We are rather proud that the Club has been in existence for over half a century!

Formed in the spring of 1950, we are still in contact with some of our founder members. An Annual Exhibition or open day has been held every year since before any current members can remember. A reference below identifies it certainly running by 1962.

The live steam track was built between 1962 and 1965.
Here’s a view of the track, sometime in the 1970’s:(All photographs by courtesy of the late Roy Taylor and published in his memory)
In the late ’70s, the track was progressively rebuilt with
concrete lintels replacing the wooden sleepers
hist1 hist2
     The ” gang”took regular refreshment breaks! hist3

td>The late Ron Weal showed his OO gauge layout
at our exhibition, also in in the 1970’s

hist6 hist5
And the club’s (then portable) OO layout was nbsp;
regularly seen in the early 1980’s

Live Steam track built 1962-1965

A file of committee and AGM minutes dating from 1959 to 1966 has been rediscovered; this is the first extract.

Plans to build a live steam track in the grounds first appear under “Any Other Business” at the 1962 AGM, held on 14th September. At that time the Club had layouts in “O” Gauge, “OO” stud contact and two rail, “TT” and narrow gauge, the “EM” section having been closed in 1961. It would be exciting to find the very first discussion of the project, but I have not been able to do so – I expect there was some (unminuted) debate of the idea in Committee first. Back to the 1962 AGM:

“Mr. Heard, being the main architect of the scheme, gave the meeting some of the facts relating to the track. It would take an estimated four years to build and would cost between £250 and £300. It would run around the grounds of the Community Centre, approximately 650 to 700 feet in length.

“Construction would roughly take the form of brick piers supporting the track on railway sleepers. When complete it was proposed to charge a small fee to ride on the trains and this money would go back to the Community Association, who we hope will give the money to finance the scheme.

“A vote of support form the track was needed from the Club members before the track was started. It was pointed out that permission to build would have to come from the Middlesex County Council before a brick was laid, but members could make a good start by dealing with the considerable amount of ground clearance that was necessary.

“The ‘go ahead’ was proposed by Mr. R. Weal and seconded by Mr. Heard. The meeting gave unanimous support.

” The 1962-3 Committee comprised: F. Manning (President), Roy Turner (Chairman), Jeff Saville (Secretary), Don Coventry (Treasurer), Ron Weal (O Gauge), Brian Heard (OO Stud), P. Bagshaw (OO 2-rail), P. Watson (TT and NG) and B. Cantwell. The project was discussed at most of their monthly meetings, focusing on the ground clearance. By April, “the embankment [was] taking shape near the lodge” and “a plan showing details of gradient and curvature” was produced the next month. “More earth filling would be required at the bottom near Ealing Road than was first thought necessary. It was thought that the gradients would not restrict operation.” Some redesign was required because of the new asphalt car park.

By June, the section had obtained 300 bricks at a bargain price of two pounds! Clearance was “proceeding apace” and the cellar was being cleared out to become the headquarters of the “heavy brigade”. Club funds were £38-19-3. (£38.96)

A lengthy minute in August (along with final plans for the Exhibition on 7th September, showing no less than four club layouts!) confirmed “the best news of the month came when we received from the Middlesex County Council their official approval of our scheme to run a track round the grounds of the Community Centre.

“Work has been going on at quite a good rate on the track. Twenty-four out of twenty-six bases have been laid on the initial section of the track. Sleepers have now been delivered to the site, we have ample bricks and in fact all materials are now at hand for the first section. Creosoting the cross-sleepers is also well under way.” Passenger trucks (or at least bogies for them) were being sought.

The 1963 AGM heard of progress to date. The track was “our biggest test of endurance in manpower” and “a test of the club’s ability to get together on a scheme that will be of benefit to all members”. Other members, not particularly interested in the larger gauges, “must not feel that they will be left out on a limb.” It had already been agreed in committee that “the live steam section will always be an integral part of this club and on no account will it be allowed to break away, as has been so often the case in other societies.” … “We must not forget, however, that the Community Association is footing the bill … and without their help we could not have started the project at all”.

Only a month later, “welding of the track is continuing”, 40 ft. was now complete. Most of the bases had been laid and piers were up on half of them with sleepers fixed on the finished ones. By October, 150 ft. had been laid and designs for the bridges were being considered.

The 1963/4 winter weather “played havoc with working Sundays” and manpower was becoming a problem – perhaps the long time spent building with little running opportunities was telling. Things obviously improved into 1965 with cross sleepers being milled and rail being cut and drilled for fishplates; by August the bridge section had been completed and some running had taken place. That year’s Exhibition showed the best attendance record to date and the value of the track was fully appreciated for the first time, despite it’s being incomplete. By now some 200 feet had been laid. There was still much to do as the AGM reported that the “task and expense in the future are heavy” and appealed for members with live steam potential to help.

Posted 14/12/2015 by keithspenceuk

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