Annual Report on 2016
As usual I must caution readers that this statement is written in January 2017, reviews the year 2016, and looks forward into the future. By the time the AGM considers this report in May, events will have overtaken it, and some items may be out of date.
The Executive Committee has continued with its policy of meeting four times per year, with dates fixed to best suit the needs of the Society business year, and will do so again in 2017.
Tramway Liaison Committee
Our membership of the Tramway Liaison Committee is a useful exchange forum between the Light Rail Transit Association, the Tramway Museum Society, and ourselves, particularly in the context of joint meetings and joint subscription collection. The TLC meets three times per year.
There have been no new publications since our book, "Large Scale Tramway Modelling" by Peter Hammond and Peter Howard, published at the end of 2015. This is a complete revision of our earlier handbook by Peter Hammond. As well as 1:16 scale it contains sections by other authors on 1:24, G scale and on 3D printing. The book has sold well throughout 2016 and continues to do so.
For 2016 we went to Bristol, hosted by the West of England Area Group. The day included a visit by heritage bus to the Clifton Rocks Railway followed by a look at Peter Davey's private tram museum. We thank the area group and Peter for a superb day. For 2016 we are going to Birmingham at the invitation of the West Midlands Area Group.
Once again during the year a number of our members and friends have produced kits for our mutual benefit. Progress with resin moulded models and 3D printing provides a useful source for short runs of unusual prototypes and examples of the latter are now appearing in 7mm scale in addition to 4mm and 3.5mm. Paul Coles has once more extended the KW range of white metal kits. Sales of Majestic kits, for which TLRS has exclusive on-line sales rights, has improved and include several re-releases of former Tramalan kits with more expected during 2017. Our exclusive sales of Pete Watson card kits continue to be strong. Ten new ones were released at the start of 2017. Kits are only available as downloadable PDFs from TLRS. Unfortunately imports of overseas items have become more expensive due the lower but more realistic exchange rate of the pound against foreign currencies.
UK Tramways Progress
Extensions in Birmingham and Manchester have continued. Sadly we have to note the serious accident in Croydon on 9th November when tram 2551, due to excessive speed, derailed and overturned at Sandilands killing seven passengers and injuring 51, the worse tram accident for 99 years.
Bob Appleton has done a superb job of editing Tramfare for us and has again raised the standards. We also appreciate the work done by the contributors to the magazine, without which it simply would not exist. Thanks also go to Geoffrey Heywood for magazine distribution and Latimer Trend for production. Tramfare is the key benefit of membership of the TLRS and its importance cannot be overstated.
Festivals and Exhibitions
The 2016 Festival of Model Tramways returned to the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport, and once more the TLRS was strongly in attendance at what was a successful event. Elsewhere the TLRS was represented by members and area groups at a number of model exhibitions. For 2017 the Festival of Model Tramways will be at the London Museum of Water & Steam (the former Kew Bridge Steam Museum), a substitute for Fairfield Halls which is unavailable due to refurbishment.
Website and Facebook
The TLRS web pages are hosted by the Tramways Information website. As before the site continues to be the major source of new members. People can join the TLRS and renew subscriptions or purchase publications and models. For publicity purposes the TLRS also has a Facebook page, an open page that can be seen by anyone (Facebook members and general public) and which directs people to the website. In addition the Society fully supports the Facebook Tramway Modelling Group, which it founded. This has proved a most successful way to further the tramway modelling hobby and has encouraged people to join the TLRS. Membership of this group has increased to nearly 2,000 at the time of writing. The group is worldwide and has a far greater age spectrum than the TLRS itself.
I must repeat last year's statement that TLRS membership continues to fall slightly, with losses at renewal time being only partly made up during the year with new recruits, although this year the drop is very small. The average age of members is still on the increase. However, as before we do not seem to be suffering with membership loss as badly as some other similar organizations and the financial situation is stable. For 2017 we only increased subscriptions for the discounted classes, to bring the differential to more sustainable level.
The Society is grateful to members who bequeath items to the archive, and from time to time we publish advice on the form bequests should take. A number of our archive images have been used in publications. Arrangements had been made for the transfer of archives to a new home, but sadly due to family problems our volunteer had to drop out. We are grateful to Arthur Dawson for stepping in and taking over as our new Archivist. Our archive of plans is now with the Model Engineering Secretary. David Voice continues to oversee the digital photo archive and model trams collection.
In addition to the Facebook and website items previously mentioned, we continue with distribution of posters and handbills at exhibitions etc. Some material is available as pdf downloads from the Members' Notices page of the website.
Treasurer and Membership Secretary
Trevor Service continues as Membership Secretary and deals with new members and subscription renewals. John Leach continues as Treasurer. Thanks go to both gentlemen for their continued efforts to keep the Society running smoothly, particularly at year-end when renewals come in and accounts have to be completed. Trevor also processes credit cards for our sales, and for this we are extremely grateful.
The revenue from "Gift Aid" still helps us. A proportion of our income is derived from the interest paid on our capital. Another rates cut means this is now very small indeed and rates are expected to be low for the next few years. Economic growth is slow and Brexit means the situation will change in many ways, some good, some bad, but all hard to predict. However, the Society is still in a strong financial position, but we must be cautious with our expenditure so as to stay that way, particularly with lower subscription revenue as membership numbers fall and more members pay the senior rate. However, I think the outlook is brighter than many have predicted and I am confident we can look forward to a solid future.
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