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Held via a Microsoft Teams Live Event on September 25th, 2021

Presenting to the meeting were David Mitchell, President, TRPS; Jon Mann, Chairman, TRPS; David Ventry, Chairman, TR Co; Andrew Simner, Hon. Secretary, TRPS and Secretary, TR Co (remote); Garry Mumford, Hon Treasurer, TRPS and Accountant, TR Co; Stuart Williams, General Manager; Ian Drummond, Fundraising Officer, Gareth Jones, Director, TR Co and John Scott, Head of Mechanical Engineering (remote). There were at least 100 members present.

David Mitchell opened the meeting at 2.00pm, introducing the platform party present in the room and noting that Andrew Simner had been unable to attend in person due to Covid-19. David thanked Amanda and Tony Randall and Andrew Simner for implementing an online AGM and voting. David commented on the outcome of the National Heritage Lottery Fund application, noting that the rejection was considered a setback but that the Railway is determined to proceed with the associated projects and developments.

Andrew Simner thanked the members for joining the meeting and taking part remotely. Three members had given their apologies in advance of the meeting. The structure of the meeting was explained, with the meeting to first present those items requiring a vote, an opportunity for any relevant questions and then a 15 minute voting window. Members must have pre-registered in order to be able to vote. It was explained that any questions not related to those items requiring a vote would be addressed in any other business.

David Mitchell led a moment of silence in memory of those members who had died over the past year, including Paul Berry, George Cuthbertson, Roger Dawson, Rod Hannah, Alan Holmes, Tony Hughes, Alan Inder, Winston McCanna, Vic Mitchell, Geoffrey Naylor, Dick Reidy, Matt Shield, Viv Thorpe, Brian Walker and Andrew Wilson.

The meeting watched a short video introducing the subject of the AGM appeal, which is the Corris Van 6 rebuild. Ian Drummond explained that a longer version of this video is available to watch online. The options for donating to the appeal were explained and the target is £6,500.

Minutes of the 69th AGM

The minutes of the 69th AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 28th, 2019, having been circulated to members of the Society, were proposed by David Mitchell to be taken as read. When members cast their votes later in the meeting, these were approved with 91 votes for, no votes against and 9 abstentions. David Mitchell duly signed them as being a true record.

Matters Arising

There were no matters arising from the minutes.

Election of President

Jon Mann momentarily took the chair and asked the meeting to endorse the Council’s nomination of David Mitchell as President. Jon Mann confirmed that David Mitchell was willing to serve and thanked him for all his efforts in undertaking this role. When members cast their votes later in the meeting, David Mitchell was re-elected with 95 votes for, no votes against and 5 abstentions. Upon his reelection, David thanked the members for their support. 

Appointment of Auditors to the Society

David Mitchell informed the meeting that the reappointment of McBrides Accountants LLP as auditors of the society was proposed and asked the members to support this reappointment. It was noted that McBrides undertook a good and thorough job of auditing our financial affairs. When members cast their votes later in the meeting, McBrides Accountants LLP were reappointed with 92 votes for, 1 vote against and 7 abstentions.

Election of Honorary Secretary

David Mitchell introduced Andrew Simner as the proposed appointment for Honorary Secretary of the Society, following John Robinson’s retirement. If appointed, Andrew would be the 4th person to take on the onerous task of Honorary Secretary in seventy years. When members cast their votes later in the meeting, Andrew Simner was appointed as Honorary Secretary with 93 votes for, no votes against and 7 abstentions.

Election of members of Council

Andrew Simner explained that there were 12 candidates standing for 11 positions with their full information and candidate statements published in the Annual Report. After reading the list of candidates, Andrew explained that members could cast up to 11 votes to select their desired candidates. When the members cast their votes later in the meeting, the results were as follows:

Simon Carey57
Jane Garvey66
Keith Hayes79
Bill Heynes87
Charlotte Jones59
Gareth Jones86
Paul Knapton55
Lis Mann80
John Robinson72
Keith Theobald82
Mark Tibbutt55
David Ventry92

The successful candidates are shown in bold above. There was a tie for the fewest votes in last place between Mark Tibbutt and Paul Knapton. A random selection tool was used which determined the successful candidate to be Mark Tibbutt. David Mitchell congratulated those successful candidates and offered his condolences to the unsuccessful candidate. 

Financial Report

Garry Mumford shared a presentation outlining the financial position of the Society, which covers the information presented in the September News. The impact of Covid-19 had resulted in an extraordinary year for the Railway with an unexpected turn of events resulting in a strong financial position at the end of the year. Garry emphasised that it had been many years since the Railway reported a surplus.

Garry presented a waterfall chart which explained the change in overall result from 2019 (£70k deficit) to 2020 (£67k surplus) and each step which influenced this. The inability to operate the Railway due to Covid-19 restrictions caused a loss of income of £602k which was offset by an overheads saving (£241k) due to strict financial control, Covid grants (£109k) from local authorities and Welsh Government, £46k from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, £165k from the furlough scheme, £130k from the virtual visit appeal, £40k of other donations and the remaining £9k of other savings. Garry thanked the members for their generous donations through the virtual visit and other appeals.

Since the end of the financial year, the Railway has received further grants (to support the Railway when it was unable to operate earlier in the year) and other income (totaling £189k). Since trading has recommenced, demand has been strong and despite a period of enforced closure (including Easter) overall income is only 13% lower than 2019.

Consequently, the Railway Company has significantly higher cash reserves and there has been no impact on Holdings reserves. Garry explained the seasonal nature of our cash flow, with peak cash position being typically at the end of September. This year, it is forecast the peak cash position in the Railway Company will be £675k (previous record £351k in September 2018). This puts the Company in a strong position which has allowed the Company to consider undertaking capital investments and proceeding with other projects, against a backdrop of continued uncertainty over winter and performance in 2022.

Garry Mumford asked members to consider changing their membership payments to direct debit, as this significantly reduces the work involved by the Membership Secretaries. Garry also asked members to consider joining the Heart of Gold group, giving regular monthly donations, which currently provides approximately £50k per year from this group.

Report of Council

Jon Mann thanked Garry for presenting his report clearly. Jonprovided a commentary on the circumstances of the last 18 months, with a hope for normality returning to the Railway in 2022. It was noted that some normality has already returned, with more ticketing options and training having been reintroduced.

Jon thanked all those involved including management, volunteers and especially members for their support. Financial support from members has been vital to maintain the Railway’s financial position. Jon also thanked the staff at Pendre and outdoor volunteers for ensuring the Railway was well maintained and ready to reopen, including locos, carriages, track and infrastructure. Jon finally added his thanks to the Board for making the necessary difficult decisions.

Jon reflected that the Railway has had to be creative this year, adopting new methods of working online. Council has continued to meet online and smaller meetings have recently been able to resume meeting in person. Jon reported on the Carbon Offsetting policy and emphasised that online meetings are likely to continue, helping to reduce the environmental and financial impact of travelling to Tywyn for meetings. The implementation of online training and rules exams was noted, which has maintained volunteer competence and enabled us to progress in the manner recommended by the ORR. Open forums for members and volunteer forums has kept everyone informed of any changes whilst they have been away from Tywyn. Similar meetings will be held next year.

A new Films Officer and Archives Advisor have been appointed and made a positive start in their roles. Jon thanked them for their contributions. It was reported that Navvies, Tracksiders and Under 16 training had all resumed – the Railway is fortunate to have a thriving programme of activities for younger volunteers. Jon thanked those involved for organising and emphasised that these young volunteers are the future of the Railway.

The museum is fully reopen and has taken advantage of the closure to enhance the experience for visitors, particularly evident at the Awdry Event. The museum secured a Heritage Railway Association award for interpretation, with an internal communications award also being secured by the Railway for the Control Centre. We achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status as part of the Welsh Slate Industry.

The Railway has received a new tamper and the development of the new injectors (the subject of last years appeal) are well underway. The design has been proved and the next step is casting and manufacturing of the final items. The Corris Carriage has returned and is back in service, the decorative lining having been completed by volunteers.

The Railway experienced its busiest weekend in over 5 years with a gin train, Awdry event and a beer festival all contributing to a sense of normality. The centenary of Number 4 has been celebrated with a visit to the Corris and a return visit from Corris Number 7 to the Talyllyn Railway, where the engines ran as double headers. All volunteers and staff worked well together to delivery an excellent series of events. This spirit is at the heart of all we do – everyone cares for the Railway and all involved do everything they can to support it. This is the spirit which galvenised our Founders into preserving the Railway and it also helped us to weather the impact of Covid-19 over the last year. This report should reassure members that we are in a good place, and have continued to make good progress.

The meeting viewed a slideshow of some of the changes and developments over the past 70 years, in celebration of the Society taking over the running of the Railway, which will also be made available online.

When members cast their votes later in the meeting, the reports of Council, the Honorary Treasurer and the 2020 Financial Statements were approved with 93 votes for, 1 vote against and 6 abstentions. 


After Jon Mann concluded the report of Council, David Mitchell noted that there were no questions raised regarding items requiring a vote. David Mitchell then opened the period of voting, which lasted for a period of 15 minutes accompanied by a video of a train going (at pace!) from Wharf to Nant Gwernol. Once the 15 minute period had ended, David Mitchell closed the voting.

The results of each vote are noted against the corresponding items above, but during the meeting they were delivered in one go after the General Manager’s report and Update on Pendre Development. David Mitchell offered to maintain the tradition of burning ballot papers by placing the Honorary Secretary’s computer into the firebox.

General Manager’s report

Stuart Williams gave a brief report commenting that the performance this year has been very pleasing, with an overall performance down 13% compared to 2019, but September has been 42% up compared to 2019. If the Railway ends close to 2019 performance that will be an excellent result. Difficulties in finding paid staff, particularly in the café, were noted and the consequential reduction in café provision to match what we can offer to our level of staff. The booking office has also struggled to attract volunteers and Stuart appealed to volunteers to take part, otherwise a full-time member of staff will need to be employed next year. Stuart thanked the local volunteers for keeping everything going. Members travel is now available on all trains.

It was noted that the Talyllyn is the only railway organisation to fully offset the carbon footprint of their operations, and welcomed the arrival of the electric van which further demonstrates our intentions. There is a carbon offsetting donation option, allowing anyone to contribute and an option for passengers to pay on top of their tickets.

Stuart reported that althoguh it was disappointing to learn that the Railway will not be supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund following the negative outcome of our bid, a lot has changed since that bid was submitted, and we are expecting to receive specific feedback from the NHLF. We are considering how to proceed, either resubmitting a single bid or targeting funds for each specific project. The three main projects are volunteer accommodation (including how we use the space available in Wharf and Trefri), heritage shed at Wharf (facility to store, display and interpret heritage rolling stock and offer event space) and Pendre redevelopment.

Update on Pendre Redevelopment

Stuart invited John Scott and Gareth Jones to contribute further to the discussion on Pendre.

John Scott presented the principles behind the development of Pendre, including heritage, engineering provision to enable high quality of work and staff/volunteer recruitment and to allow for the North Shed to be replaced and asbestos safely removed. With the land now available to us, the objective was to try and deliver a proposal to meet these main objectives. John presented the plan of the architect and noted that this increased the available space by 50% from the current 1370m2 (approximately 650m2). This includes an expanded workshop and carriage sheds, with an extra 30-40m of storage space on roads running into the new buildings. John introduced the concept of a new battery electric shunter on this site, to reduce the economic and environmental impact of using diesels. It was emphasised that this was not final and that changes would be accommodated, but given the restrictions in place it was felt that this proposal, or something broadly similar, would be the best proposal.

Gareth Jones thanked everyone involved in preparing the plans, contributing to consultations and other working volunteers for their efforts allowing this to proceed quickly. Gareth explained that the plan does not cover the South Side of the site (including the platform) but the intention is to maintain and enhance the character of these areas. This includes potentially replacing brick outbuildings and extensions including the mess facilities with more aesthetically fitting buildings that meet the operating requirements. The South Shed was where the vintage set was originally stored, and returning it to this use would have heritage value, and the use of original workshops and sheds are open to suggestions. In terms of planning permission, this will be required for the Orchard site, and the main concerns of planners is to avoid unreasonable impact on the neighbours. Further work and surveys will be required before a formal plan can be submitted for approval. Changes to the existing buildings will be possible under permitted development. The Wharf Heritage shed will be required for operational purposes, so it may be possible to demonstrate this is also a permitted development.

David Mitchell thanked Stuart, John and Gareth for their presentations.

Q&A on the contents of the meeting and AOB

Jon Mann first presented some pre-submitted written questions. One member had expressed his concern that the meeting was to be held online and questioned the security of the voting arrangements. A direct and detailed reply has been sent, but Jon emphasised to the meeting that it was not possible to arrange an in-person or hybrid meeting given the possible local venues and willingness of members to travel. The voting system was confirmed as secure and noted the feedback of a volunteer who specialises in IT confirming this independently. The letter also questioned the wearing of face masks on the Railway, which was confirmed as being a requirement of the Welsh Government.

Derek Allen submitted a written question which requested more webcams, including at Dolgoch. Stuart Williams has investigated further provision and introduced a roving webcam, but there are no current plans to install a camera at Dolgoch.

Hugh Simon Carey queried whether any discussion had been had with the Council regarding installing a footpath alongside the road from Abergynolwyn village to Abergynolwyn station. Stuart Williams was cautious in discussing this with the local Council and that there were no plans to proceed with this at present.

John Hague asked whether it would be possible to restore the South Carriage Shed to its original use for storing the vintage carriages. Gareth Jones reiterated his previous point that the Wharf shed will be operational with capacity for display, viewing and inspection and it may be that during certain parts of the season the vintage carriages will be stored here, but at other times they may be stored elsewhere.  If so, it would be nice for them to be accommodated in the South Shed.

Matthew Phillips asked whether the plans for the Pendre development had been shared online. Gareth Jones mentioned that they had been published in the News but that this could be looked into further.

Paul Knapton asked whether there were plans for welfare facilities to be installed in the Orchard sheds. Gareth Jones noted this level of detail was not yet in the plans presented, but if facilities could be fitted in this would be preferable. John Scott added that there was space for this, so in principle no reason why not – there will be power and water, so connection to sewage would have to be provided.

Andrew Roberts queried the change in first class fare from £2 to £5, considering the good financial position, with concern that this increase may result in decreased income due to the cost. Stuart Williams believes that first class is now priced appropriately, with most first  class compartments pre-sold (and subject to different pricing) – last week 5 of the 6 available compartments were sold.

Matt Dawson has received correspondence to the News regarding the plans to remove the vintage carriages from routine service. How can we continue to maintain the unique character of the formation of the trains, with a mix of bogie coaches and four wheelers, have replica original carriages been considered? Jon Mann explained that the grant funding available covered 2/3rds of the cost of three new bogie coaches, and it was a question of commercial priorities decided by the Council and Board. David Ventry added that there is a real need to limit the mileage of the vintage coaches to prolong their life. There is no reason why at some point in the future we could not build replica carriages, but that it is not the highest priority for the available funds at present.

Matt Dawson asked what the likely return date for Loco 1 was believed to be at present. Jon Mann emphasised that we have sufficient locomotives at present, but that it was likely to be late 2022.

Gill Best thanked the council member for taking on board her feedback that the high visibilty jackets in Guards van spoilt the view from the south side, and that these have now been moved.

Mark Tibbutt asks whether the building of three new carriages is really a priority. David Ventry responded that we were successful in receiving a grant to cover 2/3rds of the cost and that this would provide additional accessible accommodation on board our trains for those who need it. Overall, we believe it is the right time to do this and that the money has been well spent and has not impeded other projects.

Luke Bowerman asked whether Dolgoch will return before Talyllyn, and whether it would return in a new livery. Stuart Williams confirmed that it will be fast tracked to return before the Heart of Gold train, but that he could not comment on the livery. Jon Mann added that this would depend whether the paintwork was damaged during the course of the overhaul.

Lawrence Garvey asked if we are actively seeking sources of new rail to continue with the track renewal programme. David Ventry confirmed the need to purchase new rail in the future, and that options are being explored including joint purchasing with the Ffestiniog when they need to buy some, but at the very least in the next couple of years.

Ziyad Abdelaal-Wait asked whether there is any more detail to the proposal for the new electric shunting loco. Jon Mann confirmed that there is not, but it is a good idea to consider. 

Miscellaneous Announcements

Andrew Simner provided two announcements on behalf of Tony Randall:

The Steampipes organising committee took the decision at the end of May to formally abandon any thoughts about holding the show in 2021. We had to make our decision at that time because of publicity deadlines in our quarterly society magazines, and at that time although the outlook seemed to be promising, we felt there were still too many unknown factors for us to take the plunge and go ahead. In particular it was considered that our audience demographic might still be reticent about being part of large gatherings indoors and we did not wish to make a loss on what is supposed to be a fund-raising event. The committee will be reconvening in January 2022 to consider arrangements to stage a show in November that year, so look out for an announcement in the March issue of Talyllyn News.

The London and Southern Counties Area group will be returning to The Founders Arms, near Blackfriars Bridge, on Monday evening 6th December for its Christmas Meal. In 2019 sixteen members enjoyed an extremely convivial evening – please advise Tony Randall (email [email protected]) if you wish to join us after the enforced break last year.

David Ventry gave an announcement on behalf of Keith Theobald to advertise the upcoming outdoor week. This will take place from 6th – 14th November and will (amongst other things) be relaying the track through Dolgoch platform. Meet at 08:30 at Pendre, but please let Keith know in advance. Accommodation is difficult to find at the moment, so please book early.

David Mitchell thanked all those involved in delivering the AGM successfully this year in an online format. David also thanked all those on the Railway for keeping the Railway going this year, for learning new skills and doing things differently.  It has been a difficult and challenging time but he hopes that next year we ought to be back meeting in person. The meeting was closed at 3:43pm.