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Based in the London Borough of Bromley Gallery of Members’     Photos and articles es March Meeting Report by Chris Thomas

The drive to Rusper for the March meeting was not a promising one, with the windscreen wipers on setting 2 and grey skies as far as the eye could see. The covers were on, ready for a 4 shed operation, with a last minute peak in availability allowing for well-staffed stations for the day ahead. Naturally, with all the preparation for a rainy session, the sun appeared as the clocks were turned on, leaving only the wind to cause havoc with the shed doors.

I spent the day in Shed 4 with Roger and Nathan, and thoroughly enjoyed the comradery that comes with three operators working together for every movement from Jordans, through Russ Hill and out onto the rest of the network. My recent exploits have been in Smallfields and Glovers Lane, neither of which require too much team work with the person in the shed with you, so it certainly made a nice change. However, with the door shut to keep the wind out, we were rather oblivious to how the rest of the session was going!

The morning ran smoothly from our end, and we received all of the correct trains from Hookwood, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that proceedings were equally as successful elsewhere. We only had a couple of mishaps – the most notable being the wrong CB set being sent down (or up?) the mainline to Glovers Lane, whilst a shortage of appropriate motive power in the Jordans depot lead to the Russ Hill pilot, in the shape of a USA dock tank, being pressed into action on a passenger turn.

The rain returned at lunch time, so we were joined in Shed 4 by Sam and both Mikes. Somehow a conversation about all things Southern turned towards some of my more gruesome work stories, which only served to get the afternoon session underway earlier than was perhaps originally intended!

As the clocks restarted for the afternoon, the sun reappeared and we got stuck into a further few hours of operation. The afternoon didn’t run as smoothly as the morning, with periods of delay at each end of the line and a couple of clock stoppages, one due to the Brighton Belle pulling up in Glovers Lane with ‘bits poking out the bottom’. As I understand it, it had collected some track pins whilst on its travels, which interfered with the bogies and underframe detail.


It was an interesting day for visiting locomotives with Tim’s lovely Drummond black motor, Sam’s expertly weathered Super D and my previously mentioned dock tank raising comment for their good, smooth performances, whilst a smattering of Gresley and Bulleid pacifics bolstered the fleet. PP1 and PP4 were replaced by new Hawksworth autocoaches, with a 4575 and 64xx in charge respectively. One Pullman set returned to locomotive haulage, which allowed the Bulleids to take on the premier duties, with their place on the Southern region sets taken by a couple of trusty black 5s, giving a nice Somerset and Dorset feel.

Roger has already reported that only one club locomotive suffered a failure this session, though I was not quite so lucky, with my A3 suffering a near catastrophic motion failure after my austerity had given up the ghost in less obvious circumstances at the start of the session (an email exchange with Dave Jones of DJM has led to the possible conclusion that a power surge may have crippled the locomotive). The A3 was repaired later that evening and has made further light engine moves, whilst the austerity is laid up awaiting a replacement blanking plug.

All in all, a good session with no major issues reported on the permanent way. It’s good to know that when the covers are required, they still do the job! It was nice to see everyone, and whilst I can’t make the next session, my time in A&E is nearly at an end and the hockey season is over, so hopefully I’ll be a more frequent visitor in the summer. I hope that those who are feeling poorly are now better, and if not, make a speedy recovery.