The first sales opportunity of the year took place on 29 - 30th April 2023 to co-incide with the Railway's Gala to welcome back Alice and Holy War into service.† Unfortunately the decision to attend the Gala was taken too late to send out a general invitation to subscribers to attend the event although the two Committee Members who manned the stall were able to cope and raised over £700 over the two-day session.† The next opportunity will be over the August Bank Holiday weekend 26 - 28 August, which will be at the Railway's annual Steam Gala, where subscribers will be most welcome to attend and share the experience of manning the stall.† The next opportunity will be at the AGM in September, whilst the final visit will be at the Model Railway Show, which will be held at the usual venue in Bala on the weekend of 16 - 17 September.† Entrance to the Show will be free for any subscriber who will be attending the stall at some time during the weekend.† Please let me know if you will be able to attend on any of these dates so that I can make appropriate arrangements.†
The Fund has held AGMs in September for most of its existence (since 1967) for a number of reasons, one of which was that "it had always been done that way". This may not have been a sound basis for making the decisions but it has given a stability and a "house date" that many subscribers have adhered to.† More recently however it has been found that there has been much pressure on the September slot as it falls between the August Gala and the Bala Model Railway Show. Both of these are excellent venues for the Fund's stall, implying that 3 visits are required within† a space of 4 weeks or so, rather a large commitment given the need for transporting sales items and the stall to and from Llanuwchllyn.† At the 2022 AGM the possibility of changing the month for the AGM was considered and the Secretary indicated that he would provide a position paper on the matter so that subscribers would have the opportunity to vote on a likely replacement.† Unfortunately, this paper was not produced in time to affect the date of this year's AGM, so it has been decided to leave the date as 9 September and hold a consultation with subscribers in time for the 2024 season. †
These name plates were discussed initially at the 2022 AGM.† When Maid Marian and other early Hunslet locos were delivered to the Dinorwic Quarry they were given a name plate by Hunslets. In Maid Marian's case it was No: 5, whilst No: 3 was attached to Holy War's tanks. It was the fact that No: 3 plates are now attached to the cab side of Holy War, as well as the "Holy War's" plates on the tank that prompted the discussion about producing a pair of No: 5 plates for Maid Marian. The AGM agreed that the Fund should obtain a pair of No: 5 plates for the loco and that additional plates should be cast at the same time, with a view to selling them to interested subscribers.† An original No: 2 name plate was made available by Robert Jones, who is a Committee Member and who has close contact with Llanberis; this has been used to commission a new wooden pattern based on the† Hunslet original.† A total run of 10 brass castings has been made, of which 6 remain available for sale as 2 have already been sold.† The other 2 have been drilled and painted red to match the colour scheme; they can be seen displayed on Maid Marian's cab side.† The price is £250 each, plus carriage unless the plate is purchased at the stall.† The new wooden pattern has been produced with a blank space† so that the appropriate number might be tacked in place; there is possibly sufficient space for up to 2 digits if anyone would wish to commission a house number of their own!†
At the AGM the Secretary informed the meeting that he would no longer be able to maintain his practice of transporting the stall and the accompanying stock to and from his home and Llanuwchllyn and that he would be standing down from this task after the 2023 AGM.† He had taken on this task from an earlier stage in the Fund's development; initially it had been a light duty in addition to those of Secretary.† When the loco'ss boiler failed its inspection in 2007 there was an immediate necessity to increase the Fund's commercial activities to fund the commission of the new boiler from Israel Newton, the former boilermakers from Bradford. Sufficient funds became available following an appeal to subscribers when a large sum of money was raised.† This was topped up by interest-free loans from two subscribers.† These loans have finally been paid off but there have been subsequent expenses such as the provision of a new tank, back plate for the cab and the acquisition of an original works plate for the loco which means that there will be a steady need to continue to raise funds.† There are generally 4 sales opportunities per year, either at Llanuwchllyn or at Bala, with only a couple of occasions where there might be a different venue.† Initial duties will be the housing and transport of stock to and from the sales venues, followed up by a greater involvement in the production of sales items in the future.† Every opportunity will be provided to ease the transfer of responsibilities (which, incidentally, do not involve the responsibility of being Secretary).† Please contact the Secretary via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further discussion of details, and / or by telephone at 01302 539897. †
The 2024 calendar is in the process of being compiled and it is hoped that a number of calendars will be available for the August Gala, the remainder arriving in time for the AGM and the subsequent Christmas season.† The successful selection of No 1 Christmas cards which were last produced in 2019 is being repeated, again in theme for the Gala.† These are in addition to the usual stock of sales items which include a number of items from the general collection of the late John Firth and which are being sold to raise money for the loco.† A list of postal sales items will be included in the next Progress Report included with the AGM papers. †
Please note that the 2022 AGM will be held at the Heritage Centre at Llanuwchllyn Station on Saturday 10 September 2022 at the slightly earlier time of 1330 hours. This will give subscribers a little more time to inspect Maid Marian as the loco will be steamed on the day. There will also be AGMs for the Bala Lake Railway Society and the Penrhyn Quarry Railway Society on the same day and venue, though at different times. One of the items on the Agenda will be the more general question of the timing of future AGMs as any amendments to the running of AGMs will need to be agreed by subscribers. This year there are 3 events within a month of each other (see below for details) which has highlighted the possible need to change the timing of the AGMs in future. No change has been made to the general arrangements since the Fund held its first AGM in 1968 at Bressingham Hall, Norfolk.
The first event of the year was the Bala at 50 Gala, held at Llanuwchllyn Station between 30 April and 2 May 2022, to celebrate 50 years since the first train left Llanuwchllyn Station. The next sales opportunity will be held on 27 - 29 August, followed by the AGM on 10 September and finally the Bala Model Railway Show (MRS) on 24 September at Ysgol y Berwyn Secondary School. If you are able to help out on the stall on any of these three dates, please get in touch with the Honorary Secretary who will be pleased to welcome you to the stall. The Fund hopes to have some 2023 calendars for sale at the AGM weekend with more available for the MRS and postal sales. The calendar will include a number of previously-unused photographs of Dinorwic Quarry, depicting a number of locos from the Quarry, including Maid Marian at different times and in different appearances. The format will be a 12 page selection of landscape photographs with suitable texts to the usual quality that has been so appreciated over the years. A sample month is given below:
MAID MARIAN' (HE 822/1903) with engine crew Jack Thomas and Glyn Jones, returning with empty slate waste wagons having just been tipped into Llyn Peris in the background, on Hafod Owen (Ground) level, with the engine guised in her 'original' condition with the brass domed water tank, although the frames were those of stablemate 'KING Of THE SCARLETS' following the 1928 identity swap. August 1949 Photograph by G Shuttleworth/MLS Collection
There has also been a new set of name plates castings made from the revitalised original pattern held by the Fund and kindly repaired by one of our subscribers. The prices of the calendar and name plates have not yet been decided but will be known before the AGM weekend.
Maid Marian has been working regularly, along with George B and Winifred, as these three locos are currently in working order. There have been no significant operational problems and the loco remains popular with the train crews, especially on wet days. At the last AGM, one of the original works plates that had been bought at auction had been ceremonially screwed onto the right hand side of the cab, where it can now be seen from the platform. This is the only item on the loco which was originally delivered to the Quarry in 1903, a reminder that a working steam locomotive is a constantly-evolving machine!
This is a brief reminder about the events occurring during the AGM day on Saturday, when there will be a number of activities organised in conjunction with the Bala Lake Railway Society, which will be holding its own AGM later in the day. At around 1145 Maid Marian will take a passenger train down the line and return to Llanuwchllyn pulling a rake of wagons. From 1300 to 1400 the loco will be running cab rides along the station loop and there will be time for an unveiling of the original works plate. Bring your subscriber card to identify yourself to the loco crew and for the AGM. This will be followed by the AGM in the Heritage Centre until approximately 1515. Afterwards there will be an opportunity to meet other subscribers and to see what sales items are on the Fund's stall. Finally, the Society will be holding a free buffet for its members at 1800 and has opened the invitation to MMLF subscribers who are not Society members. So if you would like to attend, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can inform the Society of any extra numbers. If you have any dietary requirements, please let me know at the same time. Subscribers who are also Society members will have had their invitation earlier and will probably have replied already to the Society; if you have replied already there is no need to inform me!
The Fund is pleased to announce that the 2022 calendar is now available for sale on the Fund's stall at the bargain price of six pounds. This edition features a variety of photographs of Maid Marian between 1950 and 1975, when she was moved to the Bala Lake Railway. If you are not able to attend the stall in person, the calendar can be bought for seven pounds, including P & P. Please send a cheque made out to the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund (in full) to the Honorary Secretary at 139 Stoops Lane, DONCASTER, South Yorkshire, DN4 7RG. Only a limited number have been produced so place your order in good time to ensure that you have a copy.
Honorary Secretary Maid Marian Locomotive Fund
After the 2020 AGM had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis, the Committee is pleased to announce that the 2021 AGM will be held at 2.00 pm on Saturday 11 September 2021 at the Heritage Centre at Llanuwchllyn Station. Notice of the meeting and associated papers will accompany this report. From 1.00 to 2.00 approximately Maid Marian will be working the station loop for cab rides, so the opportunity will be taken to unveil the works plate that the Fund acquired at the end of 2020. All subscribers who would like to be present are welcome to join the occasion as well as attend the AGM. Please bring your subscriber cards with you to make use of the cab rides and for identification at the AGM.
Since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions the Fund has so far made 2 visits with a truncated sales stall. The first was held at the Bala Re-Railed event at the site of the new station at Bala on 12 and 13 June, which was held primarily for the benefit of the townspeople and as an opportunity for them to see what progress was being made with the application for the extension of the Railway into the town. The Fund shared a stall with the Bala Lake Railway Society for the two days and subsequently banked ¬£245. On the second occasion the Fund again shared the stall with the BLRS at the Hunslet celebrations at the Statfold Barn site on 10 / 11 July 2021; after this meeting a somewhat smaller sum of ¬£125 was banked. The exposure of the Fund was welcome but the cost of the latter exercise was such that it is unlikely that it will be repeated in the near future. Further sales opportunities will be held at Llanuwchllyn Station on the gala weekend (28 - 30 August 2021) and the AGM weekend (11 / 12 September 2021). If you are able to help out on the stall on either or both of the occasions, please let the Honorary Secretary know in advance. It is hoped that, once the Covid-19 restrictions are progressively lifted, it will be possible once again to give a longer period of notice for sales and other opportunities during 2022. New sales items both for the stall and for postal sales are under consideration by the Committee and further information about these will be made available when details are finalised.
Since the Covid-19 were lifted Maid Marian has been working regularly, along with George B and Winifred, as these three locos are currently in running order. There have been no significant operational problems and the loco remains popular with the train crews, particularly on wet days! A full up-to-date report will be made available at the AGM.
This year's difficulties continue for everyone; in my previous Progress Report (August 2020) I noted that the Committee had decided to cancel the 2020 AGM and that the Officers would remain in post until the 2021 AGM. This decision was understood by all subscribers, many of whom wished the Fund well and hoped that it would be possible to see Maid Marian once again in 2021 when the pandemic had died down. The Railway had opened successfully for several months until the service was halted by the Welsh Government's decision to order a further lockdown. Since then there has been no change in circumstances and movement into Wales has become problematic; at this juncture it is not possible to give any indication of when the loco will be next in steam. The Railway is holding Working Parties involving the appropriate social distancing and using only volunteers from Wales but of course there will be no opportunities for the Fund to have a sales stand in the foreseeable future.
The Fund will be producing a small run of Christmas cards featuring two scenes of locomotive No.1 at the bottom level of the Dinorwic Quarry. These will be on sale in packs of 6 cards, 3 of each type and will cost £4.50 each pack, including P & P. Cheques should be made out in favour of the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund and sent to the Honorary Secretary at 139, Stoops Lane, DONCASTER, South Yorkshire DN4 7RG. A calendar for 2021 has not been produced and arrangements are being made to consider a different publisher; the Fund regrets the interruption to what has been a steady supply of calendars since 2014 and hopes to resume with a calendar for 2022.
The Fund was saddened to learn about the passing away of John Firth in early November. John had always been interested in railways, particularly narrow gauge ones; he volunteered at the Ffestiniog Railway in its early days and became a founder member. He was in the original working party that had met in a mill yard in Bolton to clean some wagons owned by the then Welsh Highland Railway (1964). This led to a discussion about locos leaving the UK for export to the USA and subsequently to the small party that visited the Dinorwic Quarry in July 1965 to view the locomotive Maid Marian with a view to purchasing it. John was heavily involved in the initial stages of the Fund and was the Secretary for many years at the time when the Fund was quite unknown; he had many contacts around the country with whom he corresponded over a range of different subjects. He continued to act as Secretary once the loco had been acquired and remained in this post until 1970. In 1972 he rejoined the Committee and became Chairman in 1974 and in 1978 he became Secretary once more until 1986. John's life was busy; he continued to be the organist at the Harwood Methodist Church alongside his interest in railways until 1997 when he moved to Northumberland. He worked in a number of civil engineering positions, specialising in motorway design for Lancashire County Council before setting up his own consultancy 2004. Our deepest sympathies go to Joan, his wife for 55 years and to his daughters Helen and Joanne.
The Fund is pleased to announce that it has successfully acquired a Hunslet works plate number 822, which was bought at auction in late November. This is an important artefact for the Fund, as it is the only item of the original Maid Marian that was supplied to the Dinorwic Quarry in 1903 that the Fund owns. The photograph in the auction catalogue showed that it has the distinctive markings around the numbers that Hunslet used when casting the first pair of works plates for each loco. There was also a gash in the casting, showing signs of heavy use in the quarry environment. Any subsequent castings made by Hunslet for the same locomotive could be distinguished by the fact that the individual loco number and date of manufacture were set on a blank background. This is how the current works plates on Maid Marian have been cast, when the loco was being made ready for presentation to the Fund after it had been purchased in 1967. Clearly, the original works plates were no longer available to the Quarry, possibly because the Quarry was known to sell off brasses from locos that were out of commission. Maid Marian, along with Bernstein and Rough Pup, was stranded by a rockfall around 1965; when the first group of interested people visited the Quarry in 1965 to inspect Maid Marian the name plates and works plates were missing, presumably removed by the Quarry.
It has been well documented that the current Maid Marian has no parts stamped 822 (the latest 10 year inspection had confirmed this). Most of the parts stamped 822 are on King of the Scarlets, now at Statford Barn Railway, with some others on Velinheli, now at the Launceston Railway. More recently the whistle stamped 822 was spotted on Hugh Napier, also a Hunslet loco though from the Penrhyn Quarry; presumably the whistle was bought at the closing down sale in 1969 and incorporated into the rebuilt Hugh Napier. So the recent acquisition of the works plate is an important milestone in the Fund's history; the Committee will be deciding on how best to celebrate this event. It can hardly be called a re-union of the works plate with the locomotive because it was never united with any of the parts of the locomotive we like to call "Maid Marian" The works plate is now in safe storage and will await a suitable opportunity for an official ceremony, when it is hoped that interested subscribers can be invited to the unveiling of the plate. Naturally the plate will be on the side of the loco facing the platform at Llanuwchllyn where it can have pride of position; however, the continuing Covid 19 situation means that no date can yet be proposed when this ceremony can take place.
In the August 2019 Progress Report, subscribers were asked if they had any possible suggestions for where Maid Marian could travel for photo opportunities on another railway, subject to operating conditions on the Bala Lake Railway. Since then, no suggestions have been made but some consideration has been given to organising a Subscribers' Day on the BLR so that subscribers could spend more time with the loco than might be usually available on, say, an AGM day when the AGM eats into the time available on that day. The format of the day has yet to be decided and, of course, COVID 19 considerations mean that no date can even be considered. However, this possible day could include the ceremony mentioned in the previous item; subscribers will be kept informed on any developments that might arise.
The Committee would like to take the opportunity of wishing all subscribers the Season's Greetings and the hope that 2021 will bring more opportunities than 202 has done. Keep safe!
Hugh Jones Honorary Secretary 04.12.20Back to home page.