Contents Listing - Articles & Features in this issue
Steam over Stainmore - A. G. S. Davies recalls a series of journeys behind steam over the former North Eastern freight trains
Difficult Footplate Work - The late Fred Prickett makes clear that freight turns were the greatest challenge. The last train to Clayton West - Martin Bairstow - On 22 January, one ofBR's last branch lines in the north of England lost its passenger services. Wiltshire triangle - Mike Arlett - Shortly to be affected by the Westbury resignalling, the Bradford Junction signalbox is an intriguing survival. Bold: The End - Brian Dobbs and Bob Avery - Bold Colliery saw England's last regular industrial steam working in 1982. A 'Mickey MOUSe' in Kent - Brian Stephenson's photo-review of the visit of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's Ivatt '2' 2-6-2T No 41241 to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Madear requiem - Hugh Ballantyne - Steam is dying fast in South Africa and a recent casualty was operations on the Maclear branch line, in the Eastern Cape. LNER laundry van No 3015 - DL Franks - A remarkable passenger vehicle. New Books' Letters Preservation Scene Rail Report Enthusiast's Month Cover: Ivatt '4' 2-6-0 No 43106 leaves Bridgnorth with the 10.25 to Bewdley, on the Severn Valley Railway, 11 September 1982
RESERVATION is about values. The foremost seems to be a commonly held view that a particular range of artefacts representing a bygone railway scene, 'restored' to a particular standard, is something worthy of retention. Generally speaking, railway preservation has been achieved by volunteers, offering their labour free in pursuit of creating the state of affairs already mentioned. They also seek to use their spare time to good advantage, selflessly and with a keenness to share their achievements with others. But what about the other values? It's one thing to put together the artefacts and the atmosphere of bygone days, but the attitudes? These come to hand as well, and for self-help and selflessness some suggest that the values should also be those of bygone years. So preservation is seen as recreating hard work, order and discipline, and the era when everyone knew their place. Behind the uniforms and instructions, not to speak of rambling roses, is the feeling that the preservation scene is a total re-creation. Of course, most people don't look at it like that, but some do. Are we in danger of going back into the past, values and all?
Not necessarily. But volunteer work requires hard, sustained effort, and the bigger the railway, then correspondingly more people are needed. At some stage, to fulfil all the necessary jobs there must be some amount of discipline: people can't turn up to volunteer when it suits them. Trains must be run. That much is clear, but there is a stage at which sensible organisation gives way to coercion, to blackmail, almost: if you don't turn up, you're letting the others down, spoiling the show . . . and ... Well, that's when some of the virtues of hard work and discipline begin to spelled out. The volunteer can, of course, opt out. Restored railways have become commercial enterprises, very often run by professional managers. To meet their financial targets, the trains must run and the staff must turn up a€ and they are usually volunteers. And there is the danger. For the virtues of the past age are trotted out to bring in the volunteers a€" or are they cheap labour? If volunteers have caused the enterprise to be set up in the first place, it is clear that the dictates of the paid managers are liable to challenge. No prize for guessing that this sort of confrontation has occurred several times on restored railways. When, apart from the professional managers, there are other agents in the picture, such as BR a€" main line steam operations being the most obvious case a€" the volunteers are put under a lot of pressure. They are being asked to turn out, not only to further the objectives of their own society, but to make someone a profit. At some stage, the burden of unpaid labour demanded regularly can become insupportable. Perhaps we should look at the role of the volunteer in what is now a commercially minded industry a€" railway preservation a€" and make sure that the volunteer is not being asked to be an unpaid hand, recreating the working obligations of a past age in attempting to recreate part of the atmosphere of rambling roses, smoke and gaslight.
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