Michael Cochrane was back in the Chair for today’s meeting and welcomed a visitor Peter Wells to the gathering. He also advised that six apologies had been received. Welcomed back after a long period of absence due to ill-health was one of our Honorary Life Members Roy Howard a former three times Chairman and it was good to see him in attendance. John Taylor thanked members for their support on the rota for giving “Vote of Thanks” but there were still three vacancies to fill this season and he trusted these would be taken up at the conclusion of today’s meeting.
The Speaker taking the floor today was the Forum’s own Keith Wadd a native of Derbyshire, supporting Chesterfield F.C. and Derbyshire C.C. for his sins. A student from Leeds University with a Sociology specialism his talk was entitled “A Country Railway”. Styling himself as a railway enthusiast, which he put down to his early days growing up in Dronfield and watching trains coming through the Bradway tunnel, he proceeded to give an interesting and illuminating outline of the early railway lines in this country from the early 19th century, their rapid development which led to the diminution of stagecoaches and the turnpike era, to their own period of supremacy into the early 20th century before the advent of motor vehicles led to their decline. The first railway line Darlington–Stockton was mentioned as was the first modern railway Liverpool–Manchester and the speedy adoption of use by both passengers and freight and how the astonishing increase in railway line ( 1838 250 miles; 1843 1,800 miles and end of 1840’s 4,600 miles) brought the country together particularly the main cities and towns with substantial economic benefits, greatly reduced travelling time, time standardisation and the carrying of the Royal Mail. Seaside resorts became prominent because of rail links and improved accessibility e.g. Fleetwood; Weston Super Mare; Scarborough. The Pilmoor, Boroughbridge and Knaresborough country railway with a number of intermediate stations was developed by the G.N.E. and for many years employed a sizeable workforce delivering good levels of passenger traffic as well as much freight particularly coal, agricultural products, cattle and horses for military training purposes. It delivered appreciable economic cost benefits to the immediate area.Decline hit this local railway line in the 1930’s and today little evidence remains of its presence but in its heyday it was an important contributor to the local area both socially and economically. The line closed to passengers in 1950 and for goods in 1964. The talk generated a number of interested questions and reminisces.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Belton on behalf of the 38 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY