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CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2020.

At the time of the last AGM the year one trainees on the NHLF funded BESTT Mechanical Overhaul Course had completed their basic training at the K & WVR in Haworth and were starting on their 9 month Module based training.

They were given options of where they would like to complete their training. The options were: North Norfolk Railway, North Yorks. Moors Railway, Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, Kent & East Sussex Railway and the West Somerset Railway and we are extremely grateful to these railways for their contribution to the success of the course. The trainees were supported by Martin Wadeson our Training Manager and Peter Winebloom our Training Support Manager as well as all the independent assessors led by Nev Cumberland the principal assessor. Not everyone may be aware that Martin Wadeson as well as organizing the trainees’ programme including the one day a week at York College and this year, Keighley College, has been providing one or two days a week hands on training in the machine shop at Haworth. We are very grateful for all that Martin has done at these locations as well as to Phillip Shackleton and the other volunteer trainers at the KWVR.

During their training the trainees attended five Masterclass events allowing them to be taught the different aspects of locomotive engines, steam boat engines and traction engines. For these events we are indebted to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, the Severn Valley Railway with assistance from Andrew Forster former CME of the West Somerset Railway and John Reddyhoff. The trainees then travelled to the NNR at Weybourne and were taken under the wing of Keith Ashford the railway’s CME.

Following the visit to the NNR the trainees embarked on their 4th Masterclass but slightly different with a visit to the newly built Steam Jetty Museum in Bowness on the shore of Lake Windermere and we are grateful to Stephen Beresford for organizing this event. I think everybody enjoyed their time on the steamboat “OSPREY” cruising Lake Windermere and the trainees were supported by Henry Cleary, Bob Garnett, John Megoran of the Maritime Heritage Trust and Kevin Slater, Chairman of the Steam Boat Association and BESTT is grateful for their time. The final Masterclass was held at Klondyke the home of the North Staffordshire & Cheshire Traction Engine Club. The club had two engines in steam and our thanks go to Phil Jeffs and his team for looking after us.


Whilst training for the 1st year trainees was progressing smoothly we had to commence interviewing prospective trainees for the 2nd year. The interviews were carried out at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, the K&WVR, Howarth and the Leeds office of the Prince’s Trust. We are very grateful to the Prince’s Trust in Leeds and Leicester for their help in selecting potential candidates for training.

In addition to the NHLF project we are continuing to develop training materials for White Metalling, and for the restoration and running of Carriage & Wagons. If anyone is interested in attending the white metalling course please contact me at enquiries@bestt.org.uk, as the first course will be at a special bargain price.

No riveting courses were run last year because of  lack of demand but we had a successful Boiler Washout & Examination course at the Kent & East Sussex Railway in November last.

If anybody would like to put their names forward for either course, please send your expression of interest to enquiries@bestt.org.uk.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the financial support from Corporate Members through their subscriptions, but, especially, the generous donation of £6,000 from the Heritage Rail Charitable Trust which will help with match funding of the NHLF funded Mechanical Overhaul course along side the funding raised by the Severn Valley Railway and other heritage railways.

Running BESTT is becoming a more demanding exercise and as a charity we are expected to have good systems in place for handling payments and financial monitoring. I am particularly grateful that through the good offices of Nick Beilby, our Deputy Chairman, that Peter Hall, another York railwayman, has kindly agreed to help us in this  very necessary role.


Finally, I would like to thank all BESTT Directors and the trainers, at various locations,  for their input in making the courses and BESTT successful.

Once again, I have to thank Henry Cleary our Project Director for his unwavering commitment to BESTT and its success.


Gordon Newton (Chairman)