St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

Jan 2024 Club Night Report

January 2024 Club Night Report - Frank Banfield's Famous Film Show
Film Reel

So far 2024 has been rather cold and this evening was no exception, numbers were down no doubt due to the choice of a nice warm comfortable chair at home or coming out!  However, those that did come out found a nicely warm hall and friends and members who had also braved the journey.

Our Chairman called us to order with the bell and welcomed all for the first meeting of the year.  We noticed the Chairman’s shield on the table and Mike picked it up.   He said as of now it will be awarded at the January club evening and went on to outline the kind of person it was intended for.  He said many of us have a hand in running the society, some have a greater involvement but there is usually someone, perhaps in the background, who does a lot that keeps the society going.

This year the Chairman's Shield is awarded to Rob Briancourt for his work on keeping the Society website up and running and regularly updated.  Also for promoting the sailing at the lake, background work on the society newsletter and the IT work for club evenings.  If you remember it was Rob who saved the Christmas evening knowing just how to get around the IT suite failure.

It was a complete surprise to him, and I know, as I was sitting next to him, he had his iPhone out ready to record the presentation, so I took it from him and did the honours myself.  Congratulations, well deserved, and the members agreed with a long round of applause.

He then went on to introduce our evening entertainment with Frank Banfield and his old films, made to inform and entertain but for those of a long past generation or two.  Frank had brought a few exhibits with him, a G1 post office carriage with a parcel sack on a mount for collecting said parcel.  Also, a mysterious coach with Banfield’s prominently displayed as the proprietors.  A very old Bing steam plant was also on display.

Mike Joseph had brought along a driving trolley with an intriguing set of disc  brakes.

Down went the lights and Frank was telling us what films were coming along.

We started with a longish one called " Elizabethan Express", which was the name of a train service to Edinburgh, we had all the detail of the operation of the train including the driver and the fireman.  They changed shifts going through the tender to do this, as this was a non-stop service taking 6 and ½. hours.  It is only a tad faster now, on average by 20 minutes, but prices have risen to about £61 now.

More films followed.  We had the very silent "The Postman" with some scenes filmed in  Wheathampstead,  some of the cottages are still there.

More trains with “London Terminus” , scenes from Waterloo station, lots of the old electric trains which looked just like carriages.  Then it was up in the air with a French Airship a wonder of the age at the time.  More aeroplanes at Hendon but looked like family footage from India and around ending with a wedding party all timed for 1934.  90 years ago now!  They continued through a variety of subjects.

Then we had an early break for tea and biscuits all catered for by Jack and Neil as per usual.  There was lively discussion going on, it is nice to gossip about whatever is on your mind and the post office scandal was on a lot of minds.  Then the bell rang again and like a lot of Pavlovian dogs we went back into the hall for the last few films.

There was a very interesting film called “Necessary Journey”, made during the war, the title being a pun on the oft used expression, “Is your journey really necessary”.  This showed the logistics of gathering wartime armaments and equipment and bringing it all together for transport to a ship for onward delivery to where it will be used.  All done on the railways and having priority on the tracks.

Lastly we had a tongue in cheek film called “This Mechanical Age”, reviewing early flight and some of the daft ideas, all doomed to failure!

Not sure where Frank gets them all from but when they all came to an end our Chairman thanked Frank, and the evening was brought to a close, a little bit earlier than usual but perhaps welcome all the same for car journeys home.

It was an entertaining evening which is what we have come to expect from Frank and he told us that this was his 25th year of coming to the club to give his film show.  We hope he will again be with us in 2025.

Click on the links in the text to view the films on YouTube.

Thanks to all who did the lifting stacking and tidying of the room.

Next month we have something unexpected in the form of the man in charge of the public enquiry into the Southall Rail Crash a quarter of a century ago.  He is a professor of engineering and my experience of professors is that they are very good speakers, so do not miss the February meeting!

Best regards to all


12th Jan 2024