Chasewater Railway Museum – From the Archives – February 1965

Chasewater Railway Museum

From the Archives – 1965 Feb. Bits & Pieces 25

Taken from The Mercian, February 1965 4.1

The front page shows the map of the line, including the amusement park and the go-kart track, both long gone.

Then follows an interesting Editorial about the future of the RPS movement after a change in government.

Editorial

Over the last few months of 1964, the winds of change swept through Parliament.  A Government which favoured the railways taking the form of a profit making concern was replaced by a Government which believes that the railways should provide a complete social service.

With this news came the resignation of Dr. Richard Beeching, Chairman of the British Railways Board.  What effect will these major changes have on our Society and its fellows?

Although the internal affairs of British Railways are nothing to do with our Society, their attitude – based on the policy of the BRB certainly does affect us.  Up to the present, the attitude has been somewhat cold, and certainly not what could be called encouraging.  British Railways appear to be trying to make a profit on anything that they possibly can, with no sympathy to museums or museum societies, as we have found.

We have been charged extremely high prices for coaches that would be sold to scrap merchants at one third of the price.  We do accept the fact that the railways are trying to work at a profit, but this exploitation of an historical society, in its first years and struggling to survive is surely uncalled for.

With the introduction of a socialist Government, we certainly expect the greater part of the Beeching plan to be abandoned, and concerning the connecting branch line to Brownhills and our Chasewater line, we would greatly appreciate a reprieve, but how does the remainder of the plan concern us?  Very little indeed!  It does affect some small branch lines for sale – at rather high rents, and on the other hand some well loved and beautiful branches which no society could afford to maintain or buy will be swept away.

On the whole, the RPS should look forward to the abandonment of the Beeching plan and perhaps a softening of BR policy towards us, although my personal feelings on the plan are the contrary to those of society in general.  Our own attitude seems rather selfish but we aren’t the wealthiest of Societies, and at this critical stage we must be selfish to survive.  As it has been said many times before in dealing with other problems, ’the world does not owe us a living!’

Hon. Ed. M.D.Willis

The Titfield Thunderbolt

It’s interesting to see that back in 1965 the Society held a film show at Walton Village Hall and 70 people attended in dreadful weather in January.  We have a copy in the Museum right now!

The Chasewater Project

As you will read in the Officers’ reports, work on the Chasewater line will begin in the near future, and a great deal of organisation will be necessary to make it the great success on which we are planning.  A great deal of hard work will have to be done by our members, and in order to discuss it openly, individual members will be receiving a visit from an official. (In long macs and dark glasses??!)

With this project will come a great deal of publicity for the Society, and in order to assure that this will be put to the maximum possible use for effect, we must have one united outlook.  In order to prevent any contradictions, however petty, will members please send any correspondence about the project to the Committee, via the Secretary so that any such ‘slips of the pen’ may be pointed out.

The Chasewater project was repeated in the Chairman’s report.

Hon. Secretary’s report

Due to wintry conditions, restoration work has temporarily come to a halt at the depot.  Work has been maintained on the smaller relics.  John Elsley has however continued working on the generator set in spite of the cold.  The TPO dynamo coupled to an Austin 6-cylinder lorry engine, donated by the President, comprises the set.  It is now in full working order and provides adequate power for our coach batteries.  Many thanks to John and his small band of helpers.

Hinges have now been cast for the Maryport & Carlisle carriage doors, an effort will be made to clean up these castings in the near future and fit to the doors.

Plans are now being formulated for our line at Chasewater, and the Committee will be discussing and drawing up plans for the project for some months to come.

A small party of members (7) braved the elements on Sunday 17th January to attend the last train run from Walsall to Rugeley.  Two members – D. J. and J. J. Bradbury – attended as official mourners, vintage MR and GWR caps were worn.  For our Treasurer, Frank Harvey it was a nostalgic journey, Frank having travelled on the line for some 7 years to and from school.

(The line from Walsall to Hednesford was reopened in 1989, and to Rugeley in 1997.)

D.A.Ives, Hon Sec.

Treasurer’s Report

Without doubt, 1965 will prove a most expensive year if all our plans are to be achieved.  For the benefit of our more distant members, (And for those of us reading this some 45 years later!) I would like to outline a few of these.

First we must consider the lease of the Chasewater branch.  Naturally, we have made preparations for this and the general fund is in a position to be able to settle this account without delay.  However, before any of the stock can be moved up there, a building will have to be constructed to provide accommodation.  The building which we have in mind will be large enough to house our present collection of large relics with room to spare for future acquisitions.  The estimated cost of such a building has been put at around £3,000.  This matter is urgent and the full support of all our members is needed. (As a comparison, a three bedroomed detached house in Hednesford at that time would have cost about £3,500, so the equivalent cost would be in the region of some £160,000).

Apart from this, repairs to the line and its accessories will account for another large sum of money.

The time limit given to us by the NCB to raise the money for the Stroudley E1 (Cannock Wood No. 9) has now been reached.  £100 out of the £300 needed has been collected.  We are hoping that negotiations with the Board to keep the locomotive for a further period of time will be successful.  I would like to thank those people who have donated to the fund, but generally speaking, I am rather disappointed at the response shown by our own members.  The attitude I am afraid has been rather apathetic.  Most of the money has been donated by people who live well outside our own area!

A branch line without a locomotive is a rather ludicrous situation.  It is up to us to rectify the position since we will require at least two engines.  The Stroudley E1 could so easily be one of these.

Sound coaching stock will also be required.  The stock we have at present will not be suitable for service until a vast amount of restoration work has been completed.  Carriages which require little or no repair work need to be purchased.  These will cost in the region of £300 each.

I realise that our expense problems sound formidable but they can be overcome.  After all, preserved standard gauge lines are still very few and far between.  There is certainly room for one in the Midlands.

With all the development work done by Lichfield Council on the Chasewater Country Park, the Chasewater Railway is better situated than ever in the heart of the West Midlands.

 

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