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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 59 - Spring 1986


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J R Fairman - Quainton in 1985 - We must not be a sub-standard site

If you are an avid reader of this magazine, especially the Editorials, you may be gaining the impression from the last eight issues that the Society has gradually been changing its primary objectives. You could be right!

Two years ago it was quite clear that we were heading for an exciting future, with steam trains operating every Sunday and Bank Holiday throughout the season and connecting at Aylesbury with BR services. Superb business for BR and the QRS. In fact, Quainton News No. 51 had a stirring New Year message to you all from the Executive Committee, with details of the thrilling story. We had, we were told, just one year to prepare for the great challenge! With a proper sense of the occasion, the Editorial in No. 51 enthused about the new discipline of steaming every weekend in the season of 1984 in training (excuse the word!) for 1985. In addition, we illustrated the new signalling system to be installed at Quainton, with its vital main line connection. Yes, in 1984, it was 'all systems go'.

Now I am sure that we will all appreciate the value of having a clear target for voluntary efforts and the advantage of a sense of purpose for our thoughts and actions. These are essential pre-requisites for any successful organisation. Many examples come to mind of railway preservation societies achieving remarkable engineering feats and overcoming apparently insurmountable problems. Witness the Mid-Hants extension to Alton, the Talyllyn's Nant Gwernol project, the Ffestiniog's goal of Blaenau, the Tenterden Railway's steady growth towards Bodiam and the Bluebell's quest for East Grinstead. And, at Quainton, we too had our target in 1984 - steam to Aylesbury! Furthermore, we knew, from many who had spoken at successive Annual General Meetings, that our objective was exactly what the membership desperately wanted. In Quainton News No. 52, we started a series 'Preparing for 1985'. Negotiations with BR were underway! Quainton News No. 53 featured an Editorial in which there was the first note of caution. Problems could arise, maybe, in the talks with our main line friends. Time passed. In Issue No. 54 the progress on the former Harlington signal box was the main topic; essential for the future operations outside the confines of Quainton. There was another significant development and it was about money. Projects like running to Aylesbury needed cash. The Development Fund was born - the 200 Club, described at its launching in Issue No. 55.

Negotiations were continuing. But the membership must have been wondering what was happening. Probably those 'in the know' were being updated - but not the members. By the winter of 1984/85, the Editor appeared to have exhausted his fund of new ideas on the subject and he began to change his direction towards extolling the importance of improving and developing the attractions of Quainton itself. This still needed money. Every member had a letter from our Chairman, inviting (entreating) them to join the Rapid Development Fund and Club 200.

1985 dawned. It was no longer 'Steam to Aylesbury', but it became 'The Year of the Visitor'. In desperation, the Editor managed to keep the dream of Aylesbury before the eyes of his readers by featuring some nostalgic pictures from the past of steam at the Bucks county town. The discerning reader must have found it crystal clear that the Executive Committee had changed their primary objective to 'Quainton is the Main Attraction'. Excellent, say I, but we should have made the decision rather than drifting into it. And we should decide now - and tell all members why we are not yet ready to go to Aylesbury. It isn't only the fact that negotiations have not yet been concluded with BR, it is also the fact that we were not ready for the challenge, both in the number of volunteers (a regular plea), the availability of cash resources (look at our Annual Report and Accounts) and in the preparations at Quainton (signalling, parking, training, toilets, etc.).

With this in mind, we must welcome the change in emphasis and the birth of the 'Buckinghamshire Railway Centre', a title gracing the cover of Issue No. 57 in Summer 1985. Did you notice that there was no reference at all in the Report of the 1985 AGM to working to Aylesbury? Perhaps you observed the Editorial in No. 58, when I said "Well, maybe we didn't manage to operate outside the confines of Quainton in 1985!"

Yes, we have been forced to change our primary objective. Yes, the negotiations with BR to run to Aylesbury are proving difficult. So our new objective must be to make the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre better than ever, a site par excellence. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that the negotiations with BR haven't been completed, because it has given us more time to put our house in really good order. When this has been done, we will be better placed to face the challenge of regular train operation to the south.

For these reasons I am not so much concerned that we have changed our primary objective for 1986. A 'super' Quainton is as satisfying a goal as steaming from a sub-standard site to Aylesbury. But I do hope the Executive Committee will tell us when they wish to make their next change in policy!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1986 and so does not reflect events in the 25+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Editorial - Quainton News No. 59 - Spring 1986

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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