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Belgian Vicinal 1969 to 1985

Alan Pearce, 18th July 2005

Alan Pearce, our Area Officer, treated us to another cine film show of the Belgian Vicinal. This time he chose the period from 1969 to 1985. None of the lines or rolling stock shown is operating normal service today and the museum’s operations are at present very restricted. Alan explained that the films were all taken on Standard 8 silent stock, and the early scenes were not on Kodak stock. Although taken so long ago many of the individual reels had only been joined and edited in 2005.

The first reel dealt with the Mons and La Louviere areas as well as the Borinage region, featuring routes 7 and 9 and also covered the last day of operation of those Borinage routes in March 1970. By this time trams had been relegated to the ring road around the Mons city centre. The final Mons area route 2 closed in 1973 was shown over much of its length. Scenes in La Louviere showed mainly the local services much in evidence up to 1972. The reel ended with a set of views shot on a wet November day in 1979 when it never stopped raining. The film was full of atmosphere with trams with their lights on emerging from the gloom. Given the slow film available at the time, the quality was very good. Adding to the effect rain began falling on the roof of Keen House as these scenes were on screen.

The scene then switched to the Charleroi Eden terminus to concentrate on the 40km Route 90 that closed in 1973. After passing the steelworks with orange smoke belching forth, the line was traced westwards through Binche to Mons railway station. A number of services were seen operating with Braine-le-Comte trailers.

After the break the use of trolley poles told us we were in the Brabant area. The film started at Brussels Place Rouppe and covered the route to Leerbeek, and then the routes on the north side of the city to Grimbergen, Strombeek and Wemmel. The city terminus of this group of routes circumnavigated the “Red Light” district near Place Rogier.

By popular request the show concluded with films of the 1985 Centenary at Anderlues and on the Lobbes-Thuin line. These included steam loco 979 in action together with Autorails 89 and 300, along with a number of preserved electric cars. The show attracted an above average audience despite the recent bombing outrage on the London Underground. This was an excellent programme and well worth turning out for.

John Laker, 30/7/05

London Area – 18th July 2005

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