News from the boardroom dated 16th February 2020.
In my notes written 30th January, and distributed via HOPS, I explained the process undertaken to recruit a general manager. At that time we had completed the interviews, but not the actual appointment. We were able to announce to the staff meeting on Wednesday last that Justin Kerr Petersen has accepted the post.
Many of you will know Justin as he has been around the WSR since his teenage years. He has worked as a volunteer, and in paid roles for the WSR, In recent years he has pursued a career with Network Rail and currently Great Western Railway. Justin will start in the role once he has worked out his notice there.
Last year the WSR was facing a severe crisis. In a word, money had run out. Positive response to our various appeals was essential and everyone associated with the Railway dug deep. The results are well evident in not just our survival but in the “green shoots of recovery” One has only to look at the number of smartly repainted coaches, endless and unending work to get the permanent way back up to scratch, completion and return of no 9351 to traffic, all supported by lots of people doing more than their paid or in the case of volunteers unpaid hours. Sadly, the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust is governed in such a way that means they felt unable to assist other than by allowing the WSR to hold and retain the profits from a Real Ale Festival. They wish to pursue their own agenda and are therefore currently serving a year’s notice to remove themselves from the Washford site.
Hire of locomotive no88 is governed by a separate and free-standing hire agreement. Plans are advancing for the Real Ale Festival to once again be held at Minehead.
One tangible result of all the work on the permanent way is that we have been able to advertise a great range of locomotives for our Spring Gala. We will continue to need to run the lightest most economical locomotives for our services, and I will write with more detail of the board’s plans for the Way and Works in my next notes. Storms Ciara and Dennis are still making the news. It has always been a source of wonder to me that all those years ago, a man on horseback laid out a line of route and specified drainage requirements that cope brilliantly with the worst of the weather. We have just a minor slip at Crowcombe. Spare a thought for the people who go out and check for us after each severe weather incident. We have miles of open ditches to keep clear, culverts to maintain and drains to keep clear. Perhaps you can help?
I am sure you are already aware that the Company and Association are re-aligning their focus Arrangements for the transfer of Bishops Lydeard Shop to the Company are complete. Transfer of the Swindon Shed back to the Company is also underway. The WSR’s mechanical engineering plans were developed in the early nineteen nineties and have served us well for thirty years. A thorough going review is well overdue.
More news from the Board will follow the next board meeting.