Railway & Transport Club

We meet at 7:45 pm on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, except August and December.  Contact: John Soer.

The Club has over 40 members and enables men and women of all ages to share their common interest.

We meet in the Bradbury Community Centre of the Methodist Church, in Rose Street, where members enjoy a wide range of good quality presentations on transport related subjects, with the opportunity for refreshments and time for a chat.

Future Programme

21 January '20 The Railway Mission
Rev. John Roe
18 February An evening of Heritage
John Soer
17 March Buses in Wokingham, Reading and the Thames Valley
Robert Williams
21 April The Delaine Story
Peter Moore
19 May South Western Railway
David Wilby
16 June Railway Signalling
David Canning
Sunday 5 July Annual Church Service (6.00pm)
21 July Main Line Railways in London
Jim Dunning
15 September Six Decades of Chasing Trains
Alastair Wood

Monthly Report

On 15th October David Tinker entertained us with a fascinating presentation ‘Parliamentary Trains and Other Oddities’.  Originally, a Parliamentary Train was a passenger service which complied with the Railway Act of 1844 that compelled the railway companies to provide inexpensive rail travel for the less affluent people.  It not only required that one such service should run every day on all routes but specified standards of accommodation.  Nowadays the term has come to mean train services that continue to run to avoid the cost of a formal closure of a route or station.  A booklet produced by the DfT which gives guidance on the steps to be taken on the closure of a service runs to 38 pages.

David then covered a number of examples of these services from all over the country.  Two very notable ones were at Polesworth in Warwickshire and Newhaven Marine.  Since 2005 only one train a day, in the early morning and northbound, has called at Polesworth.  After work on the West Coast Main Line the contractors failed to replace the footbridge which they had removed, making southbound trains inaccessible.  However, 262 passengers caught that train 2017-18. Even more bizarre was the situation at Newhaven Marine where, from 2006, the station was closed to passengers on safety grounds, but the 18.52 to Lewes, the only train of the day, continued to run.

This was followed by a look at a number of little used stations.  Often these are in sparsely populated parts of the country and are mainly used by walkers or cyclists.  Such is Sugar Loaf station in Wales which recently has become a tourist destination on account of its low usage.  In 2018, 1800 passengers used the station – more than the total over the previous seventeen years.  Shippea Hill in East Anglia has one train a day – the 07.27 to Norwich.  Very different is the platform at Old Trafford – Manchester United’s ground, which is only used on match days.

The 18” gauge railway in the California Country Park was one of a number of unusual railways that David discussed.  Other examples were the Longmoor Military Railway and the Liverpool Overhead Railway.

As is usual, there will be no meeting in December.  Our first meeting of 2020 will be on 21st January when our speaker will be Rev. John Roe, Chaplain to the Railway Industry and British Transport Police, who will tell us about his work for the Railway Mission.  This organisation provides support to those who work on the railways but also to the general public.  All are invited to come along for what will be a most interesting evening.

John Soer

Annual Report (February 2019)

London Underground 1922We have again enjoyed a very varied and interesting programme ranging through paddle steamers, canals, an airfield and the London Underground to the architectural heritage of the railways.

Our average attendance has dropped to about 29 each month, caused by the ill-health and increasing age of our members.

This year our annual service was conducted by Mike Bowstead who based a very stimulating service on the theme of 'Bridges', in which he emphasized that we should 'Build Bridges, not Walls'

A significant number of those at our meeting are not church members, so we provide an opportunity to meet and talk to others with similar interests.  Also as part of our outreach, the sale of magazines etc. has raised £140 for the Railway Children Charity.

John Soer