Monday, 28 December 2015

Santa Specials

I'm just surfacing again after a hectic month so can at last let you know how it went. There really isn't any bad news! We had another record santa season with almost 9500 visitors - up over 10% in two years -  and interestingly 38% were children - is exactly the same percentage as the past three years.  We gave each child 2 presents so you can work out how many presents we handed out in total, and of course added to that were hundreds of baby presents.

Because our toy supplier needs approximate numbers now for 2016 (as he is flying off to China and India in the early new year to place orders), we have already made a provisional order for a further increased number as allowing for the  calendar it looks as if we are in store for another record year.
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Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves with (so far) only one e mail of complaint and lots of "thank you" emails, letters and cards. Have a look at Tripadvisor for more comments. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic support

Colin Fewell

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Plc December Board Meeting


The latest meeting of the Plc Board took place earlier this month. As usual, there were a wide variety of issues to be considered and dealt with.

We were advised that after many years of service in the post, Kevin Bartolf had decided to stand down as Head of the Guards department. We should like to thank Kevin for all that he has done, and are very pleased to note that he continues as a volunteer with us. Neil Carr is taking steps to appoint a new Head of that department

We also heard that unfortunately Darren Fairley had decided to stand down as the Civil Engineering Director. Darren lives a long way away in Peterborough and it is to his credit that he was able to make such a contribution over so many years. I have written to Darren to thank him for his service.

We discussed the continuing proposal to seek to purchase the old station site at Bishops Cleeve. We had already made a written offer, and decided to increase it to offer a figure over the guide price but at the same time were conscious of the fact that we were competing with property developers. We do not have unlimited funds, and had a to take a sensible decision about this. Alan Bielby has gathered together a number of letters of support from various parts of the local community, and hopefully this will significantly strengthen our bid. We await a decision after 23rd January.

We all felt that it was very important that all our volunteers were told about this as soon as possible, so we decided to put out a Volunteer Announcement about it.

We approved new and updated policies on Asbestos Management, use of PPE by volunteers and public access to working areas. They have already been circulated to all relevant departments to be brought to the attention of all volunteers.

We have been conscious for some time of the number of matters that Alan Bielby is dealing with as Projects Director, as well as dealing with all issues in his capacity as Chairman. We decided that we should seek an assistant for him; particularly in relation to the proposed Winchcombe projects, and it was agreed that we would circulate a Volunteer Announcement seeking one.

The Heritage Group had previously submitted a proposal to rebuild Hayles Abbey Halt, as a replica of the original Halt that was there. We unanimously approved this and agreed to the funding proposal. We shall ask the GWRT to consider a grant to cover the cost of this work. A start is imminent, early in 2016.

The replacement of the 'Elf Centre' at Winchcombe is high on our list of priorities, and if plans proceed as hoped, then it should be in place for the end of next year. The GWRT has ring-fenced legacies to cover much of the costs, but additional funding will be needed. We were updated by Alan about the current position.

Chris Bristow took time to go through the plans he is working up for the proposed Share Offer next year, to seek to raise sufficient funds to get us to Broadway. A photographer was engaged to take a number of photos from a helicopter, and they are very impressive. Because of the timetable for this Share Offer, our accounts will have to be signed off very shortly after the end of the financial year so Chris is taking steps to ensure that there is no unforeseen expenditure in January which will delay this. we agreed to his proposals and all Head of department have been circulated.

Colin Fewell reported that all steam Santa trains were fully booked, and that there were just a very few seats available on the DMU. They were subsequently sold very quickly.

There is a proposal to convert a redundant coach the Plc owns, to a shop for use at Winchcombe; very much along the lines of the successful Discovery Coach. It was agreed that we should investigate this further, in view of the fact that Winchcombe is becoming an ever more busy station. A retail outlet there would add considerably to it. If this is done, it could be a very useful use for what is currently a redundant asset,

In the absence of Darren Fairley, his deputy Peter Muir provided us with details of the necessary work required on culvert 39A at Bishops Cleeve. This can only be done when trains are not running as the track will have to be lifted out, so a manageable solution needs to be found quickly.

One of the things we agreed at our last meeting, was that we would actively take steps to improve communication with the volunteer groups who do such a good job in looking after our stations. Richard Summers had agreed to head this up, and we were very pleased to hear that there there had been a number of meetings, and good progress was being made. Good communication so often resolves potential difficulties.

This is just a brief summary of what we covered, and I hope that you find it interesting.

There is currently a vacancy on the board, and we should like to widen the areas of expertise we have. If you think that you would like to offer to join the Board, please write to me either at our registered office, or by email to company.secretary@gwsr.com

We would particularly welcome applications from ladies and our younger volunteers.

All directors will join with me both in thanking you all for your hard work and commitment in 2015, and in offering our good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Richard G. Johnson, LL.B, Solicitor
Company Secretary

Monday, 23 November 2015

AFTER THE FAIR

During the highly successful Volunteer Recruitment Fair held in March this year over 200 potential new volunteers attended.  The two day event, the first to be held by the GWR was organised and managed by Philip Young, Recruitment Director, GWR Trust.

You may like to hear what has happened to those 200 prospective volunteers in the months following the event and others that have attended Induction Days this year.   

During the Fair, or in the days directly afterwards the Railway received applications from 111 potential new volunteers. 76 of these attended a Volunteer Induction Day in April in Toddington Village Hall and a further 38 (including 3 who did not attend the Fair) attended an Induction Day during May.

Of those 114, 81 have now obtained their Full Work Permits, with 5 potentially to convert to Full Work Permits.  Another 8 remain “on the books” but are most likely to withdraw.

The remaining 20 includes a number who have withdrawn for valid reasons, and a small number who have put their application on hold.

A further 21 potential new volunteers attended Induction Days in either June or July. 11 Full Work Permits have been issued, 4 are ongoing and 6 have withdrawn. 

In September two Induction Days were held with 24 potential new volunteers attending; 3 Full Work Permits have been issued already. 

In October one Induction Day was held with 12 potential new volunteers in attendance.

On the 21st November 12 potential new volunteers attended what was the last Induction Day of 2015.

Thanks to Philip Young’s recruitment strategy it is clearly evident that recruitment continues to remain robust and should ensure we have sufficient volunteers in all the appropriate departments as we forge ahead to Broadway. The Fair also resulted in a good deal of publicity for the railway.  Philip joins me in thanking all current volunteers for making the new volunteers so welcome.

Chris Sparks MBE

Volunteer Liaison Director

Sunday, 18 October 2015

October Plc Board Meeting

The Board held a further meeting last week, when a number of important issues were discussed.

We were told that we were to receive a proposal which would see the restoration of Standard Loco 76077, which currently languishes in pieces in the North Headshunt. The Board confirmed that it would be very pleased to see this project get underway, although it is appreciated that it is long-term one.

We have approved a formal policy for allowing visitors into non-public areas of the railway. We have to balance the wish for visitors to see 'behind the scenes', with the requirement to keep them safe, and not interrupt important work which is on-going. The policy is in the process of being circulated to all Head of Departments for implementation.

We heard about plans to progress the proposed new toilet block on P2 at Winchcombe, and the proposed new Elf Centre. It is very important that we try and ensure that the Elf Centre is constructed and open for Christmas next year. It would appear however, that HLF will not fund the construction of it, but may support the fit out. That is being pursued. We need to look elsewhere for funding for the actual building.

The proposed Share Offer for Spring next year is progressing, and Chris Bristow is having meetings with both lawyers and accountants. There are a number of statutory issues which have to be dealt with to make sure that we are compliant, and we agreed the necessary timetable for bringing it to a conclusion.We are hoping that our President Pete Waterman will be able to give us a good impetus to make a successful launch.

We have agreed to commit £5,000 to the complete redesign of our website. The current website has served us well, but is 'clunky', and times have moved on. The new website will have sections both for visiting public, and a separate section for volunteers. It will be configured so that it is easily accessible on all suitable electronic devices, which the current one is not.

We were told that 25% of Santa tickets are already sold, which is well up on a similar date last year.

The embankment between Evesham Road and Childswickham Road at Broadway has been investigated by means of a long reach digger cutting trenches in the embankment to check on the stability of it. We have found a 100 metre long historic slip filled with ash. We are awaiting details of what will need to be done to repair it, although it does not appear to affect the area of the proposed running line. To a certain extent, how much work we decide to do depends on how much land we need to clear for the car park, and how far we would want to cut into the embankment - or not. We await advice on that.

We agreed to proceed with the proposed Heads Of Department meeting on 30th January 2016 at Winchcombe as last year. Chris Sparks is developing that, and details will be circulated to all HOD's.

For some time we have been considering how best to develop our policy on working with disabled volunteers. 'Disability' does of course cover a vast number of different conditions; both physical and mental. We are very keen to support those who are disabled and want to volunteer, but we do of course have an overriding obligation to make sure that those who work in a particular area are safe, and that the work they are doing is suitable for them. Some areas of our work are clearly unsuitable for those with disabilities, but there are openings in other areas.

We are fortunate in that Philip Young is working very hard in handling these sensitive issues, and seeking to balance expectations with what is safe and practical. This is an area we need to keep constantly under review.

We heard that Sustrans is continuing to pursue its wish to open a cycleway between Cheltenham and the Racecourse station. We are keeping an open mind until we receive a firm proposal, but one thing we must be sure of is that there are no prejudicial legacy issues such as responsibility for on-going upkeep and maintenance.

Another very full meeting, which helped to further the continuing development of our railway.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary & Director
18.10.15





Monday, 28 September 2015

Interesting comments this weekend

The first  Craft fair we have ever run was well attended - mainly it has to be said by ladies although there were a number of men who also passed through showing an interest in the quilts, paintings and other crafts on display. Many congratulations to those who organised and took part. I don't yet have final travelling visitors numbers but I do know OTC particularly at Winchcombe was  busy. An interesting comment made by several of the lady visitors who clearly were at the railway for the first time was how impressed they were with the cleanliness and the hard work put in to keep the stations tidy.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 25 September 2015

Vacancies on the GWRT Board


Firstly the GWRT Board wish to thank Steve Sperring and David Locke for their hard work and dedication to the posts of Fundraising Director and Communications Officer. We wish Steve and David good luck as they move to far flung places.

These moves create two vacant volunteer positions on the GWRT Board, one of which will be a Director position and one an Office position. The exact mix of these posts will be agreed in discussions with the candidates. Both positions are expected to attend Board meetings.

If you are interested in being considered for either position please send your name, contact details and application letter to Maxine Barton-Hawkins, GWRT Company Secretary, Toddington Railway Station, Toddington, Glos GL54 5DT or email development@gwsr.com by Friday 6th November 2015.

If you have any questions regarding either position contact Glyn Cornish, GWRT Chairman, goldbarglyn@googlemail.com or Maxine Barton-Hawkins, development@gwsr.com

Role Description: Communications Director/Officer
Purpose of Job: To ensure prompt and accurate dissemination/reception of information concerning the GWRT via a number of channels both electronic and paper based. You will be expected to attend Board meetings on a monthly basis.
Reports to: GWRT Board
Co-operation: Editor of Cornishman, Heads of Departments, Editor of Volunteer Newsletter, Web Master, GWSR Plc. Directors and the Development Foundation Manager
Supervises: Editors of all Official GWRT publications

Main Responsibilities:
To organise the establishment of communication channels (electronic and paper based) for the dissemination/reception of information to members, volunteers, and the public

To encourage the provision of information for publication about the GWRT and its activities from all sources

To create and maintain procedures to ensure the accuracy of information supplied to the members, volunteers and public

To manage any person providing official information to the members, volunteers or public on behalf of the GWRT

To establish and maintain links with outside organisations and the media to publicise and encourage participation in meeting the aims of the GWRT.

Qualification
Must be a member of the GWRT and hold a current Work Permit for the period of the appointment. While not essential having worked or volunteered in an equivalent role would be an advantage.

 Role Description: Fundraising Officer/Director
 Purpose of Job: To facilitate the raising of funds to further the objectives of the GWR Trust
 Reports to: GWRT Board
 Co-operation: GWRT Chairman, Development Foundation Manager

 Main Responsibilities:
Devise fundraising events and schemes in order to secure funds for the Trust to further its objectives.

Manage the organisation of such events and schemes including materials, volunteer staff, publicity and administration.

Manage and oversee any existing fundraising schemes and to periodically ensure they are still relevant and effective.

Manage, update and keep accurate records for the on-line auction site.

Liaise with members of the public when items are donated to the railway, to assess such items given for sale and if necessary liaise with the Museum Director if an item is better suited to the museum rather than sale.

Provide monthly reports to the board and attend monthly board meetings and the AGM.

Liaise with the GWR Development Foundation Manager to avoid conflict of activities.

Manage in co-operation with the GWR Development Foundation Manager, all applications for Grant Aid with outside bodies.
Qualifications
Must be member of the GWRT and hold a current Work Permit for the period of the appointment. While not essential a proven track record in fundraising would be an advantage.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A busy time for commercial activities

Now the summer holidays are over, we have to get down to planning the timetable for 2016.

First off though, a comment on the recent Thomas event. This was as always a great success due to the enthusiasm of so many volunteers. Visitor numbers were down on the record set last year but what with the recent appalling weather and of course the rugby world cup this was to be expected. About 40% of all tickets were sold on line in advance and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Visitor numbers up to date are well up on last year which is good news, and amazingly santa ticket sales are currently about 40% higher than on the same date last year!

On to 2016! We are now at the second proof stage in the design of next year's timetable. This is a mammoth job to get all the dates, events and times agreed by everyone but hopefully we are almost there. We've got to get it right as 350,000 printed timetables will be ready for distribution at the end of November!

This week I have been having talks with John Mayell, David Capron, Tony Shipley and Rosemary Smith about a new special event for next year. For the first time, we are introducing the "Cotswold Food and Drink Fayre" in October 2016 which looks as though it could become a regular fixture for us.

Colin Fewell

Friday, 18 September 2015

STEAM RAILWAY’S VOLUNTEERS CELEBRATE THE ‘MBE FOR VOLUNTEERS’


Monday 14 September was a day of celebration for the volunteers of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR).

That’s because the 900 people who freely give of their time to help run and grow the popular steam railway in the Cotswolds, were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, at a special ceremony at the railway’s Toddington station.

 Presenting the Award was the Queen’s representative, Dame Janet Trotter DBE, Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire.  The railway is one of just three voluntary organisations in Gloucestershire to have won the Award this year, out of 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups nationwide to also have been honoured.

Dame Janet first arrived at Winchcombe station where she formally opened the railway’s new ‘Discovery Coach’ which imaginatively presents the history of the railway and its local context. 

She then boarded a steam train to Toddington, along with GWSR officials and guests.  After touring the locomotive restoration facilities she mounted steps to the footplate of the latest locomotive to be restored at Toddington, to announce the citation and present the Award and a certificate from HM Queen Elizabeth to Chairman of GWSR Plc, Alan Bielby.

The occasion was witnessed by up to 200 of the railway’s volunteers. 

Dame Janet said that the selection committee had ‘no hesitation’ in making the award to the railway’s volunteers, noting how impressed she was with the scale of the operation and all that it had achieved.

Since 1982, when the embryonic GWSR first took occupation of a derelict Toddington station yard and fifteen miles of vacant trackbed, after British Railways closed the line in 1979 and removed the track and infrastructure, it has steadily grown to become one of the leading tourist attractions in the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire..

GWSR Chairman Alan Bielby commented: “We have won many awards over the years but the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is by far the most prestigious and the most meaningful. 

“It is a testament to our volunteers, past and present, for all that they have contributed to making this railway such a success.  It’s the envy of many other heritage railways because it remains almost entirely volunteer run.”

Please look at latest news o the GWR news for a selection of photographs

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Addendum

I have been asked to make a couple of corrections to my posting about our last Plc Board meeting:

1. With reference to the culvert at Bishops Cleeve, this work will actually be carried out by the Civil Engineering Department with the assistance of P/way.

2. With reference to the professional assistance with vegetation clearance on the Cotswold side near Broadway, this is being done to assist the volunteer workforce.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary
13.09.15

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Plc Board Meeting - Friday 21st August 2015

At our most recent board meeting, it was agreed that I should post a summary of each meeting on the Boardroom Blog. This is a continuing part of our effort to try and ensure that you all have as much information as possible about what is happening. You will appreciate that there are certain things relating to individuals or to commercial contracts, which have to remain confidential.

The board is constituted on the basis that each director has a specific area of responsibility. Each director is required to submit a written report before each meeting, explaining what issues he has dealt with since the last meeting, and what issues require consideration and a decision.

This is a summary of the last meeting:

It was agreed that our Chairman Alan Bielby would set up a programme of quarterly meetings with our Safety Manager Chris Webb, to keep this very important aspect of our operation under review.

Detailed plans for the forthcoming OVA award were presented to us, and were approved. The Lord Lieutenant will arrive at Winchcombe, where she will inspect and then formally unveil a plaque to open the Discovery Coach. All guests will then travel to Toddington, where after refreshments and a visit to the Loco Department she will make the award from the footplate of P&O.

The GWRT has a number of artifacts which have been donated to the railway, and it has been suggested that we should crate a museum in a coach at Toddington for them to be displayed. It was agreed to put the plan on hold, pending discussions with RATS as to how that would interrelate with their current displays.

We continued to consider what is required for the proposed opening to Broadway. We agreed not to proceed further at this stage with the idea of eight coach trains. We approved  a plan to obtain professional assistance with the clearance of the remaining trackbed. This will allow us to understand what damage there is to the formation, and what repairs may be necessary. Arrangements are in hand to take advice upon the damage to the embankment between Evesham Road and Childswickham Road, so that detailed plans for the proposed car park can be drawn up.

The reviewed our current financial position. (Chris Bristow has already posted details on the blog). Passenger numbers so far this year are good, and we are on course to exceed our planned profit this year, although there have been some unplanned expenditures. We agreed to pursue the suggestion that TTI's should be able to sell tickets on trains, to try and avoid delays at stations when intending passengers arrive at the last minute. Discussions with the Guards Department are planned to progress this.

We reviewed the proposed new share issue planned for next year, to raise sufficient funds to get us to Broadway. There is a very considerable amount to be done to get it all together, and work is well under way. We need a snappy title; something like, "Broadway - the last mile".

We received the sad news of the death of Ron Brislin, and arranged for a letter of condolence to be sent to Cynthia. Arrangements have been made to cover his position in the interim until a permanent appointment can be made in due course. It was confirmed to us that plans remain in hand for the roadway at Winchcombe to be repaired before the winter, and that work should start soon.

Lee Alibone advised that the culvert at Bishops Cleeve is in a poor condition, and that remedial works will probably be necessary during the winter shut down. This will necessitate lifting a part of the welded track section. This work will be added to the busy schedule that P/way already have planned for that period.

We agreed to a suggestion to reconstitute the group that had previously considered a future plan for the Winchcombe site, but with a smaller number, to give greater focus. There will be no funds of any great significance available until after we open to Broadway, but it may well be possible for smaller projects to be undertaken there.

It was agreed that we should hold another Volunteers Meeting, and the next one will be at 2.30pm on Saturday 7th November at Toddington Village Hall.

I hope that this summary has given an indication of the matters we are currently dealing with. Our next meeting is in early October.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary & Director

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

GWSR PLC half-year financial results at 31 July 2015

Dear followers of the Boardroom Blog,

I am pleased to tell you that our railway has had a very good first half of the financial year. We are on course to have our third excellent financial year since the line was reconnected in October 2012.

In summary the unaudited P&L numbers are as follows;

£000                                         Actual to 31/07/15                    Budget to 31/07/15
Turnover                                        836                                            793

Net Profit/(Loss)                            84                                              (20)

This better than budget performance has been driven by the success of all our major special events starting with the Cheltenham Festival in March through to the Bus Rally in July. Although this has not been a great summer, we have been lucky with the weather at all the events except the Diesel Gala ,where the organisers had to endure atrocious weather on two of the three days. Despite that they managed to put on a great show and actually increased visitor numbers!

Passenger numbers for scheduled services are up around 7%, and group bookings have already exceeded those of the whole of last year which itself was a record. Fish and Chip trains are as popular as ever and Fire & Drive and Diesel Drive are sold out.

With a steady stream of income from operations and very good grant support from the GWRT we have had the funds to push on strongly on all aspects of getting to Broadway. Line side clearance, fencing and drainage work have proceeded steadily,  Civil Engineering have finished the repair of the culvert and slip at Laverton, and Permanent Way have purchased and laid the track ballast as far as Little Buckland to which point the rail we bought towards the end of last year can shortly be laid.  In the second half we hope to have the funds to clear all of the line side so that Civil Engineering can identify whether any significant slips exist and, hopefully, enough funds to ballast the track bed as far as Peasebrook Farm.

Meanwhile, as I'm sure you know, the station comes on apace with the platforms and signal box nearing completion, and with the exciting event this month of the completion of the foundations for the station building itself. The steel frame for the building has been ordered as have most, if not all, of the bricks, including some very expensive bricks for the door and window surrounds to ensure a truly heritage station. There are interesting developments on the footbridge, and we are planning to spend enough on it so that the hopefully towers (only) can be in place this financial year.

While, for an enterprise of our size, all of this is about as good as it gets, nevertheless, the sobering truth is that we still need more than a million pounds to get to Broadway. As we are intent on doing so as planned for 2018 we will have a follow up tax efficient share issue next Easter (2016), building on our success with the 'Bridges to Broadway' appeal.

Before I finish I must point out that the railway is not only focussed on Broadway and capital has been spent, for example, on bringing the platform 2 at CRC almost to a finished state. In addition, the newly repainted model railway coach was purchased by the railway earlier in the year, and we have also bought a Mk 1 TSO carriage and, most  recently, a Mk1 BG. Finally, the concreting of the David Page loco shed proceeds at a measured pace and will , on completion, be a superb facility.

That's about it, don't hesitate to contact me directly if there's anything I can help with.

Chris Bristow
GWSR PLC Finance Director
finance.director@gwsr.com

Monday, 24 August 2015

Plc Away-day Meeting

 A couple of weeks ago on Saturday 9th August 2015, the Plc Board held its annual all day board meeting. This is an opportunity for the Board to get together and spend as long as is necessary discussing some of the more pressing issues facing the railway. This is something which is simply not available at a normal Friday evening Board Meeting, when so much other business has to be dealt with.

The principal matter for discussion at this meeting, was to seek to agree upon a plan of all that remains necessary to open the railway to Broadway in the Spring of 2018; now less than three years away.

A huge amount has already been done, but here is still a tremendous amount to do. It was agreed that we should now work to a five year plan of opening within three years, to be followed by two years of consolidation.

The greatest difficulty we have in planning for the opening, is in being able to predict with any degree of certainty how many extra passengers we are likely to have to provide for. We also need to consider their travel patterns. Will they want to travel from one end of the line to the other, or will they want to break their journeys? That has a significant impact on a proposed timetable. It also impacts on the facilities we have to offer at each intermediate station.

After much discussion, we came to the decision that however it is finally structured, for normal services the timetable will potentially be two seven coach steam trains each day, with a DMU running over part of the line. So, similar to how the timetable is now, but expanded and reorganised.

Obviously, we would prefer it if people broke their journey; spent more time on the railway and sampled all we have to offer in the way of entertainment. For that reason, we are considering the possibility of terminating one of the steam services at Toddington to create the potential for passengers to change to another train to complete their journey to Broadway. It is still in the planning stage, and no final decisions have yet been made.

We considered volunteer resources required for running an expanded railway with a more intensive timetable; at least in mid week. We have had a significant number of new volunteers recently in various departments, but those who have gone to operational departments will take time to be trained and feed through to actually filling rosters. We have to ensure that as far as possible, we have enough staff to actually operate the trains we timetable. Our mid week trains are already getting busier, and we need to plan to continue to resource them.

Facilities at Broadway have to be considered. There is provision in the proposed new building for either a shop or a cafe; but not room for both.It was felt that a waiting room and shop with tea / coffee facilities might offer more, and be easier to manage. With the new EPOS system installed, a single till could cover all facilities. Decisions need to be made, to match the construction and fitting out.

Obviously all this expansion has to be paid for, and it is no secret that we have felt for some time that we need to plan another share issue, to seek to raise sufficient to cover the cost. If we cannot raise enough money, we shall not be able to open. It is as simple as that. Much of the preparatory work for this share issue has already been done by our Financial Director Chris Bristow, and he will be working hard at completing it in time for Easter next year when it will be launched. The success of this share issue is crucial; the anticipated profit on our day-to-day operations over the next three years, will not on its own be enough to pay for the proposed extension.

You will note that I have not mentioned actual tracklaying. Provision has of course been made for that, but just clearing and repairing the formation; dealing with fencing, drainage, signalling, cabling and building a basic track layout from Laverton into the station will cost in excess of £750,000.That is not including the construction of a car park at Broadway, which is of course essential to an opening there.

Please also bear in mind that whilst so much remains to be spent on the extension to Broadway, there are necessarily only limited funds available for work elsewhere on the railway. We have to continue to manage, fund and operate a very successful heritage railway whilst all this expansion continues.

I hope that this summary gives you a little flavour of all that is going on, and how much effort is going into working to bring this expansion in our railway to a successful conclusion.

Richard Johnson
Director & Company Secretary.




Saturday, 22 August 2015

Congratulations!

Just in case you have not seen this elsewhere, last week loco 35006, 'P&O', which has been slowly coming closer to the completion of its restoration, moved for the first time under its own power. The loco is owned by the 35006 Locomotive Company Ltd, which was specially created for the purpose of enlarging ownership of the loco and so raise funds for the restoration work - it is also supported by the 35006 Locomotive Society. Congratulations go to both in achieving this major milestone. Whilst its initial run was made using only the outside two of its three cylinders as some white-metalling remains before the inside motion can be completed, it was a very impressive sight to see this magificent loco moving so easily.


Not quite so well recorded, but still deserving of congratulations, was the award received by the Dinmore Manor Group of  'Engine of the Year Award 2014' from the Everything GWR website.


We look forward to seeing both engines operating together very soon.


Alan Bielby

Friday, 21 August 2015

New BG Arrival

If you have ridden the railway recently you may have noticed a newly arrived modified BG in Winchcombe yard. This is an ex-RES high security BG obtained for eventual use by the Permanent Way Dept - after a suitable spruce up and repaint. It is fitted with roller shutters and will be a very useful addition with its easy access doors and spacious interior. It was obtained at a very good price.


The big surprise came when it was opened for inspection on its arrival. It revealed an extensive collection of crockery, cutlery, glassware and cooking utensils. Clearly a restaurant car stock had been cleared and stored in this vehicle without the owner realising that it was about to make the journey to the GWR, We are currently contacting the owner to see if they would like it back. We rather hope not as it would be a very useful addition to our OTC needs for the third rake of coaches when we open to Broadway!


Alan Bielby

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Catering on the railway

Although we have faith in our food hygiene systems and methods I think the something most OTC volunteers dread is the unannounced visit by the Environmental Health Inspector. This happens every couple of years and involves a very thorough inspection of the premises (what about this dust on the freezer vents) including the furniture and fittings, a check on our record keeping systems and of course a few questions to the staff on what we do and why we do it.  We had just such an inspection recently in the Coffeepot cafe.  The 3 volunteers on duty ably answered all of the questions, produced the records we are required to keep and demonstrated a good knowledge of the many food safety rules.  The result was just a minor bit of repair work required to the furniture in the kitchen, which has now been done, and a continuation of our 5 star status for the cafe.  Well done team.
We are now expecting a visit to the buffet car.
Richard Summers

Railway Catering Services 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Discovery coach

 Good to see the new Discovery Coach at Winchcombe is open and getting top marks from visitors




Friday, 31 July 2015

Number of visitors at the diesel gala

I am pleased to report that numbers this year were almost identical to 2014. We had 1423 visitors this time as against 1421 a year ago. And that was with such dreadful weather. An excellent result.

On a wider note, numbers are holding up well this summer against last year with an increase of over 20% over the past two weeks.
Colin Fewell

Monday, 27 July 2015

Our smaller special events

Whilst on the topic of congratulating the major special event organisers, I ought to also comment on the successes of the slightly smaller events including the bus rally, the classic car day and the real ale weekend. All of these passed off with increased visitor numbers than in previous years with nothing other than praise from the visitors. We are having a good year
Colin Fewell

Diesel gala

Congratulations to the diesel dept for putting on such a great weekend despite the unbelievable weather. I gather other events such as the Welland Steam rally was called off so we really did well. Everyone I spoke to said how much they enjoyed our gala - particularly our meticulous attention to detail and our timekeeping.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 24 July 2015

CDRL Acquire a Partner for their Class 117

At its recent meeting the Plc Board were very pleased to agree to the proposal by the directors of CDRL to bring a Class 107 DMCL to the railway. This will be a suitable partner to the Class 117 blue driving unit currently parked at Winchcombe but, as it is not a surburban unit, it has significantly fewer doors; a factor that will certainly be welcomed by C&W! I understand that the new acquisition will be painted in BR Blue livery making available a blue twin car DMU set.
Since the acquisition of Class 117 W51360 in 2013, CDRL have conducted extensive enquiries in an attempt to source a suitable partner vehicle. Their search initially focussed on a suitable Class 117 DMS, and a number of unsuccessful bids were made on the few suitable candidates that came onto the market. Then, in April 2015, Class 107 DMCL SC52029 was advertised for sale by The Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway. This vehicle was withdrawn from British Rail service in October 1992 and has never operated in preservation. An inspection carried out by CDRL in May 2015 showed that the condition of the vehicle far exceeded expectations, having been stored under cover for prolonged periods and not subjected to any cannibalisation for component recovery. Its internal condition looks good and CDRL have sufficient experience backed by a good stock of spares to undertake any repairs necessary to bring it to operation - which is hoped will be sometime in the 2016 season allowing the current DMU set to be taken out for overhaul.
Look out for the arrival of the new vehicle (ignore the garish current livery!) sometime towards the end of August.
Alan Bielby






Friday, 17 July 2015

New Broadway Progress Blog

We are very pleased to welcome the new blog site 'Broadway Station Rebuild Blog'. I know that many people sorely missed Bill Britton's reports on Broadway progress, but it was his personal blog and he worked hard to keep it interesting and up-to-date so, when he decided to take a break, he was not able to continue with it. Now,from the restructured committee managing the work at Broadway, a new team has stepped forward to pick up the blog reins and we wish them well in continuing Bill's work in producing interesting progress reports. Already it is reporting progress on the complex issue of the station building design and we look forward to seeing more details as they evolve.
Alan Bielby

Thursday, 9 July 2015

What’s happening at Broadway?


Many of you are wondering what happened to the ‘Steaming to Broadway’ blog which used to provide up-to-date news on the work going on to rebuild station facilities at Broadway.  Bill Britton, who owned and maintained the blog, recently resigned as Chairman of the Broadway Area Group (‘BAG’) and is no longer active on site there.  Jo Roesen, who also contributed to the blog, has taken on duties elsewhere with P/way and the GWSR Heritage Group and does not wish to run a re-launched Broadway blog.   The Board and BAG are grateful to Bill and Jo for the efforts they put into keeping us all so well informed but clearly we must now move on.

The new BAG Chairman is Roger Brindley, who has inherited a rapidly expanding task list as we build momentum towards a 2018 opening date. With the signal box almost complete, work on the main station building is about to start. Roger and the BAG committee are going through a process of re-organising and planning but still recognise the value of the blog and will get it re-launched as soon as the right resources can be found to manage it reliably.  So please be patient – it will happen soon.  Meanwhile, do go to Broadway on a Wednesday or Saturday and see progress for yourself – there will usually be someone around to help you or answer questions.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Thomas

Having Thomas the tank engine visit us is always fraught with potential problems and this year was no exception. Volunteers will be aware of the technical problems with the engine itself but this was the tip of the iceberg. We also had problems in a wide number of other areas which really tested the new organisers almost to destruction. But they came through with flying colours and the event itself was a great success. We had 2460 visitors over the two days which was about 10% up on the same weekend last year so many thanks to all who helped in any way.
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service


We are delighted to announce that the volunteer group of the GWR has been granted The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The Award is the highest given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their local communities. It recognises volunteering work that is of social, economic or environmental service to the local community and is supported, recognised and respected by the people who benefit from it.
Our continuing great success in running one of the largest heritage railways in the country almost entirely with volunteers has won us many awards and accolades but this is definitely the most prestigious of all! The Railway will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an English Crystal with the logo insignia for display. The Railway will be allowed to display the Queen's Award logo on its publications.

The presentation of the award will be made at Toddington on the 14th September by Dame Janet Trotter DBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire on behalf of the Queen. Details of the arrangements for the day will be issued later but please make a note of the date in your diary!

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. In the whole country, 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups are to receive the award this year. However, in Gloucestershire, we are one of only three to be successfully nominated.

This Award is very, very special as it acknowledges the contribution of all of our working members past and present over the last 35 years. This is something we can all be very proud of.

Alan Bielby                                          Glyn Cornish
Chairman, GWSR, Plc                       Chairman, GWRT

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Steam gala

What a great weekend! Thanks to everyone for all their efforts. And the double headers just added to the excitement. Nice full trains with photographers everywhere.
Arthur Smith (the comedian and "One Show" presenter) was at the railway on Monday interviewing volunteers and the public for a documentary about "England's Heritage" to be shown on Channel 4 this autumn. He said he thoroughly enjoyed his day with us and was impressed by the atmosphere and the friendliness of the volunteers. Once I know the date this programme will be shown I will circulate it. (His interviewing technique is interesting. I still don't know why he asked in the signal box for the capital of Venezuela!!)
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Wartime in the Cotswolds

I attended the "wash up" meeting of this event on Tuesday.

As with all such meetings, it started with a general feeling of relief that it was all over and pleasure at the vast number of congratulatory e mails we have received - and no complaints! This is now regarded by the re-enactors and the public as one of the top such events put on  by heritage railways and indeed other organisations, and we already have a large number of enquiries about next year. If you take into account the re-enactors and traders etc., we saw well over 2,200 people during the weekend.

However,  much of the meeting was of course devoted to discussing areas where we can improve for the future and it became obvious that if we are to maintain the quality of this event we need new blood to carry it forwards.

Several of the dozen or so volunteers who have given up time during the past three years to build  this event up from scratch now feel they want to stand down and take on other jobs. This means we are left with a clearly stark choice. Either we get a new group of volunteers  to take over the reins, or we won't be having this event next year. That would be a terrible shame for the public but especially for all of us volunteers who enjoy the great atmosphere of the weekend. And of course it would also mean there would be a substantial drop in our railway income for the year thus slowing down our development to Broadway quite dramatically.

I was asked to circulate a request to all volunteers for help to keep the event alive. This I have done through a Volunteer announcement but so far with little response. I want to support the team who have set up this event and I ask that all volunteers consider if they can help in any way. Many thanks

Colin Fewell

Monday, 11 May 2015

Visitor numbers etc.

Looking at all the statistics I can find, it looks as though at the end of April the number of visitors to the railway was very much the same as in 2014 - just over 10,000.
Last Saturday was extremely busy with several groups of which one was for 240 people. Thank goodness they spread themselves over the railway and didn't cause too many hold ups!
Saturday afternoon, a number of us agreed the final layout for the "history timeline" which will go along the wall of the Discovery Coach at Winchcombe. We are pretty much there now as the map of the line is in place also along one wall, the original indenture for land at Winchcombe is  on display and David Boot's "00" layout of Toddington Station is in place.  Once we have erected the two televisions / DVD players and got the timeline back from the printers, we will almost be ready to open up. This will be a tremendous attraction for the summer not just for families and tourists but also for school visits.
Colin Fewell

Monday, 27 April 2015

Wartime in the Cotswolds

A great weekend with tremendous support from everyone at the railway,  but don't let me say any more - have a look at Tripadvisor
Colin Fewell

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Annual assessment by "Visit England"

You may know we are annually assessd by "Visit England" before being allowed to display the rose emblem which states we are a "Quality Assured Visitor Attraction". The latest visit by one of their assessors was on Good Friday - the day the rains came and also 2807 failed!  I am awaiting their report which will be sirculated to all departments but I am told this will be very favourable, and in particular they will comment on how well we kept visitors aware of the loco failure situation.
Colin Fewell

Easter

On easter Monday, we had the largest number of visitors we have ever had on a non major special event day. The final tally was 905! Thanks to everyone who dealt with this number, to the Young Volunteers who organised the Easter Eggspress activities at Winchcombe, and to Alan and Dave for taking on a car parking role. Overall the weekend was slightly down on 2014 but this was entirely due to the poor weather on Good Friday.
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Special Fish and Chips evening

The Directors had a great time last night serving over 100 volunteers on the special fish and chip train. This was the Board's way to thank everyone for all the tremendous effort  put in  to make this such a successful railway. And with drinks prices slashed and free fish and chips,  hopefully  all who came along for the evening  went away happy. I even saw a bottle of champagne being served! And we Directors weren't even allowed to drink as we were on duty
Colin Fewell.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The past three days

I amn sure all volunteers would have been involved one way or another on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and as you will have experienced,  the weekend certainly buzzed!
The recruitment fair organised by Philip Young was a great success with a large number of newcomers to the railway indicating an intention to volunteer - far more than we all expected. If they all follow this up and become fully fledged volunteers, we will be in a good position for the future.
Then on Monday we had our annual marketing day and this year over 170 people from b&b's, hotels, tourist offices, the media etc came along making this the largest such event we have ever held. Lots of good comments but to quote just one: "As a complete 'outsider' to the railway I was very impressed with this
well organised and successful day.  There was obviously a lot of strong local support & identification with the GWR which is well deserved.  Other organisations  could learn a lot from you!!"
Colin Fewell

Monday, 16 March 2015

Stories from the Race Trains

As usual the race trains provided some amusing anecdotes.

We heard of one punter who placed a £10 each way bet at rather short odds on horse number 15 but when he went to collect his winnings found he had specified the wrong race.  He let the bet stand and number 15 came in at very long odds on the next race giving him a very handsome win. We were able to help him with that.

Our Champagne was on sale for £38 a bottle, £8 a glass.  One passenger felt that £38 a bottle was ok but he objected to paying £8 each for the glasses to drink it from! He was happy when we explained that empty glasses were free.

An order for drinks from one compartment came to well over £100.  The size of the order was justified on the grounds that half of the drinks would be left in the carriage for the evening when it was probable they would have no money left to buy drinks with.  Makes sense to me.

Many of our volunteers feel that waistcoats are appropriate wear for stewards on these trains and the most sartorial match their bow ties as well. One volunteer appeared in the morning in a smart green waistcoat and bow tie in the colours of the Irish flag. By the evening he was in a normal GWSR tie having sold the bow tie to a passenger for £50.  Nothings too much trouble for our customers.

Finally one very “happy” punter said keep the change when offering £150 for an £80 order but our volunteer felt that that was just a little too generous given the condition of the customer. We hope no one is ripped off on our railway.

A big thanks to all our volunteers from every department that helped make these trains a great success again.

Richard Summers

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Race week

Thanks to everyone for making this a highly successful race week. I think our Finance Director will be pleased! Lots of positive comments from visitors and the media which will set us up for a great season. More infrormation to follow
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Race trains publicity

Tuesday we were filmed for a long item on BBC Points West. Yesterday Helen Skelton interviewed volunteers and racegoers for Radio 5 live , and today we had a team from Sky Sports both at Toddington Station and also on the train
Colin Fewell

Monday, 9 March 2015

The GWR visited the Cheltenham Regent Arcade


As you will be aware we had a small team in the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham on Thursday and Friday last week.  Over the two days we handed out over 350 sets of literature about the Railway, including Timetables, Recruitment Fair flyers and other event flyers. During the course of the two days we had a number of interesting conversations, including one with the editor of a well known magazine (at least well known on our railway!). The Centre Management were complementary on the effort we made in setting out our stand and the fact we dressed in our railway uniforms.

Thank you to all who helped me with this initiative this year. Watch out for similar promotions in the future.

Philip Young

Recruitment director

GWRT

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Visitors from Stratford on Avon

I was surprised to find that the number of visitors to Stratford each year who come by public transport is well into 6 figures - around 400,000. Each of these at present is unable to travel to our railway. John Mayell is working on a plan to link bus routes so that we are able to devise a day's programme for these people. This together with a possible revised bus timetable will come into operation hopefully this May.
Colin Fewell

Visitor information Coach

You may know that c&w have brilliantly renovated the old upholstery coach into a new visitor attraction which has now been renamed as the "GWSR Discovery Coach". It is in the bay platform at Winchcombe where the santa coach was. The carriage is not yet ready to be open to the public as there is still a lot of work to be done. We plan to have a large map of the line along one wall with a GWSR timeline from the late 1890's to date, along another wall. There will also be videos and slides and much more. It is hoped it will be open from the end of April although prior to that may well be used by school groups. A further meeting was held today to finalise the wording on the timeline.
Colin Fewell

Tripadvisor

I see we are now number 1 in the "things to do in Cheltenham" section. Not bad considering we haven't run trains for 2 months. Maybe that's the answer!
We are number 11 in the "things to do in the Cotswolds" section

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Recruitment Team are out and about in Cheltenham.


Are you going to be in Cheltenham town centre on Thursday or Friday this week? If so why not come and visit the Railway’s volunteer recruitment team in the Regent Arcade where we will be promoting the Recruitment Fair to be held on 21st & 22nd March and the Railway as a place to visit.

Look forward to seeing you.
 
Philip Young

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Worldwide fame

An e mail rfecived yesterday from someone in California who is a fan of Father Brown. He wrote to ask for confirmantion that Winchcombe Station was used in the filming. He worked it out because he noted the loco details and went to our "excellent" website to check
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Radio Winchcombe

Philip Young our Recruitment Director together with Ann and John Broomfield are on Radio Winchcombe today at 10:30 with Phill Bird on his 'something a little bit Canarian' show. They will be talking about volunteering on the Railway and the Recruitment Fair.

If you miss the show today it will be repeated Sunday at 8pm and can be heard on listen again at a time of your choosing in the next week via  http://www.radiowinchcombe.co.uk .

Visitor numbers 2014

It is very difficult to give the exact number of visitors last year - group numbers vary amongst other things - but the best number I can come up with is 83,500. This is less than 2013 by a few percentage points but is still a brilliant total.  In 2013 (when we were over 20% up on the previous best year), we benefitted from enthusiasts and local people coming back to see the newly re-opened line, we also ran during the February half term, and we had a 4 day steam gala rather than 3  in 2014. You will also no doubt remember the appalling weather we experienced in the spring that reduced numbers at the Wartime event and the Steam gala.  Please also bear in mind if you compare our figures with other railways, some of them record the number of single trips whereas I am referring to the total number of visitors.
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Recruitment Fair


Philip Young, the Trust’s Recruitment Director, Steve and Claudette Oddy will be talking to Paul Lewington about the Railway and the Recruitment Fair on the Laid back Music Show on North Cotswold Community Radio on Monday 26th January at 8pm.
NCCR can be found at http://northcotswoldonline.com/ If you cannot listen “live” in on Monday, you can “listen again” at any time during the following week.
 
Philip Young
 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The 2014 Santa Specials


A brief note on this as I will send out a more detailed Volunteer announcement later.
2014 was our best Santa Special season ever for a number of reasons. 
First, we saw 9350 visitors - an 8% increase on our previous record year 2013.
Secondly I want to emphasise that the railway couldn't have done this without the tremendous support from so many volunteers - working in every department. I won't single out any particular person or department but suffice it to say that our success is down to everyone contributing in the right spirit. We were told so many times that the atmosphere and professionalism at the railway made this such a great event.
Thirdly whilst our visitor numbers were at an all time high, the number of complaints - we always get some - were at an all time low. 
And finally because of our record number of visitors, we were able to make a very substantial profit for the railway to help with our aim to get to Broadway for 2018.
Colin Fewell

 



Friday, 16 January 2015

Day out with Thomas

The GWR has been presented with an award by HIT Entertainments for the best overall themed Thomas event in 2014. Many thanks to Andy and David for their organising of the event and to all volunteers who helped in any way. I know some volunteers feel the Thomas event does not fit within the "heritage" nature of our railway but it is important as it introduces large numbers of families to our railway who wouldn't otherwise know of our existence.
Colin Fewell

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Recruitment Fair

Over the weekend of 21st and 22nd March the Railway is to hold a Volunteer Recruitment Fair, a unique opportunity for you to find out what volunteering with the Railway involves by coming along and talking to us.

Information about the event can be found by following the link to the Recruitment Fair from the Railway’s web site home page as well as on the Railway’s Facebook and Twitter pages; like and share these pages to help us promote the event.

Do you write a blog about the area of the Railway where you volunteer? Why not mention the Fair on your Blog by drawing attention to the details available on the web site, Facebook and Twitter.

Philip Young

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND FOR OUR RAILWAY!


You will have seen from the earlier reports by Finance Director Chris Bristow and Commercial Director Colin Fewell that 2014 has been another great year with excellent financial figures and a year-end bonus of a record breaking series of Santa Specials. 2014 has been a very special year for us as we successfully raised the funds necessary to restore the five bridges between our current railhead at Laverton and our target of Broadway. This, together with related donations, has enabled us to start the next half mile extension north from Laverton. We still need major funding to see us all the way and we will be pursuing this in due course. In the meantime we would like to thank everyone who has made this such a successful year and opened the door to our target of extending to Broadway. When I say everyone, this includes our volunteers who work so hard to operate, maintain and improve the railway, our existing and new shareholders who have contributed so much to our share appeal, our GWRT members for continuing to support our activities and our many other funding contributors who have donated to both general and specific improvements planned or already in progress. This includes the legacies most generously left to the railway and which have paid for major new facilities, such as the paintshop, that we need to operate and improve our expanding railway. And have you seen what the Broadway group have already achieved in rebuilding Broadway station and with more major construction planned for 2015 - a must visit when you are next in the area.

2015 will see a variety of improvement activities with replaced track in Toddington Station – along with a relocated barrow crossing to avoid the problems where a loco is obliged to stop astride the crossing. Toddington will also have a new display ground frame and working signal for our visitors to try and we are collaborating with Stanway House to develop a footpath link from the station. At Winchcombe we will have a new visitor information coach and also regular access to view the model railway even if it is not running. In addition we are working on the feasibility of a new toilet block on Platform 2 and eventually a replacement for the old wooden building on Platform 1 by a structure that is more appropriate to a heritage railway station. At Cheltenham, our volunteers rebuilding Platform 2 are nearing the end of their bricklaying and we aim to have the platform available by the year end if funds permit.  A footbridge there is our ultimate objective and we are working with other interested parties to arrive at the most appropriate design.

We are not forgetting our heritage objectives and a new heritage group has been established to pursue this. Its first target is the reinstatement of the old Hayles Abbey Halt – this is still a proposal at the moment and will need detailed planning however it would be a useful addition for visiting the Hailes Abbey site (note the interesting difference in the spelling of station and abbey). The group also aims to tackle the restoration of more of the goods wagons that we have scattered around the railway – and there are many of them!

For the longer term we are looking at the redevelopment of the Winchcombe yard and where we go after Broadway!

Alan Bielby