During 2015 North West Group has promoted and arranged a full and varied programme of meetings, walks and other events. All have been well supported by local members and colleagues from other geographical groups.

The year saw the continuation of the year-on-year increase in members observed in 2014, the Group’s membership now totals 165. We continue to be present with an exhibition stand at selected local events and in 2015 attended the Cheshire Local History Conference held at Northwich in October.

There were twelve outdoor events during the year comprising a rail tour in March to South and West Yorkshire, ten explorer walks and, in December, the (now traditional) NW Group pre-Christmas lunch.

Walks that took place were: an exploration of central and east Manchester’s transport infrastructures past and present; two walks exploring the Rochdale Canal including its feeders in the Littleborough area;. a walk following the route of the former East Lancashire Railway between Helmshore and Ramsbottom;. an exploration of the route of former Beat Bank Branch Canal in the Reddish and Denton areas; three other towpath walks included the full length of the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Leigh and Wigan, the Trent & Mersey Canal between Lostock Gralam and Middlewich, and the Sankey Canal from Warrington to Widnes and on to Runcorn; walk to explore part of the route of the former “Salt Line” railway between Sandbach and Rode Heath returning along the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal; walk from Thelwall to Warrington using track bed of former Warrington, Altrincham and Stockport Railway. The walks have continued to be well attended with numbers averaging in the mid-twenties.

The rail tour held in March was a well-attended event. Both illustrated tour notes and an on-board commentary were among the features of the day.

Six indoor meetings were held in addition to the NW Group AGM with its Members’ Miscellany. These covered a varied range of topics: a review of the history of cross-city rail links in Manchester leading up to development and future of the current Metrolink system; the story of Carnforth station (given by Phillip Grosse the 2015 RCHS book award winner); a review of the crossings over Standedge from Roman to modern times; a reflection on the Quintinshill rail disaster 100 years after it happened; the history of St Pancras station from its beginnings up to it recent transformation; the life of William Fairbairn focusing on his importance in the history of bridge engineering. Attendance at these indoor meetings was between 26 and 50 with an average attendance of 39 members and guests.

Roger Brice & Gerald Leach

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