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founded 1911

The Prewar CURC as gleaned from the Archives

N. C. Pyper hopes to stimulate more reminiscences of this era.

The original stimulus for this article came from my first encounter with those parts of the Club archives held in the University Library. I needed to consult these in the course of the sad task of writing, with fellow Club member Alan Masterson, the obituary for our former Senior Treasurer and member for 39 years Michael Seymour (see Eagle No 70 Easter 1999). I located eight volumes of minutes of meetings, visits and committee meetings spanning the years from 1933 to 1991. All of these are held in maroon red bindings except those for the period from June 1952 to Easter 1954 which are contained in a large brown wallet. These (UA Min IX 62 to 68 and UA Min IX 71) can be consulted on requesting them in the manuscripts room where they must be read. It is possible that the University Library may hold further material which I have not yet managed to locate.

The motivation for this article was not only the natural one that I hope that the readers will find the material interesting but also because these minutes leave many tantalizing gaps which raise several interesting questions. The Club hopes that any old member who can shed any light on any of the questions raised in this article or who has any photographs from the numerous visits will communicate with the Editor. Many of these visits gave Club members access to places not ordinary open to the general public and it would seem almost inconceivable that no photographs were taken. The volume of even the archive material referenced above makes it impossible to cover it all in one article. **This article will therefore focus entirely on the prewar period which can be conveniently extended to include those early war years up to the Easter term of 1940 which would appear to constitute an almost seamless continuation of the happier prewar era. The minutes suggest that the later war period was more difficult with the Club only narrowly avoiding extinction in the Michaelmas term of 1942. These prewar and early wartime archives are all neatly typed in bluey-mauve on very thick and high quality paper. The later war period saw a change to paper of more normal quality and hand written minutes. The material will be considered chronologically by academic years except for certain topics each of which is best discussed in a single section even though this disrupts the chronological sequence.

The year 1933-1934

It would appear that the Club was resuscitated in the Michaelmas term of 1933 after a dormant period because the first meeting of the term held on Monday 16th of October in the lecture theatre in Scroop House is minuted as the inaugural meeting. These minutes are the very first in the earliest of the eight volumes referenced above. The Club currently lacks information concerning the extent of the dormant period. The Club was certainly functioning in the 1910-1911 period but is reported in the minutes for the meeting on Monday 29th April 1942 as going out of existence during World War I.

During both this year and the following (1934-1935), the Club relied almost entirely on its own resources, there being no meetings addressed by external invited speakers. In contrast to more recent times, a significant fraction of meetings took the form of a debate, the first of these, "The Westinghouse versus the vacuum brake", constituting the fourth and last meeting of the Michaelmas term held on Monday 4th December 1933. The second and third meetings of the Michaelmas term of 1933 each consisted of a talk given by a member. It would appear that by the fourth meeting the Club had acquired its own rooms in 23 Green Street since these were reported as the venue for this meeting.

The Lent term of 1934 saw established the now usual series of weekly meetings, these being held on Mondays. Of the eight meetings, all held in the Club room, four were debates, one was entirely informal with there being two talks by members. The remaining meeting of the eight, the sixth in the term, was a conversation about the second talk entitled "A proposed building programme for the LNER". This term saw the inauguration in the Club's reincarnation of two of its core activities, namely visits and the Annual Dinner.

The first visit was to King's Cross motive power depot, the "Top Shed" located between Gasworks and Copenhagen tunnels. The members were able to inspect the footplate and corridor tender of no. 4472 ***Flying Scotsman*** which was in charge of Driver Sparshatt who was subjected to many questions. It was, of course, this driver who later established the first official 100 mph with this very locomotive in the November of that year on the test run to Leeds as well as driving no. 2750 ***Papyrus*** on the test run to Newcastle in March 1935 during which, amongst others, a new record of 108 mph was attained. The 8th March 1934 visit continued by our members inspecting the sleeping cars of the Aberdonian. This visit also included the first of the Club's Annual Dinners, this one being held in the Restaurant on No. 10 Platform (the most left platform of the main line part of the station when facing north) of King's Cross station. The following day, saw after returning to Cambridge on the evening of 8th March, the second visit. This was to the signalling instruction van at Cambridge station.

The Easter term of 1934 furnished only a single meeting other than the AGM. This saw the introduction of a rule that each new Club member must address the Club in the term of his election. This rule was very short lived as it was rescinded early in October 1935. There was one visit this term about which more will be said in a following section. This visit, held on Sunday 12th May, was to Camden and Kentish Town motive power depots, these providing locomotives for working respectively the LMS mainlines out of Euston and St. Pancras.

The Club Tie

In the last meeting of the 1933 Michaelmas term, it was announced that the Club tie could be purchased for 5s 6d from Messrs. Almonds on production of a membership card. This tie is described in both the minutes and in a contemporary issue of the ***Railway Magazine*** as having a background of Cambridge blue on which there was imposed a series of groups of stripes. Each group of stripes consisted of four bands of colour which working downwards were LNER apple green, GWR Brunswick green, LMS crimson lake and SR Maunsell green. It would appear, however, that this was the first of two prewar ties because the minutes of the committee meeting held on Thursday 13th October 1938 say that there were many arguments about the Club tie and that a specimen to the design of Mr. Feacham had been made. It would appear that either this or some other new tie was adopted because the minutes of the first meeting of the Lent term of 1939 report a good trade in sales of the new Club tie. Furthermore the minutes of the committee meeting held on Tuesday 27th April 1943 say that the Club had four ties of the older design for disposal.

The Club tie in my possession, bought in 1964, differs from that described above only in that the second of the four bands of colour in a group of stripes is not GWR Brunswick green but is silvery brown. I was told that this represented the GWR and can only speculate that the original tie described in the last paragraph was less than perfect in appearance owing to the juxtaposition of two different shades of green with yet a third shade of green at the bottom of the group of four colours. The question arises as to whether the tie in my possession is to the design of Mr. Feacham and whether this design was the type sold in the 1939 Lent term. More information would be welcome.

The year 1934-1935

The activities of the Club during this year were very similar to those in the year proceeding. However the 1934-5 year saw the inauguration of three activities which were to became traditional for many following seasons. The first of these was that the first meeting of the year held on Monday 15th October was the lecture entitled "Cambridge as a Railway Centre" delivered by the President. The following Sunday (18th October) saw the first of the Club's annual visits to Cambridge motive power depot. The two "Royal Clauds" no. 8783 and no. 8787 were present. ****These two D16/2 were painted green, rather than the lined black adopted for the rest of the class, and kept in immaculate condition for working the Royal Train when the King travelled to Sandringham. These two locomotives worked normal service trains to both King's Cross and King's Lynn when not required for Royal duties. The last meeting of the 1934 Michaelmas term inaugurated the third activity which was to become traditional. This was the holding of the Guy Bowles trophy competition in which Club members read short papers, the member judged to have presented the best paper being awarded the Guy Bowles trophy. This was renamed the Gresley trophy competition in the Michaelmas term of the following year with the winner then being presented with (on loan) a paperweight model of the 2-8-2 locomotive Cock o' the North in original condition. The Guy Bowles trophy competition was repeated in the last meeting of the 1935 Lent term. The Club would be interested to know more of the identity of Guy Bowles.

The were six normal meetings in both the Michaelmas and Lent terms with three in the Easter term. The twelve meetings remaining, after noting the two Guy Bowles trophy competitions (both held in the Fountain Hotel) and the first meeting of the year, consisted of two debates, one quiz, two discussions (the first on "How I should operate the Bletchley branch if I had control of it") and seven talks by members. The second discussion, that on "Loads v. Service" was notable as being the first recorded instance of external participation in that Mr. Coote of the LNER was the first speaker.

There were three visits during the year in addition to the one to Cambridge motive power depot. The visit to Old Oak Common motive power depot on Tuesday 4th December was notable for the presence of locomotive ***King George V*** specially prepared for working the Royal Honeymoon train after the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina. Members then observed this working passing Acton. The next Friday saw a visit to inspect the breakdown train at Cambridge depot whilst 15th June 1935 saw a visit to Doncaster locomotive and carriage works. One can but speculate as to whether it was just a coincidence that the train they took back to Peterborough was hauled by the record breaking A3 no. 2750 ***Papyrus***.

The Club held two dinners during the year. Mr. Coote of the LNER was the guest of the Club at the first dinner which was held on Tuesday 4th December (after the visit to Old Oak Common) in the Grill Room at King's Cross station. It is very clear from the report of the second dinner held in the Dorothy cafe on 11th June 1935 that the Club was by then establishing a close relationship with the LNER. This dinner was not only attended by three LNER officials, Messrs. Chalkley, Coote and Watson, in addition to 17 CURC members but it was also announced that Mr. H. F. Sanderson, the Cambridge District Superintendent, was to become the patron of the Club. The existence of the Club's link with the LNER is made very plain by the next item.

Visit to the LNER information agent Mr. E. G. Marsden

The President and Secretary of the Club called on the Mr. Marsden in his office at King's Cross on June 15th 1935. It is clear that he approved of our Club as he promised to bring its existence to the attention William Whitelaw, the LNER chairman, and also said that Sir Ralph Wedgwood, the LNER General Manager, would probably attended the next annual dinner. The minutes report that Mr. Marsden noted "with glee" the Club tie. He suggested the holding of lectures and debates provided that controversial topics such as nationalization likely to bring management and workers into conflict were avoided.

The year 1935-1936

The close link which the Club had now established with the LNER becomes abundantly clear from this year's programme of meetings and visits. The year started with the usual Presidential Address on the railways of Cambridge and visit to Cambridge motive power depot with the last meetings of both the Michaelmas and Lent terms being devoted to the Gresley trophy competition. This was the first to be held in the Anchor Hotel which provided the venue for these trophy meetings for several years. By contrast with the two previous years, three out of the remaining six meetings of the Michaelmas term were addressed by speakers from the LNER, Mr. Saunderson, the Club patron, spoke on the "The Whitemoor Marshalling Yard", Mr. Unwin, the District Inspector for signalling spoke on "Railway Accidents" and Mr. Garraway, the Assistant District Locomotive Superintendent at Cambridge spoke on "The locomotive". ***Two of the three remaining meetings were talks by Club members with the remaining meeting being a debate. The seven meetings of the 1936 Lent term consisted, apart from the Gresley trophy, of three talks by Club members, an informal discussion of railway photography, a presentation of four films by Mr. Grasman the Public relations officer of the Southern Railway and a lecture on the renewal of railway bridges by Mr. Fletcher the LNER District Engineer.

The Club's guests at the Annual Dinner, held in the Old Combination Room of Trinity College on Thursday 21st November, were Mr. William Whitelaw, LNER Chairman, and the LNER District Officers Messrs. Sanderson, Coulter, Rees and Fletcher. A model railway was used to convey the cigarettes around the table. This dinner attended also by 40 of our members was reported with complete with photograph in the ***Times*** newspaper. Although this was clearly most gratifying, this Dinner was not our first despite contrary press reports. It was announced at this Dinner, that an old coach in the goods yard at Cambridge station could serve as a home for the Club's O gauge model railway.

The visits made during the year also illustrate the close links with the LNER since six out of the eight visits during the year were hosted by this company. The two visits not to the LNER were to LMS installations. The first of these, on 15th November, was to Camden motive power depot where members observed No 6170 ***British Legion*** which, only a fortnight earlier, had been rebuilt from the unsuccessful super-pressure Royal Scot no. 6399 ***Fury***. The minutes specifically mention the photography on Camden bank of the 3.50pm from Euston. What was so special about this train as to warrant recording in the minutes? The second non-LNER visit, on Thursday 28th November, was by special train arranged by the University Engineering Society to visit the motive power depot and works at Rugby. After being conducted through the motive power depot by the District Superintendent and then visiting the works, the members fired an eight coupled freight engine in the yard and were each presented with a copy of the LMS magazine (price 2d). ****During the Michaelmas term, there were visits to Whitemoor marshalling yard (Tuesday 29th October) with a special coach being provided for the party from Cambridge, the north and south signal boxes at Cambridge (Friday 15th November), and to Hitchin motive power depot (on Tuesday 26th November) where the up Silver Jubilee was observed passing and a Sentinel car was being overhauled. Lent term 1936 saw two visits, one on 7th March to Chesterton Junction signal box and the other, the highlight of activities so far, being described next.

Steam driving

The Club's first official steam drive was arranged by the Club's patron Mr. Sanderson and held, courtesy of the LNER, on Sunday 9th February 1936 on the Haverhill branch between Shelford and Pampisford. A two coach train containing the twenty of our members on the visit left Cambridge station behind B12/3 no. 8527. Our President drove the train from Shelford to Pampisford after which several light engine runs were made between Linton and Shelford with our members at the controls. Shelford signal box was visited in the afternoon and the two coach special train arrived back in Cambridge at 5pm. There are four photographs in the minute book of this unique occasion, taken by an unrecorded photographer. [It has not been possible to use them this time due to the timescale involved in making decent copies of photos in the University Library; it is hoped to include some of them in the next issue - Ed.]

Although this was undoubtedly the Club's first official steam drive, it may not have been their very first driving experience because the minutes of the 12th May 1934 visit to Camden and Kentish Town motive power depots mention that some of our members drove unspecified locomotives in these yards. More information about this most unofficial activity, which would quite inconceivable in the present day climate of health and safety regulations, would be highly welcome.

The Club's second official steam drive, on the Sunday 1st May 1938, was again held on the Haverhill branch with a two coach train of corridors hauled by B12/3 No 8522. This left Cambridge at 2pm with our members taking over the controls for runs between Shelford and Linton. These runs were made light engine excepting one with the two coaches. The LNER Inspectors Harris and Walpole officiated and the train arrived back in Cambridge at 7pm.

Since the Club's first two and only prewar steam drives were made on B12/3s, it was most gratifying that the most recent such expedition, held courtesy of the North Norfolk Railway on 20th March 1999 between Sheringham and Holt, gave members experience of driving another B12/3, the preserved no. 8572.

The year 1936-1937

The meetings held during this year maintained the quality and variety of external speakers. Eight meetings were scheduled for the Michaelmas term but one had to be cancelled at short notice. The first and last meetings were as usual the Presidential Address on the Railways of Cambridge and the Gresley trophy respectively. Mr. Sanderson again addressed the Club on the Whitemoor marshalling yards, Mr. F. C. Hambleton of the Stephenson Locomotive Society addressed the Club on the locomotives of John Ramsbottom, Mr. M. W. Early spoke on the subject of railway photography and there were two talks by internal speakers. The second of these, on Monday 23rd November 1936, is most intriguing because it was by Mr. J. V. Wood of Trinity Hall talking about his experiences just a week before on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th on the record runs between Euston and Glasgow of no. 6201 ***Princess Elizabeth***.

The very high quality of speaker meetings was maintained during the 1937 Lent term. These were initiated by Mr. H. F. Sanderson who had by now become Chief Goods Manager at Newcastle upon Tyne. He addressed the Club on suburban services. This was followed in the next two meetings by film shows, the first being a selection of LMS films presented by Mr. D. S. Barrie the LMS publicity officer with the second being a selection presented by our Vice-President Mr. P. G. Beard. These consisted of, first, shots of the 1933 American tour of the ***Royal Scot*** with the second and third being his own records of a visit to Whitemoor marshalling yard, the 1936 steam drive and of the Club's model railway. These would make fascinating viewing. After an informal meeting on the preceding week to discuss photographs, models and items of general interest, Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell, the chief mechanical engineer of the Southern railway addressed the Club on the "Development of a locomotive from design, construction and maintenance" on Monday 15th February. This was followed by the last meeting of term which was, as usual, the Gresley trophy competition. There was only one meeting in the Easter term at which Professor Inglis of the Cambridge University Engineering Department addressed the Club on "Richard Trevithick, the father of the locomotive".

The Old Combination Room at Trinity College again provided the venue for the Annual Dinner held on Tuesday 17th November 1936. The Club was again privileged to welcome five guests from the LNER: Colonel Maudlin, the Chief Superintendent of the Eastern Area was the guest of honour, others guests being Mr. R. H. Garraway, the Cambridge District Locomotive Running Superintendent, his assistant Mr. Rees, the District Goods and Passenger Manager, Mr. A. B. Coultar and a recent ex-President of the Club, Mr. J. Bonham-Carter, who was then a traffic apprentice in the Newcastle District.

The 1936 Michaelmas term saw four visits, three to LNER installations. The first, and by now traditional, visit to Cambridge motive power depot on Sunday 18th of October, was minuted as "As usual on such occasions an enjoyable and messy time was has by all". This was followed a visit on Thursday 29th October to the marshalling yards at Whitemoor and the motive power depot at March. This visit is minuted as being photographed by the Associated Press Bureau. The final LNER visit was to Stratford works on 26th November where several engines from the Midland and Great Northern Joint line were noted, the LNER having assumed sole responsibility for the motive power on this line at the beginning of October 1936. The fourth visit of term, on Sunday 8th November, was to Grosvenor Road carriage sheds and Nine Elms motive power depot which was responsible for the locomotives working out of Waterloo. The most notable feature of Nine Elms was the comparative lack of activity and many idle locomotives, particularly Moguls. Although it was only to be expected that Lord Nelson 4-6-0s were to be observed, it was surprising that one, ***Sir Francis Drake***, was actually in store having been well greased and oiled. The Southern had only 16 express passenger locomotives more powerful than the King Arthur class and so one would have thought they could ill afford to lose the services of one of these Lord Nelsons. The main attraction at the Grosvenor Road carriage sheds was the rake of Wagon Lits for the newly introduced Night Ferry sleeping car service to Paris. The two visits held in the 1937 Lent term were to Liverpool Street to see the arrangements for peak traffic hours and to the electric signal box at Waterloo.

The year 1937-1938

Of the seven meetings held in the 1937 Michaelmas term, the first and penultimate were respectively the traditional talk on Cambridge as a railway centre and the Gresley trophy. Mr. D. S. Barrie revisited us for the second meeting showing some more LMS films, on Scotland in Winter, Track Maintenance and coach building at Derby, whilst in the third meeting Mr. R. H. Garraway addressed the Club on "Developments in locomotive science". Mr. Sutcliffe of the LNER, who had now taken over the role of Club patron, spoke on his duties as District Superintendent at the fourth meeting whilst in the fifth Professor Inglis spoke on the Samplon Tunnel. The final lecture on "Locomotive construction" was delivered by the Senior Treasurer.

The quality of meetings was maintained in the Lent term of 1938 when in the first meeting, on 17th January, Mr. J. Masterson of the Southern Railway showed some of that company's films including construction of the Portsmouth electrics. This was followed the next week by the first ever members slides evening which was followed on the following Monday by Mr. R. H. Garraway showing films of famous expresses which included the very recently rebuilt 4-6-4 no. 10000 and the A4 ***Herring Gull*** at Cambridge. He concluded with films of Whitemoor marshalling yard, his own model railway and the LMS film "A study in steel" recording the construction of a Princess Royal pacific. Mr. Wright, the Cambridge Stationmaster, spoke of his duties at our fifth meeting and our President delivered a lantern lecture the following week. ****Inspector G. W. Unwin lectured on railway accidents in the seventh meeting with the term finished by the usual Gresley trophy competition. The 1938 Easter term saw but one meeting, on Monday 25th of April, at which Canon Fellows spoke on "The development of the non-stop run in Great Britain". He pointed out that Great Britain held the world record by having the first four longest non-stop runs in the winter and the first eight in summer.

The LMS Vice-President responsible for finance and services, Sir William Wood, was the guest of honour at the Club's Annual Dinner held on 19th February 1938 in the Lion Hotel. The minutes report not only that he kept members amused in an Irish way but also that he made special secretive announcements concerning forthcoming developments on the LMS. Since these were naturally not elaborated in the Club minutes, any reminiscences from members present would be particularly welcome. Appreciation was expressed for the superlative model railway installed by Mr. Cussons. This dinner was destined to be the last before the war because it was decided in the following academic year that one would not be held that year.

The minutes of the committee meeting held on Friday 4th March 1938 tell one that the President and Secretary had been invited by the LNER to sit on their general committee organizing the exhibition of rolling stock to be held in Cambridge station on the 7th and 8th May. Since both the President and Secretary were unable to attend the meeting of this LNER committee, Mr. R. A. Shone was asked to deputize. It was suggested at the 4th March meeting that the Club could exhibit their model railway. Since there are no further references to either the meetings of the LNER committee or the exhibition itself, further information would be welcome.

The second visit of the Michaelmas term (the first being the traditional one to Cambridge motive power depot on 11th October) by 17 members to Bletchley motive power depot and Wolverton carriage works on the Friday 5th November 1937 was clearly very special. Members were able to inspect the Coronation Scot in the visit to Bletchley depot but the minutes fail record whether the locomotive no. 6220 ***Coronation*** was still present in addition to the coaching stock. There was probably no other occasion on which this locomotive and train would have been present at Bletchley other than speeding through on the main line. It was there on this occasion because, as reported in the LMS magazine for December 1937, King Boris of Bulgaria had personally driven this train from Euston to Bletchley that morning as the guest of the LMS. Both this King and his brother were very keen railway enthusiasts. King Edward VIII wrote in his autobiography that he had been largely ignored by these brothers on the last morning of a visit he made to Bulgaria because they were arguing about which of them would drive the train home. The special nature of this Club visit continued at Wolverton carriage works because members were allowed to walk through the Royal Train from end to end. This train was being fitted with wireless. The minutes record that the entire visit was possible only by the special grace of the LMS Chief Mechanical Engineer, Mr. W. A. Stanier. Although the Club rules in the beginning of the minute book state the Club officers should keep all correspondence, none has so far been located. The correspondence arranging this visit would be particularly interesting in addition to any photographs.

The six remaining visits that year were all either wholly or partially to motive power depots. Kentish Town motive power depot was visited on Thursday 18th November and in the visit to Hitchin depot on Wednesday 26th January 1938, the Silver Jubilee and West Riding streamlined services passed and the high standard of locomotive cleanliness at Hitchin was approvingly noted. Thursday 17th March saw the visit to the LNER depot at March whilst in the visit to Stewarts Lane on Thursday 3rd March a small crane tank was seen and the Lord Nelson no. ***857 Lord Howe*** was noted newly fitted with a taper boiler. Visits to Feltham marshalling yard and motive power depot on Thursday 12th May and to Doncaster motive power depot and works on Tuesday 17th May completed the year"s programme of visits.

The year 1938-1939

The activities of the Michaelmas term of 1938 started in the traditional way on Monday 17th October with the lecture on Cambridge as a railway centre and continued on the following Sunday with a visit to Cambridge motive power depot where an 0-6-0 built by the former North Eastern Railway was noted. The four remaining meetings before the Gresley trophy meeting on Monday 28th November consisted of three talks by members and one on Friday 4th November by Mr. Gilmour of the GWR on his work in the Legal and Parliamentary Department of that company. The middle six of the Monday meetings in the Lent term of 1939 were addressed by speakers, four being guests. Mr. Hamilton-Ellis spoke on "The last days of the Highland Railway" on 30th January, Mr. F. W. Green, the Assistant Divisional Superintendent of the GWR spoke on "The operation of Paddington station" on 13th February, on 20th February Mr. C. P. Parker, the LNER District Engineer at Cambridge, spoke on his duties, whilst on 27th February Mr. D. S. Barrie showed some more LMS films, on the Coronation Scot, the research laboratories at Derby, the general overhaul of a Jubilee class 4-6-0 and finally on Garston docks. The first and last meetings of term consisted of a members slide evening and the Gresley trophy respectively. The last prewar meeting and the only one for the Easter term of 1939 was held on Monday 24th April when Mr. R. W. Kilner addressed the Club on Colonel Stephens Railways and Light Railways.

The Michaelmas term of 1938 saw three visits in addition to that to Cambridge depot. On Tuesday 8th November, Derby motive power depot and locomotive works were visited and provided the sight of the preserved Johnson single wheeler no. 118. Sunday 20th November saw a visit to Waterloo signal box, whilst the visit to Old Oak Common motive power depot on Thursday 1st December by 12 members saw a very clean no. 6028 ***King George VI*** much photographed. The first two of the four visits held in the Lent term of 1939 were to Whitemoor marshalling yards on Thursday 26th January and to Swindon works on Thursday 2nd February where members saw the broad gauge 2-2-2 ***North Star*** as well as the construction of several of the light 4-6-0s of the Manor class. There was a visit to the Acton repair depot of the London Passenger Transport Board, undated by the minutes, with the fourth and final visit of the Lent term on Thursday 9th March being to Camden motive power depot. The blue and silver streamlined no. 6222 ***Queen Mary***, the red and gold streamlined no. 6225 ***Duchess of Gloucester*** and the non-streamlined no. 6231 ***Duchess of Atholl*** were all on shed but it was reported that, regretfully, hardly any locomotives were in a position suitable for photography.

There were three visits in the Easter term of 1939, the first undated by the minutes, to Paddington signal box and Old Oak Common carriage sheds where it was noted that a former coach from Queen Victoria's Royal Train had been converted into a parcels van. The visit to Crewe works and motive power depot on 5th May 1939 produced in the latter the sight of two old saddle tanks and the rebuilt Claughton no. 6023, one of the only four members of that class by then remaining. The last two locomotives of the North Staffordshire Railway, both 0-4-4Ts of their class M were awaiting scrapping in the works where the LNWR 2-4-0 ***Hardwick*** and 2-2-2 ***Cornwall*** were preserved. The party returned to London by the 5.25pm express from Liverpool, this being the second fastest schedule on the LMS, averaging 64.1 mph from Crewe to Euston. Curiously, both this booking and that of 65.1 mph between Rugby and Watford by the 6.20pm up from Birmingham were marginally faster than the 63.4 mph average of the Coronation Scot between Euston and Carlisle. The last visit of not just the Easter term but the last one prewar and thus the last official visit for several years was to Nine Elms motive power depot on Thursday 11th May 1939. The minutes note the observation of two 4-4-0s of the Schools class painted in the newly introduced brighter shade of Southern Railway green, one of these having a very high sided tender. One Remembrance 4-6-0 no. 2332 ***Stroudley*** was noted in addition to the expected 4-6-0s of the "Paddlebox", King Arthur and Lord Nelson classes.

The year 1939-1940 (The photographic competition)

The activities this year are interesting even though they lie outside the scope of this article as defined by its title. Although the prewar activities of speaker meetings, visits, debates and the Gresley trophy all continued for many years after the war with the first two of these still continuing, one of the Club's present activities is noticeable by its absence from the above story, namely the photographic competition.

The first of the Club's photographic competitions was held on Monday 5th February 1940 with the winners being decided by popular vote of the members present. There were two sections, which unlike the categories in the present competition defined by subject matter, had respectively the titles of technical excellence and railway interest. The first and second prizes in the first category were taken by shots of an LNER J19 0-6-0 leaving Audley End tunnel on a up goods and of a Southern Railway 6PUL electric multiple unit entering Eastbourne on a Victoria to Hastings service. The first prize in the section judged on railway interest went to a shot of the veteran Midland Kirtley 2-4-0 no. 20012 leaving Cambridge on train to Kettering. The second prize in this section went to a shot of the Festiniog Railway locomotive ***Taliesen*** entering Festiniog station on a train from Portmadoc.

The Club was able to continue a busy schedule of speaker meetings even though the "National Emergency" caused all visits to be cancelled "for the duration". However this story is beyond the scope of this article.


The overall picture that emerges from the above saga is of a Club very successfully providing its own internal motivation during the first two years (1933-1935) before establishing its credentials with the railway companies, in particular its very strong links with the LNER. These enabled the Club to widen immeasurably the scope of its activities in the final four prewar years.

It will be seen that regular Club meetings were held on Mondays in contrast to the present day Friday meetings. However the night of Club meetings has been changed more than once, the meetings being held on Thursday evenings in the middle 1960s. More interesting than this, is perhaps, the number of visits held on weekdays, particularly Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even though we were probably constrained by the days on which the railway companies could act as our hosts, it is interesting that members apparently had little difficulty in being able to absent themselves from the University on weekdays. I think that the present day schedule of lectures, supervisions and continually assessed practical work would give current undergraduate members reading a scientific or engineering subject considerable difficulty in joining a weekday visit.


soc-curc-request@lists.cam.ac.uk- last updated 15/01/01