Thursday, 31 March 2016

Visitors to the railway during March

We had  a disappointing start to the new season due entirely to the cold, wet and windy weather. Numbers for the first three weeks were down about 20% on 2015. We made up for this however with a bumper Easter! I expected the low numbers to continue in view of the very early date for Easter and the appalling weather culminating in storm Katie, however we were up on the 4 days. Our recently introduced Easter Eggspress on Easter Monday attracted 850 visitors which was almost at the same number as 2015 even though  Easter was mid April and very sunny and warm.

Mid March, we ran our usual race trains on behalf of "Classic Hospitality" This year with 2 trains a day, we were completely full and we were told there was a waiting list of about 200 for some trains. So, with 2400 passengers over 4 days drinking their way to and from the races, it was an eventful week. As always, most (but not all) of the drunks were happy drunks.

Marketing Day on Monday March 21st has now established itself as an annual event. Over 150 people came from local b&b's, caravan sites, cottage renting companies, tourist information centres etc to experience the railway. Lots of good comments and lots of promises to recommend us to their clients.

On Easter Saturday, the author Christopher Vine (Peter's Railway series of children's books) was at Toddington signing his books. A successful couple of days and he has already asked to return soon.

And finally, if ever in doubt about our railway - have a look at Tripadvisor.

Colin Fewell

Friday, 25 March 2016

Most recent Plc Board meeting

At a recent Plc Board meeting, our first job was to welcome representatives of our Accountants and Solicitors who had been heavily involved with our Financial director Chris Bristow in the preparation of the new EIS approved Share Issue. It is a legal requirement of the scheme that all directors take personal responsibility for the accuracy of the information in the Offer documents, so we necessarily spent some time reviewing all the details and then signing to confirm that all was in good order. Only then were our advisors able to leave, and take the final steps to allow the Share Issue to go ahead.

Subsequent to that, we welcomed our new director colleague Alan Miller who has been a P/Way volunteer for many years. Thereafter as usual, we moved on to discuss a wide range of matters.

Health & safety matters are always high on our agenda; quite properly. Chris Webb our Safety Manager has completed his initial safety surveys of all departments, and flagged a number of points which require attention. Arrangements were put in hand to ensure that they are all catalogued so that plans can be made to deal with them. We also took steps to ensure that the necessary statutory health & safety arrangements are in place for the rebuilding of Hayles Abbey Halt.

We were pleased to hear that James Edwards had been nominated as a potential new head of the Guards department, and we made arrangements for him to be interviewed. (Subsequently we were very pleased to hear that he had been appointed to that post.)

We had been aware that following the resignation of Val Owen, we needed to complete the appointment of a Safeguarding Officer to ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults were safe whilst on the railway. We were very pleased to hear that Claudette Oddy had agreed to take on the position on an interim basis, with Richard Scott as her deputy pending a permanent appointment later in the year.

We discussed what to do about the structure of our Building Services Department, following the loss of Ron Brislin last year. It was agreed that we should advertise for a new head, to report to our Civil Engineer, Peter Muir. The position is to be advertised shortly. It is hoped that the department can be expanded by the introduction of new members, as there are a wide range of potential projects coming up which will require the input and support of that department.

We had a long discussion about the two planned projects at Winchcombe; the new Elf Centre and the Toilet block on P2. We are already well into the new year and the estimate from building contractors was that the Elf Centre would take at least 6 months to build. To start in about early May as was proposed, would seriously impact on our themed events this year, and if there was an overrun would disrupt our Santa trains. So, we decided to defer it to a start in January next year. We decided to concentrate this year on the proposed new toilet block, and were advised that we should receive tenders by the time of our next meeting.

Chris Bristow had prepared a full Strategic Report to go with the annual accounts this year, and it was agreed that in view of the very successful year we had last year, that it would be appropriate for it to be published in full on this blog.We are conscious of the fact that this blog is very much for public consumption, whereas annual reports would normally be for shareholders, but felt that the news was such that it should be widely circulated.

A suggestion had been made that we should hold another open forum for all volunteers in the Spring, but it was felt that it was not necessary at the moment in view of the forthcoming Share Issue and all the publicity surrounding that. Volunteers who are not shareholders will be invited to attend the Plc AGM on a non-voting basis, as there will be an open forum afterwards when questions can be asked.

We received written reports from all directors, updating us on progress withing their particular areas of responsibility. Most of the departments now have active blogs and a great deal of information about current work is disseminated this way. Progress with the extension to Broadway is very much dependent upon the success of the Share Issue, as all available funds have already been committed in reaching the current stage.

It was agreed that the formal launch of the Share Issue would be on 6th April when Pete Waterman has confirmed that he is available to attend. Arrangements are being made to publicise it as widely as possible. Sufficient copies of the Cornishman magazine have been made available by GWRT to be sent to all shareholders who are not members, to try and encourage them to participate in the Share Issue.

It was another very full and successful meeting, and a lot of ground was covered.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary

Thursday, 24 March 2016

GWSR Broadway the last mile share offer goes live!

Dear Supporters of our Railway,

Broadway - the last mile share issue

On behalf of the GWSR PLC Board I am pleased to announce our 2016 share issue will go live tomorrow on 25 March 2016! The objective is to generate the £1,250,000 we need to get us into Broadway in 2018.

The share issue document is available today, 24 March, from the Information or Administration Offices at Toddington. Existing shareholders and those that have filed in the flyer requesting a copy will get their copies in the next few days through the mail. To get a copy mailed to you, if you cannot visit Toddington, please call the railway on 01242 621905 or email

In addition, from 25 March the share application form will be available on the website,, and shortly after that the document itself will be available to download but, as it is 36 pages, I strongly suggest you contact the railway and get a copy mailed to you!

The share issue document itself sets out to demonstrate the railway's unique commitment amongst large heritage railways to volunteering and heritage.

I have been largely responsible for its format and, through the helicopter photographs taken on 5 September 2015, in addition to the twin themes mentioned above, I have tried to give new and unique views of the railway and all its stations and significant line features as of that date.

I hope you will find the document a compelling request for financial support to help us to reach Broadway. I'm sure with the help of our shareholders, member, volunteers and a supportive public we will achieve our goals, so please contribute if you can!

In closing, I should remind everyone that the share issue is supported by the HMRC enterprise investment scheme (EIS) where by UK tax payers receive a 30% tax credit, i.e. for every £100 invested you get £30 off your tax bill. The railway provides you with the necessary HMRC paperwork to achieve this and the process is indeed straightforward. Of course, there are all the normal attractive travel benefits for shareholders.

With the tax year end rapidly approaching (5 April 2016) to take advantage of the EIS scheme for the tax year 2015/16 now is the time to invest in the GWSR!

Happy Easter!


Chris Bristow
GWSR Finance Director