Annual Convention 2019 at Welshpool: a short report

The 2019 Annual Convention of the RPG was organised by Terry Davies and held at the Royal Oak Hotel in Welshpool over the weekend of 27-28 April 2019. Following the usual pattern, this year’s was nominally a 1-day event on the Saturday, although the majority of participants made the occasion an excuse for an enjoyable long weekend. Socialising began on the Friday evening in the hotel bar when old acquaintances were renewed, but the business proper started the following morning. Proceedings were started briskly by Chairman Brian Childs who introduced the first of the speakers Prof. Cedric Pryse-Roberts, one of several guests from the Welsh Postal History Society, whose subject was ‘The Ruabon to Barmouth Railway and the Bala to Ffestiniog Railway’. This talk blended railway history and philately and provided a great introduction to the area. Our next speaker was a Canadian, Charles Spencer, who now runs the Welshpool and llanfair Light Railway, a local attraction that the RPG group were to visit on the following morning. Charles gave us a good insight into the strategies that have helped to sustain and develop the WLLR from its initial days in preservation. Most appropriately the final speaker before lunch, Les Winn, had made a collection of ‘The Railway Letter Stamps of the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway’ and this nicely complemented the preceding talk.looking at some of the anniversaries celebrated by the railway during its more recent years.

After lunch competition entries were put on display for attendees and our judge, Lynn Roberts to view. Later, following a close contest, the winners of two cups were announced. They were Dominic Wickremasinghe who won the Doncaster Cup with an entry titled ‘TPOs of Posen-Lissa-romberg 1852 – 1945’ and Chris Tennant whose entry ‘The Green Arrow Registered Transit Service’ won for him the Turner-Jackson Cup. The remainder of the Saturday afternoon was free for participants to explore the town but everyone came together again over a convivial dinner in the hotel.

Saturday morning saw most of the group reassemble at Welshpool Raven Square Station in good time to catch the timetabled 11.15 service to Llanfair Caereinion. Fortunately the rain of Saturday had abated and it was a pleasant ride through the green countryside on quite a busy train. At the terminus some opted immediately for the warmth of the cafe but many took advantage of a tour of the workshops and engine shed given by the WLLR’s finance wizard Bob Mason. Participants then weren’t their separate ways, some returning to Welshpool on the 13:00 service while others returned at 15:30hrs. Overall it was a memorable weekend with a nice balance of philately and railways.