Association of Railway Preservation Societies

The Association of Railway Preservation Societies (ARPS) succeeded the Railway Preservation Association (RPA) and incorporated the Railway Preservation Society (RPS) in providing an umbrella organisation for Britain’s railway preservation societies in January 1965. The Lawrence Report of 1995 refers to the ARPS as the ‘Trade Association’ of the railway heritage sector. Its Registered Office was located in Wednesbury, West Midlands.

The ARPS became one of British railway preservation’s two controlling associations, and sought to set basic standards and best practice amongst Britain’s heritage railways by providing specialist legal, financial and engineering advice for member societies. It provided a platform for sharing skills and knowledge in the restoration and operation of preserved locomotives and rolling stock amongst its member societies.

Membership was open to overseas railway societies. The ARPS published a journal, and compiled ‘Railways Restored’, a guide to Britain’s heritage railways published annually by Ian Allan between 1979 and 2013. The association also administered the granting of annual awards to heritage railways.

The ARPS worked closely with the Association of Minor Railway Companies (AMRC) and its successor, the Association of Independent Railways (AIR) from 1988. In doing so, the ARPS administered surveys encompassing various aspects of Britain’s railways, including passenger footfall, and consequently used the information when lobbying on behalf of the preservation movement.

In 1973, the association was registered as a limited company in England, Registration No. 1222717. In 1995, the association’s President was Dame Margaret Weston, and it consisted of a Council of Management consisting of 12 members. The Council of Management was Chaired by Capt. Peter Manisty, and oversaw a team of advisers with specialist knowledge in areas including publicity, commercial activities and marketing. Annual General Meetings were held at the headquarters of different member societies.

Because of the administrative overlap and duplication of effort that sometimes resulted from the ARPS’ close relationship with the AIR, the Lawrence Report of 1995 recommended that both associations merge to create the Association of Independent Railways and Preservation Societies (AIRPS) in 1996.