Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

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Peter Hall
Joined:Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:51 am
Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by Peter Hall » Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:58 am

Whilst Branch Chairman in Sheffield, prior to my dispossession in the coup d'?tat early this year, I kept asking the same question of members. This being 'Why are you a member of the RCTS?' Not surprisingly I had few responses! There was of course good reason for asking. As a Branch Chairman such information would have been very useful in allowing me to taper meetings and activities so as to be of most benefit to members.

Now we have this forum I put the same question to a wider audience, both members and non-members. Over to you. I am sure the responses will interest not only myself but other members especially those in the higher echelons.

Joined:Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:26 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by Peterwoking » Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:32 pm

Refelecting my background in economics and social history I am interested in railways as a mode of transport and also its role in our changing society.

Probably the area that interests me least is the technical engineering side.

Bevan Price
Joined:Sun Nov 23, 2014 3:59 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by Bevan Price » Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:53 pm

As (life) member 8050, I joined mainly to participate in shed visits organised by what was then the Merseyside Branch. I also travelled on numerous RCTS steam railtours. I attended meetings for several years, but finally gave up after nearly getting stranded in Birkenhead due to rail problems. A 2 mile walk at almost midnight, then having to rise early next morning to get to work was just too much. The meetings have since moved to Chester, further away from home, but I am not sure I would want to rely on the last train home, quite apart from thinking about personal safety, alone, at night.

So now, my contact with RCTS is reading R.O. (when I get time), and trying to help with some of the "mystery photos", etc., on the RCTS website.

I might have considered attending occasion meetings if they were at daytime (e.g. Sunday afternoons), at times suitable for public transport to/from the meeting.

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Joined:Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:35 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by pdeaves » Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:31 pm

I originally joined for the library. I now attend such meetings and visits as are of interest to me and not a clash with other things. Additionally, I am a member to serve others with contributions to the RO.

Joined:Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:33 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by jim.87002 » Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:42 pm

I originally joined the RCTS in the 1970's for shed visits. I left when my interest diminished but rejoined when the Woking branch opened. I attend most meetings and the occasionally outside visit.

Joined:Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:38 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by windsor_lad » Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:50 pm

I joined the RCTS having received the November 1979 issue as part of the pack received from Geoff Hooper as a result of my enquiry- I found the contents quite amazing and sent off my first subscription the following day.
I attended my first meeting January 1983 with the London Branch - Jeremy Harrison was the speaker I think.
In 1984 I helped out at my first exhibition.
In 1985 I started to help Terry Silcock at the library - when it was a room in 22 Hillingdon Road.
In 1988 I was asked to become London Branch Secretary and attended my first OC.
That was the beginning of a slippery slope that has become part of my life.

Joined:Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:31 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by RichardCoulthurst » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:24 am

I have always been interested in railways. My first clear memory is seeing a small engine called "Sir John" shunting in a colliery yard at Mountain Ash in about 1950. I joined the RCTS in 1969 probably as a result of an advert in the Railway Magazine. My main contribution to the society is now writing book reviews for the RO (which allows me to see books I wouldn't normally get) and occasionally contributing snippets of news, answering items in the Query Corner or identifying Mystery Photographs as well as buying surplus library stock.

I don't think I have been to an RCTS meeting since I lived in the West Country when I used to go to the meetings in Exeter on Saturday afternoons. (This was in the early seventies.) For a long time family and work commitments prevented me from attending meetings and now there are no RCTS meetings within easy reach of Manchester or Stockport where I now live.

Bevan Price makes a good point about the timing of meetings. For those dependent on public transport evening meetings are difficult. In many places public transport is sparse or non-existent in the evenings and the same applies to Sundays. I do go to the meetings of another society which holds its meetings in Central Manchester on Saturday afternoons. These are well attended but I suspect quite a few people would not be able or willing to come to evening meetings.

To me the main benefits of the society are still the RO and the other excellent publications. I now depend on the RO for all my railway news. I gave up the Railway Magazine a while ago as many of the articles seemed to be thinly disguised "advertorials" and it had also got very expensive. The maps were often poor compared to the excellent maps they produced in the 1950's which were works of art.

Joined:Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:31 am

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by peterclark » Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:40 pm

This was a discovery this morning! I joined the RCTS in 1963 on the recommendation of Arthur G. Wells, member number 2436, who was a close friend until his sad death in 1996. Even in that year of the Beeching Report, we little imagined that the railway scene would change so much in our lifetime. The chief attraction of the RCTS for me was The Railway Observer and it still is, especially as I have been on the editorial team since 1985, but, in this age of the internet and closer attention to detail, I sometimes wonder if less emphasis is needed on day-to-day aspects of our current railway system and a more historical direction might appeal. However, today's news is tomorrow's history! I pick up on Bevan Price's reference to Sunday afternoon meetings. It is not possible for me to attend RCTS indoor meetings on weekday evenings and much of what would interest me has been thoroughly covered over the years. Nevertheless, I live in hope that a branch somewhere not too far from London might hold an occasional Sunday afternoon meeting. I am not holding my breath because two letters from me in the RO failed to attract any response, either for or against the idea. I realise that Sunday is no longer the quiet day that it used to be and that there are many counter attractions (sport, shopping, preserved railways to name but three) but doubt if I am the only one who would thoroughly enjoy a Sunday afternoon wallowing in nostalgia looking at the railway scene as it was in our childhood days in the 1950s and 1960s, which we then thought would go on forever but which came to a seemingly abrupt end before we had had the chance to explore it more fully. Any supporters out there? Peter Clark

Peter Hall
Joined:Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:51 am

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by Peter Hall » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:42 pm

Interesting to note that a couple of respondents are suggesting Sunday afternoons as a suitable time for Branch meetings. Prior to my 'overthrow' in Sheffield I had been of the opinion it was worth giving that a try but only in winter - too much going on in summer.

The thing, in my view, that prevents such developments is the reluctance to change. In the majority of Branches, most, if not all those attending, are eligible for a bus pass. They have been coming to evening meetings since the 1950s/1960s and it is now a part of their routine. Trouble is things were different then and they were young. Its one thing going to the chippy after work and then to a meeting and getting to bed late after you have avoided various undesirables on the way home, once a week when you are young, but is that OK when your older?

In Sheffield I was able, despite resistance, to have a small number of midweek afternoon meetings. These were well supported and several new and lapsed faces were seen. Trouble was though the evening venue was not really suited and although an alternative was found it was less accessible and harder to find for those without detailed local knowledge and we had initial heating problems. Mere mention of weekend meetings though would bring the knives out!

Changing venues is something where reluctance to change rears its head. It might cost a little more but moving to serviced venues such as hotels and similar in my view was another thing that needs testing. Poorly heated church halls and back rooms of pubs were the landlord changes every month are just not were many of our members are attracted to go for a meeting.

I had ideas for occasional Saturday afternoon meetings at Barrow Hill (additional to their evening meetings) - shed is open to visitors and they have superb on site snacks. Also occasional, double bill Saturday meetings with buffet lunch at a venue close to the station. No chance!

Joined:Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:58 pm

Re: Why are you a member (or not) of the RCTS?

Post by 6-6-66 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:32 pm

I had known various members of the West Midlands Brach for years, from the early 1960s, but never got to a meeting, until a work colleague, the late and much missed Jack Mason invited me along. It was all downhill from there, leading to involvement with both the Branch and national sub-committees. No intention of letting this drop at the moment.

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