On 28 September 2019 despite bad weather and severe travel disruption over 150 members gathered in Tywyn for the 68th Annual General Meeting of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society.
There was much good news to share. It was announced that Society membership now stood at exactly 4500 members, a record for this time of year.
In addition the Railway’s finances had shown considerable improvement during 2018 with overall revenue rising by over 15% over 2017. This much improved performance was being sustained into 2019 with public bookings being marginally up on the previous year at the same stage while revenue is some 5% up at the same point. The hope was expressed that this position would continue to the end of the year.
During the AGM General Manager, Stuart Williams, gave a presentation about the development plan that had been adopted for the Railway. Plans were being formulated for a new workshop facility at Tywyn Pendre, with the purchase of the piece of land known as ‘The Orchard’ offering new options as to how this may be achieved. However, the first phase of the plan is to be a new heritage facility at Wharf station to house the Railway’s historic carriage and wagons and allow them to be displayed for the public when they were not in use. Plans for the new facility were on display for members to peruse at the meeting.
Volunteers were also honoured with the first long service awards being presented. This is a new system with awards being presented to volunteers who had completed 10, 15, 25, 40, 50 or 60 years service.
The meeting also voted in Cythia Turner, the daughter of the late Bill Trinder, as a Vice President of the Society in recognition of her father’s role in the formation of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society as the World’s first railway preservation society.
Outgoing Society Chairman, Ian Drummond, in his last presentation, also reflected on the future of the Railway including some of the challenges that lay ahead. However, he also outlined the strengths of the Railway, especially the members, staff and volunteers whose commitment gave the Railway an identity and sense of community that was unique.
Following the meeting TV Antique expert and writer, Paul Atterbury, conducted an auction of railwayana which raised over £1000. He also gave an entertaining talk to a packed house at Tywyn Wharf station in the evening.
Outgoing Society Council Chairman, Ian Drummond, commented:
‘It has been an honour to serve as the Chairman of the Council of the World’s First Preserved Railway for the past three years. The Railway continues to flourish and with our record membership numbers I have no doubt will meet any challenge the future may hold. We are very fortunate in that the Society and Railway Company work together very harmoniously and with our fantastic staff and volunteers are building a bright future of this unique line. The Railway is also very blessed with the number of young volunteers we have, testimony to the work of our groups such as Tracksiders and ‘Navvies’. Our new under 16s training programme now has over 80 youngsters signed up which can only be good news for the future.’
October 2020 will mark the 70th Anniversary of the formation of the Society as the World’s First Railway Preservation Society and it is planned to link next year’s Annual General Meeting to a celebration of that event.