Sunday, 28 April 2013

Follow that!

All weekend I have been receiving messages of how much people enjoyed what was broadly described as a magnificent weekend. Volunteers it seems also had fun - we had nearly forgotten that!

Heartiest congratulations to the organising Commercial team and my personal thanks to Director Colin Fewell who was the man who took it on.

Money? Income was in excess of Budget and at Todd today we took over £10,000 today! Exact figures as soon as we have them

The GWR delivers. Again.

Double weekend for me personally since I wasn't about because my football team (Newport County) was playing the second leg of the Conference promotion play off. Many fans have waited 30 years for this since we dropped out of the Football League. We won so I will be at Wembley next Sunday!

Wartime in the Cotswolds weekend

Hard work for all of us but it went extremely well. Amazing to see how many visitors went to the trouble of dressing in 1940's style. Sad the Dakota couldn't fly due to the wind (I can only assume we didn't have wind like that during the war) To see the third rake full (and more) all day was quite a sight and yet the public loved it. I lost count of the number of times people said we were more friendly than other railways and better organised. Everyone should take a bow but in particular the organising group. Many thanks to everyone.
Colin  Fewell

Thursday, 25 April 2013


There was a Plc Board meeting on Tuesday evening brought forward from Friday because of the Wartime Weekend.

It wasn't that interesting though since matters were more of  day to day issues rather than significant decision.

The Annual Report and Financial Statement for 2012/12 was received from the Auditor and duly approved. Robert Goundry & Co now go into over drive to print it and get the AGM papers to shareholders

The Management Accounts to end of March were received. These showed that income is going well against Budget but there is a long way to go for this season

Henry Howard reported that the GWRT "Sponsor a Sleeper" is doing very well this year with a recent single donation of £10,000!

The Broadway Station planning application is still on hold pending deciding on the location of the toilet block on or off platform

The Operations Manager reported on recommendations by HMRI re safety in the Loco Machine Shop. These will be implemented asap

That's about it so no Volunteer Announcement re the Board this month


Saturday, 20 April 2013

And this week?

Some  good time investment.

Met with Danny Scroggins and Neil Carr for further discussion on the new electronic Purchase Order system. We are hoping for a roll out in 3 months

Further discussion by e mail on the potential for GWRT to take on the Winchcombe Railway Museum

Friday went to see the Jerry Lee Lewis Story starring Cheltenham's Peter Gill at the Bacon Theatre  in Cheltenham. Belting  except some of the facts terribly wrong

Spoke with Mark Young who assured that the floor on the Paint Shop will be poured in the coming week plus DP Shed viewing route should be available for Steam Gala given a fair wind

Today met with Richard Johnson of C & W to make certain I understand the challenges they are facing. It comes down to money and time as ever and we must put more resources there. Then went to see the guys at W. Inter alia they were flat out trying to make certain we have a third rake for next Weekend

Went and watched the P Way crew working on the Parlour Road relay at Todd. As ever watching those guys, I felt inadequate.

Nice to see John Broadhurst on BOC duties

Brief chat with Guard HoD Kevin Bartolf

Did Chairman's report for Board next Tuesday which included one unpleasant volunteer problem

Trains looked well populated and not surprising since a beautiful day weather wise

Mundane isn't it?


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Working at it

One of the tasks Board new boy Chris Bristow has taken on is to try to improve the appearance of the Railway from a visitor perspective. The most frequent visitor comment we receive relates to what they perceive as wrecks at Todd and W

I well appreciate that most  coaches etc are being held for future renovation or as a spares source but the Board feels it important that we present these as well as possible

That's why for example the Loco Mess Coach is being repainted

I thought you might be interested in what Chris & Co achieved today at Winchcombe

Before and after:

It's 5 o'clock and here are the financial results

We now have the audited Accounts for the year to 31st January 2013.

These will be considered at the Board meeting next week but I thought you might be interested in some snippets

Overall the Railway's Profit & Loss account shows a loss of £105,913

This gives a measure of the battle we've had.

Included in these figures is £838,173 spent on embankment repairs. This is offset by donations and grants of £686,253 and £134,000 from the Bishops Cleve land sale.

The loss in cash terms was offset by shares sales (which don't relate to the P & L Account) of £99,421

On the income side:

Ticket sales were £421,477 (previous year £429,306)

OTC income £107,757 (£87,209)

Santas £100,644 (£86,029)


Monday, 15 April 2013

GWRT Board appointments
Following Fridays Board Meeting the Trust is pleased to announce the following appointments:
Steve Sperring has been co-opted to the Board as Fundraising Director. Steve will oversee and develop all GWRT fundraising activities and work closely with David Mee and David Rowley, who administer our current appeals. He will also work closely with the Development Fund Manager to ensure that fundraising activities do not overlap.
Philip Young has been co-opted to the Board as Recruitment Director. Philip will immediately take over from Glyn Cornish the handling of enquiries and applications from potential volunteers and guide them through Induction to joining the volunteer workforce. He will also develop and implement strategies for attracting both new members and new volunteers to the Railway.
Steve and Philip will offer themselves for formal election by the entire membership at the forthcoming AGM on 27th June.
The Board is still looking to co-opt a Communication Director, if you are interested in exploring this exciting position further please contact Henry Howard, or Maxine Barton-Hawkins, Company Secretary for a discussion or a job description.
Henry Howard, Chairman, GWRT

Saturday, 13 April 2013

What goes on?

I had the direct question put to me yesterday - "what goes on at a Board meeting?" Rather better than often being told the Board (and I) doesn't know what its doing!

OK if this turns you on

The Board meets monthly, usually on the last Friday evening of each month

Those present are all directors, the Company Secretary and the Operations Manager but only directors have a vote

Each person attending will have  produced and circulated  a written report prior to the meeting. There are divided into matters for Board consideration (approval or rejection) and items of report on performance for information. This includes financial performance data (the management accounts) prepared by myself

The agenda shape is traditional:

Update on Actions Decided at Earlier Meetings
Health & Safety Matters
Matters for Consideration
Matters for Report
Any Other Business

Interests are declared where appropriate

Meetings used to notoriously go on into the early hours but these days last until around 10.00 pm. We seek to avoid interfering in the responsibilities of each director but rather comment if there is a performance concern.

The meetings are serious but there is humour. We try to reach consensus without votes if possible.

Over the years one of the inevitabilities I've recognised is that if you weren't at a meeting (and saw the information presented and heard the debate) and not thoroughly aware of the policy context, its very easy to stand off and be critical of decisions that don't fit with your take on things. Such is life.

I'll write in the future about the role of those who attend the meetings.


Monday, 8 April 2013

CRC Platform 2 - Update

Anyone who has visited the Racecourse Station recently will have seen the new foundation ready for rebuilding Platform 2. This work was done very quickly so as to be completed before our running season as we did not want to risk running locos past a long open trench for obvious reasons! The very wet weather caused us major headaches and only with the help of a very hard working contractor and the support of the Racecourse Manager were we able to complete the job - the day before we started running and only just before the Gold Cup week. My appreciation goes to both for helping to make this possible.We had to employ a contractor for the foundation work because this was the only way to have it completed in the short time-slot available and this was only possible because of a legacy and a grant from Cheltenham Council.

Now the remainder of the work is in the hands of volunteers and any other support we can muster. We have been offered bricklaying support by a team from the Cheltenham Campus of Gloucester College - initial indications are that they are flexible in working days but are limited to Mondays to Fridays in term times. I am looking for some volunteers who can come along one or two days a week to give back-up and support to this bricklaying team. This could be quite interesting as, in addition to making the most of the quiet Mondays (and Thursdays in April/May), we must also work on operating days to ensure reasonable progress. If you are able to come along and help out on any midweek days, please let me know as I am trying to pick the best days (preferably a block of two consecutive days for better efficiency - Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday).

Currently I am sourcing a small site office and a secure material store -each can only be small as they both must go at the signal box end of the platform 2 area - any ideas? We are also sourcing plant and materials in readiness for an early start. Progress depends on your support - please get in touch.

Alan Bielby

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Since the launch of this Blog on 1st March and as of 1700 hours 7th April, there has been 20,000 viewings. Seems its interesting!


Toddington Heritage Trail

The leaflet outlining the Toddington Station heritage trail is now available at the Toddington booking office - completely free. Something extra for visitors to do whilst at the railway

Into a rhythm

After the rewarding performance of Easter which incidentally was about much more than money. It was about the Railway operating pretty well perfectly in delivering the most complicated timetable format since GWR 175, about visitors saying how much they had enjoyed themselves, about compliments on the appearance of the Railway, about volunteers enjoying their roles and many of us smiling again, its been a housekeeping week for me.

I chaired a meeting of the Group leading the Development Foundation's work and learnt of the excellent progress being made including more pledges producing £8000 - £10,000 over 5 years, of some new patrons (stand by for the Development Manager to announce) and plans to receive representatives of Railways which supported us over the Emergency Appeal at the Steam Gala together with a VIP reception plan.

There was a further discussion between the Group organising the new Share Offer - on target for a September launch.

I had a brief discussion with RATS on their future plans.

I was briefed over the delays on the new Paint Shop and learnt construction work is to start with urgency  tomorrow (Monday). Incidentally to help those who have what I term "gossip concern", there are no planning issues in connection with the project.

Arrangements are also almost complete I'm told for Cheltenham Tech buildings trade trainee input to the CRC Platform 2 rebuild which should start as soon as we have equipment and services to site.

The two new coaches finally arrived from Riviera Trains. To stop the chatter, they cost £30,000 and this has been funded by a grant from GWRT.

On the GWRT front, I am being asked what's happening re the floor of the David Page shed. This is also to be  funded by GWRT grant but the Trust is waiting on the sale of a bungalow which was part of the Mitchell legacy.

There is a constant challenge for the Chairman (and added to by my FD role) to seek to balance a business like operation with room for volunteers to enjoy and express themselves in the voluntary role they have chosen. Its not always easy. One aspect, risk and its management is of vital importance. Its not only risk in an accident sense but also business risk and I've discussed this latter aspect with a number of people this week.

This coming week: a verdict from the auditors on the 2012/13 Accounts, a meeting with the Winchcombe museum people and a haircut.


Friday, 5 April 2013

Another day another coach

The second Mk1 TSO coach from Riviera trains arrived at Toddington fifteen minutes ago.

TSO Coach arrives

The first of two Mk1 TSO coaches from Riviera trains arrived at Todington yesterday evening.



Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The bunny delivered

We all sensed Easter was good for business. Figures just in from Bob Mac confirm it was better than good.

Takings over the four days were just over £31,000 against an estimate for the whole of March of £28,000. Passengers were some 2,700.

Best day was the Sunday with 800+ and takings of £9,552

Important other statistic for me was that I have based my estimates of an average income per passenger of £10. Overall average was £11.50

Many thanks to all who gave their Bank Holiday up to volunteer and particular praise to the Commercial people who clearly got the marketing right

For me as FD that's the first big hurdle well jumped. Next comes Wartime in the Cotswolds

We are getting there .............