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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 103 - April 2010
Headshunt: Comment from the Editor and News from the Editor's Desk
One thing which is striking when being on duty at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is the extent and complexity of the operation. The service which we offer to the paying public is of a very high standard and is extremely professional. Excellence in these areas is essential to earn the money we need in order to keep operating and to improve. Just as with any household, we depend on income earned through hard work to pay for both essentials and the "nice to haves".
This high standard of professionalism is achieved through a great deal of hard work, but also through the wide range of high calibre skills that are available through the paid staff, the executive, and volunteers. We need the engineering skills which are essential to keeping the locomotive fleet in good condition (we need a hard core of tank engines available as motive power for important income generating trains which form a key element of our visitor offering). Engineering skills are also essential for such items as permanent way, carriage maintenance, building maintenance, and other aspects of managing the physical aspects of our Society. Financial expertise is vital to the good management of the income generated. Our visitors need to be fed and watered, and to enjoy the experience, so we need a catering team with very high professional standards. Our visitors must feel welcome and have a good experience, so we need people with retail skills. We have to raise our profile and reach new target markets, so we also need people who have abilities with PR and marketing.
Thus we have a paradox. The Society was formed by dedicated members more than 40 years ago, to preserve those aspects of our railway heritage which were disappearing rapidly all around them. In a nutshell, those founding members wanted to preserve their own experiences and memories. They came together to form a very effective team, many of whom became close friends, and they have developed a shared history. I think it is reasonable to say that the aspirations of most of those founding members have probably been surpassed in recent years. Preserving the locomotives, carriages, wagons, tracks, and other artefacts which were an everyday part of the railway scene 40+ years ago costs a lot of money, and the railway has developed a very effective commercial arm to its operation. Without that commercial success, and in the absence of a Rothschild, a McCartney, or a Getty to fund the Society's activities, Quainton Road station, Rewley Road station building, and the treasures which are housed here would either be dispersed or suffer terminal decay. What might have been seen as a group of amateurs with a romantic dream has evolved into a significant social enterprise. There is nothing amateur about the Quainton Railway Society, and its activities today.
There was a catalyst for the formation of the society in the 1960s: it was the end of steam. Today there are fewer and fewer people around who can remember steam as an everyday part of the railway operation, and certainly far fewer people who can remember steam as the primary source of motive power for the passenger train. Still fewer are the people who actually drove steam engines in regular mainline services on British Railways. We now need to renew and replenish our squadrons of volunteers as well as our wide ranging skills base. There is no one catalyst at the present time, such as the end of steam in the 1960s, which will cause people to draw together. We now need to draw in a steady stream of new people, new blood, new energy, new ideas, and new skills; We must achieve this conscious that the world has changed. People lead much busier lives, not least in the workplace, so the solution is a larger group of volunteers probably putting him less time per capita, but still delivering an increased number of overall working hours to maintain and develop Buckinghamshire Railway Centre's assets and activities.
Therefore we are asking all our readers to consider the time they have available and how that time may be contributed to the activities of the Quainton Railway Society at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. We need a wide of skills and abilities, and there are tasks which don't require much training. There is a rich reward contributing something to the broader good, and it is also true that participating at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre helps those who do join in to develop their skills and abilities, which can benefit them in other areas of their lives. If you would like to join in, or if you have ideas on how we can encourage more people to participate in the running of the Centre do please contact myself or our chairman Allan Baker.
It is rewarding (spending your time contributing to something worthwhile), you can learn a lot; and you meet new friends. What better way to spend. your time? Do take the plunge!
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 06 December 2017