Now at the end of my Eighth year as chairman of the society It is pleasing to know that the membership still have the confidence in my ability to take this society forward. The management committee is still 8 in number, and we are now encouraging some of the newer members of the society to take up this mantle.
The 2019 running season went well, beginning on spring bank holiday weekend, the trackside donations were higher than previous years, this years financial statement shows the other donations separately. The running season was organised and operated well offering rides to the public in a safe manner. Our members turning up and carrying out their duties with due diligence . Many on occasions outside our normal Sundays, such as Bank Holidays and School Holiday Wednesdays. Can I take this opportunity to remind our members that we belong in the main to this society because it is our hobby and not a business, but because we operate our locomotives etc: in a public park we do have to pay due regard to matters of health and safety. The care given to the operation of our procedures makes us feel comfortable in the knowledge that in the main we do operate with due regard for the safety and well being of all.
We held two events this past year for members and their guests/ families only. The efficiency trials in July were well supported and the Evening Run with Fish and Chip Supper in October proved to be a very pleasant social occasion. Running a steam loco in the dark is an experience not forgotten. We have assisted over the years with the development of the park and supported the Britain in Bloom bids put forward by Newcastle Borough Council, these proved to be highly successful this year. We are also developing strong links with the education dept at the Borough Museum with our support with school visits.
Our membership this year has decreased slightly with all but a few honouring their commitment in supporting the activities of the society. We create a running rota for each season most effectively but this is becoming more and more difficult. The club electric locomotive and subsequent training in its use to carry passengers has eased the pressure of covering the duty driver role. We have considered the role of Associate Members in support of this rota. The membership altered the definition of an associate member to include all aspects of the society, excluding those allied to the owning and running of a steam operated locomotive.
The membership turned out on mass again in the spring when we carried out some gardening to tidy the site. Poor weather during the summer meant that we were unable to paint part of the track last year and we will be painting the station building during this years summer meetings. It is now becoming evident that as a result of cut backs in services in the park we are going to have to take on more responsibility for the grounds maintenance of the site, with the approval of the local authority personnel, as we are sited in a conservation area. To this end we have now purchased a petrol lawn mower to keep the grass cut next to the track reducing the fire risk from long dry grass.
We still have two issues to resolve with the local council that came to light in 2019, the updated licence to operate in the park has still not reached a satisfactory conclusion, ( the old original still applies) The station building belongs to the council and its care needs to be brought up to date, electric and water testing etc; This may have some financial implications for the society but has yet no arrangements can be made.
We do try and arrange activities away from the track for our members with traction engines; the portable track went out to a number of community activities, this improved our financial surplus with generous donations. This is always a very good method of promoting our society away from the Brampton. Many of our members have also attended meetings and open days at other societies. Two of our members attended a boiler testing seminar thus keeping our society procedures up to date as well as their own abilities in this area.
Our twice monthly meetings on the first and third Mondays’ of the month are well attended and we do have some interesting and informative guest speakers as well as our own members passing on their own experiences. The Tennis Pavilion in an adjacent park is proving to be a most satisfactory venue for our needs.
In conclusion we must congratulate the vast majority of the membership of this society who support it in many ways with varying levels of in input. This is to be encouraged and it is my hope and intention to allow all members a say in the direction and way forward for this society during the coming years.
Chairman, North Staffs Model Engineering Society Ltd