90 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nov 1978 – 3
Company News from the Joint Meeting
This meeting was called to enable the Board and the Committee to agree on the immediate and medium term goals for the railway and the respective roles of the Company and Society in achieving them. The meeting was well attended, long and friendly and resulted in total agreement on all points.
It was decided to aim to operate the train services to the beginning of the causeway by 1980 and to open the line throughout its present length by March 1983. This would mean rebuilding the causeway, erecting fences, major clearing of undergrowth and the obtaining of a Light Railway Order. New platforms at the north end of the causeway and the far end of the line were also planned. To cope with the increased traffic that the longer line would generate, it was agreed that in the five years up to 1983 a minimum of three locomotives would have to be put into and kept in working order and three additional revenue earning coaches would have to be acquired. It was hoped that when the line was open as far as the causeway, i.e. by the beginning of 1980, two trains would be in operation on busy days and when the line was opened throughout, not less than two trains, each with two coaches, would be working each operating day.
It was also agreed that work should begin as soon as possible on the erection of buildings to house the working locomotives and wooden bodied coaches. By 1981 detailed planning for the main museum complex should start with a view to beginning fund raising in the summer of 1982 and work on the buildings themselves in the winter of 1983.
It was unanimously agreed that the Society was to have sole responsibility for the acquisition, restoration and preservation of items of Railwayana and that the Company would hold all fixed assets such as track, buildings etc. and concern itself with the running of the railway and the raising of capital and income for the project.
Thus the Company will play a vital supporting role to the Society whose original aims – the acquisition, restoration, preservation and display of items of historical railway interest – now becomes the aim of what has come to be called the Chasewater Railway Project. The Company is to raise the money for the attainment of that aim. The Railway will be the principal show place for the Society’s locomotives and coaches.
The STEPS Project
Everything seemed splendid after the meeting and I was duly told off and to write something for Ian Patterson to publish so that the world might know where we were going. Publication was set for September.
In August one John Selway, a Zebedee-like creature who telephones me from time to time to see if I am still awake, said ‘had I heard of STEPS and if not, why not?’
The Special Temporary Employment Programme is a creation of the present Government under which they will pay the wages of men hired under approved schemes to do work of value to the community which would not otherwise be done. A grant towards materials would also be payable. The Severn Valley, Festiniog and Midland Railway Trust have all benefited from the programme.
Frantic discussions were held with the Manpower Services Commission who operate the programme. They seemed very keen to have us. After much discussion and some reservation the Board decided to apply for a STEPS scheme. The principal reservation concerned the quality of the overall supervision. This was overcome by the Manpower Services Commission agreeing to allow us to appoint our own nominee as the site engineer – to be paid by them – provided he became unemployed first. The gentleman concerned will have handed his notice in by the time you read this.
To cut a long story short, the scheme was applied for and approved for 52 weeks starting on the 2nd January 1979. The Company will be employing up to 30 men to work on the railway. The total wage bill, all paid by the Government, is £79,000, and in addition we shall receive a £5,250 grant towards the material cost of this work. The scheme involves the reopening of the line throughout, including the rebuilding of the causeway and the erection of fences and platforms, by March 1980 – three whole years ahead of the rather optimistic date agreed at the joint meeting in July.Photo from D. Bathurst’s collection – 1978
To cope with the administrative problems which the scheme will create, we have acquired a site office – a mobile portacabin kindly loaned free of charge for the duration of the project by Cox’s Plant Hire of Brownhills and a telephone has been installed.
Of course, although one major problem is now solved – the re-opening of the line – another is created. To provide the additional capacity necessary to cope with the increased traffic that the longer line should produce – and thus make more money for the project – we have got to have three locomotives in steam and three more revenue earning vehicles. The original date for this was 1983, at the earliest. Obviously it would be wrong to say that we must have them when the line opens throughout in 1980. However, it is equally obvious that we cannot realise the railway’s full potential without them and so the sooner we can get them the better.
When the line is paid for in 1979, some £1,200 – £1,500 will be left in the development fund. Before we can operate the line at maximum efficiency and put up the two buildings mentioned above, at least another £10,000 will be needed. It can and will be raised. One way in which I hope to raise money is by running a development fund lottery for the next few years. This will be quite unlike the old weekly tote. It will be on a much bigger scale and will take place about three times a year. Tickets will be sold principally to members of the public visiting the railway rather than by Society members to their friends. Properly managed such lotteries should raise between £1,000 and £2,000 per annum. I shall however need help with the sales of tickets and I shall be pleased to hear from anyone who would be willing to sell lottery tickets at Chasewater at the following times: the first operating Bank Holiday of the season, Sunday and Monday plus the next operating Sunday afternoon: Transport Scene Saturday and Sunday and the next operating Sunday afternoon: the Saturday and Sunday of the Model Railway Exhibition and Gricers’ Day. How about you?
The FutureThis was the Causeway in 1992 – from D. Bathurst’s Collection
What of the future? Apart from the obvious delights of having two miles to operate over as opposed to 700 yards, much work must be done. The Board will soon be considering the future of the Norton branch: the nature of the STEPS programme to follow the present one: the possible extension of the railway to the north and or south: the museum and workshop buildings and, perennially, the raising of money.
All these are continuing evidence of the new sense of professionalism which has brought so much progress in less than two years. We are all determined however, that this professionalism, which we must maintain, will not stop the railway being fun. As Keith Sargeant said to me recently – we must never forget that CLR is our train set. Quite true – but there is no doubt that the longer the line and the more bits and pieces on it, the more fun a train set is.
It is the Company’s job to provide the longer line and those extra bits and pieces.
John MacmillanLooking towards Chasewater Heaths from Lakeside – lots of work to do. Photo – D.Bathurst’s Collection 1992
Some thoughts about the future from 1969.
Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 51 and 52