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Held at Neuadd Pendre Social Centre, Brook Street, Tywyn, Gwynedd on September 27th, 2003

On the platform were Christopher Awdry, President, in the Chair; Don Newing, 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 as Minute-taker. There were 175 members present.

Christopher Awdry opened the meeting at 3.35p.m.

1. Apologies

Apologies had been received from Vice-Presidents Winston McCanna and Jeremy Wilkinson and seventeen other members. It was noted that there was a reserved seat for Michael Howard, but it had not been taken up.

Before the business of the meeting started, Keith Theobald extolled the virtues of Gift Aid and gently reminded those UK taxpayers present to fill in a Gift Aid form if they had not already done so.

2. Minutes of the 52nd AGM

The Minutes of the 52nd AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 28th, 2002, having been circulated to members of the Society at that date, were proposed by Christopher Awdry 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

Mike Green (after adding Ian Howitt’s name to the apologies stating that his: “wise counselling and merry wit would be missed, although he would always wish his indifference to be registered”) enquired if any thought had been given to his question posed at the last meeting about the provision of events for our “heritage members”. Don Newing asked Mike to wait for his supporting speech to the 2002 Annual Report for further information.

4. Election of President

Don Newing took the chair and asked the floor to endorse the Council’s nomination of Christopher Awdry as President; this was agreed nem. con. and Christopher Awdry resumed the chair.

5. Election of Vice-Presidents

John Robinson read out the names of those proposed for election as Vice-President. Christopher Awdry, noting the additionof Alan Holmes and Maurice Wilson, sought their approval en bloc; this was agreed. The following were elected: John Bate, James Boyd, Pat Garland, Alan Holmes, Richard Hope OBE, Dai Jones, Winston McCanna, Major P M Olver OBE, Sonia Rolt, John Slater, Roy Smith, Don Southgate, Jeremy Wilkinson and Maurice Wilson.

6. Appointment of Auditors

Chris Awdry thanked Peter Silver for his work over the past year and proposed the re-appointment of Silver & Co as the Society’s Auditors; this was agreed unanimously 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, and after thanking Colin for his continued hard work Chris Awdry asked those present to endorse his nomination, which was agreed without dissent.

8. Election of eight members of Council

John Robinson read out the names of the eleven candidates and they stood to be recognized. The ballot papers were then collected. Later in the meeting Peter Silver announced the results of the election: 202 papers had been returned of which one was void and one spoilt, 1325 votes being cast as follows: Walter Crowe 100, Murray Dods 114, Jane Garvey 158, Jonathan Mann 123, David Mitchell 157, Don Newing 138, Rob Plumridge 111, Ray Reid 60, Roger Whitehouse 103, Noel Williams 134, Andrew Young 127. Mrs Garvey and Messrs Dods, Mann, Mitchell, Newing, Plumridge, Williams and Young were declared elected.

9. Reception, Approval and Adoption of Reports

Don Newing presented the report of Council for the year ending 31st January, 2003 and gave further information on events since the year end. He lauded the success of both the playground at Abergynolwyn and the work by the Woodland Trust and Forest Enterprises in providing very attractive facilities for family entertainment at the landward end of the Railway. He noted that although much-needed work on Dolgoch Ravine was being undertaken it was unfortunate that the scope, timing and pace of the works were totally outwith the control of the Railway. Traffic had reversed its previous downward trend: passenger journeys were up 5.2% at 85,749 and revenue up 4.7% at £247,772, whilst Shop and Catering takings were both up by about 15%. He congratulated the organizers on the success of the much-expanded Rolt Rally, the “Have-a-Go” Gala and the visit of our ex-Corris stock to run steam trains on the Corris Railway during June. In particular, he hoped that the last would foster a closer relationship between the Corris and Talyllyn Railways. The extensively rebuilt boiler was expected shortly for No. 4 Edward Thomas, another ex-Corris engine. Don also congratulated all those who had worked on or for the Railway, noting that we were a real family — from Tracksiders through to “Heritage Members”. It was wonderful to see members of all ages working and socializing together, especially when similar organizations reported that they could not retain younger members.

Colin Roobottom presented the 2002 Financial Statements and enlightened those present on the current situation. There had been a noticeable increase in revenue but, although all were waiting with bated breath for Wharf Redevelopment to commence on the ground, there had already been some expenditure on design fees and planning charges. Other forthcoming major expenditure would include the virtually new boiler for No. 4 Edward Thomas, expected to be in the region of £20,000 and for which the funding is already in place. Colin also commented that 2002 was the first full year since the registration of Talyllyn Holdings Limited as a charity, this having created a useful flow of donations in a much more tax-efficient way, enabling Talyllyn Holdings to make grants to the Talyllyn Railway Company for suitable purposes.

Christopher Awdry invited questions on the report and financial statements.

Mike Davies was concerned at the appointment of a Museum Curator as mentioned in the Talyllyn News; he sought clarification that this would be a fixed-term appointment and stressed that he could think of far better places for staff to be employed on the Railway.

Keith Theobald replied that the Curator, Brian Owen, was employed by the Talyllyn Railway Company for administrative convenience but his full cost was charged to the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Trust which in turn received a full grant, which would not be available for “railway” purposes, from an external source.

Mike Davies felt that his question had not been answered fully. He still wanted clarification about the duration of the Curator’s appointment, fearing that “now we had one will we find that we cannot do without one”. He wanted an assurance that this was a fixed-term appointment. Keith Theobald said that the current contract was for a fixed two-year term and this matter would be discussed by the Museum Trustees and reported upon in the March News.

Don Newing proposed the adoption of the Report of the Council and the Financial Statements of the Society for the year ended 31st January, 2003. This was agreed without dissent.

10. Wharf Redevelopment

Peter Austin bounded on to the stage and said that the completed Stage II application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund had been taken to Cardiff in mid-November 2002, and Peter had joined the team as the new Project Manager in January 2003 (much to the relief of John Smallwood!). In February the HLF replied with the notification that they were prepared to award £682,500 rather than £452,000, taking into account inflation for the three years since the initial application, but stipulated that 19 further pre-conditions must be met before the grant could be finalized. The contract was received on 12th April and agreed with the HLF on 30th April subject to the 19 pre-conditions; the HLF had also appointed their own project monitor to oversee the work. After the contract had been received he applied for permission to start the work. It took almost three months of unimaginable paperwork and badgering for this to be granted in late July. Unfortunately, during July we also received notification from the local District Planning Manager that full planning permission would need to be obtained again for the slightly amended plans; this could have taken 9-10 weeks and some £2,300 in fees alone. The issues were now being processed swiftly: a victory for common sense. Peter took the opportunity formally to thank our local Member of Parliament Elfyn Llwyd and Welsh Assembly Member Lord Elis-Thomas. He was also grateful to Gareth Jones, Vice-Chairman of Council, for his expert advice and support in minimizing the delay to just four weeks. The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum was formally closed on 3rd August. Amazingly the Portacafé was moved intact on 25th September, taking just 2 1/4 hours. The museum was now empty and the access clear for its demolition and that of the flat-roofed extensions at Wharf immediately after the season finished on 8th November. Financially, Peter reported that the TRPS had managed to raise £310,000 but still needed to raise at least £100,000. Peter closed his report with thanking everybody involved, particularly his long-suffering and delightful wife for tolerating his many hours of absence from home. A collection was then taken in aid of the Redevelopment which raised £763 (including the anticipated tax refund under the Gift Aid scheme).

11. Miscellaneous announcements

Bob Hey announced the result of the Traffic and Operating Committee election. 102 papers had been returned with 2 spoilt and 376 votes cast, with the following result: Traffic Department: John Burton, Walter Crowe, Robert Plumridge and Alastair Ribbands had been the only nominees for four places so there was no poll; Locomotive Department: Martin Fuller 61, Bill Heynes 62, Phil Higginson 75, MRFS 51, Chris Price 48, Andrew Young 78. He declared Messrs Burton, Crowe, Plumridge, Ribbands, Fuller, Heynes, Higginson and Young duly elected.

Philip Sayers announced the result of the Young Members’ Group election: eight candidates had stood, ten ballot papers had been spoilt and two disqualified for voting twice; 165 votes been cast as follows: Matt Dawson 26, Sarah Foster 30, Liz Garvey 30, Richard Garvey 11, Caroline Howard 8, Pippa McCanna 24, Neil Scott 11, Andrew Vick 25. He declared Mesdames Foster, Garvey and McCanna and Messrs. Dawson and Vick elected, noting that this restored a mixed-sex Committee.

Dale Coton plugged the evening entertainment, but was not sure of the start time as the main protagonist, Bill Heynes, was late as usual.

John Robinson reminded members that Sarah Foster, Liz Garvey and Jo Shuttleworth would still welcome additional sponsorship for the sacrifice that evening of their fathers’ beards and those of Mike Green and Gareth Jones.

Jane Garvey announced that the Midland Area Group Christmas dinner was to be held on 2nd December at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Lawrence Garvey appealed for willing bodies to help with the Society stand at the Warley Model Railway Exhibition, to be held at the National Exhibition Centre on 6th and 7th December.

Tony Randall announced that “Steampipes” was to be held on 3rd December at the new location of the Friends’ Meeting House opposite Euston Station, with Rob Foxton as Master of Ceremonies and Donald MacKenzie at the organ. As usual, tickets could be obtained from Gordon Brown (of Hitchin, not Westminster).

Roger Whitehouse explained that there were a few remaining vacancies for the next day’s “Members’ Have-a-Go”.

John Robinson drew members’ attention to Bob Morland’s photographic display and his assurance that profits from sales would be donated to Wharf Redevelopment.

Noel Williams explained that he would welcome additional subscribers to the “Talyllyn Tote”. The more contributors the greater the regular benefit to Society Funds, and the greater the prize money.

12. Other Business

Christopher Awdry threw the meeting open to the floor.

Liz Garvey expressed both her personal thanks and those of the Young Members’ Group to Peter Austin and as a token of their gratitude she invited both Peter and Margaret Austin to the Dolgoch Dinner on 30th December.

Roger Whitehouse auctioned a painting that had been found in an attic and given to the London Area Group; notably the composition was in mirror image. Noel Williams was the successful bidder at £45.

Mike Davies expressed some concern at an article in the September News, where it was stated that the Council of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society was “not formally bound by casual resolutions of the Annual General Meeting”; he believed that the Constitution neither supported nor contradicted this view. He stated in no uncertain terms that he felt that the Annual General Meeting was the ultimate decision making body of the Society and that its decisions should be binding upon the Council. He cited as an example the AGM resolution of 1986 that “only one engine should be in a non-standard livery at any one time” and he felt most aggrieved that this resolution had been wilfully ignored with the passage of time; he acknowledged that the mood of the membership might have changed and that it was time to revisit this resolution.

John Robinson replied that the portion of his article that Mike was questioning was the generally accepted interpretation of Rule 12 in the Constitution of the TRPS. He felt some sympathy with Mike’s views on the specific example, but Council had followed a perceived shift of opinion within the Society.

Mike Davies asseverated that the 1986 resolution was not a casual vote; it was the Society’s response to a specific motion tabled by the Council. MRFS stated that as the current locomotive painter he wholeheartedly supported Mike and would willingly help Council in drafting a proposal for the next AGM. Don Newing closed the discussion by assuring the meeting that this matter would be discussed at Council..

John Smallwood expressed his thanks to Peter Austin for the work he had undertaken on Wharf Redevelopment, feeling that if he had had to deal with the problems Peter had overcome then he would have become a serial killer.

Mike Davies suggested the construction of an Eva class Hunslet Locomotive (as illustrated on p.148 of The Chronicles of Pendre Siding) as a purely volunteer project, accepting that it was not necessary and stressing that it would be a long term project taking any of 10, 15 or 20 years until completion. MRFS asked if he could paint it red and Mike Davies instantly retorted with “You probably will anyway”. This was greeted with much laughter, particularly from the Engineering Manager.

There being no further business, Christopher Awdry closed the meeting at 4.48p.m.