Taken from the ‘Mercian’ September 1970
The Secretary’s Report for the past year, when the Hednesford Depot was closed.
Railway Preservation Society
Secretary’s Report 1969 – 1970
Arthur Chatfield Hon. Sec.
I seem to recall that in my last report I said that 1970 would be another story. I did not anticipate that there would be so many chapters to write nor that we should pass a considerable number of milestones en route.
I find myself repeating all the old clichés as I sit and write this report, and I am keenly aware that it has not been easy to maintain an aloof position on certain aspects of the Society’s shortcomings this past twelve months. I am certain that members regard me as somewhat pedantic, the slavedriver with a big whip, or whatever other picture has been conjured up when you have read some of my scathing comments made in the magazine, but let me hasten to assure you that those members who have come along as a result have, I think, been mildly surprised – if I may say so without appearing too conceited – to find that the bark is far worse than the bite.
The Society has to succeed and I strive hard for this aim, I hope that all members will do this in every way possible. It is not always easy to do physical work on the site as I well know, but please do give a little more support each year apart from a financial one.
This year, how have we fared? Taking everything into consideration we have done exceptionally well although we have not blown the trumpet too loudly. We are being noticed and this is apparent by the ever increasing letters which are arriving from various organisations asking if official visits can be arranged. Progress has been maintained and possibly the most important milestone has been the closing down of our Hednesford Depot. Hednesford holds for me a number of happy memories of our early days. However, it is no good being sentimental, we have to progress and I am glad that we are now able to concentrate all our energy at Chasewater.
Progress – our efforts – what have we been doing this past twelve months? I think this can be summarised as follows:
Last winter the track was completely relaid from the compound towards the level crossing on a new elevated bed of red shale. The compound was also re-shaled, the last road (No.1) having just been completed.
Heavy repairs were commenced on the Barclay followed by Asbestos. The Barclay was unfortunately pronounced unfit for further service, but Asbestos came through with flying colours and has since been in steam on several occasions. Work is now in hand on the Neilson and it is hoped that she will be steamable for next summer.
Some of the carriages and wagons have received a lick of paint and this is helping to keep deterioration at bay. Petrol No.1 was completely repainted and exhibited at Messrs Dormans Ltd’s Centenary celebrations in Stafford.
General repairs etc. have also been carried out to various items of stock and work has commenced on the interior of the LNWR bogie van.
The closing of the Hednesford Depot in May meant that the stock had to be dealt with quickly. Fortunately the Cola Board came to our rescue and allowed us to store the items temporarily on a siding at their Cannock Wood Colliery yard. Since then through the kindness of the Board all the four-wheelers and the Maryport & Carlisle coach have been transferred to our Chasewater site together with the loco ‘Cannock Wood’.
The two bogie coaches are to be transferred at the Society’s expense and should be at Chasewater by the time you receive this report. The Coal Board have also offered to move the GER six-wheeler for us so this will leave only the Royal Saloon.
The future of the Saloon is at present being negotiated with the Midland Railway Project Group, and subject to stringent safeguards it is to be placed on loan to them for a period of five token years. However, if negotiations come to nought, the Saloon will have to be transferred to Chasewater.
So much for the physical side of things.
Administratively thinks were a little haywire, but the troubles have been slowly sorted out and the system seems to be operating a lot better. Possibly the major step has been the registration of the Light Railway Company, and this is commended to all those who wish to become a shareholder. Mercian has not been all it was hoped to be, mostly due to a lack of correspondence but again this is an internal matter which may be solved by whoever sits in the editorial chair.
Well, there we are, I think that just about sums it all up for another year. Quite a lot of notable achievements, plenty of scope for more and certainly no room for complacency.
My sincere thanks to everyone on the administrative side for their help and encouragement, particularly to our Chairman, Publicity Officer for producing the mag, and the Treasurer for their forbearance.
A very sincere thank you to the working party stalwarts and in particular Mike Lewis and Derek Luker – spare their blushes – for without their continued support I would have nothing to write about at this time.
We have a regular bunch of great guys who put every ounce of energy they can muster into the Society and I am hopeful that the number will be doubled and that great play will be made of this by whoever has to produce this report at the same time next year.
For myself it has been a worthwhile job, and I hope that the satisfaction it has given me personally to be in on all the progress made this tear has in many ways rubbed off on all of you.All photographs in this post came from the ‘Mercian’ September 1970