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17th October 2015

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Published by membersonly, 2018-05-15 01:29:08


17th October 2015

Special supplement to e-BLN 1243 BLN Pictorial 17 October 2015

As the Society's Diamond Jubilee year draws towards its close, BLN Pictorial takes a look back over the many years of Society railtours and other activities. Our
thanks go to a number of members who have very generously provided photos of some of those early days. We're all so used to digital SLRs with more
software on board than Apollo 11, that we tend to forget those days of expensive processing and nervous waits for the postman to deliver your precious
pictures! At the time of writing, photos are still coming in and it's quite likely that they will make up several 'retro' BLN Pictorials. Railtours have changed just
as much as photography over those 60 years, and it's been quite a journey for the Society.

We start right back in 1958, when BLS, already an established railtour operator, ventured to Scotland to run a train over the former Lauder Light Railway. This
was a circuitous branch line (see map at connecting the small town, or large village, of Lauder in Berwickshire – even now it only has a
population of around 1,500 – to Fountainhall on the North British Railway's Waverley route. It owed its existence primarily to the refusal of Midlothian and

Berwickshire councils to improve roads in the area before the
arrival of motor cars and lorries in significant numbers. Opened on
2 July 1901 it was the first light railway in Scotland, and 'enjoyed' a
rather fractious relationship with the North British, which
operated it from the outset and in 1913 declined to take the LLR
over, citing its own financial commitments. After the Grouping,
when the LLR, along with the North British, was incorporated into
the LNER, bus competition arrived and the writing was on the wall
for the passenger service. Lauder was CP 10 September 1932, but
freight traffic, largely supported by a wartime – and subsequently
Cold-wartime – emergency food store, continued until 1 October
1958, with an interruption from 12 August 1948 to 30 September
1950 due to flood damage. The story didn't quite end there,
because on 15 November 1958 the fledgling BLS arrived to run the
last revenue earning train over the branch. Our member Bob
Mitchell has kindly provided some photographs of the day.

Left : 78049 pauses at Oxton, the only intermediate station on the
Lauder Light Railway, on the return journey on 15 November
1958. (Bob Mitchell)

Next page : 78049 runs round at the terminus at Lauder. This seems to have been a complicated manoeuvre involving splitting the train and propelling one
coach into the headshunt. (Bob Mitchell)

Previous page : Some years and quite a few railtours later, on 29 August 1964, BLS ran a joint railtour with SLS, hauled by J36 0-6-0 65234. The tour started
from Edinburgh Waverley, visiting a number of branches to the east and south of Edinburgh, returning to Waverley via the Edinburgh Suburban Line and
Haymarket. The first port of call (literally) was North Leith (also known in passenger days as Leith Citadel, OP 10 May 1846, CP 16 June 1947), the terminus of

the North British Railway branch serving Leith
Docks. The train is shown here at North Leith,
which at the time had only a few years' life left,
being CG 5 August 1968. (Bob Mitchell).

A later point on the route of the J36 tour was
Penicuik, the terminus of another NBR branch
off the Hardengreen Jn - Peebles line; the
branch was CP 10 September 1951. At the time
of the tour the Penicuik branch was still open
for freight traffic, but CG 27 March 1967. It is
believed this railtour was the last passenger
train to and from Penicuik.

Left : The J36 runs round the tour train at
Penicuik. (Bob Mitchell)

Next page : In April 1966, in the penultimate

year of Scottish steam, BLS joined forces with

the Stephenson Locomotive Society and the

Scottish Locomotive Preservation Fund to run
Scottish Rambler No5, a four day extravaganza

taking in many freight lines and branches, particularly on the first day where the tour train consisted of 12 brake vans! Our member John Hobbs has provided

this montage of images from the last three days :

Top left : A steam shrouded B1, 61407, pauses at Dunfermline Lower on 9 April 1966

Top right : Another B1, 61342, at Ardrossan Montgomerie Pier on 10 April 1966

Bottom left : 11 April 1966, and WD 2-8-0 90386 waits to take what is believed to be the last steam hauled train out of Glasgow Queen Street before the

1968 main line steam ban

Bottom right : J38 65914 moving wagons to allow the loco to run round at Kinneil, 11 April 1966

Previous page : Moving on into the steamless late 1960s, your sub-editor's first BLS railtour was the
Gloucestershire tour on 22 March 1969. As far as he was concerned the main focus of this tour was
Parkend, then the terminus of a freight branch from Lydney but previously a through station on the
Severn and Wye Joint Railway, jointly owned by the Great Western and Midland Railways. Had he
been more conscientious in his studies at the UMIST library, he might never have heard of the S&W
Joint, and perhaps never have gone on a BLS tour at all, but H.W.Paar's book about this unusual
railway caught his imagination. The rest, as they say, is history. This was in fact a very
comprehensive day out, taking in such delights as Sudbrook, Parkend, Tintern, several branches
around Gloucester and its docks, and the former Midland branch to Dursley. The die was cast, and
fortunately Angus McDougall was on hand to record a number of locations – this photo being of
Parkend station, with the BLS tour train at the platform. (Angus McDougall)

Right : The Railway Clearing House junction diagram covering most of the Severn and Wye Joint
Railway and its connections. (Public
domain, from Wikimedia Commons)

Left : Parkend station today is of
course the northern terminus of the
Dean Forest Railway and ROP 26
December 2005. The DFR has plans
to extend northwards to Speech
House Road, and ultimately on to
Cinderford (BLN 1242.MR 162).

(Pauline Eccles. Image licensed for
reuse under the Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.)

Next page : After leaving Parkend the tour continued to Gloucester where it undertook a
comprehensive tour of the branches serving the dock areas at the northern end of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. The photo shows the tour at the BR
(former GWR) boundary at Llanthony, on the west side of the canal. After reversing the train went on to visit High Orchard (also ex-GWR, on the west side) and
Hempsted, on the east side of the canal and formerly a Midland Railway branch. (Angus McDougall)

Previous page : The penultimate branch visited by the Gloucestershire tour was the short branch from Coaley Junction on the Midland Railway's Gloucester-
Bristol main line, to Dursley. By the time of the BLS tour the branch had been slightly truncated following its closure to passenger traffic on 10 September 1962,
but it remained open for freight to and from Lister's factory until 13 July 1970 following damage to a bridge by a road vehicle. The photograph shows the tour at
Dursley adjacent to the factory. (Angus McDougall)

Below : The bit we didn't do! Dursley passenger station in the mid 1960s, after closure to passengers but before the track was removed. (By Johnlp (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Later the same year, on 30 August 1969, the BLS Fife
Railtour visited a number of branches in Fife, one of
which was a remnant of the former North British
Railway's West of Fife Section, a complex of lines serving
quarries and mines in the area north of Dunfermline. The
section north of Lilliehill Jn. at Townhill, serving the Royal
Navy Stores Depot at Lathalmond via a short stub from
Gask Jn, was nominally retained until CG 5 July 1971.
Coincidentally, on 23 October 2015 the Society will be
visiting the Shed 47 Railway Restoration Group who are
based at the former RNSD site, now the M90 Commerce
Park, which is shared with the Scottish Vintage Bus
Museum and some commercial developments.

Some history of the Lathalmond site and the railways
surrounding it can be found at - for a
map showing the quite complex network of the West of
Fife Section, Depending on your
screen size, Lathalmond will be found roughly in the
centre of the map; there is a slider on the left which can
be used to reveal the present day satellite view.

Next page: To boldly go ... the BLS Fife Tour DMU has been stopped by the undergrowth near Lathalmond on 30 August 1969. (Angus McDougall)

Previous page : A final visit to Scotland for the time being, takes us into the 1970s with a view taken from the BLS Glasgow South Railtour of 29 August 1970,
which as its name suggests, concentrated mainly on lines south of the Clyde. Not exclusively however, as our photo (by Angus McDougall) shows the former
Glasgow St. Enoch locomotive depot as seen looking north from Clyde Junction just after the DMU crossed the river on its way from Giffen to Springburn.
Glasgow St. Enoch station, OP 1 May 1876 by the City of Glasgow Union Railway and CP 27 June 1966, was the headquarters of the Glasgow & South Western
Railway from 1883 until the Grouping in 1923 when it passed into LMS ownership. Still standing when this photo was taken, it was demolished in 1977 and the
site redeveloped as the St. Enoch Centre, a city centre shopping precinct. The curve diverging to the left of the photo led into St. Enoch from the south, and a
later west to north-east curve provided access for
northbound traffic to the North British system at
Bellgrove via Saltmarket and High Street East Jns.
Right : a sketch map of the City of Glagow Union
Railway and its connections in 1896, when ownership
was divided between the G&SWR and the NBR.
(By Afterbrunel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
(], via
Wikimedia Commons)

Next page : in the 1970s, South Wales was fertile ground for railtour organisers, with numerous colliery, industrial and docks branches awaiting a visit from the
BLS and others in the ubiquitous blue DMUs of the 'Rail Blue' era. Our next photo shows a typical South Wales railtour scene of that time, with the Swansea
Valleys tour of 22 April 1978 stopped just short of Craig-y-Nos station on the Neath and Brecon line, presumably because of the facing point just in front of the
train. The line was CA beyond Craig-y-Nos from 7 October 1963 and retained from Craig-y-Nos to Onllwyn for quarry traffic until 1977. (Alan Holmewood)

Previous page : On the return from Craig-y-Nos, the Swansea Valleys tour made its final branch line visit of the day, to the former Midland Railway station at
Morriston. This atmospheric shot shows the tour train standing at the buffers at Morriston, in traditional BLS fashion. (Alan Holmewood)
Below : Another South Wales tour, in this case jointly with the Wirral Railway Circle, was the Milk Branches tour on 12 September 1970, which took a Swindon
Cross-Country DMU from Swansea to Pont Llanio, Felin Fach (Green Grove) and Newcastle Emlyn, where once again the photo shows the tour train at the
buffer stops. The tour unusually carried two headboards, the one to the photographer's left reading 'Milk Branches Rail Tour' and to the right 'WRC'. (Dave

We hope you've enjoyed this first look back – plenty more to come yet, with more from Wales and other parts of the British Isles (no, not just England!), and
two ventures in 'mainland' Europe.

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