Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nos. 49 & 50 Late 1969

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces No 49

From the Mercian of September 1969

Secretary’s Report – A.A.Chatfield Acting Hon. Secretary

Vandalism at Hednesford

It is my sorry duty to inform all members that as a result of a break-in by some unknown gang of juvenile delinquents the interior of the Royal Saloon – our most priceless vehicle – looks as if it has been under the axe of some demolition contractors.  Irreplaceable panelling has been deliberately smashed in, interior door panels including glass mirrors stove in completely and a wanton trail of damage to the tune of at least £150 done to the interior. (A great deal of money some 40 years ago!).

The police have been to the depot but without some positive information they are unable to do very much at this stage.  The depot at Hednesford is vulnerable seven days a week and until the stock is moved to Chasewater en bloc where it will be afforded more protection then we are going to suffer even more vandalism which will not only delay the restoration process, but increase our expenditure and, what is more important, lose us our most valued working members to whom these sorts of acts are extremely disheartening.

Then followed an appeal for £800 to move the bogie vehicles at least from Hednesford to Chasewater.

The acting Hon. Treasurer, Laurence Hodgkinson, repeated the appeal and stated that, if the work at Chasewater continued at its present rate, the compound would be ready for the stock from Hednesford by the Autumn.

Amongst the new members joining the Society – B.J.Bull Esq.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces No 50

The next three posts are sort of connected.

The first sets out the thinking behind the Railway Preservation Society,

The second takes a look into a possible future for the railway.

The third tries to give the reason why  the second didn’t happen!

 

From the Editorial of the November/December 1969 Mercian

Food for Thought

It has often been said that the first ten years of marriage are the most difficult and if this is any yardstick then our first ten years have been one continuous struggle.  Members may ask the question ‘Why?’ when they can see all around us other schemes, which are as little as two years old, flourishing with membership in the thousands.  Here we are in our eleventh year and what have we got to show for it?  May I try to explain a very subtle difference between our Society and other schemes which flourish around us and leave us completely in the shade?

We are a preservation Society first and foremost, we are not interested in ‘playing trains’ on some unwanted British Railways branch which can be snapped up for anything from £200 to £400,000 in order to be re-opened as a tourist attraction with weekend traffic to satisfy the ‘locals’.  Our first aim is to preserve, what we do with the items after that depends a great deal upon what they are.  Our range is therefore very extensive, running from a button to a carriage or locomotive, and to this end our record at the moment is pretty formidable.

We do not rely, as do many of our competitors, on other people loaning us locos or rolling stock with which to operate, we have paid for all our relics the hard way – THEY ARE OURS.

You might then ask ‘but if we are a preservation group only, why are we hoping to run trains at Chasewater?’  This can be answered quite simply.  We are restoring, within the confines laid down by the Local Authority, a stretch of track which formed part of the old Midland Railway branch line from Brownhills, and by restoring I mean every sleeper, chair, nut, bolt and rail completely from scratch, in other words, preserving something which is part of the local railway history.

Obviously it would be a complete waste of time if after doing this we let the track become derelict again, and so primarily for the benefit of our members and also for the enjoyment of the visiting public, we hope that we shall be able to put some of our assets to workup and down the short stretch of line which has been relaid.

We have started from scratch, from the ballast upwards, that is where our difference lies from the other preservation groups around us who are enjoying more success.

It seems that every enthusiast will interest himself in a scheme if he can be an engine driver, but when it comes down to relaying track, restoring locos and carriages or doing the other thousand and one back-breaking menial jobs that have to be done he just does not want to know.

Who is going to be the loser in the long run?  I do not think it will be our Society because we have so much in preservation experience from the bottom to the top to offer and yet still have a long way to go.

‘We have never had it as good’ if I may alter a well known saying. (For those who remember Harold MacMillan – Prime Minister 1957/1963).

Other schemes may fade away when the novelty wears off or when setbacks arise but we have had more than our fair share of setbacks over the past ten years and we have learned to take them on the chin and what is more, to come back fighting again as full of spirit as ever.

Pockets may be very deep when it comes to paying out hard cash and this may be very good for the enthusiast’s conscience, but when you ask yourself honestly – ‘am I really preserving?’ – is the answer always YES. I often wonder.  After ten years as a Society may we all hope that the next decade will see the realisation of the efforts which have been put into the Society by a list too long to mention.

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