Presenter: Alan Hopkins
The West of England Branch AGM was held on 11 January with ten in attendance. Much of the agenda was followed with relatively little comment though once more there were was some discussion as to how we can improve the attendances at branch meetings to keep them viable. No new recruits expressed an interest in joining the committee and the existing incumbents were re-elected en bloc.
After the formalities, Alan Hopkins returned to his roots when presenting ‘The Railways of North Staffordshire’. He showed details of the area and its industries, including photos of local collieries and pottery kilns and also of the canals that pre-dated the railway. Eventual ownership of the Trent & Mersey canal made the North Staffordshire Railway the biggest canal owning railway in the country. We saw views of the NSR’s loco stock and some of its impressive station buildings, before further photos were shown from the LMS, BR and privatisation periods. Some comparative views of now closed lines were also included before looking at the current preservation scene with images of the Churnet Valley, Foxfield Colliery, Apedale Valley and Rudyard Lake lines. Finally we saw a short video of a 1960s cab ride from Stoke to Uttoxeter. This was an informative look at an area not well known to many of us and was well received.
It is with much sadness that we have to report the death of branch member Peter North in November. Peter was a member of the branch committee for many years, serving for a period as Outdoor Fixtures Secretary. He was also the Editorial Rep. Devon & Cornwall for the RO from 1998 until 2017 when he had to resign due to illness. He will be much missed by his friends.