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Early Days of Normanton and Pontefract RMS

The society was formed in 1965 in the small village of Altofts, with about tenmembers.

 

Weekly meetings were held in the back room of the house of the chairman (Mr W Warburton) and secretary (his son Jack).  At that time most of the members worked, or wanted to work, on the Railways or were retired railway men.

One of the oldest members was Willy Eden who worked on the railways all of his life - progressing to locomotive driver, a top class well paid job in the 1930's and 40's. The youngest member was thirteen year old Keith Shenton, who is still with the Society today.

At that time members just discussed railways in general and admired propriety items which had simply received a thick coat of varnish.  Our retired loco driver, Willy Eden, did some scratch building of locomotives out of old bean tins etc using tin snips and files -  he made quite a good job of them too!

The contents of the meetings were noted by the Secretary, who used an old reel to reel tape recorder - playing the minutes back brought plenty of moans, grunts and laughs.  The society was not really progressing, but we had plenty of fun with one common interest - Model Railways.

The Wakefield and Leeds Society and York Railway Circle were holding annual exhibitions at the time and our member Alan Cresswell decided it was time that the Normanton Society held an exhibition, so our 1st exhibition was held in 1969 and made a surplus of £68.00.

Shortly after we obtained our first clubrooms above the Co-op buildings in Normanton town centre.  Eventually this building was demolished for a new development and we were fortunate to obtain a small room above the Miners Arms Public House in Altofts.  We were settling in quite well here and had started a club layout, but once again we were thwarted as the pub changed hands and the new landlord literally kicked us out.

 

It was at this time that the club came very close to folding - with no clubrooms and no exhibition membership was down to four, but at the eleventh hour we were successful in obtaining a small room on Normanton Railway Station.

 

Our first few exhibitions were held at the Normanton baths hall - this was used for swimming in the summer and dancing in winter when a false floor was fitted over the swimming area.  One of our exhibitors, Mick Cook, of  York  show fame, was having problems holding down stock on his layout as people walking past caused the floor to sway!

 

We decided to apply to use the town hall at Pontefract for future exhibitions - it was of generous proportions and a larger exhibition could be held (we were getting quite ambitious at this stage).

 

The local authority insisted that if they were to agree to us using this venue, we would have  to include Pontefract in the Society name.  We agreed to this and hence became The Normanton and Pontefract Railway Modellers Society.

Long Serving Member

John Clark  

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