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Thames Valley Group Meeting 18 November 2017

Saturday 18 November saw the half-yearly meeting of the L&B Thames Valley Area Group. It was pleasing to see the large number of members who gathered for that event. It was amazing to realise just how far some members had travelled to attend the meeting, such is the magical attraction of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway!

Group leader (Mike Pearce) started the proceedings with a brief resume of what the group had done since the start of the year. The TVG Exhibition and Sales stand had been taken to seven different venues in 2017. This had given us the benefit of sixteen separate days in which to tell hundreds of members of the public all about the delights of the L&BR.

We had also taken the opportunity to sell them the idea of Exmoor and Lynton and Lynmouth as a destination for holidays or short breaks. In addition many visitors had purchased L&B books or other memorabilia from our stand. Mike gave thanks to the ten L&B members who had helped to man the stand at some or all of those various venues.

John Elvin (group treasurer) then gave a financial update, expressing his delight at the useful sum of money the group had already raised for the All Aboard appeal during the course of the year. He hoped the assembled company would be generous with their donations and extravagant in their purchases of L&B items so that we could round off 2017 with another large sum for All Aboard. [It is good to note that when the notes and coins were subsequently counted John’s wish had come true!]

Mike Pearce then introduced Peter Miles (Chairman of the L&B Trust and Managing Director of the CIC), our speaker for the afternoon.

In the first half of his talk Peter gave members an update about the many aspects of the railway. He referred to the various land purchases, details of which can be found elsewhere on the L&B website. He spoke of the magnificent work being done in Essex in rebuilding the fifth Heritage Carriage.

Peter said the arrival of LYN at Woody Bay was indeed a significant milestone for the railway - much free publicity had resulted from the 762 Club Members day and the Autumn Gala. It was good to discover that more than three quarters of those in the hall had visited Woody Bay that weekend.

Inevitably some members expressed concern at the length of time it is taking ENPA to give us Planning Permission for the re-instatement of the railway from Killington Lane to Blackmoor Gate.

Peter patiently explained why such a decision cannot be made hastily. Firstly, it is by far the biggest planning application Exmoor National Park Authority has ever had to deal with. We have all seen pictures of the massive heaps of paperwork involved and ENPA do not have unlimited resources at their disposal.

Secondly, the ENPA ‘legal boffins’ have to ensure every single i is dotted and every single t is crossed. Neither we nor they want to see permission granted and then a challenge appearing out of the blue based on some perhaps trivial legal technicality. We just need to be patient for a while longer.

During the interval all were glad to partake of light refreshments. Fran Wise was thanked for providing that facility. Members took advantage of the break to purchase L&B items – we sold all our stock of Christmas cards and 2018 calendars. James Bloomfield’s splendid photographic prints and the new L&B book “LYN Returns” also proved to be very popular items.

After the break Peter gave us an illustrated talk about some of the civil engineering work which will need to be dealt with before any track can be laid for the anticipated extension.

All in all we had an enjoyable, informative and financially successful meeting. We look forward to the next chapter in the rebirth of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway!

Text Mike Pearce, photo Alan Pearce

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