FR Heritage Group Journal
Published quarterly by the FR Heritage Group, usually in February, May, August and November. The intervals were originally chosen to hit the mid-point between publication of the FRM. Content is very varied; opinion, policy and recent events are usually covered in Officers' Notes and other articles deal with current heritage-related projects, historical aspects of the FR and associated railways, quarries and local history. Since issue 128 photographs have been reproduced in full colour. Detailed analysis of the content of photographs, both in the Journal and in books, is quite common - one celebrated photograph in a Middleton book provoked correspondence over a period of a couple of years! Sadly, the obituaries of prominent figures in the preservation of the FR have occupied quite a bit of space recently.
If you're into the heritage aspect of the Ffestiniog, then the Heritage Group Journal is the magazine for you. With in depth analysis of particular aspects of historical railway life, mixed with present day actions in support of our Heritage. Membership/subscription details can be found at the group website.
You may see references in both printed publications and this wiki to HGJ usually followed by 2 numbers. i.e. HGJ-01-01 This refers to the issue of the journal, and the page no.
Heritage Group Newsletter
The publication started its life as the Heritage Group Newsletter. The first issue appeared in August 1984. It was edited by David Ronald (then the Heritage Group's Secretary) and Michael Seymour, the Group's chairman. Michael Seymour was responsible for the layout and artwork. This edition ran to 8 pages of A4 with the content almost entirely produced by the editors. The only apparent exception was a single page article about C. O. Burge, M.I.C.E., written by Paul Harris.
Issue 2 was published in January 1985 with a cover price of 50p. Paul Harris was editor whilst Michael Seymour continued to take responsibility for layout and artwork. This edition was in A5 format and ran to 12 pages. Apart from issues 6 and 9 the publication has remained in A5 format ever since.
In March 1985 an unnumbered Special Issue appeared, apparently prompted by the impending re-opening of the FR Museum in Harbour Station. This edition ran to only 4 pages and is regarded as issue 3. Issues 4 and 5 followed in June 1985 and December 1985 respectively. Issue 4 had 12 pages, issue 5 had 8.
In April 1986 another unnumbered issue appeared, referring to itself as the Special April Edition. This consisted of a single sheet of A4 printed on both sides. Apart from a short item on Data Protection written by Peter Harrison, the content of this edition was entirely produced by Michael Seymour. It appears that Paul Harris did not have any involvement in this issue which is regarded as issue 6.
This special edition was followed in June 1986 by issue 7 which ran to 12 pages. The front page states that it was edited by Paul Harris and reproduced by Peter Harrison. Harrison was actually responsible for the layout, receiving the content from Paul Harris in the form of text files on a floppy disk and putting it together using Microsoft Word. Times New Roman font was used throughout - previous editions had used a typewriter font. The masters were printed on a laser printer in A4 format then photo-reduced to A5. Harrison's then employers generously allowed him to use their photocopier to produce the required number of copies. He then spent an evening assembling the copies (using a long throw stapler purchased specially for the purpose), stuffing envelopes and attaching labels.
After a further gap, issue 8 appeared in December 1986. This edition saw the Newsletter move into the world of desktop publishing. Paul Harris again supplied text files on a floppy disk. Harrison turned these into Microsoft Word format then used Aldus PageMaker to layout the finished product. The layout was still put together in A4 then photo-reduced to A5. Article titles in this issue use the Arial font. All subsequent issues use Arial for titles and Times New Roman for body text.
Issue 9, appearing in April 1987, reverted to A4 format to see if this would improve reproduction of photos. The experiment failed, as a result of which it was a long time before any further photos appeared in the publication. Starting with this issue the publication format settled down to a regular 4 issues per year, although publication dates were not fixed as February, May, August and November until issue 12.
Issue 11 was the first edition laid out in A5, abandoning the previous process of laying out in A4 then photo-reducing to A5. Issue 12, appearing in February 1988, saw the page count rise to 16. Issue 13 described itself as a Steam 125 Special and ran to 20 pages. Subsequent editions reverted to 16 pages.
Heritage Group Journal
With issue 18 the publication became the Heritage Group Journal.
By this time Peter Harrison had changed jobs and his new employers were unwilling to allow him to use their photocopying facilities to reproduce the Journal. This was unsurprising as circulation had reached around 200 copies, so a single issue involved 800 sheets copied on both sides. Issue 20 (Winter 1989/90) states that it was reproduced by Peter Jarvis. He actually arranged reproduction with a university reprographics department. The finished copies were then delivered to Peter Harrison for stapling and distribution. Other issues at this time were photocopied by an office supplies shop in Witney, where Harrison was living. This was expensive so Paul Harris looked for a cheap professional printer and found Catford Copy Centre. They took over reproduction from issue 23 (Autumn 1990). This reduced costs and also allowed the inclusion of photographs — quality was not ideal but was much better than previous attempts. Finished copies of the Journal were delivered to Peter Harrison for distribution.
Catford Copy Centre later became Catford Print Centre and the quality of reproduction continued to improve. As an experiment, issue 49 (Spring 1997) was printed on gloss art paper throughout resulting in a significant improvement.
Issue 50 reverted to 80gsm paper throughout. With this issue the publication gained an ISSN. By this time issues of the Journal ran to at least 36 pages. Issue 51 had a gloss art cover. Issue 52 had a gloss art cover and centre spread. Due to a mistake by Harrison when placing the order, issue 53 was printed on ordinary 80gsm paper. From issue 54 onwards the Journal was printed on gloss art paper throughout.
For much of the 1990s Peter Harrison′s then employer franked the envelopes for Journal distribution and invoiced the Group for the postage. The business was sold to new owners in 1999 and the arrangement ended in late 1999 or early 2000. From around that time stamps for the Journal have been purchased at a discount from a dealer, Adrian Gray has taken on responsibility for stuffing envelopes and the stamps have been applied by Gray′s local postmistress who likes the taste of stamps!
The 100th issue of the Journal (Autumn 2009) was celebrated with a colour front cover (albeit the painting on the cover is back to front — the painting is reproduced correctly but the artist, working from a photograph, painted the image reversed). This issue ran to 64 pages - most editions at the time were 40 pages. After reverting to monochrome for a few issues, issue 107 saw the introduction of colour front and back covers.
Unfortunately, Paul Harris started to suffer from health issues which increasingly limited his involvement in the Journal. Issue 112 was produced without his involvement and carried a large number of photographs as a result. In order to avoid further problems arrangements were made to ensure that Peter Harrison received a copy of any communications sent to the editorial email address. Paul Harris was still recovering so had little involvement in issue 113. He took a fuller role in the next few issues but further health problems meant that his contribution was often more limited than it had been previously. His involvement varied according to the state of his health. His editorial for issue 120 proved to be his last, although he continued to contribute in other ways. Issue 126 was his last as editor, his retirement being announced in Secretary′s Notes in that issue. Although he was unable to write an editorial for his final issue, Harris did edit a number of the articles.
Peter Harrison took over as editor with issue 127. He decided that, having used Catford for over 25 years, it was time to take a look at options for printing the Journal. As a result of this, issue 128 was printed by Mixam, a new printer based in Watford. The change allowed the Journal to be printed in full colour throughout using an offset litho process giving higher quality (previous editions were printed digitally) whilst still giving a lower cost than Catford.