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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 72 - March 1993
From the Boardroom - Chairman's Jottings - Andrew Bratton
It is New Year's Day as I write my notes and a time to reflect on the past year. Have we moved forwards or backwards? This can be judged by comparing our performance with our Mission Statement. May I remind you: To be a leading working period railway and museum in the UK by providing high levels of activity, variety, general interest and interpretation, appealing to family groups of all ages.
Certainly we have raised our profile and public awareness, particularly with the running of the ACE trains over the August Bank Holiday, but we need to work regularly out of the Centre before we can be counted amongst the leaders. It is worth quoting a few extracts from the article in Steam Classic magazine (Nov. '92) by Peter Herring (the editor) which I feel sums up what was achieved:
"We settled down by the lineside. On the other side of the main line, a three-coach branch shuttle plied to-and-fro; behind us a saddle tank pottered up and down with a short rake of wagons and a couple of brake vans. And, every hour or so, smoke would be detected in the distance and shortly after a Castle would glide into view and steam by. A few minutes later a King would come barking out of the nearby station with the kind of crisp even beat that would grace a symphony orchestra. A rural junction on Mr Brunel's railway sometime in the ' fifties? It would easily have been; but no, this was Quainton Road . .. "
"Without doubt, this is the kind of steam experience many people want - and I mustn't forget to add the delight of Quainton's miniature railway which was attracting as much interest ... "
Unfortunately, our high level of activity was not sustained. Activity in the down yard was severely reduced by the poor state of the p-way; we had to abandon the very popular and unique parallel running with the open passenger wagon. We really must rectify this as soon as possible.
"Variety" is something which we are also lacking, partly due to the aforementioned p-way and also due to much rolling stock being marooned due to a lack of paint work. I feel very strongly that variety is the key to our future success. If a visitor pays a second visit and finds no change he will not come again for many years (see the letters page in this issue - ed.) How many times do you watch your videos? Variety and the unexpected were the essential elements of train spotting in our younger days. We have enough rolling stock and motive power to put on a different show every weekend of the year but the practical problems and lack of skilled people to prepare the stock and to shunt it around precludes this at present.
"General interest" has increased mainly thanks to the Parks & Gardens Department. I believe I have seen a signal working, or was I dreaming? The 2SNC has generated a great deal of interest, even more so late in the season when the footplate was opened for inspection. Our attempts to get grants for a building to house the late Dr Gardiner's model of the GC railway have been unsuccessful; this certainly would be of tremendous interest.
"Interpretation" has taken a big leap forward with a description placed on every major exhibit. Somehow we need to tell the stories which the rest of our collection can illustrate. I believe a video is being prepared.
"Appealing to family groups of all ages". Here we have scored well. The long preserved lines prove too tedious for toddlers. We have had many compliments on our Thomas events and Santa Steamings but somehow fail to draw such large crowds as do some of our competitors despite adverse comments made about them. My neighbour visited a well known railway in the Midlands in December with his two young children and queued for nearly two hours to see Santa: "never again" he says.
So, weighing up 1992 - we have probably taken two steps forward and one step back; the latter needs to be rectified urgently. Unfortunately our 1993 budget will not stretch to replacing the defective point work in the down yard unless we manage to find some good quality material at scrap prices. If you know of any privately owned disused track in good order please let us know. But this should not stop us moving forward in 1993 and making things happen; the potential exists to provide much more activity and variety on every open day; it is down to us all.
Other news of current interest:
1) Point connection to BR. The appeal to members in August last yielded around half the estimated cost. BR are however so pre-occupied with the problems of losing their coal traffic and consequent redundancies that they have not responded yet.
2) Carriage appeal. A MKI CK No 7235 was acquired by three members in October. It awaits a change of bogies from continental to BRl or BR2 type. (A CK is a side corridor with four first class and three second class; the same as our 15319).
3) Swindon - Peterborough service. (via the Oxford - Bletchley line). Local newspapers report that BR have stated that this will not happen.
4) Planning approval has been obtained for a new entrance to the up yard across "Harris" field, and to re-locate Evans the Coal alongside the telephone exchange. Progress with the former is likely to be limited in 1993 due to lack of finance. The planning approval also proves for an extension of VAMES line to rear of the 25NC.
5) Registered charity. Following the passing of the Charities Act 1992 we have been informed that we have been removed from the register of charities. As an Industrial and Provident Society we are now an "Exempt Charity". We have appealed against this removal. In theory it changes nothing, but the Executive feel that the public will not understand this.
6) Small-relics curator. This is now Richard Fitzgeorge-Parker. Roy Miller had temporarily looked after the collection following the resignation of Alan Vessey for personal reasons.
7) Museum registration. We have decided to meet the somewhat onerous requirements to remain as a Registered Museum. This principally requires proper records to be maintained of all our collection and its whereabouts accurately recorded. This will encourage the public to donate railwayana to us in the knowledge that it will not be misappropriated, and we shall retain our eligibility for grant aid from the Arts Council.
8) Railwayana and s/h railway books. Barry Hoper has been given official permission to sell these on behalf of the 6989 Group. These are an attraction in themselves to railway enthusiasts. Keith Simpson will consequently reduce his stock of railway books to avoid competition.
9) Bucks C C car park for Brill Tramway Walk. Bucks C C have applied for planning permission to hard surface part of our main car park field for this proposed new footpath to Brill.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 01 December 2017