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What is preservation ?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by zigzag, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. 10640

    10640 New Member

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    What a breath of fresh air. Sometimes it's too easy to forget from whence we have come. The Heritage railway movement is part of today, rather than (say)1895 in aspic. That means pragmatic compromise: it's not a 12" to the foot model railway!! For those so inclined however, the option is there to step back in time without any bother about passenger figures or balance sheets. There's plenty of ready to run equipment available if you don't want to build your own, but be careful if you use 00 gauge, which equates to 4'1.5"... more pragmatic compromise...

    David
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    That idea still exists, in updated form. To quote the Railway's long term plan:

    That doesn't mean no development. Our new carriage shed and museum building at Sheffield Park has inevitably meant major building work, but it has been screened by a curtain wall in LBSC style, and I suspect in a few years, when it has weathered down, it will be hard to see old from new for those unfamiliar with the station "as it was". But what SP will never be any longer is a quiet country station: It is still recognisably LBSCR, but now outer south London suburbs, not rural Sussex. You have to go to Kingscote for rural Sussex.

    It's an interesting idea. But I suspect the people who decreed that course of action already had the northern extension in mind, even 30 or more years ago. Looking ahead ten years, a visitor will be able to get off a network rail train in the 21st century at East Grinstead (Network Rail). A short walk will take them to the 1960s (EG, Bluebell). Then, on the train they will successively go to the 1950s (at Kingscote); 1940s (when West Hoathly is re-instated, it will be in 1940s form, though whether that means taped up windows I'm not sure!); 1920s/1930s (Horsted Keynes) and finally ca. 1900 (Sheffield Park). So the "time travel" works better in that direction.

    Tom
     
  3. frazoulaswak

    frazoulaswak Well-Known Member

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    An excellent and logical approach I think - but I hope that nobody is thinking of giving Ardingly a Network Southeast look when the time comes to re-open to Haywards Heath!!

    Cheers,
    Mick
     
  4. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I went up to Leeds university in 1968, just after main line steam had ended (or so it seemed at the time!), and before preservation had really got going. On the standard gauge it was the Bluebell Rly which represented the conventional country branch line, although it was not quite the only preserved standard gauge line. nobody then seemed to criticise it on authenticity grounds such as non-LBSCR locos; indeed I was delighted to see ex GWR 'Dukedog' 9017 doing the honours. The Keighley and Worth Valley Rly opened that summer and became my place of pilgrimage - no disrespect to the Middleton Rly which had its own industrial ethos doing a real job of work and was offering students involvement in railway work. But the KWVR had nice country stations and to a lad from Devon this was the kind of thing that I felt had largely been lost in recent years. I didn't see anything wrong with the KWVR red livery on the Ivatt 2-6-2T no.41241 - I saw this as a perfectly genuine assertion of the new operators who had taken over the branch to Oxenhope. And I loved the little railbuses, especially as the attempt was being made to provide genuine local public transport - which to a degree still happens there.

    I suppose with the growth of the movement and things being achieved which we didn't even dream of in 1968, we have become more particular and critical. In 1968 we were just grateful that steam was being saved. One question has always intrigued me - what if the Border Union Rly project had succeeded in rescuing the Waverley line in its entirety? Would it, by virtue of its sheer size, have adopted and maintained its own image rather than keeping a pre-nationalisation,or even BR, appearance?
     
  5. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    As the instigator of the discussion, I have been most interested in the developed discussion. I believe that that unless the preservation movement keeps alive the concept of both preservation and conservation, the inevitability will be a tatty theme park. I read recently the 'strategy document' of a leading preserved railway where not one word was expressed about doing either. It was all (I mean all) about being an important component of the local tourist economy.

    Looking at the Bluebell, it has the very best attitude to all this and one can always shroud the necessary workshops with shrubs and trees. They have to be there , due to the fact, as pointed out, that there is no Lancing or Eastleigh to send the stuff for maintenance.

    It's different with a centre of preservation like Didcot. How happy it must be! An industrial setting with no 'previous' as a sleepy branchline, they can get away with almost everything. They don't even have the intrusion of ghastly car parks because there is no access for them!

    It was not designed that way, but Didcot does not assail the sense, of what was, in the slightest. It's a bit like when we used to visit Swindon in the 50s. You even go through a tunnel to reach it! (I confess my GWS membership! :smile: )
     
  6. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    I can't comment on what was going on behind the scenes at the time, but I do remember a "Bluebell News" article around the same time doing a survey of possible extensions, and concluding that none of the three directions were possible! Now one is almost complete, and a second is very much a possibility. Which goes to show what the preservation movement is now capable of and how much has changed over the years. The landslips at the Severn Valley being reinstated (and elsewhere of course), the building of the Ffestiniog deviation, the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland, and many other amazing projects show what can be done; to those who do, from one who, these days, only watches, rides and enjoys - thank you!

    Now, what about an extension to Lewes....

    Steve B
     
  7. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    The draft long term plan for consultation states " Investigation of a southerly extension to Lewes via Newick & Chailey and Barcombe."
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not ruled out in the current consultation draft version of the Long Term plan :smile: Though realistically, not a project that will see anything other than a minimum "watching brief" of objecting to any adverse development activity on the route for at least the next generation, in my opinion. I think the current official position is that the railway will do all in its power to ensure that it doesn't become an impossibility in the future (for example, as a result of failing to prevent a major development blocking the route) but no development on the ground for duration of the next long term plan.

    Edit: Paul beat me to the punch!

    Tom
     
  9. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    I think if one were to read Tom Rolt's book 'Railway Adventure' it would become apparent that the idea behind preserving the Talyllyn Railway wasn't to actually preserve every single item or artefact but to ensure that the Talyllyn Railway continued in some shape or form. The specifics weren't that important as the TRPS demonstrated by purchasing two new locomotives that had no association with railway in 1951.

    I think the idea of recreating something specific and accurate is a recent phenomenon (perhaps obsession?). The desire to get every single detail right to portray a lost period seems to overwhelm the movement and loses sight of what the people who originally set-up preservation societies sought out to achieve.

    The goal was that the railway wouldn't be lost; that it wouldn't become a forgotten relic that one day would only live in the memory. Perhaps that is what we are actually losing sight of.
     
  10. Paul42

    Paul42 Well-Known Member

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    Not mentioned what the plan for Ardingly Station is in Draft Long Term Plan for Consultation ( Members can comment on this plan and I will), although mention is made of " Investigate the possible future electrification of the Ardingly Branch".
     
  11. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    Indeed, and to read Rolt's comments in successive editions of that marvellous book highlights the issue very clearly.

    Most of our comments so far have been about the standard gauge scene,- most of the narrow gauge railways cannot reproduce what went before (with the possible exception of the Vale of Rheidol, which is still doing what the GWR was doing with it 80 years ago, with the same locos and stock). Most (all?) of the others have built new coaches, some have built new engines and modified others, passenger facilities have changed beyond recognition, and the track looks as if trains can actually run on it. There were those who mourned the passing of the overgrown and decrepit state of the Tal-y-Llyn, but that was impossible romanticism. Although what we now have is different, we wouldn't have anything without those necessary changes.

    The Ffestiniog seems to have followed an interesting course of action - it has it's new build and heavily rebuilt and adapted locos, modern coaches, and much improved infrastructure, but also restores and preserves its "heritage coaches", slate waggons, and alongside the much rebuilt Prince, there is the much less altered Palmerston, and the cosmetically restored "as withdrawn in 1946" Princess. The best of both worlds?

    Some railways, of course, never had a public passenger carrying role pre-preservation. My one and only trip on the Sittingbourne and Kemsley was taken sitting on the side of an empty pulp wagon, being pulled by a fireless loco. I can't see that happening again anytime soon!

    Steve B
     
  12. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    When I wrote that I had my tongue very firmly in cheek! Interesting that it is not a complete pipe dream - thanks Paul and Tom

    Steve B
     
  13. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    "Most anachronistic of all: where have all those friendly, helpful people come from on our preserved lines? Whatever happened to the universal syndrome of the railway being run for its staff and practitioners, with never a thought for the passenger/ customer? "
    Heh Heh indeed. Some of that vision correction has been rose tinted.

    THe one thing I would like to add to this debate is that a successful railway needs to ally the pragmatists in the operating companies with the purists in the preservation societies to be successful. Neither can survive without the other. Pure preservation can never work imho, not only because an organisation needs to grow and develop, or it will calcify and die, but because its supporters are ageing and to be blunt are declining in numbers as the years pass. You have to be around 55 now to even remember BR steam.
    But a purely commercial outlook also has a risky future, because you are largely appealling to children rather than adults through their favourite characters (Thomas, Santa, Peppa Pig etc) and children are more fickle and less loyal, and one day someone will realise that an "engine" that looks like Flying Scotsman, but made in China with a hidden electric motor in the tender, fake steam and smoke and sound effects is not only less polluting less noisy and less scary to young punters than the real thing, but is cheaper to run than the real thing too. It is that last point that perhaps is most worrying for preservationists.
     
  14. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    That may have already happened at Drusilla's Park in Sussex where a Thomas without the hassle of operating a real steam engine was being planned. Needless to say I didn't go to find out but maybe somebody can clarify?
     
  15. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Drusillas has never been steam operated as far as I am aware.

    P.H.
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Indeed - Drusillas is about 20 miles from Sheffield Park, and a few years ago they introduced a diesel (I think) Thomas attraction. It was one (amongst several) reasons why we moved away from Thomas events to our current, non-branded, "family fun days". They attract fewer people, but have lower costs so are net more profitable for us, so I believe.

    Incidentally (and a bit off topic): The Bluebell is an integral part of the Thomas stories, but, so the story goes, that didn't stop the owners trying to charge us a licensing fee for having an engine masquerading as "Stepney the Bluebell Engine". We had to tell them it was Stepney the Bluebell Engine!

    Tom
     
  17. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    "Incidentally (and a bit off topic): The Bluebell is an integral part of the Thomas stories, but, so the story goes, that didn't stop the owners trying to charge us a licensing fee for having an engine masquerading as "Stepney the Bluebell Engine". We had to tell them it was Stepney the Bluebell Engine!"

    Typical of the cheek of these copyright organisations piggy-backing on other people's efforts and ideas.
     
  18. twr12

    twr12 Member

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    Preservation is the process of trying to make old things last as long as possible while doing something like what they were built to do.
    That is how I approach my preservation activities; including using modern products and techniques to achieve the same end result, be that using PTFE, graphite or Kevlar jointing and packing materials instead of asbestos. Or water jet cut rods instead of forged.
    And so on
     
  19. SE&CR_red_snow

    SE&CR_red_snow New Member

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    Correct. Whoever the licence holders were at the time (Britt Allcroft, possibly) wrote to Sheffield Park complaining that we had an engine painted the same colours as the one in their book, and with the same name on the side!

    It was pointed out that the loco pre-dated Rev. Awdry's books by roughly three quarters of a century.

    They then sent another rather desperate letter in legalise which attempted to distinguish between Stepney-the-real-engine and Stepney-the-fictional-character, in order to establish the greatest claim to copyright they possibly could.
     
  20. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Tried the same game with Thomas at the NVR. The Rev. Awdry had named the loco himself before Britt Allcroft came on the scene. A compromise was reached but they effectively lost the argument as Thomas continues to delight youngsters at the NVR to this day.
     

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