Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Breaking News

Freelance correspondant Ken Jones has smuggled out the following report and pictures.

That outspoken Ken Jones has been imprisoned at Crich - see first picture - for suggesting that the museum was over-priced, over-rated and a cliché. He had also indicated that the modellers day had been poor when his friends attended.

Defending the museum the noble Richard Lomas said: “Crich - on a summers day is a good day out and most visitors enjoy it.”
Speaking from his cell Ken said: “no-one at the museum wants to listen to any criticism. They forget I'm speaking as a paying visitor. They should be seeing these criticisms as a challenge to improving the site for everyone.”
The museum replied they would be hanging Ken for treason later.
Using a Sheffield tramcar as in the second picture the hanging will appear to be an accident using blue rope and electrical contact wire.
The most noble Richard Lomas will be in Australia when this "accident" occurs. So without him and the records he keeps about trams and Crich the incident will not be recorded.
Meanwhile Ken is trying to negotiate transportation to Australia. “Send me to Australia as if I were a prisoner not worthy of hanging, and make the most noble of noblemen Sir Richard Lomas head librarian and archivist at Crich”, said Ken.
Ken is not going to write a blog about his time at Crich – “I've the bog to contend with - and that's enough.”

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Banned for life (2)

I lodged my final appeal at the beginning of May and a panel of the three was appointed to hear the appeal. The panel members were Geoffrey Claydon, Peter Moore and Richard Sykes. I presented my appeal to the panel late in July in the company of my wife and the financial controller whom I had asked to attend as he was present at the two previous meetings and could confirm detailed facts. I had prepared my case as a written document which I presented and then gave copies to the panel. I received a copy of the panel’s report in mid October.

It was a detailed report with 9 findings and 6 recommendations.
Finding number 2 stated: “ The Board at their meeting on 21 March 2009 did not intend to override existing disciplinary proceedings, but it was not made clear to the curator what course of action he was being authorised to take or how to take it.”
Finding number 3 stated: “The meeting on 24 March 2009 should have been arranged and conducted in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure, but this was not done either because the curator was not aware of the procedure or did not think it appropriate in the light of the Board discussion. This prevented the various safeguards and options available under the Disciplinary Procedure from being observed.”
Finding number 5 stated: “The failure to adopt the Disciplinary Procedure process did not nullify the appeal proceedings since Mr Lomas accepted the use of the Grievance Procedure at the outset of the appeal.” (The problem is that at the time I was told that there was no alternative. I either accepted the situation or the interview would be terminated and the matter would be closed)
Finding number 8 stated: “Dismissal [of Mr Lomas] was an inappropriate sanction and the DP sanction of formal suspension would have been the correct option, as the curator has acknowledged.”
The report stated then that “the panel feels there were mitigating factors, such as the harshness of the penalty for what was in disciplinary terms a “first offence” and irregularities in the disciplinary process that was followed. These considerations, combined with Mr Lomas’s seemingly considerable enthusiasm to serve in the library, lead the panel to put forward the possibility of Mr Lomas being allowed to work in the library on clearly specified terms at weekends when the staff are unlikely to be present. Waiving of the suspension to this degree should be made conditional on Mr Lomas observing specified terms. This solution obviously has its sensitivities and practicalities which the panel is not best placed to judge, so it invites the Board to remit this proposal to the curator for consideration.”

The report accepted faults on both sides and reduced the penalty from dismissal to suspension. I felt that the door had been opened for a solution of this bitter dispute which would benefit everyone concerned and be in the long term a benefit to the Museum. However I was kept waiting until mid December when Colin Heaton wrote to me with the following bombshell: “The Board have accordingly unanimously decided that the suspension should be permanent.”
For the record the Board members at the time were Ian Dougill, Colin Heaton, Peter Moore, Bob Pennyfather, Karen Rigg, John Shawcross, Richard Sykes, Andrew Willis, Lynda Wright and Malcolm Wright.

So there we have it. I was wrongly dismissed in March, in September the penalty was reduced to suspension but then in December I was banned for life because the curator was not prepared to discuss a compromise and the Board closed ranks.
With the benefit of hindsight I should have insisted that the meeting with Karen was adjourned and taken legal advice on disciplinary procedures. Also it is worrying that my repeated offers to apologise for having given offence were not taken into account.
Finally Karen Rigg called for situations of unacceptable conduct to be dealt with swiftly and fairly in her report at the beginning of May. A decision signed by Colin Heaton on 14th December was hardly swift and I don’t think it was fair.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Banned for life (1)

Wim Beukenkamp has recently asked why I publish comments on this blog many of which he thinks are unhelpful. The answer is very simple the Tramway Museum Society has banned me from working in the library for the rest of my life. How would he feel if he had been banned from the workshop for life? I support the Museum but I have no confidence in the Society.

It is just over a year since the ban was finalised and many questions are still unanswered.
1. Why was my application to become in effect an unpaid employee in the library rejected out of hand? Surely at the very least either Ian Dougill or Malcolm Wright could have discussed the matter with me and explained the Society’s position. All I got was an email which said no vacancies.
2. At a Board meeting in March 2009 the curator reported that I had reacted very badly to this rebuff and asked for advice. The advice was to make your own mind up. Why wasn’t I advised of this situation and given the opportunity of stating my point of view before a decision was taken?
3. The Board meeting broke up without a formal conclusion leaving individual Board members to pursue their own agendas. Why was this allowed?
4. The curator decided to dismiss me as a volunteer but he received no guidance as to the appropriate procedures to follow and no support from the Board. (I was not advised in advance that this was to be a formal disciplinary interview, I was not advised of my right to be represented by a friend or trade union officer, I was not advised of my right to appeal.)Why was no Board member prepared to ensure that I was afforded the protection of the Society’s disciplinary code?
5. Why was no Board member prepared to attend what was bound to be a very difficult interview?
6. I was dismissed by two employees: the curator and the financial controller. Is this a way to encourage volunteers in the future?

I appealed against my dismissal and Karen Rigg was appointed to hear the appeal.
The appeal was heard by Karen three days later with the support of the financial controller and with the purchase ledger clerk to take the minutes. I was accompanied by my wife Kath, who is no longer a TMS member. Kath and I both have some experience of industrial relations and we both felt the meeting was unsatisfactory; in particular it being time constrained. With the benefit of hindsight I should not have accepted this constraint and asked for an adjournment.
Karen agreed to present her report to us personally and this she did on a mutually agreed date early in May 2009. Karen was accompanied by her husband and I was accompanied by Kath. Karen’s report was fair in acknowledging that I had not been treated properly but stopped short of offering any lessening of the penalty. I gave immediate notice of my intention to appeal. I wish to publically thank Karen for agreeing to see me although we failed to reach a meeting of minds.

Karen’s report stated the following:
“Mr Lomas should have been advised without delay of the membership structure of the [collections management] committee as soon as he expressed his interest. Failure to do so has resulted in considerable embarrassment and distress to all parties.”
“Mr Lomas should have been advised of this situation [a possible requirement for additional, defined, human resource within the library] without delay, enabling him to consider his position”
“This [letter of dismissal] came as something as a shock to Mr Lomas and it is reasonable to say that the manner in which the dismissal was carried out was not in accordance with the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Working Members of the Society”.
“Mr Lomas’s former position in the Library will not be re-instated, he is of course free to apply for any positions that do become available in the future.”

Karen’s report also made three recommendations:
1. The terms of membership of standing committees to be made widely available to avoid any such recurrence. (I don’t think this has happened)
2. In the event that any volunteer holding an informal position requests this to be formalised they must be advised fully of the terms of our application and equal opportunities procedures and their implications. They should however be encouraged to apply for any suitable formalised positions that do become available. (I think there is enough work in the library to keep many more paid and unpaid staff busy for years but only one paid vacancy has been created)
3. Situations of unacceptable conduct must be dealt with swiftly and fairly in accordance with laid down procedures. ( I agree entirely)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Barcelona - The Blue Tram

When Barcelona's first generation tramways closed one route was retained as a tourist line and it still operates at weekends throughout the year.

It is a wonderful ride up and down quite a steep hill.
These pictures were taken early in 1994 (I think).
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The daily commute

Graham Feakins sent me this link which I have saved as a Christmas treat.

The video is Ukrainian and the pictures are mine - taken in Romania in 1982.Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 24, 2010


Blackpool 166's bogies have been stripped down and the motors have gone for repair.

London United 159's bogies are coming together with ancillary components being added to the new bogie frames.
The refurbished underframe for the tower wagon has now gone to the tower manufacturers.Posted by Picasa

Arthur Whitehouse

Mike Bradbury has asked me to pass on the sad news that Arthur Whitehouse passed away on December 22nd in his sleep.
Arthur was a regular attender at Crich in the early days but in recent years he has worked nearer his home at the Black Country Museum.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Special (3)

Dan Heeley sent me these two pictures taken last weekend.

"Snow clearence during the week, particularly some large piles obscuring the workshop, made the prospect of operating a tram service once more realistic. The site was still very icey and members of the events team and others did a stirling job in gritting the site to make it safe for our visitors.

Meanwhile the track and overhead were inspected and frozen point ends de-iced by a small team (thanks Aaron!), allowing Leeds 180 to be brought out late morning on a test run. This was succesful and 180 operated a service until 4pm between the Red Lion and Cabin. This seemed to go down well with our visitors so the effort was worth it! Seizing an oppurtunity Leeds 399 also appeared briefly outside moving Roads in the workshop.
My thanks to all who helped out today, it was nice to see the small team from Engineering, Operations and Events all club together."Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa Special (2)

Rich Westman took these pictures and sent this report.
"The Santa Specials at Crich were a great success. Even though the weather was against us, we still managed to put on a show! Santa's Grotto went down a treat with young and old alike, all leaving with smiles: even the little ones whose first thought was to hide from the man in the red suit! Credit must go to all who dressed up for it, and especially to the Events Team for organising it with minimal budget. There are ideas in the pipeline to make next years' even better, but there is one thing that would do wonders for the event: more people volunteering to dress up! Those, including myself, who dressed up had a wonderful time: the atmosphere was fantastic and everyone was having great fun. When dressed up at an event like this you don't feel stupid, because there are others looking as silly (or even sillier!) than yourself. If you have a free weekend next December, please consider letting your hair down, having loads of fun, and dressing up!

The visitors all had a great time; no-one left the Grotto today without a smile on their face. And, to get Leeds 180 running on both days was just the icing on the cake. A lot of visitors were overjoyed at it running, even though just a short distance (Red Lion to Quarry Approach). On Saturday I was the conductor (in costume!) on it, and there were a few people who came on almost every trip because they enjoyed it so much. But, it was only possible due to the combined efforts of the Workshop, Traffic and Events Departments. So, if everyone pulls together then everyone can have a fantastic time, both volunteers and visitors alike!"

The cast of characters are:
Sean Croshaw as the Green Elf
Rich Westman as the Red Elf
Lynda Wright as the Purple Elf (not in photos)
John Stainburn as Santa
Adrian Roberts as the Panto Dame (whichever one it is in Jack and the Beanstalk!)
Tracey Reader as Mrs Claus

Regards, and best wishes for the Christmas season.

Posted by Picasa

Santa Special (1)

Rich Westman sent me these pictures. His description of the weekend appears in the next post.

Posted by Picasa