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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 61 - Autumn / Winter 1986 / 87
Commercial News - 1986's Results and Plans for 1987
There are many adjectives which could be used to describe our 1986 operating season. Among them would be: encouraging, frustrating, maddening, interesting and heartening.
Encouraging because we have seen a healthy increase of some 13% in our Sunday attendance; a figure which could have been nearer 20% had we not experienced a shortfall on our Enthusiasts Day attendance compared to last year.
Frustrating could be used to describe our experiences with Bank Holidays. Attendance was down 4% on last year, due mainly to the weather, but also no doubt because we had nothing big to shout about after the debut of Met. No. 1 last year (a sure indication of the dangers of putting all the eggs in one basket and of the importance of providing in depth entertainment for our visitors). The maddening result of this was to pull down our overall increase in attendance to just 3% or so, a figure which will no doubt be widely quoted, but which does not reflect at all fairly on the season.
Taken overall, 1986 is best described as interesting and heartening. The controversial decision to open every Sunday can now be seen to be correct, as the trade is steadily building up and, despite a lower entrance charge for these days, they yield a greater revenue per visitor.
Also, of course, we are better able to cope with the sort of attendance we expect on a normal Sunday. Above all, 1986 has been heartening, because our gross turnover rose by some 12% - in other words, we took more money per visitor. We must, of course, note that admission charges rose in 1986, but better results from on site trading activities still accounted for the lion's share of the increase.
Some of the best individual results are as follows:
Birthday Parties.................... 42% up
Also worth a mention is an increase in revenue of 7% on the Chiltern Line DMU service, despite a 4% drop in Bank Holiday attendance.
All this hard work has seen our overdraft reduced by some 16%. Not a large figure it is true, but a significant reduction nonetheless. We have also made many improvements to the site in general during 1986 - another move in the right direction and one which has to continue if we are to attract still more visitors.
The importance of keeping our Centre neat and tidy was expressed most strongly by Thames & Chiltern's Tourist Board Director Christopher Jennings during his visit in October. He felt our policy of opening more often was correct and that we were on the right lines with our development of the Centre, but once again he stressed that good housekeeping was vital in the drive to improve our image. Christopher's visit was most worthwhile and he gave us some interesting leads, which we hope to follow up and report on in due course.
In order to build on our achievements tills year, we will be taking another bold step forward in 1987. The Centre will be officially open on a basic level on Saturdays during the operating season. We will not be in steam on Saturdays, but the possibility of diesel rides is being discussed. We also hope to have both the shop and refreshment coach open. An important part of the Saturday opening will be the introduction of a ramble or trail of the Centre in conjunction with a new guide book.
Additionally , we will be in steam on Wednesdays throughout June, July and August 1987. This is mainly to cater for party and schools trade, although, of course, ordinary visitors will be encouraged! As a result of this new policy, Schools Week will not now take place, but will be spread over approximately eight Wednesdays instead.
These moves are bold and not without criticism from our already hard-pressed working members, neither have the decisions been taken lightly. However, the Commercial Sub-Committee and the Executive feel that they are necessary to further increase our Centre's profitability and thus ensure the continuing safety of our historic collection. It is hoped that further working members will appear from the ranks of our membership in support of these ventures - perhaps those whose domestic situation or working pattern dictate against helping out on Sundays.
The 1987 season begins on Saturday 4th April. Opening times have been standardised at 11.00 am to 5.30 pm - last admission 5.00 pm However, the gate will be manned from 10.00 am on Sundays and Bank Holidays to cater for early arrivals.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 20 November 2017