TRAMWAY & LIGHT RAILWAY SOCIETY
CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT - 2018

by JOHN R. PRENTICE

John Prentice

Annual Report on 2017

As usual I must caution readers that this statement is written in January 2018, reviews the year 2017, 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 By the time the AGM considers this report in May, events will have overtaken it, and some items may be out of date.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 year 2018 is the 80th year for the TLRS, which was founded at the beginning of 1938.

Executive Committee

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 2018.

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.

Publications

There have been no new publications since our book "Large Scale Tramway Modelling" by Peter Hammond and Peter Howard, was published at the end of 2015. The book continues to sell well and is a useful tool for encouraging modellers to try model engineering.

AGMs

In 2017 we went to Birmingham at the invitation of the West Midlands Area Group, where we made an informal visit to the new tramway extensions there. For 2018 we will go to London's Docklands with an informal look at the DLR and other transport changes in the area.

Models

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. Ou member Paul Coles has once more greatly extended the KW range of white metal kits and produces the former BEC motor units. Sales of Majestic kits, for which TLRS has exclusive on-line sales rights, has consolidated. Our exclusive sales of Pete Watson card kits continue to be strong. New ones are being released all the time, with a depot being the latest. Kits are only available as downloadable PDFs from TLRS. Unfortunately imports of overseas modelling items remain more expensive but currency exchange rates have stabilised for the time being.

UK Tramways Progress

The Manchester second crossing work progressed very satisfactorily and it is now operational. Work is in progress on the Trafford Park line. Of all the British tramways, Manchester is really the one to watch.

Tramfare

I can only repeat my statement of last year that Bob Appleton has done a superb job of editing Tramfare for us. We 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. Many new members join us to receive the magazine.

Festivals and Exhibitions

The 2017 Festival of Model Tramways returned the London Museum of Water & Steam (the former Kew Bridge Steam Museum), 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. The 2018 Festival of Model Tramways will be at the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport in April. This is the 30th year for the Festival and as it is also the 80th year of the TLRS we will be well to the fore.

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, even more so during 2017. People can join the TLRS and renew subscriptions or purchase publications and models. The TLRS landing pages were given an update during 2017. 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, www.facebook.com/groups/modeltrams, which it founded.

Membership

Sadly I must repeat last year's statement that TLRS membership continues to fall, with losses at renewal time being only partly made up during the year with new recruits. Having said that, the overall loss this year is very small. The average age of members is still slightly 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. We need to make sure that we retain members and this is best achieved with our high quality magazine.

Archives

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.

Publicity

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. This year we took some paid-for advertising in Model Engineer magazine to coincide with publication of an article by our member Ashley Best, both to promote TLRS and to sell our Large Scale Modelling book.

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. As John was unavailable at the start of 2018 for some months, special arrangements were put in place to cover his absence.

Future Prospects

The revenue from "Gift Aid" still helps us. A proportion of our income is derived from the interest paid on our capital. There has been a small increase in bank base rates, but interest is still expected to be low for the quite a while. Economic growth is slow but better than many had predicted after the Brexit referendum result. However, even though the Society is in a strong financial position, 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. There are a few bright spots, but indicators seem to suggest that there is a general slow-down in the tramway hobby interest, not just for TLRS. Similarly there is a decline in the modelling of all subjects, as reported by commercial companies. Be assured that your committee will remain alert and keep a watchful eye on the situation.



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