MAIN DEVELOPMENT OF BALLENY GREEN
Bearing in mind that the Society has continuously operated on a regular basis since its inception, the move from Lea Marston, to Little Hay was but a phase in the history of the scheme of things Having secured the 2 1/2 acre site at Little Hay, the Society Committee appointed trustees to hold the land in trust for the membership. These trustees were as follows: -
Dick Pearce completed all design and planning applications, temporary accommodation and services had to be established so as to permit works construction to proceed. The place resembled that of a building site.
Stewart Harrison, who on occasions almost lived on site, set about organising public electrical, water and gas supplies. Public sewage systems did not exist in Little Hay village, so private arrangements were put in hand for this aspect.
Peter Boosie provided a mobile site caravan which was sited next to the present main building and was coupled into the outside M.E.B. electrical system. Already the site had been made secure by a gated entrance, built by Stewart Harrison. This also embodied an intake point for all public utility services.
A portable "thunder box" toilet was established, and one of the first tasks was to install a 'Klargester' sewerage storage tank.
This being achieved, the construction team was in business, even to the extent of having catering and first aid facilities in the site hut, which was now equipped with electricity and running water. Outside, there was even a flush toilet within the steel "thunder box". Fred Paler, having initially been sceptical as to the wisdom of the new site, now threw his enthusiasm firmly behind the project and became self-appointed catering manager, a role much appreciated by those workers who consumed tea by the gallon. Work now progressed in earnest and more or less in parallel on several fronts -
• The main building. The Main Building under construction
• The high level track. High Level Track construction
• An inner low level track. Lower Level Track
• A buried duct system for the ground level signalling system.
• The steaming bay area.
• Canopy and services to steaming bay. Canopy Steaming Bay Area.
• Completion of a hard surface entrance and internal road. Internal Road
With the Holly Bush public house not far away, respite and intense discussion took place, between long bouts of hard physical work on site.
In the construction of the several areas listed above, all able bodied members lent a hand. For the main building Frank Ashmore, a retired builder, took charge of all brick laying and, in conjunction with Arthur Saunders now resident in Perth, Western Australia, produced a first class job. Stewart Harrison, almost single handed, provided all internal services. Ray Reeves prepared the timber roof trusses. Stewart Harrison had purchased these, for a nominal price, at an auction in Telford. However after transporting them to site (in itself a daunting task) it was found that they were too large, hence the preparation work by Ray Reeves.
Barry Kefford manufactured steel moulds for the high level track beams and Cyril Spencer along with Pete McMillan worked on trenching for the ground level signalling services.
Roger Edmonds and his father could be found building underground water and cable brick chambers for the steaming bays, and their names are inscribed on one such solid piece of work.
A petrol filling station canopy, which had been purchased by Stewart Harrison from Cross Guns Garage in Washwood Heath Road, Saltley, Birmingham, was delivered to site for re-erection over the present steaming bay. Bill Hall, who had located the original construction proposals with the Local Authority, then proceeded to have all structural members and foundations re-calculated for re-use in compliance with the building regulations current at that time. The problem was that the only information then available consisted of simple elevation drawings. Undeterred, Bill managed to obtain a copyright waiver from the manufacturers. Condor Ltd., and a complete re- design took place. This enabled the canopy to be erected in its new location.
The completion of the canopy, by way of translucent roofing was due to the good offices of Ivor M. Thompson. He and Frank Whitehead went to Ivor's old plastics factory and acquired a load of sheeting. This was subsequently installed by F. Tucker and A. Roberts.
Paving bricks for the steaming bay were provided by H. Gales in conjunction with W. M. McKie. Earth moving plant was provided by P. G. Boosie on numerous occasions so as to progress the heavier ground works more quickly.
In attempting to set down a history of the Society in something approaching chronological order, presentation has also to take into consideration all the many other parallel functions taking place at the same time. Therefore the next section of this history will thus move on to what may be described as how the Society acts in the social sense. That is how it uses all its facilities and functions as a corporate body.
At this juncture in the saga, it is perhaps useful to summarise the position as it stood in 1987, by including a copy of the Chairman's report presented at the Annual General Meeting held 28th April 1987, in the Wylde Green Library.
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT : 28TH APRIL 1987.
In retrospect, the past 12 months has been a busy and fruitful period where we have, in a national sense, developed an identity of our own. This I believe is due to a wide involvement of all members. Evidence of this is to be found in the distances other Model Engineers' have travelled to visit us; also in the favourable press reports on our affairs. Our membership has shown a growth of well over 10% in conformity with previous years.
A full programme of Regular Meetings has taken place and your Committee has met on 12 occasions.
For the first time in many years we have all official offices of the Society filled, along with a very interesting programme of meetings and events planned for the next 12 months.
The conduct of the Society may perhaps best be divided into four areas:-
• Regular Meetings.
• Committee Meetings and General Administrations.
• Social activities and field events.
• Site development at Balleny Green.
The Regular Meetings, which are our main activities in the Society, have been well attended with an innovative and interesting programme drawn up by our Programme Secretary John Bishop. The only low point was 13th January 1987 when, due to heavy snow, only 7 members turned up. Our new starting time of 7.45 p.m. has proven to be satisfactory and has enabled us to finish promptly by 10.00 p.m. Routine business has, I believe, been contained within a sensible period of time and an acceptable pattern has been established to receive and thank our speakers.
Under the next topic area. Committee and General Administration, we have enjoyed the wisdom our new President, Stan Greenway and have also been privileged to receive the support of two new Vice Presidents, Walter Laight and Joe Pearson.
Additionally, the Committee has carefully enquired into such diverse subjects as track and rolling stock design as well as passenger safety.
The prospect of the Society changing its organisation to a fully incorporated body, for the protection of the membership, has also been enquired into. Findings remain still to be formalised and announced.
John Clayton has been elected as Vice President of The Midlands Federation of Model Engineers and he will no doubt continue to represent fully our interests in that theatre.
Our social and field activities have seen a highly successful programme of events which, I understand, have not escaped the notice of the Model Engineering press.
On the 30th May 1986 an outing to Talyllyn was organised by Pete Smith and well supported. 22nd June 1986 saw the holding of the Narrow Gauge Rally co-ordinated by David Palmer, likewise, on the 3rd August 1986 David also organised the 2 1/2 inch Gauge Rally, whilst on 14th October 1986 Mick McKie produced the 7 1/4 inch Little Engine Rally. Full catering facilities were available at all these events and here I wish to thank the ladies of the Society along with the wives of members who so ably provided these facilities.
On 16th September, 1986, John Bishop moved our Steam Up Night to Balleny Green and another successful event was held. Finally, of the events held on site, the Bonfire Party of 8th November 1986 - under the auspices of Ted Avery and the ladies - provided a lot of enjoyment for many people; members and public alike.
IMLEC this year took place at Bournemouth on 6th July 1986 and, under Pete Smith's control, a large party spent an enjoyable day out. The T.E.E. Exhibition at Birmingham University was organised by John Bishop and was well supported by members. Prizes were won by Bill Hall, Dave Piddington and Harry Poole, which reflects well on the Society as a whole.
I also wish to thank my wife Olwen who organised a Jumble Sale in March 1987 at Brampton Hall. She also held a most entertaining Buffet Supper Party for Committee members and their ladies when over 30 people were present at my home.
Turning now to my final topic, of our site at Balleny Green, construction and development is now showing encouraging signs of maturity. This is as a result of a 5 year development plan, drawn up by your Committee some 3 years ago when I first took office as Chairman. Under this plan, 'Team Leaders' were appointed to control specific areas of work within agreed financial budgets. The scheme has worked well and resulted in productive and enjoyable working atmosphere on site. A high standard of construction has resulted along with early use of a wide range of facilities. The main pavilion is now approaching completion and extension in the ground level track has commenced. Landscaping is now resulting in a mature and pleasant environment on site. Here I wish to record my thanks to all who have either provided money, materials or labour at Balleny Green.
I now propose to stand down as your Chairman. It is not, however without some regret as I have enjoyed my period in office and found it to be quite a satisfying task.
However, had it not been for the support of the Committee along with the untiring efforts of the members of the Society, we would not be in the present healthy situations we now all enjoy.
Prospects for the Society are good. Long may they so remain.
28th April, 1987.
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