Subject: Raildate 1st April 2011
From: "Howard Sprenger" <>
Date: 01/04/2011, 17:43
To: "Yahoo Raildate" <>

RAILDATE: the weekly newsletter of the Hursley Park Model Railway Society:

*** Next issue: 29th April 2011 ***


This is the last issue under the HPMRS banner, and also the last of any kind
until 29th April due to the Editor's holiday.


As this issue marks the end of Raildate as an internal organ of the
Hursley Park Model Railway Society, I thought it might be interesting to
chronical its history.  Unfortunately, I cannot say with any certainty
when it all started, but I can say why.  I had got into the habit of
looking through the Radio Times each week to see whether there was
anything of railway interest coming up on TV, and thought that as I was
doing it, I might as well jot down whatever I found and send it to the
HPMRS membership.  At the same time, I could add any information I might
have about forthcoming events, and if there were any admin notices from
the Committee to pass on to members, they could be included as well.

This purpose had largely been served previously by our printed newsletter,
which had started circulation around April 1979.  I've never seen the
first edition, but the second was produced in June 1979, and at irregular
intervals after that until June 1982, when it disappeared for a while. The
Editor for the first seven editions was Rex Penney with Lawrence Hanney
taking it through to number 14.

Edition number 15 came out in Autumn 1984, edited by Graham Mackenzie, who
settled the newsletter down to a regular seasonal pattern of four issues a
year.  This was not much use as a means of imparting news, and editions
consisted mainly of articles from the membership supplemented by reprints
of selected articles from newspapers and magazines.  Number 19 (Autumn
1985) signalled another change of editorship, with John Learman taking
over from an exiled Graham.  It wasn't long before Graham was back,
though, and he took over the reins again from number 23 (Autumn 1986).

From Winter 1989, the Hursley Park Model Railway Society Newsletter was
renamed Smoke Rings, and in 1991, Graham found himself exiled again (to
Basingstoke).  From number 44 (Winter 1991) therefore, Nick Robson moved
into the editor's seat, and took Smoke Rings through to its 50th and (what
turned out to be) final issue in Summer 1993.

As we went through the 1980s, "online information" was starting to emerge
as the way forward, and within IBM we were already readily communicating
electronically via VNET.  To some extent, therefore, the change of name to
Smoke Rings was a tacit acceptance of the fact that a quarterly hard-copy
publication could not consider itself to be in any way a "newsletter", and
Raildate began to do what "Smoke Rings" could not.

As I say, I can't be specific about when I first started sending Raildate
to members, but the first recorded mention of it is at the AGM in April
1990, when Rod Blakeman proposed a vote of thanks  for it, and the steady
stream of information that it contained.  I reckon therefore that I
probably first started putting it together sometime around mid-1989.

VNET was run on our various VM systems and WINVMB was where Raildate first
saw the light of day.  VM files required an uppercase filename and
filetype, with a maximum of eight characters each, so Raildate began as
RAILDATE MEMO and was sent out every Friday to the HPMRS distribution list
- all on VM, of course.  Being a "green screen" system, there was no
alternative to the in-built fixed-space font, and there was a maximum
usable line-length of 73 characters.  Raildate still retains this format
today, although somehow over the years, the nominal line-length has grown
to 74 characters.

For four years, Raildate and Smoke Rings existed side by side, and the
Winter 1991 edition of the latter included the first "Raildate
Roundabout", which was a round-up of items of interest that had appeared
in the previous quarter's RAILDATE MEMO.  This continued until Smoke Rings
ceased after issue number 50.  By late 1994, IBM employees were starting
to be connected to the then new Internet (I became connected on 30th
November 1994) and from then on links to items on the Worldwide Web became
an additional feature of RAILDATE MEMO - something that Smoke Rings could
never have done, of course.  There wasn't much on the Web at first, but as
people began to explore the new technology, surfing the Web became an
ideal work distraction!

A regular contributor from this time was a non-member of the HPMRS, Nick
Wheat, and so for several years the section devoted to URLs was known as
"Nick Wheat's Netwatch".  Some time later, I felt that some of the news
items I was including warranted their own section and "In the News" was
added.  The four sections from this time have continued ever since, the
main difference in the "internal" edition being that Society admin
information is included.

With the demise of Smoke Rings, I continued compiling the occasional
round-up of links, but now it was sent out online.  Again, I'm not sure
when the first of these was produced, but the earliest one on the Web
archive of Raildate, maintained by Richard Walker, is dated December 1995.
These continued until June 2009 and can be seen (together with individual
issues of Raildate between October 2003 and December 2009) here:

As IBM weaned itself off mainframe-attached 3270 terminals and onto
desktops and laptops, so RAILDATE MEMO had to leave WINVMB, the last
edition being distributed from there on 16th January 1998.  From then on
Raildate was compiled and distributed from Lotus Notes, and my thoughts
turned to making it more widely available.  I had already been sending an
"external" version to non-IBM friends who had email, and increasingly it
seemed that to restrict it to the HPMRS membership of around 20 was not
really justifying the effort that was going into it.  I therefore began
building up a large distribution list of people outside IBM who had heard
about Raildate and wanted to see it for themselves.  I also encouraged
them to forward it to any other interested party as long as it was
distributed in its original form.  Very soon, it had "gone global"!

From around 2003, I also began posting it to the Historical Model Railway
Society's Yahoo discussion group, and this much broader circulation
coincided with an influx of contributions from a wider groups of
enthusiasts.  Richard Buckby, Neil Kearns and Ralph Rawlinson have all
regularly sent me large amounts of material, and many others do on an
occasional basis.

My resignation from the HMRS meant that I had to consider how its members
could continue to receive Raildate (if they wished) and I'd also managed
to saddle myself with a large distribution list that I had to maintain
every time anyone changed their email address.  From 1st February 2008,
therefore, Raildate acquired a dedicated Yahoo group, and that is now the
main means of distribution...

And that brings the Raildate story up to date.  I've been sending it out,
pretty much every Friday for the best part of 22 years, which probably
means that the 1000th edition was launched onto an unsuspecting world
sometime last year.  It goes directly (via my own distribution list or
Yahoo) to over 400 people, and although I have no idea how many of them
forward it, I know that it goes to other societies around the world as
well as individuals, so I reckon that possibly 1,000 people see it each

I've kept it simple, and intend to continue doing so.  As it becomes
detached from the HPMRS, I might allow myself a longer line length, but I
have no plans to include pictures.  It started out as a list of TV and
radio programmes and has moved with the times to become largely a list of
links.  That's how I plan to keep it and I'll let others create the fancy
websites that I link to.

I've mentioned a number of contributors - to them and to those I haven't
named, I extend my sincere thanks, as I do to the HPMRS newsletter editors
who went before me.  It really is a team effort.  People often question
how I keep it up every week, and the answer is that I just dump the odd
links that I come across into a file, together with a whole load of stuff
that people are kind enough to send me... it's just simple copy-and-paste.
The most time-consuming bit is going through the Radio Times every week,
and noting things down that might be of interest to me.  That's how it
started, and for as long as I keep buying the Radio Times, I'll keep doing it.



Barry Knapper has been forced to find a new host for his photographs since
the demise of fotopic:

As has Peter Kazmierczak:

And Paul Gildersleve:

All you would wish to know on the design and operation of valve gears:

There is a petition running on the Kent County Council website asking that
the council retains the collection of railway books in Ashford library as
a distinct entity and not split it up and disperse it.  (You will need to
register with the website to add your name to the petition.)

Graham Beare is working on a project to build a representation of a
"might-have-been" in the East End of London circa 1885-1905.  It consists
of an online diary/journal about an existence in a specific time period,
in an alternative world, where history gets re-written to justify lines
that "never-were", and to support services from the Metropolitan Railway,
Midland Railway, Great Northern, Great Eastern, Great Western and most of
the companies from south of the Thames - all presented as a theatre of
events moving forwards from 1885 to 1905.  Graham describes it as "one
man's dream which is supported by friends and fanatics, together with
historical advice/guidance from eminent railway historians including John
Lewis and David Hyde for the GWR interest".  All are encouraged to follow
the development and to contribute with comments, suggestions and the
occasional brickbat.



Restored GWR Steam Railmotor at Llangollen:

Interesting and amusing video of Underground lines that might have been:
(Spotter: Richard Buckby)

A model of gas turbine loco GT3 running at the model engineering
exhibition at Ascot in 2008:

Chiltern Railways replace entire bridge at Princes Risborough:
(Spotter: Ralph Rawlinson)

Preserved Union Pacific Railroad "Challenger" 4-6-6-4 No 3985 hauling a
6,000 ton, mile-long circus train last September:
(Spotter: Ralph Rawlinson)

History of Welbeck Colliery with a video of the headstocks being


Ralph Rawlinson's Railway Roundup

London Underground
A new entrance and ticket hall is now open at Stratford.

Preliminary work at Beccles, including new fencing and drainage close to
the new island platform, are the earliest signs of the passing loop that
will double service frequencies on the East Suffolk line.

GER March - Wisbech
Network Rail has given Bramley Line Railway Heritage Trust permission to
develop the old goods yard at Waldersea (mid-way between March and
Wisbech) as an engineering and storage base for rolling stock.

Ely - Norwich resignalling
Network Rail has awarded Signalling Solutions a 21m contract to resignal
Norwich-Ely.  It will use technology developed by SSL and based on
Alstom's latest interlocking product, Smartlock 400, which SSL is
currently installing on three other schemes at Southampton, East Kent and

GWR/LSWR Easton branch
The trackbed of the Eastham branch from Westham Roundabout in Weymouth to
the site of Fleet Viaduct at Small Mouth has been converted into a
cycleway - The Rodwell Trail, which opened in 2000.  Arguably the most
important missing bridge is the one that carried the line over Newstead
Road and at last a replacement has been authorised.

Thames Valley Signalling & Control Centre
Not previously reported here was the closure of Reading PSB, opened in
1965.  In December 2010 all remaining signalling controls were transferred
to the Thames Valley Signalling Centre (TVSC) at Didcot.

Devon CC has given the go-ahead for a detailed planning application for a
station serving Cranbrook, a new development near Exeter Airport.  It is
expected to be used by workers at nearby business parks with all trains on
the Exeter-Waterloo line calling.

Shrewsbury - Crewe resignalling
Invensys Rail has been awarded the contract to deliver 30 miles of
bi-directional signalling, seven level crossings (five of which will be
MCB-ODs) and two complex fringes using lightweight signals, object
controllers, plug-coupled cables, axle counters and Westrace Mk2
interlocking.  The new signalling is due to be commissioned on 7th January
2012.  At present the line is controlled by Shrewsbury Severn Bridge Jn,
Shrewsbury Crewe Jn, Shrewsbury Crewe Bank, Harlescott Crossing, Wem,
Prees, Whitchurch, Wrenbury, Nantwich and Gresty Lane No 1.  The new
workstation at the South Wales Signalling & Control Centre (SWCC) in
Cardiff will fringe with Crewe Gresty Lane box and Shrewsbury Crewe
Junction box.  Crewe Bank, Harlescott, Wem, Prees, Wrenbury and Nantwich
boxes will close.  Shrewsbury Seven Bridge Junction is a listed structure.

A short 85m chord line between the Liverpool-Manchester Victoria and
Piccadilly lines at Ordsall, making possible a direct link between the two
main Manchester stations, looks set to go-ahead.

NER Scarborough - Whitby line to reopen?
York Potash Ltd (YPL), owned by Sirius Minerals PLC, are seeking to open a
new potash mine between Scarborough and Whitby; its exact location will
depend on the result of test drilling and seismic surveys.  The company
accepts that, because the entire area lies within the Yorkshire Moors
National Park the product cannot be transported away by road, and
similarly Allan Williams, writing in Modern Railways, considers that
conveyors or pipelines are ruled out because of the disturbance they would
bring, which leaves only rail.  This would involve relaying part of the
Scarborough-Whitby line and reinstating Prospect Hill Curve to connect it
once again to the Whitby-Middlesbrough line.  YPL says a planning
application will be made within 18 months, and the project appears to have
the support of Scarborough and Whitby Councils as well as local MPs.  If
there are no delays the mine could be in production within five years.
Virtually all the trackbed has, of course, been converted into a
cyclepath, the Scarborough-Whitby Trailway part of NCN 1, but the many
narrow overbridges and Larpool Viaduct would make it difficult to
accommodate it alongside a relaid single line.

A daily ferry service will link Govan to the new Riverside Transport
Museum, due to open in late spring. It will operate between Water Row Quay
on the south bank of the Clyde to Kelvin Harbour landing stage on the
north bank.

The EU is funding the upgrading of track/infrastructure and the
modernisation of signalling on several lines.  These include Katowice-
Krakow (77km), Krakow-Rzeszow (150km), Rzeszow-Przemysl, Wroclaw-Poznan
and Warsaw-Gdansk. On all these routes travel times are expected to fall

The Ethiopian government is to undertakes studies into building 2500km of
railways over the next five years.

The Transport Minister has confirmed that the Government remains committed
to the rehabilitation and modernisation of the country's railways
infrastructure and disclosed that the rehabilitation of the line from
Zaria to Kaura Namoda via Gusau was in its final stage of procurement.

Russian Railways aims to launch Moscow?Berlin?Paris service:



York signalling collapse:

Attempted cable theft near Leeds:

London Midland disruption over Sunday shift payments:

Open rail crossings may get barriers:

RAIB report: Runaway wagons in Manchester:

Repairs to Arnside viaduct:

Class 91 named "Sir Bobby Robson":

Road closure at Reading for enhancement work:

Pupils campaign for extra train services is successful:

Peak District rail line given new lease of life:

Great Western Railway autocoach returns to Cornwall:

Gloucester & Warwickshire emergency services:

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway celebrates 50 years:

Full steam ahead for Tornado's return to the rails:

Teenager takes charge of Kerr's Miniature Railway:

Preferred bidder for Nottingham Tram extension:

Dispute over cruise ship terminal costs:

Vulcan XH558 flown to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster:

Spotters: Richard Buckby, Neil Kearns, Reg Nerps


03/04/11    BBC1  1830-1900
           "The Boat That Guy Built"  Renovating a narrow boat 5/6

03/04/11    BBC4  1830-2000
           "Jackie Stewart: the Flying Scot"

04/04/11    Channel 5  1930-2000
           "How Do They Do It?"  Massive hotel and cutting tough steel

06/04/11    BBC1  1830-1900
           "The Boat That Guy Built"  Renovating a narrow boat 6/6

06/04/11    BBC4  1930-2030
           "Behind the Scenes at the Museum"  National Waterways Museum

07/04/11    Channel 5  1930-2000
           "How Do They Do It?"  Airbus A320


For up-to-date information on many of the tours mentioned in Raildate (and
others) often with timings, see the Steam Tours pages at:

All details are correct to the best of my knowledge.  No responsibility is
taken for inaccuracies or changes.

01/04/11    Derbyshire Archaeological Society: Talk
           William H Barlow - His Life and Works by Chris Lewis
           Barlow was Engineer in Chief to the Midland Railway
           St Mary's Parish Hall, Darley Lane, Derby
           Starts 1930

02/04/11    Belper Model Railway Group Open Day
           Strutts, Derby Road, Belper, Derbyshire

03/04/11    Romsey Signal Box Open Day
           Admission free (donations welcome!)
           ex-Romsey Infants School, Plaza Parade, Winchester Rd, Romsey
           Car park in old school grounds

03/04/11    Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: Mother's Day Special

04/04/11    Peak Railway Association (Sheffield Branch) Slideshow
           The Harlequin Pub, 108 Nursery Street, Sheffield S3 8GG
           Each a Memory,  Keith Marshall
           A nostalgic look at the early 1990s.

08/04/11-   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: Grand Opening Weekend
10/04/11    After over 10 years of effort, the line opens throughout

09/04/11-   National Railway Museum: Easter Holiday Festival
24/04/11    10th anniversary of NRM receiving the Shinkansen in 2001

10/04/11    Cobham Bus Gathering
           Dunsfold Airfield, nr Cranleigh, Surrey

16/04/11    Amersham & Chorleywood MRS Model Railway Exhibition

16/04/11-   Epsom & Ewell Model Railway Club Annual Exhibition
17/04/11    NESCOT, Reigate Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 3DS

16/04/11-   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: Steam Weekend

16/04/11-   Churnet Valley Railway: 1940s Weekend

17/04/11    Brijan Tours Charity Open Day

19/04/11    Peak Railway Association (Chesterfield Branch) Slideshow
           New Inn, 229 Mansfield Road, Hasland, Chesterfield, S41 0JJ
           British Railways Standard Pacifics, Mick Hayes

22/04/11-   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: Easter Open Days

23/04/11-   York Model Railway Show
25/04/11    Knavesmire Stand, York Racecourse
           1000-1700 all days

24/04/11    Twyford Waterworks Guided Tour Day

24/04/11-   Leawood Pumping Engine Steaming Day, Cromford Canal
25/04/11    Engine in motion 1200-1700

24/04/11-   Middleton Top Winding Engine, Cromford & High Peak Rly
25/04/11    Engine in motion 1300-1630

29/04/11-   43rd Annual Bristol Model Railway Exhibition
01/05/11    Thornnbury Leisure Centre

29/04/11-   Ecclesbourne Valley Railway: May Bank Holiday Weekend

30/04/11    Manchester Victoria signalling school layout operating day
           National Railway Museum, York

01/05/11    Romsey Signal Box Open Day
           Admission free (donations welcome!)
           ex-Romsey Infants School, Plaza Parade, Winchester Rd, Romsey
           Car park in old school grounds

01/05/11    Twyford Waterworks Open Day

01/05/11-   Middleton Top Winding Engine, Cromford & High Peak Rly
02/05/11    Engine in motion 1300-1630

02/05/11    Peak Railway Association (Sheffield Branch) Filmshow
           The Harlequin Pub, 108 Nursery Street, Sheffield S3 8GG
           Doug Copley's Lineside Images

Cheers, Howard.
editor(at)  replace (at) with @

Issues of Raildate up to and including 18th December 2009 are at:
This page includes a master catalogue of items that have appeared in
previous editions of Raildate.

(C) Howard Sprenger 2011.

The external edition of Raildate may be freely distributed without
permission as long as no changes whatsoever are made to the original
document distributed by the Editor.  You can subscribe to the external
edition here: