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Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
Summary of the Committee meeting
held on 21st November 2008

Internal Communication - not for publication

The Committee met from 7:32pm until 10:17pm for its last meeting of the year. Jan Kozminski attended as Society Trust Representative.

Membership: Membership numbers now at 10,146. The October Direct debit run had been successful and there were now 582 Direct Debit profiles set up on the system. Resignations from the Society were running at a slightly higher level than normal. 300-400 responses had been received on the Membership Survey.

Society Finance: Society income for the first ten months stood at £127k, about £10k ahead of last year. Land Purchase donations amounted to £10k. The Committee agreed to continue in 2009 the arrangement whereby surplus cash from the Society account is transferred to the plc as a loan.

Funding: The share issue stood at £465k. Everything was in hand for the official launch of tip removal on 25th November with Ginnie Waddingham, Mayor of East Grinstead and Nicholas Owen. The take-up of easysearch was disappointingly low, particularly as this was an easy and painless way to raise money. A sponsored trackwalk would take place on Sunday and it was planned to hold an evening sponsored trackwalk next summer after the last train.

Operation Undercover: A meeting of the Steering Committee had taken place and it was hoped the legal agreement with the HLF would be in place within a week or so. The tender document was ready to be sent out, hopefully in early December. The project was currently three weeks behind schedule.

Museum: The old Museum had now been closed. 'London Jack' had gone to be re-stuffed and re-furbished. The Museum Management Committee was working through the proposed design which was based on the Interpretation Strategy agreed last year. A visitor survey would be then held to canvass their views on the proposed design. A new model railway would be build in 0 Gauge and would be 5 metres end to end.

Museum Storage: At an earlier meeting, we discussed the possibility of acquiring a GUV to use as temporary museum storage but it was agreed to look at off-site storage instead. The costs of this had now been investigated and worked out at £2,300 for 100 sq ft plus transport and insurance and thus unaffordable. As a 'portakabin' had also been ruled out on the grounds that it would take up car parking space, the Committee returned to the GUV option as this would provide around three times the space for less cost. It was agreed to see if the vehicle was still available.

Trackbed south of Sheffield Park:  It was agreed to see if we could get the route south of Sheffield Park protected in the Local Development Framework. This did not indicate any intention to go south at this stage but would be an impediment to further development on the route.

Ashford Weigh Tables: A check of Society archives had revealed that the Society had rejected the acquisition of these tables as we did not have the space and they were not big enough for our larger locomotives. Ownership seemed to reside with the British Rail Property Board and they had been inspected by Railtrack in 1997 to assess the quantity of material to be removed but nothing further seems to have happened.

50th anniversary: Proposals to mark our 50th anniversary were aired including a possible sterling silver medallion, an Open Day, a Members' reunion in the summer, a photo gallery in the Bessemer Arms / Birch Grove Suite, a 50th anniversary DVD and various commemorative products in the shop.

Youth Protection:  Russell Pearce updated the meeting on progress with preparations for compliance with the new legislation. A complete list of jobs which may require CRB checking was out for consultation with the Youth Protection sub-committee and he would be writing to Departmental Heads in due course. Management procedures needed to be developed for processing and handling these checks and a Youth Protection Officer would have to be appointed in due course.

Overnight Accommodation for Volunteers: There is currently no record of who is staying in any of the sleeping cars or containers overnight and in the event of a fire or other emergency, we would not know for certain who was on the premises and where. The Committee therefore agreed proposals for an overnight register both at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes kept at a convenient location at each site. The Committee also agreed a set of rules and booking conditions for those staying in railway owned accommodation.

New Volunteers Induction Pack: The text of an Induction Pack for new volunteers, setting out a brief history of the railway; information on facilities available; and basic safety information, was agreed. It was also agreed that a copy of the pack would be provided to each mess room / signing on point so that existing volunteers were aware of it and could ensure that new volunteers had received their own copy.

Applications for Trust Funding:  The Committee agreed a proposal to ask the Trust to purchase LSWR Covered Van 2773 from the Bulleid Society as this was now surplus to their requirements but the van fitted in with our heritage policy.

The Committee did not support a proposal for the Trust to purchase an LMS 3 plank drop-side wagon currently belonging to a member who had objected to the restoration work that had been started on the wagon. It was recognised that the wagon team had put a lot of work and effort in before work was stopped upon realisation that it was privately owned. It also accepted that, as the first wagon on the railway, it was an important part of our heritage. Nonetheless, it was felt that the asking price was inappropriate in the circumstances.

Santa Trains: Tim Baker reported that for the first time in many years, the Santa trains were almost fully staffed. Thanks were recorded to Maurice Hare for organising the on-train refreshment teams and to Reuben Smith for organising 9F Club members to assist Santa.

Next meeting:  The next meeting will be held on 16th January 2009

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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