diesels, such as the Class 37, that have been the mainstay of their motive power. Looking ahead, Karl and his company saw a need for a powerful, all-purpose, adaptable, energy-efficient machine, capable of operating across the network on passenger, fast freight and specialist work.

Stadler, a Swiss company with a manufacturing plant at Valencia in Spain, built the Class 68 and Class 88 diesel and electric locomotives to the UK loading gauge and Rail Operations went to them with their requirements. The result is the Class 93: a 6,200 horsepower (4.6 megawatt), 110mph 25kV overhead electric loco, with a 900kW  Caterpillar diesel engine and 400kW traction batteries to supplement the diesel when required. These truly modern machines, weighing in at less than 86 tons (a 21.5 ton axle load), will feature dual (air and electromagnetic) braking, regenerative energy recovery via the traction motors to recharge the batteries or return to the overhead wires, 5G communications connectivity and are ETCS-ready. The cost? A mere £4million each! 

Rail Operations has ordered an initial build of 10 locos, with an option for a further 20. No. 93001 will be completed for testing in November this year and should be shipped to Portbury in March 2023. It will then undertake a 4-month testing programme and, it is hoped, will be in traffic by August 2023. Three further locomotives are to be delivered each month from August to October next year.

You can tell from this summary of Karl's excellent talk that it was packed with detail, with technicalities clearly explained, presented enthusiastically by a career railwayman who has a vision for a modernised, more efficient, railway with much-reduced carbon emissions. Disappointingly, only 25 of our members attended the meeting. Those who were not there missed a splendid evening. 

Tony Wright


28th July 2022

Delivering the Elizabeth Line by Richard Storer

Community Relations Manager for CrossRail, Richard Storer, came to give us a very detailed and interesting talk about the, now partially opened line from initial outline through detailed design, construction, system integration and opening. Richard is a civil engineer with considerable background experience of tunnelling including the Channel Tunnel and the Jubilee Line.

In summary the following have been provided:

High frequency service

High capacity, all new trains

10 new stations

31 upgraded stations

An additional 10% capacity overall on Transport for London train services

First thought of pre-World War II, Royal Assent was given in 2008 with construction started in 2009 at and by Canary Wharf developers.

Detailed design & construction started in 2011. German tunnel boring machines were started at various locations. Each machine was given a unique female name, as in all major tunnelling works. Tunnelling was completed by 2015, mainly without serious problems.

What was under-estimated was the volume and extent of system integration ranging from stations, air conditioning, fire protection and drainage and many others.

Final cost has still to be determined but in excess of £18.8 billion is anticipated compared to the original estimate of £14.8 billion.

Opening is in phases with the central section from Abbey Wood to Paddington currently running 12 trains (all 9 car) per hour but eventually going up to 24.

A north east to south west CrossRail 2 plan is currently on hold.

David Brace


8th June 2022

More Railway Films with Ian Clare

Because the scheduled speaker had had to withdraw because of Covid, Society member Ian Clare saved the day with some more railway films from his extensive collection. The first film was Norfolk and Western on the Blue ridge mountains featuring J class locos on passenger services and Y6 classes on coal and freight trains. Then there was a study of tank engines in Sussex followed by a journey behind steam. Ian also presented a film on the Isle of Man Railway in the winter, not how those of us on the Society’s trip in June would find it we hoped. The second half was film of the 150 years railway celebration followed by Wash and Brush up. This film had been made in 1953 for showing to railway workers. It showed how a class 5  steam  loco  number 73020  was cooled  down slowly for  an examination  and clean before being slowly re-heated and put back in service. This locomotive was scrapped at Cashmeres Newport in January 1968. 

Another interesting and nostalgic show by Ian to whom we must express our gratitude for stepping in at very short notice.

David Brace


25th May 2022

Beer by Rail 1830 to 1914 with Dr David Turner

This was the first time that David had come to our club. He presented findings from his research project that the University of York funded. He looked at what the brewers wanted in the way of transport rather than what the railways wanted to provide to the brewers.

Initially the brewers were very local as, prior to 1830, they relied on horses and drays and this effectively limited their distances to about 12 miles on fairly poor roads. The beer was generally heavy of the porter and mild type. Distribution was generally in standard barrels of about 72 pints capacity.

The coming of the railways changed this in the next 70 years or so. Costs were reduced and the distance covered was much greater. They also reduced costs on the supply of materials for making the beer.

Whitbread branched out to bottling and was able to develop local depots where they supplied more pubs in wider areas.

There was gradually more competition as rival rail companies challenged the Midland Railway who was the predominant company in the centre of brewing – Burton on Trent. Friction developed between Burton on Trent brewers and the Midland Railway as the latter tried to prevent them from trading with the other rail companies.

Tastes for lighter beers became more prominent.

When the Midland Railway reached St Pancras, this opened a vast new market. The largest brewer in Burton, Bass, chose to have its own storage depot built between the railway and canal just north of station. Others took advantage of the vast storage area under the station and the columns that supported the track and platform level were spaced to store standard barrels. A number these columns still exist, partly occupied by Eurostar ticketing and waiting areas.

In the late 1890s brewing profits were declining due to a number of reasons. Some railway companies gave preferential rates to a particular brewer and Worthington fought the LNWR when it found out it was being quoted much higher rates. The rail operators were increasing their rates by pooling their income and sharing it out according to one particular  year’s income and negotiating rates became impossible with fixed pricing being applied. The cost  of raw materials and costs of taking them to the brewers went up. A beer Duty was applied in 1880 and consumption was declining. This was taken off after a year but reapplied during the Boer War.

Brewers went into the capital market and started buying up pubs so that only their own products could be sold.

In the early 1900s brewers bought early makes of lorry and started supplying the middle-distance markets between the horse and dray at the lower end and the rail market for long distances.

Theft and pilfering became more wide-spread, mainly by rail staff. Rail had many problems with collection and delivery from and to stations and delays worsened due to junctions and marshalling yards. This could be controlled more closely on their own transport of lorries.

Lorries also started taking over the horse and dray market as they did not rely on the expensive feeding of the horses even when market demand for delivery was low.

To crown it all the final tipping point was the 1911 rail strike. Strikes in 1919 and 1926 finished off rail delivery.

David Brace


11th May 2022


Paris Suburban Rail Systems with Mike Bunn

Part 1

Acknowledged expert on all things French, Mike last visited us in 2018. This time, he concentrated on Paris and its surrounding area. 

The first half covered, in great detail the building of the suburban stations into the main line termini and these were all run by main line companies. The Metro system as originally built and with limited inter-connections was built by the Paris authorities. The second half looked at the  development of the RER system that was built to take main line sized trains from the outskirts through the centre with more limited stops and is still being developed.

The first line was built in the late 1830s and ran from St Germain to Montparnasse. More lines were built for the next 40 years or so. Some earlier trains were operated with very old-fashioned double decker coaches and when the Metro was designed it was deliberately built small so they would not run through them. More modern stock were also partially double decker and the last not withdrawn until 1954.

The Metro was designed as a system by one man and the initial 9 lines built by a public consortium but run by a private company. All stations had a uniform architectural style with a now, well recognised, single entrance style.

The first line opened in 1900 and served the World Fair, held in Paris that year. The line was   originally 10km long. Nearly all lines of the system were completed by 1920. Paris authorities did their best to make sure the main line companies did not extend their suburban lines through the city and made the tunnels narrow.

As Paris became more and more congested further lines were built out to the suburbs and there are now 16 lines with 304 stations. Two of the lines are circular. Some are now automated. The Metro is still operated by RATP, a Paris owned subsidiary.

D’Orsay was built as a station but is now a museum on the banks of the Seine. Monet, the artist lived near St Lazare station and did a number of paintings with the railway in the background.


Part 2

The RER system was designed to give relief to the Metro by allowing suburban trains of a larger size to run through the middle of Paris with only limited stops but important connections for interchanges and to serve main line stations. There are 5 separate lines A to E. It is run by a mixture of RATP and SNCF.

One of the busiest interchanges is Châtelet les Halles where RER lines A,B and D meet. Line A carries 1 million passengers per day and is the busiest with Line D coming 2nd. Line E is the quietest. Line D serves Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon and provides a very easy way to cross for UK tourists.3 platform heights match different types of train. The different lines are grade separated throughout. There are two maintenance depots for each line. Line E is to be extended but no further lines are planned.


David Brace


27th April 2022

An Evening of Commercial and Personal Cine Films with Ian Clare

Ian spent the entire evening showing a varied selection of cine films both at home in the UK and abroad. Certain other BDRS members, both past and present, appeared in his personal cine films when they accompanied him to various locations to see trains passing.

The first cine was “Pacific 231” with music by Arthur Honeggar and the film pays tribute to the steam locomotive on a fast journey with various views of parts of the engine, being matched by the music. The film won the top prize for short films at the Cannes festival in 1949.

The second film needs no introduction being “London to Brighton at 500mph”. There was still plenty of steam about but the driver looked utterly bored!

The next film was in the USA with various views of freight and passenger trains hauled by steam and diesel engines going up and down steep gradients on the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Various other film clips of snow and trains in the UK concluded the first half of our show.

Part 2 started with Ian and friends visiting the 750mm narrow gauge line from Freital Hainsberg to Kurort Kipsdorf not far from Dresden. The purpose was to film Saxon Mayer 0-4-4-0T engines in action which was duly done at various locations along the line.

The rest of the evening was spent watching various UK locomotives of many different classes mainly operating on the national network. Amongst others we saw King Arthur class 30777 Sir Lamiel at Sunningdale, 46229 Duchess of Hamilton,, 70000 Britannia, S15 828 and many, many more.

A good evening of nostalgia for which we thank Ian for his presentations.

David Brace