NELPG publishes its own bi-monthly newsletter NELPG NEWS, which is posted free to all of the group's members. The history of the group is chronicled in its pages.
The Covid-19 situation has curtailed our activities. It is encouraging to see a return of working parties though, of necessity, in a controlled manner. Despite the restrictions, this seems to be working well, with good progress on all our locomotives. After a time when there was a big question mark over operations on the NYMR and the Jacobite and, therefore, the prospect of no locomotive hire earnings in 2020, both the J27 and the K1 have seen some use and have earned some unexpected income. Despite restricted capacity, the Jacobite has loaded well, prompting West Coast Railways to extend the period of the two train working.
In these unprecedented times we have had to adapt to a new way of life in general and NELPG business has had to change, too. Regular Board meetings are now taking place by Skype where we can all see and talk to each other via our computer screens, and most effective it is too. The main business has been the overhaul of the J72, in particular the replacement of the cylinder block he refurbishment of the boiler, and this is dealt with in much more detail elsewhere in this issue.
Thanks to the Corona virus pandemic, this has turned into a very different and challenging period to what we were all expecting. The Trustees have been closely following the Government's response to the outbreak and considering the implications for the Group's activities against our duty of care and responsibility for the safety of members. On 16th March, the guidance and direction from the Government changed significantly. Following this change in guidance, the Trustees decided that all our planned activities should be cancelled, postponed or suspended until further notice. All were discretionary, and none could be regarded as essential in the national context.
Very real sadness of the passing away of long standing NELPG volunteer and supporter, Dave Whitfield. The Masterplan for what is designated Darlington’s Railway Heritage Quarter has been approved by Darlington Council. The prospects for the occupants of the site, including the NELPG, are, to say the least, potentially quite exciting.
After 50 years on the NELPG Committee and Board in a variety of capacities, 20 of them as Chairman, John Hunt has decided not to seek re-election as a Trustee when his term of office comes to an end at the 2020 AGM. On 11th November, epresentatives of Darlington Borough Council attend a Board meeting so they could present their latest thoughts on the redevelopment of the Hopetown site as the Railway Heritage Quarter. This issue carries obituaries for John Richardson and Len Clarke.
So far, it seems to have been a good year for the NELPG, showcased on Thursday 26th September when all three of our operational locomotives were in use on the NYMR. A proud day for all concerned. Operationally it was a success and there is already talk of a repetition next year. It was a precursor to the main NYMR autumn gala, which was blessed with some prestigious visiting locomotives, and large crowds that braved the, at times, rather inclement weather!
On a sad note, however, we have to report the passing away of Len Clarke. It was not entirely unexpected, as he had been very ill for some time, but the Group owes a great debt to him also. He was a master in the art of locomotive painting, especially lining out and lettering. A full obituary will follow in the next issue of the NEWS.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway's Motive Power Departmen has helped to facilitate and man, the very short notice, a very successful visit of the T2 (Q6) to the Mid Norfolk Railway.
Monday 20th May was a significant one, as all three of our operational locomotives were in traffic on the same day – the K1 at the start of its season in Scotland on the Jacobite, and the T2 and J27 on the NYMR. The Chairman believes that this is the first time this has happened since the S&D 150 event at Shildon in 1975. Furthermore, it has been repeated several times since.
Elsewhere in this issue is the obituary for Derek Norris, a true supporter of the Group, who, as a fireman at Hartlepool shed, and later a builder, brought considerable experience and practical help to the Group over many, many years.
I believe we enter 2019 in good fettle with, as previously mentioned, the prospect of the J27, Q6 and K1 all doing a full season’s work, with the positive effect this will have on earnings. This encouraging position is in no small part due to a very good turnout of volunteers over the winter period, together with the help and co-operation of the MPD at Grosmont and West Coast Railways at Carnforth.
The season came to an encouraging finale with both the J27 and the Q6 operating Santa specials on the NYMR, but our three operational locomotives only amassed just over 11,000 miles between them in the whole of 2018. As our main source of income is revenue from locomotive hire, this has inevitably had a adverse effect on our anticipated earnings. For good reasons and previously explained, neither the Q6 nor the K1 maximised their earning potential last year but, all being well, all three locomotives should be able to do so in 2019. The J27 should, once again, share its working between the NYMR and the Wensleydale Railway, the Q6 should potentially do around 6,000 miles on the NYMR and the K1 amass a similar mileage in Scotland, then on the NYMR in the autumn.