Monday, 6 November 2017

Broadway Station

There appears to be a lot of interest in a comment made on one of our blogs recently, about the proposed facilities at Broadway Station.

More than two years ago, the board agreed that the retail space there would be more advantageously used as a shop, rather than a cafe. There has been no sudden change of plan as has been erroneously reported. All that happened was that a couple of weeks ago, a meeting was held at the station to determine the final positioning of electrical sockets, lights and radiators before the rooms were plastered.

The reasons for the decision more than two years ago, are as valid now as they were then. We want to increase the size of our retail estate, as both the shops at Toddington and Cheltenham are too small. We see great potential for expanding our retail sales, and overall retail profitability. Having a busy and vibrant shop at Broadway, will be  a very good attraction for all our future customers there.

There has been some negative comment about the proposed installation of a coffee machine. That was seen as being potentially beneficial, as at Cheltenham. It was not expected to be in any way controversial, but can always be reconsidered if it is seen as unnecessary.

We already have catering outlets at Toddington with the Flag & Whistle Cafe, and at Winchcombe with the Coffee Pot Cafe. We also have catering facilities on all our trains, and next year plan to include catering on the DMU. Plans for that have already been drawn up. With the growth in this aspect of our business this year, and anticipated further growth next year we believe that all passengers will be fully provided for.

It is a part of our business strategy for next year that we want our passengers to spend time with us, and not just travel from Broadway to Cheltenham and back. We want them to get of and sample the Flag & Whistle, or the Coffee Pot. That is one of the reasons why the new timetable has been structured as it has.

With the potential growth in all aspects of our Railway Catering Services, we shall need up to ten volunteer members of staff on each red timetabled day next year. Were we to build a cafe at Broadway, it would not only further increase the number of volunteer staff required on each operating day, but would have the potential to detrimentally dilute our overall catering services. We want people to arrive at Broadway station, join the train and sample either our on-board catering, or one of the other cafe's on our railway.

I hope that that clarifies any misunderstanding which may have been caused by the various recent blog postings, and why we made the decisions we did when we did.

Richard Johnson
Director & Company Secretary


  1. Thank you Richard for a concise open and honest reply to the remarks on the Extension Blog. For those who are reading and replying to the entries on the blog. I would suggest you all digest what has been proposed, have a think and then reply to Richards above posting. As for a vending machine at Broadway, OK, its not really GWR, but we must move with the times and the numbers of volunteers who are available. To this end I have spoken with my Boss and we have a proposal for a tea/coffee/chocolate machine that could be put in place at Broadway, that the shop staff could look after. So please feel free to contact me. Again, thank you for the post above that has made things more clear to us than just the blog postings.
    Paul & Marion.

    1. It should have been made clear 2 years ago then. I'll repeat what I said on the extension blog, a refreshment facility is far more useful and potentially far more profitable than a shop. As Broadway will be a terminus station for the foreseeable future, a catering facility, even a small one, would, IMHO be seen as essential. Finally, if we must move with the times then Broadway station would have been built like a Network Rail "bus stop."

    2. With Broadway you will have a railway that goes somewhere, to a popular and well established Cotswold tourist destination. To have no catering, however limited, at the terminus in unthinkable. In addition the lack of internal communication that this isue demonstrates does not serve the railway well. I hope that the decision will be reconsidered and the necessary services to enable a cafe to be established, even if not at the outset, will be installed.

  2. We have had the Board’s view. Here is a customer’s view.

    Broadway Station

    .The Rose family decided to take the grandchildren to a pretty Cotswold village called Broadway.
    “Hey kids! Let’s go for a ride on one of those old steam trains. Look!” They poured over a shiny new brochure.
    “There’s a village where, many years ago, great grandpa and great grandma had their honeymoon in a posh hotel called The Lygon Arms. That was in 1939.”
    “ Boring, Boring, boring!” chorused the three children.
    “Remember I told you about flying great grandpa. He photographed the German dams after the big dambuster’s raid.”
    “Boring, boring, boring!” chorused the kids again.
    It’s a two hour drive to Broadway, thought Grandpa Mike. Hope there is somewhere easy to park. We’ll grab a bite to eat with a cuppa and perhaps we can sit on the platform and wait for the train. I can explain to the grandchildren how the stations used to be when I was a train spotter at Oxford.
    I bet they’ll be gobsmacked when the steam engine arrives.
    I hope, thought Grandpa Mike…..

    There nothing like a friendly cuppa, thought Grandpa Mike.

    ( Historical references are true)

  3. You say that the decision was made 2 years ago. Well now is the time to rethink it. The current shop at Broadway could be moved up onto the platform and the shop created there (or in a larger version of that shed if you desired to, there is plenty of room on platform 1! Catering is a social activity which symbolises the railway stations of the steam and early diesel era and should not be missed out on. Far from diluting the catering facilities at the Flag and Whistle and Coffee pot cafeterias, Broadway would enhance the catering facilities so that passengers could detrain and spend time (and money) at the refreshment room at Broadway AND the shop! Please rethink this out and show that the Board is friendly towards railway enthusiasts who have long awaited this development to come to fruition. Regards, Paul.

  4. The comment on the blog came from someone who's been working on the project several days a week for several years. If the decision to turn the cafe into retail space was made two years ago, why did it come as a complete surprise to the blogger? What does that tell us about communications between those directing the project and the people making it happen?

  5. To Richard Johnson

    Para 2: A decision made 2 years ago can be as wrong as it is today.

    Para 3: A traditional friendly café is part of a customer experience of a heritage railway. Retail therapy is not. Whether you force customers through shops before take off at an airport or sell goods at retail parks the customer’s wallets know what you are up to.

    Para 4: The coffee machine is seen as an insult to a traditional café and I suspect you realise this.

    Para 5: You have built a terminus and that needs terminus facilities, (Kidderminster), food and drink being one need.

    Para 6: You need to cater, literally, for passengers coming to Broadway from cars, buses and steam trains.

    Para 7: There are plenty of people who will man the café. Read my emails.
    “we want our passengers to arrive at Broadway and join the trains”
    By-pass this excellent Edwardian station? I do worry about the board’s concept of customers (passengers).

    Mike Rose

  6. Well done to the board for publishing this and clearly stating the reasons why they have come to this decision.

    A cafe may sound a lovely idea at Broadway, but when you start to think about it, who is going to run it and would be be sustainable - I very much doubt it would be if it requires the use of full time staff.

    Can't see it getting much trade from the Cavaran Club as it would be open 1000-1600 ish when trains are running and when most visitors stayng there will be elsewhere exploring the area and its probably too far from Broadway centre to attract much passing trade even if there was a car park nearby.

    1. I think you may underestimate the potential customer base from the Caravan Club.

    2. I've been an interested reader of the blog for a while now and I'm also a Caravan & Motorhome Club member. I too think that Andy underestimates the custom that the club site with 116 pitches just across the road will bring. The demographic of the people using the Broadway site is significantly older than at coastal sites in traditional family holiday destinations. Based on the number of motorhomes on site I would say that the clientelle are relatively affluent too. Incidentally, I myself are neither old or affluent! I do however think I'm fairly typical of most club members when on holiday in mixing days out with relaxing and taking in the local area. A major part of this involves mooching around and stopping off for a pint or afternoon tea somewhere! To have a tea room in such an atmospheric position would, I'm sure, be a great draw.

      This doesn't mean that the Board are necessarily wrong in their decision, they have many different competing pressures to consider, only that it's a shame that the visitor experience at Broadway Station will be diminished.

      Richard Costar

  7. Can anyone tell us if they've ever encountered one of these evil Tea & Coffee machines that actually produces a beverage that tastes like it's meant to taste? I suspect most folk will avoid them at all costs unless they're really desperate! Then what about the children? They're more likely to want a cold drink, so you'll have to consider providing a machine to dispense those as well. Let's face it, unless people choose to walk into Broadway village for a few hours there isn't going to be much to see and do at Broadway station, no matter how good the build quality has been, and as most of your average passengers are likely to be from the 'tourist' fraternity rather than the enthusiast side of the fence I suspect they'll be more inclined to sit and enjoy some light refreshments in a cafe whilst waiting for their train back, rather than browsing through a pile of cheap tat in a shop.

  8. how much revenue does a shop give us compared with a café , you have to man either and my money's on good refreshments before or after your journey from Broadway .just look at how well the Coffee Pot does each week at Winchcombe ,please apply the same to Broadway as a shop is not a priority .
    Is there an announcement due on a carpark please ? That's even more important for the success of the station .we say that CRC boosted visitors by 20% when it opened , it will not be the same growth if we have no car park close to the Station .

    john mayell .

    1. But you need to consider a shop only needs one volunteer per day. The Coffeepot requires at least 3 people per day, plus a management team to run the café and not to mention all the baking to make the delicious cakes...That's a lot of people over the course of a year! The Coffeepot makes a very useful income for the railway - but is you started to add any paid staff to it, most of that profit would be eroded. It would require a similarly large team to make a café work at Broadway of which we don't have the volunteers...Would it then even take as much income as the Coffeepot does. I have my doubts to be honest.

    2. they WILL get the volunteers to run the café ,BAG already have supporters to run it and new members from the north of Broadway can be asked to join OTC ,I have just got 6 from Solihull area to join who want to work at the new station following a GWR talk last week .

      The shop is a waste of a volunteer compared with the café potential and revenue .The board must listen to what the members want for Broadway to be successful next year .

  9. You say that the decision re a trinket shop was taken 2 years ago. How was this communicated to the hard working workforce who look at the plans and see a cafe? Who build a cafe? Who rightfully expect a cafe?

    1. How indeed? But more importantly, the people who matter are the paying public, the shareholders and donors who provide extra money, and the volunteers who've sweated for 8 years to build this thing. Were any of these even consulted, and if not why not?

  10. Mr Johnson you state "More than two years ago, the board agreed that the retail space there would be more advantageously used as a shop, rather than a cafe". Please can you, or any of the board, explain the rationale behind this decision.

    I have examined the railway accounts and established that in the eight years from January 2010 to January 2017 (the last accounts available) shop sales increased by £14,394, a rise of 12.6 % , an average of 1.58% per annum. Profits rose by 22.2% or 2.78% per annum.

    Compare these figures, for the same period for "On train catering receipts" which increased increased by £97,603, a rise of 126.2%, or 15.78% per annum. Profits rose by 128.2% or 16.03% per annum.

    In addition I believe receipts etc from the Flag & Whistle and Coffee Pot are not included. Don't these figures tell you what the punters want ? Admittedly a cafe at Broadway may well take business from the on train catering, but I would contend that it would also introduce new business.One could also argue that a gift/souvenir at Broadway would take business from the other shops on the railway.

    During the last two days I have canvassed opinion of friends and family, many of whom have patronised the GWSR in the past. Not one of them think your plan to open a shop, rather than a cafe, is a good one. Please think again and urge your fellow directors to do the same.

  11. Hi Richard,

    First of all, thanks for posting something here, it's nice to have something concrete to discuss.

    It seems to me there are 2 lines of reasoning against the cafe. 1 is staffing. Absolutely it's a potential issue, and I'm sure you're well informed by the head of OTC! :) But has anyone actually been asked whether they want to volunteer? It seems there are two new potential pools to pick volunteers from; those already volunteering at Broadway who may find themselves less busy soon, and residents of Broadway who may be interested in helping now that it's on their doorstep. It may well be the answer is no, you may have even done this, but it would be nice to know. In which case, has franchising been looked at?

    The other argument against is dilution of existing catering outlets. On and off train catering tend to cater for different markets; otherwise the same argument would apply now as the railway currently runs. So we can discard on train catering (although excellent to hear about a trolley on the DMU). So that leaves the coffeepot and the F+W.

    Firstly the coffeepot. Obviously any cafe at Broadway won't take away any passing trade the coffeepot has - I understand this accounts for a surprisingly reasonable amount of trade, given the location? Everyone else who stops there has already gone to the trouble of breaking their journey rather than just have one train ride and eat at Toddington, so I can't see it affecting the coffeepot much.

    That leaves the F+W. Here there is definitely potential to shift customers from Toddington to Broadway if a cafe opens, as you're taking away the captive market the F+W enjoys as a result of its terminus location. However, some of that shift will happen regardless of there being a cafe at Broadway or not, as some passengers won't be bothered to break up their journey. The F+W also enjoys a lot of passing trade from motorcycle clubs, car groups etc. and others? Given the much larger carpark at Toddington I feel it unlikely they'd swap to Broadway.

    To Be Continued... (sorry!)

  12. (Cont'd)..

    So, opening a cafe at Broadway will actually only take a noticeable proportion of customers away from the F+W. The big question is then, will extra custom at Broadway cafe subsidise this? Obviously there's disagreement about this, but other than railway enthusiasts sat around boardrooms or at their keyboards, has anyone actually looked into this? E.g. conduct some market research at the C&C club to see if there was any interest. Otherwise we're stuck in a loop of some people pronouncing they will come, and others that they won't, with neither side having much but their imaginations to back them up. And of course, given we’re expecting a ~20% increase in passenger numbers, this should also help cover any potential shift of custom.

    What I personally find more concerning though is the fact that no-one actually knew about this, yet the decision was made 2 years ago. Why did no-one know, or correct folk? A quick google site:search tells me cafe was mentioned in the Broadway rebuild blog 12 times in the last 2 years, and shop not once. Given the blog is now written by a few different volunteers, it seems pretty safe to say none of the Broadway volunteers knew. I'm away from my Cornishmans and share prospectus - was it mentioned there? Money has been spent on a cast iron "Refreshments" sign. It may be small beans, but it still doesn't look very good.

    In the past I've been rather defensive against the clamour for things like the chimney issue, but adding all these things up together it does look awfully like there's a missing communication link somewhere, and it really doesn't reflect well on a railway known for its excellent communications from the ground level with our plethora of blogs. The fact that this one is underused is indicative of the problem.

    I'm certainly not calling for any resignations, as that would do a disservice to all the unspoken work you and the other directors do, but I just wish it was a bit less unspoken, and maybe think about how we can avoid this again, because I hate it when I see my railway like this.


  13. Richard, I go along with St Blazey's thoughts. Is it not possible to have both facilities? The shop could be situated further along platform 1 - however I am not convinced that you would achieve good profit margins when you are competing with the likes of purchases online.

    The cafe could then be located within the station building, as shown on the plans. It has already been mentioned that if you believe that there would be problems with staffing, then put it out to franchise. This solution would provide the railway with a guarenteed income, the franchisee would run with the commercial risks. I suspect that they would make a tidy profit.

  14. ok mr Johnson I contacted mr beilby approx 15 months ago re the Broadway shop/cafe he said the shop would double with light refreshments sandwiches ect I have the email also why did one of your workers order a refreshment sign for the station and then was told it's not needed forget about onboard catering can't even get a cheese sandwich on your trains and well the flag and kettle is clap no vibe in there you just don't see the bigger picture you are dealing with BROADWAY and new customers not just the railway crowd get real new vision needed next you will tell us that the drive and front of station is not going to be resurfaced I just hope Portillo does,ent show up blind leading the blind....zzzzzzz

  15. Start as a shop selling traditional sweets, confectionery and snacks. Sell cold drinks & ice creams in summer, then provide a kettle to make hot drinks. Add a few tables and chairs and before you know it, it'll be a cafe. Start small, see what's in demand and grow...


  16. A couple of years ago I stopped my membership of the GWSR because of the Board's attitude to the Broadway building. This month i was on the verge of rejoining, but having seen that nothing has changed in the way of the arrogance of those at board level, I will resist the urge. I remain a shareholder with a few hundred shares who will not be drinking from a vending machine at Broadway.

  17. As a customer I want to start my day at Broadway station Café I have no interest in retail. Thanks.

  18. I think this is a retrograde step for the railway. I do hope that the people concerned who have made this decision have based it on facts and data rather than perceptions and opinions.

    As someone who visits other big railways, (which we should now class ourselves as) a cafe is always welcome at a terminus as it gives parents with young children somewhere to relax and take in the atmosphere that the hard working volunteers have created. I very rarely purchase anything in shops as there is generally very little that draws my attention.

    If there is deemed a need for shop, could a temporary installation be put somewhere until funding could be sought?

  19. By its nature, a shop is only usefully open when the trains are in the station, a coffee shop is something that has appeal throughout the day, and why only appeal to the travelling passengers when a nosey visitor might not be interested in trains, after a ten minute walk they might decide to stop for a coffee, more people drink coffee then travel on trains, especially when the margin on coffee is enormous (it would pay for staff, no need for volunteers)


  20. " Well , here's another nice mess you've gotten me into “ Oliver Hardy.

    Guys time to revisit your indecision of two years ago and announce a revised approach for the café at Broadway…. Defer completion until sufficient additional funds have been raised to complete and fit out in a suitable heritage look to complement all the work the Volunteers have put in over the last 6-8 years at Broadway. Retail opportunity to be included in P2 building – small area of Café to be available for retail pending completion of P2

    To that aim I offer a initial £500 to start the additional fundraising to complete the fit out of a heritage café facility at Broadway… funds available today and more available depending on your approach to this fundraising opertunitty.

    It might help your sleep if you made available a timeline of how the board anticipate completion of Broadway – Platform two – Footbridge – extension of P1 awning, P2 building, Signalling, Southern loop.

    Ian Henderson

  21. Brian Trigg 7 November 2017
    As a shareholder and a sponsor of one of the replica platform lamps at Broadway I am disappointed at your decision . I am also concerned at the lack of communication to the supporters and volunteers. I think the idea of Ian's above is worth considering and I match his offer of £500 to equip the cafe. I am sure others would also contribute if asked.

  22. Whilst I understand both sides of this argument, my preference is for a cafe. I shop online; I can never find something I want to buy in our shop and I always use our catering facilities.

    I equally will offer at least £500 towards a cafe.

  23. Having given this matter a fair bit of thought, the truth is no one really knows how Broadway will work with regards to foot fall - how many people will start their journey there, especially with no car park, who many people will really pop up to have a look and want a cup of tea there, noting its not really like Winchcombe because you ahven;t got the space to be able to sit outside and watch the world go by. When you look at the bigger picture of the whole railway (which of course the board has to do) you can also see why they have come to the decision they have.

    However I am starting to wonder whether the best option is simply to fit it out as a basic waiting room for now, if possible with provision for kitchen facilities at a later date - but maybe some vending machines tucked away in a corner somewhere and see how Broadway works in the coming year or two - may selling some shop items through the booking office as per Winchcombe to test demand. Then, if enough people show interest in running a café and demand seems to be there that option can be taken forward or if demand for a shop that option gone with (that's said I feel the waiting room on platform 2 would make an excellent shop in the future).

    There clearly has been a break down in communication, which is very regrettable, but that said I have known about this for well over a year through contact with some departments and assumed it was common knowledge around the railway.

  24. 2 years ago then was it not necessary to submit a change of use planning application to the planning authority?

    1. Hi

      Probably not required as its still within the same Use Class. Butt, going from a cafe to a shop would probably need prior approval, due to the Environmental Health and waste aspects...


    I have asked for a meeting on site at Broadway tomorrow morning with Richard Johnson, the project manager, builder, and a member of the heritage committee.
    1. Current arrangements already made, for services for a café/kitchen and shop.
    2.A suggested temporary site for a retail outlet.
    3.Design of a temporary retail outlet.
    4 A suggested permanent arrangement for a retail outlet.
    I await an answer from Richard Johnson.

  26. You worry about finding enough staff for a cafe. Surely the same will apply to a shop.

    I can see the logic of not having a Cafe at Cheltenham, but Broadway is a very different destination. As a family, we use the cafe at Winchcombe. If we go the Broadway, we'll walk into the village/town, look round, walk back to the station then no doubt have time to kill.

    I'm not someone who has an interest in buying steam memorabilia, and we didn't buy when we visited Toddington with our children. A cafe selling a chunk of home-made cake & fresh sandwish is always better than the on train catering, which always feels as if it's just been unloaded from the Cash & Carry.

    I have been a shareholder for around 25 years, increasing my holding each month by Direct Debit. I request that the board convenes an emergency meeting, reconsiders and overturns its decision of 2 years ago.

  27. As a postscript, Broadway area attracts a wide range of visitors, including those who value at least a reasonable quality of tea and coffee. Fresh coffee and proper tea never come from drinks machines.

    Personally I avoid drinks machines like the plague - drink instant coffee once a year (a visit to a relative who thinks instant coffee is sophisticated), but drink fresh 3 times a day. Aldi French blend is dead cheap but very acceptable!

  28. I think that it comes down to this:

    The GWsR is a democracy, and as such should do what the majority want. Which is a Refreshment Room. Otherwise it will be remembered as being like BR in the 1960s! The Board are there for the day to day items, such as permits for fetes etc., paying the regular bills and others - more of an office staff really.
    Be brave and ask the volunteers and supporters what they want!


    What will be next? Well you may well ask! The end of steam perhaps? Because they are expensive to run and are dirty? Go the whole hog and put up overhead wires and electrify and dilute the stations to draughty bus shelters!

    Regards from a concerned and worried, Paul.

  29. I do find it odd that a few people did know, but plenty did not. I like to consider myself reasonably well connected, working in two departments, travelling the line and keeping up to date with any communications online, blogs or volunteer comms, but I had no idea.

    More worryingly, seemingly neither did John B, in charge of the reconstruction, who wrote on the last but one volunteer newsletter:

    "The temporary
    tarpaulin cover was put to the test as we experienced some very wet weather, but we just
    managed to stay dry in a corner of what will be the cafe area. Having tested it, we are
    looking forward to having a cuppa there in comfort when the building is operational!"

    So clearly not common knowledge, as I said before, 12 mentions of the cafe in the Broadway blog too in the past 2 years.

    I understand if the board think it'll be too much of a strain to operate at the moment, but at the very least provision should be put in such that one can be had in the medium term future without ripping things apart again.

    As a side note, I don't see suggestions of "the end of steam" being particularly constructive, reductio ad absurdum just clouds the argument.


  30. Many of the other bloggers have made the case succinctly and persuasively. For all th reasons given, and I add our total support, it is absolutely crazy not to hav a cafe at Broadway

  31. I was just on the point of buying shares when this news broke. I shan't be going ahead for the time being if this is the way the railway is being run. Like most people I know I like to stretch my legs at the end of the line and have a look around, get a cup of tea (I don't drink coffee so your machine is of no interest) and enjoy the running round etc. What i don't need is yet another room full of souvenirs. On board catering is all very well but making one's way along a swaying corridor with a tray of drinks does not make for a relaxing day out. The Board say what they would like people to do, surely the idea is to provide the experience that people want. Assuming they want return visits, that is.

  32. I agree with many of the above and think that not having a catering facility at Broadway is ill thought out. A great many people will wish to have a nice coffee or tea at the station whilst waiting for their train or just visiting the station to take in the nostalgia. Is it possible to have a compromise, a small well designed cafe, with 20% retail space to sell our most popular lines?
    If the cafe is run by a franchise and the contract has been well thought out, the business owners could also be responsible for selling shop items on behalf of the railway, thus relieving the need to have more volunteers running a cafe or shop.
    Please Please Please don't go down the lines of a vending machine... Its Naff!

  33. Did Broadway station have a souvenir shop and a cafe then?

  34. I think that all interested parties - working volunteers, members or the admiring general enthusiasts should pay tribute to the Board for the way they have handled this matter. Comments - not all politely expressed - have been taken on board and a decision which must be acceptable to all has been taken.