For enthusiasts,researchers and modellers of the Great Eastern Railway

2010 Annual General Meeting - A report by Andy Grimmett and Bill King

20th March 2010 was wet and windy, but travel was no problem and arrival would have been early at the Brentwood Theatre.

This now boasts an ‘upstairs’. This was where Nigel Bowdidge, Dave Taylor and Rodger Green set up shop. They were joined by Peter Ashton and Dan Glading on the urn. Mark Baker was there with his postcard collection. Jim Tant – membership – and Barry Jackson – publications – were downstairs on the right. Peter Barham took up position on the left. Brian McCarthy was preparing to sell raffle tickets. Simon Greatrex distributed the membership badges as visitors arrived.


As time passed there were many familiar faces in the theatre – and some new ones. It was soon time to start the first presentation of the day and it was Andy Grimmett with his talk:

An Introduction to GER Signalboxes

The Signalling Record Society has identified eight ‘standard’ GER signalboxes. These can be identified by various architectural features.

The first designs for GE boxes were variants of the designs offered by the signalling contractors. The oldest surviving is the ex-Wrabness box, dating from 1875, with the upper storey now at the Colne Valley Railway.

Gable ended structures are much easier to build and maintain and the type 2 soon appeared thus with vertical 5? operating windows with no horizontal glazing bars. We saw examples at Downham Market, Harbour Junction and Thorpe-le-Soken.

Wymondham South Junc. GE type 2. Opened 1877.42L.

Wymondham South Junc. GE type 2. Opened 1877

Brundall was an example of a type 3, which were built between 1882-3.

Acle.GE type3.Opened 1883.20L.

Acle GE type3 Opened 1883

The type 4 increased the box depth from 11' to 12'. The survivor at Shippea Hill, dating from 1883, was seen.

Shippea Hill.GE type 4.Opened 1883.30L.

Shippea Hill GE type 4 Opened 1883

March East Junction is an example of the type 5 but is exceptional in that it was rebuilt in 1897 from a two storey to a three storey box with a new frame.

March East. GE type 5.Opened1885, rebuilt 1897.58L

March East GE type 5 Opened 1885, rebuilt 1897

Lowestoft was the example shown of the type 6 and as illustrated was the only one with three-by-three windows.

The most prolific of all designs was the type 7. These date from 1886 to 1922 with Chingford – built 1920 – being one of the last constructed. More than ninety per cent of these were timber with brick chimneys. There were three sizes available depending on the size of the structure. The box depth was reduced from 12' to 11' 6". Marks Tey – in timber – and Forest Gate – the brick version – were seen.

Marks Tey.GE type 7.Opened c.1894.May 1993.

Marks Tey GE type 7 Opened c1894

Last but not least we saw Cheshunt and Southend Victoria as examples of the type 8. Most of the boxes on the "New Lines" were of this type.

Specials were provided as we saw at Wolferton. This had very ornate tiles on the gable ends plus an embellished staircase to the box landing and doorway. And so ended a fascinating presentation.

The Harry Jones Award

Lyn Brooks was the recipient of the Harry Jones Award this year, for his series of four articles: ‘The Claud Hamilton 4-4-0s’.

Many members have contributed to what the GERS is today, some have achieved high office, others have played a part less obvious but nevertheless valuable. Harold Edgar Jones, sometimes ‘Jones the pencil’, but usually just plain Harry, made an outstanding contribution through his tireless work at The National Archive. He sponsored the award which bares his name and which is presented to the author of the ‘most enjoyable Journal article’. Each year, all members are encouraged to vote for the three Journal articles that they have enjoyed the most.

Rodger Green made a short slide show:

‘East Anglia in the 1950s and 1960s’

D8401 appeared first. Rodger described this as an ‘eighty-four hundred’, although they are oftem remembered as NBL Type 1s. Rodger tells me that he has recently purchased a Heljan ‘eighty-two hundred’ – BTH Type 1 – for ‘his grandson’s model railway’. How many times have we heard that old chestnut? E-4 2-4-0s were seen – 62797 and 62790 crossing, at Long Melford. Then almost at the end was a picture by Geoffrey King of Cambridge University Railway Club of another E-4. This was of especial interest as he is one of the guest speakers who will appear at the 2010 half-yearly meeting in Cambridge.

Nigel Bowdidge introduced:

‘This is a Platform Alteration…’

This was a collection of pictures of selected stations in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. They had all been found in the photograph and negative collection at the Waterloo plan arches and were largely reference views for use by the engineers. Some showed engineering work in progress. Such were the first views seen at Bethnal Green when it was substantially rebuilt. Of interest were the massive arches in the under-track subway.

Moving south towards the river to Fenchurch Street we were presented with two interior views, the first inside the booking hall and the second inside the ticket office where we saw that the new fluorescent lights were supplemented by ‘emergency gas lamps’! Further, the room was painted in the ‘standard Great Eastern railway colour scheme’ – two shades of brown.

Then we saw Lowestoft Central, replete with all-over roof, but being removed in the set of views. The outside of the station was cleaned up, but fortunately the British Railways-erected blue enamelled sign remained. Maldon East had a new bicycle shed and we saw inside the refurbished office.

There were further interior views of booking offices, but this time at Norwich in 1951. The ‘Enquiries and Reservations’ Office looked like two Passimeters joined together. Parkeston Quay followed, then Ripple Lane and Roydon – the subject of ‘wilful neglect’, apparently.

We finished off with Stepney East, two views of Stowmarket – one in 1947 and the next of the main entrance in 1960 – then Tilbury Town and Ware. What a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon, with a tour of railway stations in East Anglia. And all from the comfort of a seat in the Brentwood Theatre.

The President made a few final announcements and then that was another AGM done and dusted. The final circulation took place, with old friends saying their goodbyes for another year, and after a bit of tidying up we all made our way home.

Readers may like to know that there are eleven articles by Dave Hoser concerning GER signalboxes in Journals 19-30, and which are included on the recently available DVD-ROM ‘Journals 1-140 – The Story So Far’.


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