6th February 2021 – Committee Minutes

Minutes of Committee Meeting held on 6th February 2021 at 7.30 PM, via Zoom.


Bob Newton, Peter Miller, Dave Scotson, Thomas Haynes, Dave Fildes, Cathy and Martin Houghton, Dave Rutt, Tim Williams, Francis Stapleton, Julian Birley, David Jones, Mat Peacock.

1) Apologies for absence: 

None received.

2) Minutes of the Previous Meeting.

DF praised the detail of the previous minutes and proposed their acceptance with PM seconding – this was carried unanimously.

3a) Bala Re-Railed

TW showed the meeting his revised ground plan for BRR (see folder of documents for this meeting) and explained how it had been redesigned to cater for ‘social distancing’ and a one-way system. The new plan also provided more safe space for event staff and operating railway crews. This meant a reduced number of stands, particularly trade stands, but there was enough room for the School to put on an exhibit if required, and for the BLR tombola. TW’s presentation showed how ‘bubbles’ could be safely accommodated, and he estimated the site could handle 120 people in 70 bubbles (including both staff and visitors), at any one time.

MP asked about eating / drinking space: TW believed there was enough. DF was concerned that this capacity might cause too much queuing outside the site, and in general whether it was sufficient for the potential demand. DJ responded that a normal day at the Model Show would see approximately 200-250 visitors and an exceptional day over 300. On this basis, DJ estimated that the revised BRR plan could accommodate up to 500 visitors in one day, given a rate of 120 per hour.

TW had not calculated how many people per hour could travel on the 2’ gauge railway as this will depend on the amount and type of rolling stock and whether Perspex screens were installed. It was also not certain whether a guard was needed, and whether he (or, indeed, passengers) could travel in a braked slate wagon. These calculations now need to be made.

DJ asked if the project could be pushed forward on the basis of the new TW plan, even with some details still to be worked out and Covid regulations for June 2021 unknown.

DS spoke in support of this and praised the ideas and commitment of those backing the scheme. CH asked about toilets for staff: TW replied that the plan was for everyone to use the public toilets in the car park. DJ asked TW if he was happy to continue putting in this much work and whether he would, in effect, take the lead: TW agreed, as long as he got plenty of support. JB offered to help wherever possible and particularly with the traders, the Council and the Car Club. TW asked about the rough area at the back – JB replied that it could be cleared of vegetation by June but getting in a roller or digger to level it might well not be possible.

DR asked NT for his opinion: NT was happy to go along with the group and was impressed by the new impetus that had developed over the previous week. He was still concerned about what the Covid restrictions might be in the summer. JB said that any open-air event in Wales, even in the summer, is a risk. PM was also impressed by the new impetus in recent days. TW referred the Committee to the back-up plan from the BRR meeting, namely that if BRR couldn’t happen in June due to restrictions, it could potentially be put on instead of the Model Show in September.

BN asked about the Jubilee track for the 2’ gauge train: DJ thought that it would probably have to be collected from Dinas and laid by us. FS, speaking from experience with this track, thought that four people would be enough to carry it and lay it. CH also supported keeping BRR planning going, as long as Covid regulations were carefully monitored. DF was concerned about spending money on an event that might not go ahead, to which DR replied that the vast majority of the expense would be in transporting the 2’ gauge equipment: advertising would only cost a few hundred pounds, if that, so the risk would be minimal.

DJ then said that a final decision would be needed at least four weeks before the date of the event, and that the Covid restrictions for June would be known by then. DF raised the spectre of Council jobsworths causing problems at the last minute: DR replied that JB would negotiate so thoroughly with the Council that this was highly unlikely to be a problem. After this, DF proposed and TH seconded DJ’s motion to continue planning for BRR 2021, and the whole meeting was in agreement. [TW informed the BRR group of this decision later in the week.]

3b) The Bala Lake Railway Trust Appeal

JB reported that Natural Resources Wales will incorporate the Extension trackbed into their flood relief works in return for a payment of approximately £276,000 from the Trust. These works are due to start in June 2021. £100,000 has been contributed towards this figure by Visit Wales and approximately another £100,000 raised by appeal. A further appeal for £50,000 started in late January.

At the end of February, JB will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement stating that the Trust has the money required by NRW. The actual payment would not be until the Autumn. The figure required is not only a very good deal compared with their initial quotation of £600,000, but also extremely good value given that approximately a third of the total Extension route runs through the NRW works area. Further, given the environmental sensitivity of this zone, another chance to build a railway there might never arise.

JB was hoping to avoid borrowing of any kind but asked the Committee to agree to provide a loan of £10,000 towards the NRW fee, so that the memorandum could be signed in February. The Trust would continue fundraising, and the loan option would only be activated if the Trust still needed the money when payment was due in the Autumn. JB also noted that the Trust had already spent £1,200,000 on land acquisition and planning and he said later in the Meeting that, not counting the NRW payment, approximately £2,000,000 of additional funds were still needed to complete the Extension.

DS asked about the house next to the Town station site: JB replied that the current definition of property boundaries is incorrect and his solicitor is working on getting it revised – however, said solicitor is extremely busy. He was convinced that the homeowner does not have a legal right to vehicular access by the route she is currently using.

PM asked about the current total of the £50,000 appeal. JB had no up-to-date figures for the total raised (partly because PayPal only gives a statement at the end of the month) but thinks it is about half-way there. JB expected it would probably not meet the target by the end of February.

DR suggested that the Society could possibly help more with fundraising of all kinds and suggested a meeting between himself and JB to discuss this – along with JB coming to more Committee Meetings (which JB said he was keen to do). A discussion was held on JB’s proposal once he had left the meeting and a vote was taken: see section 3(d) below.

3c) General Manager’s Questions

DJ now took the floor to ask about some points made at previous Committee Meetings. He was concerned about the feeling in at least some quarters that the Society was being treated mainly as a source of funds by the Company and that now the Company had grant money, it was therefore less interested in the Society. DR replied that he was worried about the Society’s role not being clearly defined. DJ welcomed the idea of a Society Mission Statement and was positive about the draft produced by DR. He suggested that it would be advisable to make “supporting the Railway” key to every element of the statement – this is so in many comparable organisations. DJ said that he felt that providing the volunteer workforce is the most valuable way in which the Society supports the Railway, not least because, without this, many non-core events could not happen (such as the Model Show).

DF thought that perhaps communication had been a problem in the past, based on his time in the Society. JB expressed his belief that there would be enormous value in having regular liaison events between the different branches of the BLR family, so that each could understand the others, and to prevent any “them and us” feelings, something that worked very well at the North Norfolk Railway, in his experience. PM fully supported this proposal, describing a period in the past when relations between the Society and the Company were not good. That situation had been transformed, in PM‘s opinion, by Brian Bennett, who insisted that supporting Company plans should be the Society’s overriding aim.

DJ then apologised for not having attended many Committee Meetings recently and wondered if this had created a sense of separation. He suggested that liaison meetings along the lines put forward by JB could take place once or twice a year, featuring (say for instance) two senior representatives of Company, Trust and Society. DR responded by saying that he had offered to do something similar in 2019 but it had not come to anything (perhaps due to scheduling issues).

DF pointed out that many volunteers are not in the Society and, although LE is now excellent, communication with the regular members and non-member volunteers still needed to be improved. DR thought that fund-raising co-ordination throughout the Railway family was something that could also be improved, and that the BRR meetings had at least shown there was a lot of untapped potential.

On this theme, MP commended the Trust Appeal stickers on the Express envelopes this month – this was a suggestion by DR, carried out by NT. JB and PM praised the current standard of the Express very warmly. JB suggested it be submitted for consideration for an HRA award (for 2022?). NT thanked everyone for excellent contributions.

DJ then reported some detailed expenditure figures relating to Llanuwchllyn Signal Box and Holy War’s boiler. DJ did not think that the Company had formally asked the Society for any money for some time, but did ask DS to transfer the balance of the Covid Appeal – this was approved unanimously by the Committee.

NT asked DJ and JB whether a Review of 2020 (Special Edition No.2) based on existing news reports would be a good idea, not least because it might divert funding from other appeals. DJ supported this and suggested that any profits could go to the Trust, perhaps with a mechanism so that online purchasers could make additional donations via PayPal (TW said this was possible). NT said that the costs of this edition would be small and asked if the Society could cover these and thus donate all receipts to the Trust. This decision was deferred and NT will keep working on Special Edition No.2. See further item 6(c) below.

DJ and JB were thanked for attending. DR and DJ are to set up a personal meeting. DJ and JB left the Meeting at this point.

3d) The Society Loan to the Trust

TW asked for a vote on the loan (see section 3(b) above), and voiced his concern that the money might be taken out of the Society account for a long time, and that it might be a matter on which absent Committee Members should have a say. DF was unhappy about the short notice but agreed that the loan should be offered. DS had no objections and MP, TH and FS all spoke in support as well.

TW suggested that a repayment period be specified. DR was a little worried that the Extension might get, now or in the future, too much support versus other projects, especially given that it would be seeking funds for at least the next five years: when, he asked, would the loan be repaid? BN said that this was a crucial time for the Extension and we should back it, and doubted whether any other major project needing Society money was coming up in 2021: he reiterated JB’s points about it being much cheaper and easier to seek the planning approval now.

DF expressed his firm belief that the whole future of the Railway depends on the Extension. PM stressed that the loan under discussion is only going to be a last resort option for the Trust, should the current appeal not have reached its target at the end of February. DF proposed a vote: a loan to help pay the Natural Resources Wales fee, should the other fundraising fall short, was approved unanimously.

4a) Members’ Day 2021

DR and TW had no updates and the Meeting agreed to postpone discussion until summer restrictions became known. TW had the aborted plan from 2020 on standby.

4b) Model Show 2021

DF has designed forms for traders and exhibitors. DJ sent him an email on 5th February stating that the dates had been agreed with the School, subject to Covid regulations. In this regard, nothing had changed since September 2020 and if the regulations affecting the School continued to be the same, the 2021 event would have to be cancelled. A final decision will be needed in June or July but traders and exhibitors should be provisionally confirmed as soon as possible. DF will have a further meeting with DJ on 11th February to discuss the evening train for traders and exhibitors. DF will also liaise with TW about layout exhibits. TW recommended contacting Dave Harris (well-connected trader) for advice and also John Wooden at the FR. PM commended DJ, DF and TW for their positivity.

5a) Llanuwchllyn Signal Box

DF made a very detailed report. The steps will hopefully be installed before the planned start of the operating season, so too the corner beam. DF did not believe there was any point in a 125th Anniversary event in the near future, since work would have to stop for the operating season (the scaffolding restricts platform space for safe queuing). DF is going to contact the Llangollen Railway to see if they have any drawings that would help us (they have recently completed an ex-GWR SB for Corwen, though as PM pointed out, it is to a slightly different design). DF has not spent any money on timber since the last Meeting, but he reported that DJ has (see item 3(c) above).

5b) Llangower Signal Box

No progress to report.

5c) Memorial Area

MP placed a notice in the most recent edition of the Express asking for Members’ views – he will collate these and report back to the next Committee Meeting.

5d) Coaching Stock

Grant money means that no Society funding has been needed. FS reported that No.8 is now ready to be painted as soon as the weather permits. All the metalwork, including doors on both sides, is finished. The floor panels have been painted with 3 coats of preservative underneath and one of floor paint on top and are ready to be installed once the bodyshell has been painted.

The floor for No.4 is ready to be installed, and the panels have been treated as per No.8. The remains of the old body have been ground off. Timber for the superstructure is in stock and painting will start shortly. NT asked for pictures.

6a) Treasurer’s Report

The balance in the written report (see separate document) is correct; the remaining Covid Appeal money will shortly be transferred to the Company. DR suggested that the next AGM should be asked for suggestions for projects to be funded – DS agreed and added that the Committee should bring some proposals to the AGM as well.

6b) Membership Secretary’s Report

CH noted that one outstanding payment had arrived and another had caused minor difficulties by being paid in cash: she provided a written report (see separate document) with up-to-date statistics. DF noted a positive piece in the most recent Express about the experiences of a new volunteer.

6c) Llanuwchllyn Express Editor’s Report (see also the last item in 3(c) above)

NT has submitted a written report (see separate document) on the regular editions. He has been contacted by Nigel Bird (Bookseller) with regard to reprinting Special Edition No.1. NT supplied NB with some figures for a small re-print run (approx. £67 for 30 copies and £90 for 50). NB had offered to meet the costs of the re-print run and to require only a certain (yet to be agreed) number of copies, in return for some free advertising in the Express. NT will continue to discuss this with NB.

Special Edition No.2 (Review of 2020, 36 pages) is almost ready and NT proposes to sell this for £6 (inc. postage). He expects it to cover its own costs and possibly to make a small profit. He will try to get NB interested in taking a few copies. The Meeting voted for this to go to print.

NT asked TW about donations via the Shop / Pay Pal and setting up a ‘pay what you want’ option for some products. TW replied that the Shop takes both Pay Pal and card payments, and such an option would need extra software to set up for cards – Gift Aid would complicate such matters further.

Special Edition No.3 (Return to Bala) is well advanced and contains a lot of original material: NT believed it would be a better fund-raiser than No.2. It would cost about £2.50 to print and send per copy with a print run of 50: bigger runs would be more economical per copy. There was then a discussion on including merchandise with a Special Edition, along the lines of the tea towels packaged with No.1 in Summer 2020. It was decided that it was too soon to try this again, though the Meeting came up with many suggestions. Unlike tea towels, however, most other options have a high cost – print-to-order T shirts in multiple sizes (TW), caps (BN) or shopping bags (CH), for instance. NT is constantly reviewing merchandising.

7) Mission Statement

DF suggested postponing this discussion until the next meeting, and this was agreed due to the lateness of the hour.

8) Any Other Business

BN asked about the GWR station bench that had been offered to the Society, and which he had offered to restore. TH offered his works van to pick it up from Mold, as and when this was possible; DF offered to help with loading. BN also has an estimate of restoration costs and a potential source of oak: DR is to set up a group email to co-ordinate this project.

PM asked about a problem accessing Virtual Eagles and Bala Re-Railed via Zoom: TW was unaware of the problem and said that he was always contactable via email during these events (and indeed at most times of the day).

9) Date of Next Meeting

It was decided to bring the next meeting forward from the customary two months’ gap, so as to avoid the start of the operating season. It was also agreed to have the meeting on a Friday, in the hope that this would be more convenient for DJ. The date agreed was Friday 19th March, at 7.30. The meeting will be held via Zoom.

Proceedings closed at approximately 10.07 PM. Minutes compiled by MP.

Bala Lake Railway Society Membership Report at 3 February 2021


Membership Type Number of entries on list Number of people
A 83 (80) 83 (80)
AA 20 (19) 40 (38)
S 79 (72) 79 (72)
SA 18 (18) 36 (36)
SS 13 (13) 26 (26)
F 15 (16) 58 (62)
FA 1 (1) 5 (5)
J 3 (3) 3 (3)
L 26 (26) 29 (29)
V 21 (20) 27 (26)
W 11 (11) n/a
Totals 278 (268) 385 (377)

Since the last report dated 4 December 2020 Nick Talbot has continued to promote the “Special Offer” whereby new members also receive a copy of LE No 1 and the electronic link to view LESE online. As you can see, this has been a successful campaign although many of those who took advantage of the offer are aged 65 plus.

Since the last meeting we have processed 14 new member applications (16 people) while 5 entries (9 people) have lapsed. At the time of writing this report, 4 entries (5 people) will receive “point of lapse” emails/letters if they are not on the next bank statement, while 4 entries (5 people) will lapse.

As people generally join after visiting the Railway, we don’t usually process many new applications or renewals during the winter quarter, so we have been much busier than in previous years. It will interested to see how many of these renew their membership next year.

The Society also gained another Dog Member, but as some of you already know, we recently had to say goodbye to our dog Sam, hence the total number of dogs remains the same. Sam always enjoyed doing “Meet and Greet” duties making him a useful team member when we did stalls on the platform or at Statfold!

Draw Club 2020

The first year of the Draw Club has now ended. The total amount paid out in prizes was £200.31, of which £178.31 was donated to the COVID-19 Appeal by the winners. As agreed at the last meeting, the “profit” has been paid to the Society and amounts to £237.19.

Draw Club 2021 Update

At the end of 2020, there were 16 numbers in the Draw. In response to the form in November LE, we received 5 new applications while some existing members used it to renew their payments. However, 3 numbers from 2020 have not been renewed so the number in the January Draw was 18.

As always, we can always do with signing up more participants, so if your circumstances allow, please consider joining this!

Railway Volunteer Badges

As David J said at the December Committee Meeting that the COVID-19 Appeal was being brought to a close, eBay sales of these badges have reverted back to the income coming to me and the link to the BLR shop has been removed. However, any that I sell on platform stalls will be for the benefit of the Society. The total amount passed to the Appeal was £82.62.

Cathy Houghton


Treasurer’s Report as at 5 February 2021:

Income since 1 April 2020:

Annual Subscriptions & Donations 4521.25

Covid-19 Appeal 2566.71

Calendars, LE/SE 336.00

President’s Appeal 861.18

Badge Sales 82.62

Interest Received 0.73

Print Sales 83.00

Full Details awaited 275.10 8726.59

Expenditure since 1 April 2020:

Donation to Company Re Signal Box (ex-Presidents Fund) 2422.50

Llanuwchllyn Express 2319.94

LE/SE, No 1 & Tea Towels 459.13

Admin Expenses 262.84

PayPal Fees 78.68

Prints 41.04

Calendars 163.55


Balances (normally from most recent statements):

Deposit Account 3021.21

Current Account 21537.35

PayPal 2949.80

Exhibition Cash Float 75.00

Cash in Hand 26.51


  1. The figures shown are provided for management purposes. The Balances are correct, but no attempt has been made to double check the Income & Expenditure totals.

  2. The subscriptions & donations figures are combined; Martin & Cathy have let me have the up-to-date breakdown but I have not had time to process these yet. Financially speaking the difference is not very significant, as both sources of funds are free of any Corporation Tax.

  3. Special Funds have changed since 1 April (the start of our financial year) as further monies have been received or some expenditure has been made. They now stand at:

President’s Appeal: £2537.66 (i.e. £4098.98 per Annual Accounts, less £2422.50, as above, plus £861.18, also as shown above and which includes the funds from the now closed on-line appeal).

Covid-19 Appeal: £3212.71 (i.e. £646.00 per Annual Accounts plus the £2566.71 as shown above).

To summarise, we have cash reserves of £28296.11, of which the special funds can only be used for the purposes they were raised & we should hold onto the £400 interest free loan, although I don’t think the member will want it back, so we have £22145.74 available for any expenditure.

  1. Bank balances of Santa’s: Deposit £231.53, Current £8581.96, a total of £8813.49. (includes £100 held to order of the Railway Company relating to stand fees for the postponed Model Railway Exhibition), I have not been able to resolve the Accommodation Fund figures; up to date statements should be with the Railway, where the Bank insist on sending all correspondence.

Dave Scotson

05 February 2021


LE Editors Report

Download Editors Report

ReRailed Site Planning Document

ReRailed Site Planning Document