197 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News – Winter 1996 – Part 2
From the Board Room
David Bathurst – Chairman
Despite the fact that the festive season is getting ever nearer and the 1996 operating season has drawn to a close, there is no holiday period for the Board. Indeed, the Board has already agreed the pattern of train operations for 1997 to enable publicity leaflets, posters, etc. to be prepared. Moreover, it has been agreed that the 1996 fare structure be retained, as the current ticket prices seem to have been pitched at just (perhaps exactly) the right levels and have been accepted by the travelling public. It is pleasing indeed to watch prospective passengers, particularly those with family groups, buying tickets without feeling the need to complain about fares, how different from the days when many (maybe a majority) took one look at the fares and left the station without more ado.
With the help of our Publicity Officer, we aim to raise public awareness in 1997. Indeed every member – whether a working member or otherwise – is a potential publicity officer in his/her own right. We need to preach the Railway’s gospel, or at least ensure that its leaflets and publicity materials enjoy maximum exposure!
The Board has recently considered a variety of matters concerning the Railway, and some of these are outlined briefly below.
The ex LNWR ‘Paddy’
Following discussions with relevant members, the Board has formally acknowledged that the proper (or even partial) restoration of this vehicle is beyond the current or anticipated resources of the Railway, both in financial and manpower terms. In its present condition, the vehicle is dangerous and a liability to the Railway. Accordingly, the Board has agreed to try to find a more suitable home for the vehicle, which is to be advertised in the railway press for disposal. Any such disposal would be on the basis of a commitment to restoration by the recipient. Obviously, the Board would prefer to see it go to an organisation enjoying the necessary resources and expertise to bring it back into use.
The board is examining in considerable detail the income/expenditure profit/loss profile of the rallies held in recent years. There is much work associated with the organisation of our rallies, a lot of it out of view of the membership or the public. The burden now being felt by a small minority of key members (who already have their own responsibilities for operation of the Railway) is becoming unacceptable. For these members, the rallies are no longer an enjoyable challenge. They have become more of a nightmare. I am not prepared to allow this situation to continue. I am not prepared to see our members and colleagues reaching a state of despair, which has happened on a number of occasions during 1996. With Lichfield DC seeking for the first time to impose charges for hire of Chasewater Park for rallies in 1997, the Board is taking the opportunity of looking afresh at the Railway’s policies and options regarding future rallies. The Rallies Organiser has been so successful in generating participant interest in our rallies that we have become vulnerable through a shortage of members prepared to make a direct contribution to rally organisation. We have become a victim of, and hostage to, our own success. If the Board’s aspirations come to fruition, we will have vastly increased public support for the rallies, but without the hassle experienced over recent times. Our aim is to return to a situation where our rallies are enjoyed by the public, by the participants, and – more particularly – by our own members.
The Railway’s Policy Statement includes a commitment to the provision for the disabled and our stations, buffet and trains are all accessible to people with mobility difficulties. The one remaining omission is the provision of a disabled toilet and the Board has noted with pleasure that this will be available in good time for the Santa Specials in December. The opportunity is being taken to ‘repair’ some defects in the plumbing system, hopefully with an improvement for the olfactory senses.
New Shop / Bric-a-Brac
The Board has given its support for a scheme whereby the recently adapted portacabin immediately next to the buffet at Brownhills West will become the new, enlarged, shop. Shop sales, and children’s toys in particular, have increased markedly during 1996 thanks to the introduction of an enhanced commercial policy. Consideration is being given to the use of other accommodation as a bric-a-brac shop.
The Board has formally endorsed the appointment of David Walker as the Railway’s Traction Inspector, although this is without prejudice to the Railway maintaining a relationship with other competent persons who have been prepared to assist in the past. A driver and two firemen have already received their ‘ticket’ and further assessments are to be made in 1997.
Lichfield District Council
A lengthy letter has been received from Lichfield District Council in relation to the many matters which have been the subject of representations from the Railway since the Council became our landlords in 1993. The Board’s preliminary impression is that the Council has failed to recognise or appreciate our concerns and that response is wholly unsatisfactory. The Railway’s views will be communicated to the Council at an early date.
Christmas: Santa Specials
We are hoping for our most successful Christmas programme ever, providing the icing on the cake to complete a highly encouraging year. Santa Specials will run on Sundays 15th and 22nd December, providing an opportunity for our ‘absentee members’ to visit the Railway and to judge for themselves what changes have taken place since their last visit.
P Way News
In the autumn/winter plans for the P Way gang over the 1996/97 period is the laying of the sidings by the bottom compound. This is expected to take up most of the winter months. Some work has already commenced on laying out the first two roads with the first set of points going in after the Santa Specials. The time scale for laying in the point work is expected to be around three months so that they should be up and running for the start of the next running season. As the 1997 season will be starting early – the last week in March – and going through to the end of October, the P Way gang has a shorter period to get more things accomplished, therefore as our membership grows hopefully more volunteers will boost the numbers in the gang. During this period it is also planned to lay 4 x 60ft lengths of rail on the extension so that the sleepers which are already in place can be keyed up and not tossed into the lake. If the number of bodies available gets to a sufficient number, the causeway bank can be relaid with 60 ft lengths so if any able bodied volunteers are out there you can always find us on either a Saturday or Sunday, so don’t feel shy.
The weedkilling planned for the end of summer has had to be postponed due to the weather conditions not being suitable for it. As the weedkiller has been purchased we should be able to spread it at the beginning or middle of March prior to the commencement of the new season. This should be followed by a second application approximately half way through the running season so as to keep on top of the perennial problem of weed encroachment onto the track. There are signs that some of the hedging planted several years ago is starting to take hold so that it should provide a permanent barrier along some of the more exposed fence line. Further plantings should gradually fill out any gaps so making trespass onto the line more difficult. I’d like to thank all the volunteers who have helped us during 1996 and look forward to seeing you in 1997.