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Held at Neuadd Pendre Social Centre, Brook Street, Tywyn, Gwynedd on September 29th, 2001

On the platform were Jeremy Wilkinson, President, in the Chair; Roger Whitehouse, Chairman TRPS; Keith Theobald, Chairman TR Co; Colin Roobottom, Hon. Treasurer, TRPS and Accountant, TR Co; John Robinson, Hon. Secretary, TRPS and Secretary, TR Co, and MRFS (formerly Mark Stevenson) as Minute-taker. There were 206 members present.

Jeremy Wilkinson opened the meeting at 3.30p.m. and asked those present to stand in memory of Joy Bowles.

1. Apologies

Apologies had been received from Vice-President John Bate, Council member Don Newing and seven other members.

2. Minutes of the 50th AGM

The Minutes of the 50th AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 30th, 2000, having been circulated to members of the Society at that date, were proposed by Jeremy Wilkinson to be taken as read; this was agreed without dissent and he signed the minutes as being a true record.

3. Matters arising from the Minutes

There were none.

4. Election of President

After a short reflection on his time served with the Outdoor Gang and “The Gwerns” as well as Company Solicitor, Jeremy Wilkinson announced that he was standing down as President and asked the meeting to endorse the Council’s nomination of Christopher Awdry for President. This was agreed without dissent. Christopher Awdry took the Chair and Mr Wilkinson retired to a seat in the hall.

5. Election of Vice-Presidents

John Robinson read out the names of those proposed for election as Vice-President. Christopher Awdry asked if the floor would elect the Vice-Presidents en bloc; this was agreed. The following were elected: John Bate, James Boyd, Pat Garland, Dai Jones, Winston McCanna, Major P M Olver OBE, Sonia Rolt, John Slater, Roy Smith, Don Southgate and Jeremy Wilkinson.

6. Appointment of Auditors

The appointment of Silver & Co as the Society’s Auditors was proposed by Bob Cambridge, seconded by Maurice Wilson and agreed by the meeting. Peter Silver thanked the meeting for re-appointing his firm and the continued confidence in his work.

7. Election of Honorary Treasurer

Colin Roobottom had been nominated in accordance with the rules, this was seconded by Roger Whitehouse and agreed without dissent. Colin gave advance warning that he wished to retire from the post in 2005 and it was desirable to start seeking a successor so that a gradual and orderly transfer of the work could occur.

8. Election of eight members of Council

John Robinson read out the names of the eleven candidates and those present stood to be recognised. The ballot papers were then collected. Later in the meeting Peter Silver announced the results of the election: 227 papers had been completed with one spoilt, 1467 votes being cast as follows: Nigel Adams 96, Murray Dods 144, Jane Garvey 137, Pete Mintoft 184, David Mitchell 191, Don Newing 146, Ray Reid 68, Andrew Statham 113, Tony Thorpe 112, Roger Whitehouse 140, Maurice Wilson 136. Mrs Garvey and Messrs Dods, Mintoft, Mitchell, Newing, Statham, Whitehouse and Wilson were declared elected.

9. Reception, Approval and Adoption of Reports

Before asking Roger Whitehouse to present the report of Council, Christopher Awdry opened the floor appeal for the Golden Jubilee Fund, which raised ?421.55.

Roger Whitehouse presented the report of Council for the year ending 31st January, 2001 opening with a few remarks about the year to date. Given the concerns raised by foot-and-mouth disease the Talyllyn was bearing up quite well: journeys were up 3.0%, traffic revenue was up 0.5%, shop takings were up 16.3% and catering sales were up 11.5%.

Looking to the future, Roger first invited John Smallwood to report on the Wharf redevelopment scheme. John gave a brief update on progress, commenting adversely on the large number of moveable goalposts that had frustrated progress; a full application would be made in June 2002 for stage 2 approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund. He felt that it was possible that 75% of the total funds needed would eventually come from grants. Once again he stressed that there had already been an incredible amount of hard work put into the redevelopment, not only by him as Project Manager, but also by David Mitchell, Philip Sayers and David Leech.

Roger then mentioned charitable status for Talyllyn Holdings, on which we were waiting to hear from the Charity Commissioners; the Children’s activity area at Abergynolwyn, delayed by foot and mouth restrictions but now planned for opening next May; and the review of Area Groups and local representation, proceeding slowly to allow full consultation at each stage.

Our steam fleet had been reduced to five this year. Easter saw the entry to service of No. 6 as Duncan, generally well received, so Council had decided to proceed with a grant application to HLF, likely to delay No. 4’s return to service beyond 2002. More generally, we needed to prepare a 10-15 year programme of future maintenance and restoration work as a basis for similar applications.

Roger then summarised the year’s special events, the highlight perhaps being the 50-hour steam weekend at the end of Golden Jubilee Week. At the recent Heritage Railway Association meeting in Tywyn, the Talyllyn News received the award for the most improved Society magazine. That meeting had included vivid accounts of the state of the Railway and especially the permanent way in the early 1950s: how did we now match up to the 1951 Committee’s stated aim “to make the Talyllyn Railway the epitome of the narrow gauge era at its best” ?

Over the last 50 years, our PW standards had risen with our ability to afford better quality materials. The railway of 1951 has been rerailed throughout, often twice, and about half is now standard BS 50. The line has been resleepered, up to three times, and virtually all the main line is now on jarrah sleepers. Our PW is now possibly in its best ever condition: to keep it that way will need constant input to the unglamorous task of routine maintenance. We have invited the army to undertake work at Brynglas to remedy the consequences of the flash flood in 1993, which we have not the resources to do ourselves, without formal commitment on their part as yet.

Looking at the Railway as a whole, Roger believed that we had clearly realised the aspirations of 1951, e.g. as shown by the planning and delivery of a demanding programme of special events: this had placed extra demands not only on Society members and volunteers but also on our staff: so to all, our thanks were due for what he believed had been a very successful year.

Colin Roobottom presented the Financial Statements, commenting that there had been no unusual items of expenditure, the Railway had weathered the foot-and-mouth concerns and the bank balances were now better than they had been for the past two years. He also commented on the increase in the rateable value of the Railway and Maurice Wilson’s success in greatly reducing this on appeal. However he commented that in two year’s time the rates would be twice the amount paid during 1999.

Christopher Awdry invited questions on the report and financial statements.

George Gardiner requested some clarification of the catering accounts, he felt that the negligible profit of ?277 with a catering subsidy of ?10,850 would indicate that the TRPS was propping up the Catering Department rather than catering making a useful contribution to the upkeep of the railway. David Mitchell responded that the subsidy comprised two elements: ?2,900 to cover the cost of materials for free teas and coffees supplied to employees and volunteers and ?7,850 to cover the difference between staff and public prices on discounted food. He reminded the meeting that at Wharf this amounted to one-third of all food consumed.

Michael Howard wondered what the increase in fixed assets of ?23,070 on page AR6 of the Annual Report meant in real terms; he felt that to count as assets the items had to be saleable. Colin Roobottom replied that the asset was payment of fees, funded from the Golden Jubilee Appeal. Michael still wished for clarification on the tangibility of this new asset. Peter Silver retorted that normal accounting convention had been followed; professional fees were considered part and parcel of the development at Wharf and as such were an asset; indeed the Inland Revenue would have objected if the expenditure had been written off. Ian Howitt wryly suggested that the payment of ?23,000 could have been avoided if Mr Howard had offered his services.

Roger Whitehouse, seconded by Richard Hope, proposed the adoption of the Report of the Council and the Financial Statements of the Society for the year ended 31st January, 2001. This was agreed without dissent.

10. Amendment to the Constitution and Rules of the Society

John Robinson explained the changes, which had been set out on p.19 of Talyllyn News No. 190 (June 2001): the additions to Rule 2 and of 3A did not affect the running of the Society but remedied what some potential grant bodies had seen as deficiencies; the change to Rule 20 reflected a change made to the Memorandum and Articles of Talyllyn Holdings Limited as a prerequisite for registering it as a charity.On a show of hands the amendments were agreed by a majority greatly in excess of two-thirds of those present, none voting against.

11. Miscellaneous announcements

Bob Hey announced the result of the Traffic and Operating Committee election. 103 papers had been returned, with the following result: Traffic Department: John Burton 82, Walter Crowe 74, Lawrence Garvey 20, Dave Pegg 45, Robert Plumridge 76, Andy Statham 62; Locomotive Department: Bill Heynes, Simon Jenkins, Chris Price and Andrew Young had been the only nominees for four places so there was no poll. He declared Messrs Burton, Crowe, Plumridge, Statham, Heynes, Jenkins, Price and Young duly elected.

Jane Garvey plugged the Midland Area Group Christmas dinner which would be held on the 4th December in Sutton Coldfield; tickets would be available from her at ?20 per head.

Tony Randall advertised “Steampipes”, which would be held on 5th December at the Conway Hall.

Keith Theobald reminded members that an Outdoor Week was scheduled for 3rd. to 12th. November. As always additional volunteers would be warmly welcomed and work would be available to suit everyone.

Andy Statham held an auction of two items from the production of Railway Adventure held during the summer: for a copy of the Don Breckon print Preservation Pioneer autographed by the two actors and an actress who took part the successful bid was by Keith Theobald for ?110; an original copy of The Times containing the Rolt letter that started the TRPS was secured by Bob Cambridge with a bid of ?20.

12. Other Business

Christopher Awdry threw the meeting open to the floor. After a short silence Chris Price asked what time Dave Scotson wanted him in for work on Monday morning. Dave Scotson thought that 0730 hrs was appropriate.

There being no other items of business, Christopher Awdry closed the meeting at 4.55p.m.