Friday, 28 June 2013

And Another Award

It is with great pleasure that I am able to tell you that I have been informed by the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) that the GWR Trust has been awarded the HRA Publications & Media Award for best Magazine for 2012 for the "Cornishman".

Heartiest congratulations to our editor Steve Standbridge.

Many of you will not know that Steve has been editior for some 15 years or so and was assistant editor for some time before that.   For the last few years Steve has worked entirely without help to produce the Cornishman which makes this achievement simply stunning.   If anyone out there would be willing to assist Steve, your help would be much appreciated (contact either Steve or myself).

I should also like to say "thank you" on behalf of all the members, to all our contributors without whom the magazine would not be possible.

Well done everyone

At the Trust AGM last evening, I mentioned that we have received some request for the Magazine to become all colour and available electronically.   The Trust would appreciate your opinions.


Henry Howard

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The really useful crew ......

Some excellent news on the Thomas weekend

Income Budget was £30,000

Actual takings - cash and £14,205 sold on line were £30,012

I'm a very happy FD

Congratulations to Andy Smith and his organising team and plaudits to all who were on duty


Sunday, 23 June 2013

They keep coming

Returning from holiday I had one letter of complaint (parking at the Steam Gala) and a string of complimentary ones.

This from a chap from South Staffs who signs himself as "Member and share holder of the SVR" is typical:

"Having recently visited the GWR at Toddington, my wife and I wanted to compliment you on a most enjoyable day out. We visit Heritage Railways throughout the country and found GWR staff most friendly and obliging. The ride during the journey was most comfortable and enjoyable. especially being hauled by the Stanier 8F engine.

The day was enhanced by a very tasty and well presented meal in the light and airy restaurant.

A first class day out!"

I can only say well done to all.

What it does make me realise is that all the hard work we've all put in over the last few years is paying dividends. We present quality and value for money, bookings are well up. we have our largest capital programme ever and are now in a sound financial position.  This must give every volunteer satisfaction that their hobby is a worthwhile activity in terms of preserving and operating a heritage railway.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Paint Shop snaps

Latest photos of Paint Shop build:

 Paint shop side

 Looking north

Workshop side - north then south

A holiday snap for me to remember!


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Room to manouevre

One of the Board's present priorities is the floor of the David Page Loco Shed at Toddington. The plan is for a  concrete surface, an indoor inspection pit with the external approaches also concreted.

To fund we having been looking to a grant from GWRT from the recent major Mitchell legacy. They are in turn dependent on the sale of a bungalow which is part of the legacy and whilst this is moving, progress has not been as quick as hoped.

However the success of the recent Steam Gala has given us some financial room to manoeuvre and the Board has today authorised  an immediate start on the surfacing of the  roads 8 and 9 areas in the Shed. These are those not involved with the pit and comprise broadly 50% of the internal area. Completion is planned for end of November.

It is hoped that the grant will be available by then and the other half can be completed after the loco winter maintenance period.

So whilst the Gala delighted our visitors, impressed the heritage industry and gave us all a lot of fun, it also moved a major improvement of the Railway forwards


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Changes at Todd

I was at Todd today to get an update on the changes that are in hand to the  Offices and storage for OTC and the Shops

The background is that some months ago a vehicle was backed into the Admin Office. The structural damage was such that repair was more expensive than replacement

Link this with the need for expanded Admin facilities, improved storage, a central office location for the Operations Manager and easier access to supplies for OTC and the Board decided on a revamp

A replacement Admin office been purchased. This will be better fitted out and will include a separate desk for hot desk working, an expanded post box facility and importantly a new and further meeting table etc that will be available to all

A new office has been purchased to accommodate the Ops Manager and a custom storage facility which will include the present plan storage drawer which is presently  kept at W in poor conditions

Finally the Development Manager's Office has been relocated

The site will be subject to landscaping etc when complete

The OTC and Shop storage has been moved to adjacent to the pod accommodation and OTC will have a quick access store directly on the platform in the former gents (which has been properly sealed off!)

It will take a week or so to finalise so please bear with us. If you are looking for your post box in the meantime, its in the Boardroom

Another set of signs that our Railway is moving forward



I have received an excellent message from Nick Jones FD of loco 5542 in connection with a special train run for the owning company on the evening of Saturday 15th June:

"We just wanted you to know how much all who travelled on our special train last evening on the extended line enjoyed their trip!

There were very many compliments to the railway from amongst our 120 or so passengers, many of whom are not railway enthusiasts. The turnout of our loco. the coaches and the whole railway. together with the friendly helpfulness of the volunteer staff were greatly appreciated."


Shedding the delay

Back from Florida to learn we have good news on the Paint Shop construction:

The present block work build will continue on most days until complete

The first floor and stairs are being delivered on Friday 21st June. There will be no vehicle access beyond the signal box on that day

Cladding will commence on 12th July until completed and will be followed by window installation

C & W and B &S will have access from early August to start interior works and painting


Monday, 10 June 2013

What the public think of us

Have a look at Tripadvisor.
Last Thursday I spoke with a number of visitors, and comments ranged from "by far the best heritage railway" to "a vast improvement" to "clean trains" to " friendly and helpful staff". No negative comments at all. Trouble is - it can't go on like this!! Are we riding for a fall??
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The view from the carriage window - part 2

Dear fellow volunteers,

My previous posting on 'the view from the carriage window' inadvertently stirred up some controversy and I want to answer Bob Mac's points.

Firstly, however, I note that the photos of the steam loco department's mess coach I intended to attach were not included so I am attaching them here.

Another small project which the Wednesday gang from the steam loco department undertook was to sheet down the derelict LMS coach at Winchcombe pending its departure from the railway. The group in the photo had just emptied Andy Goodman's brake coach of seats and stored them in another vehicle so that Andy's vehicle can leave the railway in the next week or two.


I think these three actions improve the view our customers have of our railway and seem to me to be an example of the three things we can do, i.e. restore, cover up or remove.
Without wishing to stir up further controversy about the Rbr I do feel it necessary to say here and now that its sale was never anything to do with my efforts to improve the view. This was confirmed in an email from the Chairman to Richard Johnson in which he attached the relevant board papers and board minutes. Anything else to the contrary is incorrect.
There seems to me to be lots to do at Winchcombe which could improve railway operations, make things easier for carriage and wagon and, yes, improve the view that our customers get. Perhaps you would email me at cdbristow51' and we can meet at a day we are both on duty and discuss.
Kind regards,

Father Brown

I see this series is being repated early evening on BBC2 for anyone that missed it first time around.
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Daily and Sunday Telegraph promotion

I've just agreed that we will be part of a major promotional drive by the Daily and Sunday Telegraph from 20th - 23rd June in association with the HRA and Visit England. There will be vouchers (2 for 1) and we will have a couple of photos and a small amount of text in the newspaper.
Colin Fewell

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Tourist attraction assessment

You may know we were visited today by the senior assessor for the Visit England  VAQAS (Visitor attraction quality assurance scheme). This is an annual visit to determine whether we merit the "English Tourist Council" quality assured "rose" emblem which we display at our sites and on our timetable. It is an extremely thorough assessment  following which he debriefed me on his findings. I am pleased to say that in his words we " get better each year". He was particularly impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of all the volunteers, the general cleanliness of the trains and buildings, the phone answering service, the website and the facility of being able to travel on different trains. There were a few minor issues which I will deal with separately but all in all, he was very impressed. A full report will be available in 2 weeks.
Colin Fewell