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100 editions of The Iron Horse magazine

The magazine published its 100th edition in Spring 2005. This article by the Society's General Secretary Alan Middleton appeared in that edition to mark this milestone.

The Iron Horse Issue No. 1The autumn of 1968 saw the very first publication of the Lakeside Railway Society's magazine The Iron Horse (see left). The Society's transition from the Lancashire Railway Circle to the LRS had become virtually complete in the summer in 1968, with the first dually titled LRS/LRC magazine. This was in keeping with the policy of the time, being typed and duplicated quarto size sheets, though this first magazine had a printed cover. Prior to 1966, I have no details of LRC magazines, but as the August 1966 copy is Vol. 1 No. 5, it is safe to assume that there were four issues prior to this.

From August 1966 up to the end of 1967, Bernard Walmsley had been the editor of the monthly LRC magazine. The January 1968 LRC magazine was edited by Alan Cattle, but being unable to continue, this was his only issue. The position of editor was proving difficult to fill, and Bill Ballard produced a February/March Newsletter as an interim measure. Subsequently the committee decided that a quarterly publication would suffice, with appropriate newsletters, depending on events and progress with the proposal to acquire the Lakeside Railway and Carnforth shed. The final LRC magazine was the Spring 1968 Issue edited by Bill Ballard. This had a graphically printed front cover, but was still duplicated. The final LRC publication was a Newsletter dated June 1968. If I may quote some highlights from this newsletter:

a) "Lakeside Railway Society". For the purpose of electing an Administrative Committee of five members. A meeting is to be held at the Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge on 30th June at 1500 hrs.

b) We congratulate the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and Dart Valley Railway in obtaining their Light Railway Transfer Orders.

c) Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to reopen on Saturday 29th June.

d) Fairburn tank No. 42085 and B1 No. 61306 join No. 6441 & No. 42073 at Carnforth.

The Iron Horse Summer 1969The aforementioned dually titled LRS/LRC Summer 1968 Magazine succeeded this newsletter.

It was the desire of the Committee that, in order to raise the prestige of the growing LRS, a printed magazine would be more appropriate. Bill Ballard took upon the task of editing. Much discussion took place as to what the magazine should be called. I recall wanting it to stand as a tribute to the steam locomotive, which, at the final countdown, was the very reason for the Society's existence. The fact that we were supporting the Lakeside Branch Line was incidental. So it was that The Iron Horse was decided upon and Bill Ballard remained Editor for five years, and produced nineteen issues. Numbers 1 to 6 were printed by Blackpool Union Printers and included the Summer 1968 Issue celebrating the centenary of the Branch, which was opened in June 1869 (see right). A change of printer for the Summer 1970 Issue was to Alan Cass Printing.

The Iron Horse marks the L&HR reopeningBill's final issue was arguably the most important of all, that of summer 1973, which recorded the reopening of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. This was celebrated by having a colour centrefold of No. 2085 in full Caledonian Blue livery. With Bill's departure, the job of Editor passed into the hands of an Editorial Committee chaired by John Houghton. The idea of an Editorial Committee turned out to be somewhat disastrous, as only three issues appeared between Autumn 1973 and Winter 1974, all printed by Alan Cass.

This, however, was not the end of the disaster. By this time, the hype of being a new railway had died down, numerous other schemes had blossomed, and membership dwindled to such an extent that a printed magazine was not affordable. The need for a magazine was still paramount in order to maintain as much contact as possible with members, so, in Winter 1977 we, or rather I, reverted to the DIY method of printing. By this time Xerox printing had superseded the old Gestetner rotary ink printers, provided that one worked in an office which had one. Jim Kay Jnr and myself jointly edited these magazines until Issue No. 29, Autumn 1980, when Jim was officially appointed Editor. These Xerox issues were given the title The Iron Horse Newsletter and were numbered in The Iron Horse sequence.

By Issue No. 37, Autumn 1982, we had on board a keen young journalist, who in fact had been an active member since his school days. His chosen profession led him to do something about The Iron Horse. After persuading the Committee to let him spend some money, Nigel Harris, along with David Rimmer who was at the time Membership Secretary, produced Issue No. 38, Winter 1982/3. This was a composite of commercially printed cover and photograph pages and photocopied text. The ten photographs must have been a delight to those members not able to get to the Railway. It did, however, cost more than the budget would stand on a regular basis, and as the 10th anniversary of the railway was approaching, the Spring 1983 Issue No. 39 was again duplicated.

Nigel Harris took over to produce the 10th Anniversary EditionThe opportunity to publish something special came with the 10th Anniversary Issue, No. 40, Summer 1983. It was Nigel's opportunity to show us what he could do given the resources. Issue No. 40 can be regarded as a milestone as it set the mould for all subsequent professionally printed magazines. It was a bumper issue in many ways, having 40 pages and containing 56 photographs. Contributions from O. S. Nock and Derek Cross supplemented the regular Company and Society correspondents, the photograph credit list also looking a bit like a Who's Who: Brian Dobbs, Sankey, Nigel Harris, Colin Binch, Roger Siviter, Brian Morrison, Bob Downham, Alan Middleton, Mike Esau, Joe Rajczonek, Derek Cross and Eric Treacy.

The reaction from members was obviously most favourable, and ways had to be sought to fund future issues. This did not happen overnight: in fact, four further photocopied issues were to come out. No. 41 Winter 1983/4 was Jim Kay's last. Nigel Harris took over officially as Editor for the Spring 1984 Issue No. 42. This, like Nos. 43 and 44, was photocopied.

Martin Hewlett took over as Editor in 1988 with Issue No. 51The Spring 1985 Issue No. 45, however, heralded the current unbroken run of professionally printed issues. At first, it was hoped that four issues per annum would be feasible, but this proved not to be possible; Nigel only had the resources to publish six between Spring 1985 and Autumn 1988. In all Nigel edited 11 issues, not a vast number anything like the 50 which Martin Hewlett has produced so far on our behalf since Issue No. 51. The legacy though still remains, and the style of the magazine remains the same. Three issues per annum is the current target, which does not overburden the budget. The introduction of colour on the Spring edition, or a special issue, has been the only major variation to the theme introduced by Martin.

The philosophy introduced by our current editor Martin Hewlett is "if it is not broken, don't mend it". In the event, this has proved to be the right approach. The magazine has obtained numerous commendations and three "First" in its class for a small Society magazine.

As a publication, it adequately fulfils its purpose of providing a record of the activities and events affecting the Lakeside Railway Society, and now, of course, the Furness Railway Trust, so that members, or anyone else who may have an interest, are informed and can make reference. It is the latter which I find most useful, because every milestone is recorded; whether it was when we bought "Cumbria" or the kindling of Live Steam, it is all in there somewhere.

I have done my share of spouting, but it is the collective efforts of all contributors, be it text of photograph, co-ordinated and combined by the Editor, that makes the magazine what it is. One can only congratulate Martin for sticking to the task and his printer T. Snape and Co. in Preston, for providing a consistently excellent product.

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