|LUPTS history: formation of the Society|
was, in many respects, a strange time for a transport society to be formed in
Liverpool. So much of what
had seemed a permanent part of transport life in the area had disappeared in the
previous eighteen months: Liverpool’s trams in September 1957, the Liverpool
Overhead Railway at the end of December 1956 and the ex Mersey Railway
‘Westinghouse’ stock in March 1957 to name but three.
in the country the story was similar.
Steam was still dominant on the railways although the 1955 Modernisation
Plan had signalled its replacement by diesel and electric traction.
It was not realised at the time quite how soon this would take place;
Richard Beeching was a little known industrialist and not the architect behind
the Reshaping Plan which was to account for the closure of almost half of
Britain’s railways over the next eight years.
were also in terminal decline. The
only remaining systems on mainland Britain were Blackpool, Glasgow, the Great
Orme, Grimsby & Immingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Swansea & Mumbles
although most were due for imminent closure.
Twenty five trolleybus systems remained although these were also under
threat from increasing levels of car ownership. Interests were parochial in those days and it was to be
some time before people started taking the degree of note which they do today of
what was going on elsewhere in the world.
start of LUPTS can be traced back to a chance meeting in the queue for the
student café on the top floor of the Old Union Building.
The date was Thursday 6 November 1958.
John Ryan recalls hearing two people in front of him in the middle of an
animated discussion about buses. The
discussion was between two school friends: Martin Jenkins and Chris Bennett.
The group had lunch together and the conversation followed two
directions. Firstly, there
was the idea of forming a society for students interested in transport, along
the lines of societies which were known to exist at other universities.
Secondly, and felt to be of more urgency, it was decided to make an
approach to Liverpool City Transport over the ‘Baby Grand’ tram which the
Corporation had retained after the aforementioned system closure.
the latter point, the still informal grouping decided to write to the
Corporation over the tram, number 245.
Martin was to draft the letter stating their interest in the tram which
they “believed existed”. This
was due to the fact the whole project was shrouded in secrecy.
Ambitious though it sounds now, the students asked if they could buy the
tram at a reasonable cost for the purpose of preservation but keep it at Edge
Lane Works. This saga was to
run on for several more years.
the subject of a society, a further lunch meeting on Wednesday 12 November
considered what aims and constitution it might have and how such a society could
be created. The informal group had been enlarged to include three other
students: Mike Lewis, Kevin Donnelly and Peter Burton.
Several courses of action were agreed including the organisation of an
open meeting and an article in the Guild of Undergraduates’ fortnightly
newspaper, Guild Gazette.
This article duly appeared in that Friday’s issue (no doubt helped by
the fact that Kevin Donnelly was on the editorial panel) and read as follows:
some time now, Leeds has had a Railway Society, and other Universities have
similar societies with an interest in one or more forms of transport.
Now a go-ahead Arts Fresher, Martin Jenkins, is trying to form a
Transport Society at Liverpool. An
inaugural meeting will be held in the Gilmour Hall on Tuesday 25th November, at
5-00 p.m., and Martin extends an invitation to all who are interested in any
form of public transport to come along.
Interested students who can’t make the meeting should contact Martin
through the Men’s Letter Rack.
the inaugural meeting, the six aforementioned students formed themselves into a
provisional committee. Three
held specific posts: Martin Jenkins was Chairman, John Ryan Secretary and Kevin
Donnelly Treasurer. This
committee was to remain in place until an elected one could be appointed and it
was envisaged that the proper committee would include a number of additional
posts, including a President (by invitation from outside the student membership
rather than elected), a Visits Organiser, a Librarian and three Secretaries
representing modal interests: Rail, Road and Water/Air.
people turned up at the inaugural meeting on 25 November. The first thing was to do was decide on a name.
By a majority of 9-7, the name Liverpool University Public Transport
Society was chosen over the same name with the word “Public” omitted.
The name was the subject of discussion over the years but was always to
second item was to get some idea of the range of interests of those present.
Although Guild had published the initial notice under the heading of a
Railway Society, the text had made it clear that the Society’s coverage was to
be inclusive rather than exclusive. The
20 people present gave the following as their interests: rail (12 people),
canals (5), trams (4), trolleybus (3), air (2), bus (2), ships (2) and,
intriguingly, camel/yak/animal transport (1).
With the exception of the latter, all interests were catered for over the
honorary appointments from the University’s academic staff were made at that
first meeting, both of whom were to support the Society for many years.
J Allan Patmore of the Geography Department was invited to become the
Society’s President whilst Dr Geoffrey Calvert of the Mechanical Engineering
Department was given the post of Honorary Vice President.
Both were to repay this ‘generosity’ by being invited to speak at
LUPTS on a regular basis in years to come.
within the student membership, the following appointments took place: Visits
Organiser: A Gant, Rail Transport Secretary: Mr Behan, Road Transport Secretary:
Tony Henry, Canal/Air Secretary: Mr Abbot, Librarian: Neil Cossons.
initially had the status of a ‘C’ society within the Guild of
Undergraduates. For those
unfamiliar with Guild organisation: ‘A’ societies were (and still are) the
Departmental societies, one of which each undergraduate was required to join. ‘B’ and ‘C’ societies encompassed all the
cultural and social, political, religious and national societies.
‘B’ societies had an account serviced by Guild and received a grant;
‘C’ societies had independent accounts and received no grant from Guild.
was therefore considerable benefit to being upgraded to ‘B’ society status
although at least 30 members were required before this would be considered.
LUPTS achieved its 30 members fairly quickly and asked for ‘B’
society status during the early summer of 1959.
A letter retained in the University Archives dates from 8 August 1959 and
is the earliest reference to the Society in Guild correspondence.
Secretary of the Liverpool University Public Transport Society, I am writing to
you with respect to the status of our Society as recognised by Guild at the
wish to know whether or not we have been officially classed as a ‘B’ Society
up to the present time. Previous
requests have been met with inconclusive replies.
will realise that this matter has an important bearing on our activities at the
forthcoming Freshers Conference and afterwards.
would therefore be most grateful if you could clear up this matter as soon as is
convenient to you. This would
be of benefit both to the society and to Guild as financial arrangements could
be satisfactorally formalised without any more doubts.
spite of John’s letter having intimated that this was not the first approach,
he still received no reply. A
follow up letter from Martin Jenkins fared better; he was then on the Guild
Executive, which helped. The
following letter was eventually received from Guild:
am please to inform you that at a Meeting of the Guild Council on Thursday, 10th
December, 1959, your Society was granted ‘B’ Society status.
Constitution has been registered with the Guild, and if I can be of further
assistance, please let me know.
of the Guild
within 14 months of that first chance meeting, LUPTS was fully set up as a
‘B’ society and well into its programme of visits and meetings.
Back to LUPTS history index
Last updated: 04 March 2002
© Charles Roberts/LUPTS 2001/2002
Page hosted by www.lupts.org.uk