Branchline History - Part II

I was very pleased to read Bruce Bailantyne"s short article on the history of Branch line.  Bruce has concentrated on the aspects of the editors over the past years and has neglected the production part of the team.  Although it must be admitted that the editor is called on to do a large portion of the production, I think that the production and delivery side engenders more criticism for Branchline than the editorial side - which I must agree with Bruce - has been exceptionally good.

My involvement with Branchline began when Fred Barber left for England in 1973.  Bruce became editor and I became production assistant. Our first issue was awful - printed on a badly-working Gestetner in a closet in Bruce's father's company.  After this disaster, Rob Millikin offered us the use of his union's Gestetner and for a number of years we abused the hospitality of the Millikin household once a month to print each issue.  Rob's children were often pressed into helping us collate each issue.  The next stage of addressing and posting is where most of the criticism of Branchline appears.  The complaints fall into two categories: incorrect addresses and late delivery.  Since 1975, the mailing list has been computerized but like all computer applications, it depends on accurate information to be correct.

The membership Chairmen over the years have done a marvellous job of keeping this list up to date.  John Frayne is the person currently associated with this ticklish job.  If your address changes - let him know as soon as possible.  Similarly, it really helps if you renew as soon as possible in the spring; otherwise late renewal often entails deletion of the member and the later re-insertion.  In the meantime, you may have missed a Branchline.

Continuing with the production history, I would like to say that in 1976 BRS took a very wise step in purchasing their own Gestetner which John Halpenny looks after and uses to print each issue.  For many years Ron Roncari did the onerous job of collating each issue and putting on the stamps before putting the 150 or so copies into the post office.

Gestetner Version.  January 1972.

Recently for lack of a volunteer, the executive have added this job to their regular monthly executive meetings.  As a result, an issue is entrusted to the  Post Office on the Wednesday before the monthly meeting.  From the complaints received, this is often not soon enough for personal information or often even for delivery before the meeting. I believe complaints could be reduced if a new production assistant came forward who was willing to see that the issue gets into the mail before the executive meeting. The actual printing and computer label runs usually occur in the middle of each month - so there is a list available.

First Branchline with a picture - still Gestetner inside.  October 1980.

I second Bruce's note.  Branch line is excellent - thanks to the dedicated individuals involved both with only a few more helpers the few warts left could be covered.

First Print Version.  May 1986.

First Colour Version.  July-August 1999.

(Editor's Note:  Many thanks Bob for the additional recollections of another important part of getting Branch line out.  I had forgotten our attempt" to run off our first issue in a closet using a stubborn gestetner that wouldn't put ink on the paper,

Bob has illustrated a problem which is ongoing, by mentioning some of the activities of all the volunteers. When more than one person is involved it requires that they get together at some point during; each month.  This normally involves calls back and forth to see when everyone has a free evening.  For example there are now four people involved in some part of Branchline each month,  John Halpenny of course as editor and typist (of stencils), Ian Walker as "newsman", Phil Jago as news editor and typist and myself as "photo editor'. Phil lives in Blackburn Hamlet, lan lives in Vanier John on Bell St, and I in Kanata.  Ian and Phil get together to prepare the news, and John has to meet with Phil and me at some point to pick up the news and the photo covers (no way we would trust them to the mail!)

So as you can see there is a lot of "running around" involved and I believe (& John can correct me if I'm wrong) this is why the executive has taken on the duties of collating and stamping.  It eliminates one run for John who attends the executive meetings anyway and is therefore "Killing two birds with one stone".

But Bob has a valid point concerning timeliness of Branchline. Everyone involved, past & present, has emphasized that content be timely and that Branchline be delivered as early as necessary. Certainly a volunteer to take over distribution and possibly even production would help, if someone was willing to do some of the "running around" instead of John.

2008 Update:  Branchline is now a product of the computer age.  Desk publishing and professional printing make many things easier.  As well, the onerous mail out task is now entrusted to a professional company.  Still the content and timely production continues to rely on dedicated volunteers.  Currently Earl Roberts is the chief editor.  His stable of willing writers remains large.  For all these reasons, Branchline readers can be very thankful.

Bytown Railway Society,  Branchline, September 1981, page 10.

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