This post is taken from the earliest newsletter found so far amongst the ‘Duplicate Magazine ‘ file.
I reproduced the first part just to show that our aims haven’t really changed in the last 50 years.
Taken from the Railway Preservation Society Newsletter, Feb 1961
What is our eventual aim?
It is obvious that we want to run a railway. But what sort of railway is this to be? What picture do we want to give to the general public? We could push together a train, grab a piece of line and say this is a preserved railway. But will it mean anything to the general public?
Each district will, inevitably, form its own collection of smaller relics which eventually we hope to show to the public in exchange for money. As a railway enthusiast, a mass of cast iron plates, old faded photographs, tattered maps, dog-eared tickets and general bric-a-brac fascinates me and I can spend hours contemplating such a collection, but I would strongly suspect this would leave the general public with a feeling of mental indigestion and a fixed idea that railway enthusiasts are really mad.
Any preserved railway depends on the general public for the main part of its traffic. We must study their interests and make sure that we attract them back and their friends to which they have passed a recommendation. It must not be an overcrowded museum, but a ‘vintage railway’ — a living example of how the railways were run, laid out so the general public can see it tick. The steam engine is to us a balanced collection of boiler, firebox, cylinders, pistons, crossheads, etc. But to the ordinary man-in-the-street it is largely a mystery. Our exhibits must be self-explanatory. We must try to explain why the railways grew into such a complex system of competitive lines with so many odd connections.
I am not suggesting that we forget the railway enthusiast. I am asking that we consider the picture we are presenting to the general public. These points are not immediately applicable, but we should give consideration to them and encourage the artists and architects amongst us to sketch out their ideas on this basis.
Arrival at Hednesford of our T.P.O
January 11th (1960) was a red letter day for members of the West Midlands District when a 27 ton 1909 Royal Mail coach, purchased by us for £200, rolled into our Hednesford depot.
Sold by British Railways the 50 foot bogey coach, complete with letter pigeon holes and half-penny stamp post-box – as good as new – it has joined our other two museum passenger coaches, an 1895 Great Eastern Railway brake vehicle and an 1875 Maryport & Carlisle Railway coach.
The mail coach travelled up from Verney, near Wolverton in Buckinghamshire, and celebrated its historic run by charging up the batteries to give full lighting inside. It was shunted into the depot sidings by an NCB tank engine.
Unlike the other two vehicles, the T.P.O. is too high to be placed under cover in our vehicle shed, but members are planning to lower the track to enable it to enter.
Final Passenger Train on the Churnet Valley Line
Twenty R.P.S. members were among the passengers to travel on the last train from Macclesfield to Uttoxeter by the Churnet Valley line of the ex-North Staffordshire Railway on November 5th (1960).
Some of our members had departed from Macclesfield early in the afternoon in order to break the journey at Oakamoor and again make the acquaintance of the station master, Mr. Lister.
Macclesfield was reached early enough for members to have a look round the town before returning to catch the last train. Several relics were noted at Macclesfield (Hibel Road) station, including a NSR/LNWR boundary post.
The train left on time at 8.35pm behind Stanier 2-6-4T No. 42670. The coaches were quite full, two of the enthusiastic passengers ringing handbells loudly for most of the journey.
A few people had gathered at nearly every station to watch the train depart, and at 9.48pm the train arrived at its final destination, Uttoxeter. It marked the last moments of a regular passenger service on the Churnet Valley line for 110 years.
The present Churnet Valley Railway is a volunteer-run organisation. The operating company, the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) plc, is supported by the North Staffordshire Railway Co (1978) Ltd., a Charitable Trust.
Activities recorded on film
BBC television news cameras have filmed activities at our Hednesford depot on two occasions in recent weeks. Both items were shown on ‘Midland News’ and have done much to foster interest in the Society.
On the occasion of the first visit, members were shown at work on the restoration of the Great Eastern Railway coach. Several of our relics, housed in the coach, were also shown.
The cameras were again at the depot on January 11th 1960 to record the arrival of the T.P.O. Several newspaper representatives also visited us for this event, a very full report of the work, profusely illustrated with photographs, appearing in the ‘Cannock Courier’
The Coalport Branch Line
Notes by D. Noel Draycott
This was one of three lines under consideration when looking for a permanent home for the railway.
On Sunday, October 23rd 1960, a small party consisting of David Ives, James Slater, T. Jones, Frank Harvey and myself visited the Coalport to Hadley line in North Shropshire. Built by the London & North Western Railway, it runs from the very attractive Vale of Severn across high land and through an early centre of the iron and steel industry to a junction on the Wellington to Stafford line.
The branch had a terminus at Coalport Station which stands on a long shelf, part cut out and part built up on the steep bank of the Severn. The station buildings comprise a booking office, general and ladies waiting rooms, backing on to the station master’s house. The signal box was demolished and a ground frame installed shortly before services were withdrawn in 1952. The goods shed has also been demolished, but the three short sidings remain in the yard.
Further along the shelf past the station, there is a carriage shed sufficient for four bogie carriages, and an engine shed for two locomotives. These buildings are in fair condition, and the engine shed contains a large workshop space as well as a pit. All these buildings back on to the hillside, and on the opposite side there is a pleasant stretch of wooded land before it falls steeply away to the river which forms the boundary of the railway property.
The line rises steeply from Coalport Station with attractive views across and up the Severn Valley before it turns away to cross pleasant rolling countryside to the small town of Madeley. Here the station building is used as an office by an engineering firm, but the yard of some half dozen sidings is practically disused.
The line then continues to Dawley and Stirchley Station where a total of some 15 wagons of coal showed that an active coal merchant used the yard. As dusk was falling, the tour of inspection finished at this point. All the members of the party were impressed by the potentialities of the line for day trippers.
Before we left the area, we were fortunate to meet a resident interested in the line who presented the R.P.S. with smaller relics. These included an LMS inkwell, labels and official books. We were very pleased to receive these on behalf of the W.M.D.’s collection of local relics.