I expect you have all received documentation from your bank etc., with reference to the new 'General Data Protection Regulations' so I shall explain how the 'Friends' have dealt with this.
All your names and addresses are on my computer which is a stand-alone unit not connected in any way to the internet, nor will it be. All that is recorded is your name and address and this will not be passed on to any other body. This information is used for printing the newsletter postage stickers and a hard copy is in the hands of the Membership Secretary, who lets me know if anyone has lapsed. They will be removed from my computer's list, or, if we have new members joining they will be added.
The only communication we will be having with you is the Newsletter, which is covered as part of your Membership Subscription. Notice of AGMs or EGMs will be given in the Newsletter as usual so there is no need for you to write to give permission for us to contact you.
That's all there is.
As you will be well aware, I am always banging on about 'Heritage'. I am a member of the Bluebell Railway and in their latest Magazine they have printed an article which impressed me very much and which I will quote from: 'Preservation Standards Manual'.
The creation of Preservation Standards was aimed at encouraging the authentic presentation of Bluebell's heritage, based on detailed research to avoid deviation away from what the original companies did.
The main areas are based around the authentic presentation of the railway's station buildings in their different themed time periods, and also other areas of infrastructure, however some further information is required to complete the task relating to finding missing original specifications produced by the Southern railway to confirm detail.
It is amazing how many staff grades there used to be, and how many we have on the Bluebell; each needs research to get everything just right. Small details like correct buttons and badges aid authenticity, and we have found a surprising number of commercially produced examples that are incorrect!
There is however a big stumbling block to this section in its application - namely the cost to individual members of staff.
The railway pays for paint its stations as a part of general maintenance, but does not pay for volunteers' staff uniforms, and they are not cheap - especially the Victorian styles needed for Sheffield Park! The SR and BR uniforms are less of a problem as many generic 'heritage' uniforms will pass inspection by the public with little modification. For the most part these generic uniforms work well but if we can establish the correct detail then that would be better and something to work towards.
Carriage and Wagon
The carriages outshopped are superb however the records of original liveries, colour specifications and upholstery trimming are a bit scattered.
Trying to establish the exact specifications for the liveries used is not easy. [We are working to] document the correct liveries for each and every engine on the railway.
It is proposed to locate at least one copy [of the Preservation Standards Manual] at each station for reference it was agreed to make all the files available online for everyone to see and copy if they wish.
Getting it Right First Time
On other matters, we have been active in the roll-out of the correct colour scheme for Kingscote, assisting the ASH project with finishing detail, specifying the correct gas lighting units for Sheffield Park, and determining the colour scheme for the footbridge when it is repainted.
Although the Severn Valley has turned out locomotives, carriages and wagons in accurate and authentic liveries (apart from a very few exceptions) the painting of the stations is hit and miss to say the least.
It would be unfair to name any heritage howlers because generally some volunteer has done the best he or she can and is probably very proud of their work, but with a little more thought, inappropriate items such as modern plastic lamps could have been avoided and other present day 'necessities' hidden or disguised a little better.
I was particularly impressed by the Bluebell's attitude to uniforms. On the S.V.R no real thought appears to be given to equipping staff with authentic uniforms apart from a few footplate staff. Even the official station staff raincoat is a black version of a road-mender's dayglo reflective jacket. I can't make sense of the reflective strips! They couldn't be less authentic and I can't imagine them showing up dazzling bright when illuminated by a loco's headlamps in the depths of the night.
I think there is a need for a standardised uniform, either an authentic one from the thirties or fifties, or a S.V.R uniform with S.V.R badges and buttons in a traditional style. Leaving staff to try to find something suitable on their own leads to a muddle of different styles to confuse the public and compromise our 'professional' look. However it must be said that many station staff have gone that extra mile to get an authentic look and are very smart.
My usual work has continued on a number of projects. Some, such as (even more) speartop panels for Bridgnorth are best done outside and as such are weather dependent. Others, such as a new job, making back-boards for the ten Art Deco lamps destined for the Buffet here at Kidderminster are tedious in the extreme so it is nice to chop and change so several jobs are always on the go at any one time.
Bob and I have unfortunately wasted quite a bit of time and effort (but fortunately no money) pattern-making for the seats and benches for on the concourse here, and the patio at Bridgnorth. We stripped down a G.W.R. Woverhampton table and seat to obtain the original cast legs to be used as patterns for manufacturing a large batch of replicas. Unfortunately the foundry were unable to work with the original castings as they were so far gone but their suggestion that Bob, Charlie and I made 'Oddsides' which are basically wooden boards that the original casting (which is now to be the 'pattern') drops halfway into. They need to be accurately made and cutting out fancy shapes took quite a while.
The idea is that the foundry can then make the first half of the mould by working off the resulting flat surface with one side of the original casting sticking out of it. The mould can then be turned over and the Oddside removed. The other side of the pattern is then protruding from the sand, and so the second half of the mould can be made on that. The mould is then split open and (this is where it all went wrong) the original casting removed. Once the two halves of the mould are put back together there remains a cavity into which molten iron can be poured to make the new casting.
Unfortunately the original castings are quite heavy and when the foundry man tried to remove them from the mould he was unable to lift them out squarely and kept breaking the sand mould.
I find it difficult to describe the process so that those unfamiliar with the casting method can understand, but anyone who has made a sand castle will remember that removing the bucket carefully is essential - or the sand castle is damaged. Imagine having to carefully lift off a half hundredweight bucket!
This time-waster fell hard on the heels of making the fence and gates for Belmond Pullman staff to gain access to the ramp at the end of Kidderminster platform (as mentioned in the last newsletter.) With the Pullman gone the gates are not really required. We will install them anyway, when weekday running ends and we can work at the end of the platform in safety. They come with a nice replica sign warning against trespass and will look better than the present arrangement, and alow access if ever required.
One pleasing job which has just been finished is installing the vending machines mentioned in the last Newsletter. They are now on the end of the tobacconist's kiosk on the concourse and have attracted some positive comment. The kiosk looks a little bland (although we have seen people photographing it) so the machines have added a bit of interest. The frontispiece gives an idea of the result.
When we built the kiosk we didn't expect it to be surrounded by so many tables and boxes of old books and magazines, so the end result is not what we had hoped for and it isn't possible to keep it tidy with passengers sorting through the vast stock. However, the kiosk brings in much needed cash and donations for the 'Station Fund', who have helped finance several 'Friends' projects for which we are most grateful.
As usual we have worked on a number of maintenance jobs on and around the station. One of the bigger jobs was painting the grounded van body on the bay platform. (Three coats of paint). It is of Great Western origin and this time has been painted in early 20th century wagon grey and lettered out with the big 25" 'GW' on the car park side together with its fleet number and tare etc. Previously it was in the very early GWR brown it was thought it may have carried when built in the 1880's. As before the 'public' side of the body has been left unlettered as in GW days old wagon bodies would be plain and regarded as 'sheds'.
A lesser job was replacing the fire bucket mounting board on the outside of the gents. It was rotten. We took the opportunity of painting it dark stone which is correct for the 1930s period. Once again all 14 GW fire buckets have had a coat of paint (inside only this time) to keep them sound. These tall buckets are now irreplaceable, so an annual repaint or touch-up keeps them serviceable.
All railway periodicals plead for volunteer help but we have resisted this. But just as a reminder, we are pretty-well inundated with jobs to do, skilled and unskilled, so if you or anyone you know might fancy giving a hand please pop round and ask for us any Thursday or Saturday. You will be most welcome.