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Trams in the Countryside

Various Members, 18th July 2017

For the programme following the London Area AGM it had been agreed that members would be invited to provide short presentations on the theme 'Trams in the Countryside'. It was decided to show them in the alphabetical order of speaker and since there was more material available than could comfortably be fitted into the time available it was agreed to defer that by Geoffrey Tribe until a later date.

Eddie Dawes's topic was the history of the tramway along Whipps Cross Road. A part of the Leyton UDC system it ran along the edge of Epping Forest between 1906 and 1939 when it was replaced by trolleybuses. It was served for most of its life by what became Route 61 from Aldgate to Leyton (Bakers Arms) and which was jointly operated by the LCC, Leyton and West Ham cars. Eddie provided plenty of data on its history and his pictures showed the country part of it through the years.

Alan Holmewood concentrated on German tramways and showed scenes from no less than 25 different systems ranging alphabetically from Augsburg to a part of the former Wuppertal network at Köhlfurther Brücke that is now the home of the Bergische Straßenbahnmuseum. We saw rural parts of big city systems such as Berlin or Frankfurt am Main as well as purely rural lines such as the Kirnitzschtalbahn at Bad Schandau and the delightful Oberweißbacher Bergbahn in Thuringia.

Ed Humphreys took a wider remit that encompassed tram-train operation at Nordhausen where narrow gauge electric trams running on a diesel generator share tracks with both conventional diesel railcars and the occasional steam hauled train. After Liberec in the Czech Republic that has a meter gauge interurban line through some very scenic countryside we revisited Bad Schandau before a brief look at the modern tramway in Dijon. The huge Tramwaje Slaskie in Poland is a multi-centred interurban network with much countryside running. Ed's final two systems with plenty of scenic locations were Braila in Romania and the Yakima museum operation in Washington State in the USA.

Alan Pearce had visited the Belgian Vicinal many times from the late 1960s onwards with a cine camera and personal transport from a bicycle to a Morris Traveller that not only enable him to film the relatively infrequent services in decidedly rural locations but, with the aid of someone else driving, take sequences of operation alongside country roads of variable quality. Alan's films have been digitised enabling him to provide a programme that was a superb compilation from many visits to the lines in Hainaut province to the west of Charleroi including museum operation on the Lobbes - Thuin line with steam and diesel traction. Alan also included some sequences taken on the countryside sections of the Bruxelles - Londerzeel line.

David Connor thanked all of the speakers for their excellent presentations that had showed tramway operation in many places far removed from the heavily built up urban centres.

Geoffrey Tribe

London Area - 18th July 2017

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