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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by 50044 Exeter, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    I went to OSHI last NYE for lunch and to be honest the food was good home cooking and the beer was well looked after, we sat towards the back of the pub as the front was pretty busy and we were looked after pretty well, a group of younger locals in their work gear having food, drinks ,playing pool ect explained all the tractors in the car park, i wouldn't hesitate to say this 'spit and sawdust' part of the pub needs to be kept somehow as it caters for locals/walkers and the like, the skill will be finding the balance between catering for locals, especially the working country type and maybe pushing a little upmarket a bit, the dear late landlady of my local used to give me a dustpan and brush before i left to sweep up the mud under my stool , i always tried to explain it was her husbands fault as he put in an advert 'dogs and muddy boots welcome', when you're in the sticks you have to cater for all
     
  2. lynbarn

    lynbarn Well-Known Member

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    The answer in the fullness of time would be to have two or more bars or if we should ever got around to building a new Heritage style Pub then three or four bars:-

    1 The Local/railway volunteers as it is now
    2 For the tourist's, bit like now but a bit more cleaner and family orientated and lets have a few snugs to boot.
    3 Some older pubs in the Midlands used to have a ladies only bar
    4 Then you can have a private saloon bar

    If I had my way I would consider building a brand new Pub with a 1st floor food hall serving say Breakfasts up to say 11.ooam then lunches and roast dinners up until last food orders at say 9.00pm depends on how things are going that night.

    Two other things I would consider in the fullness of time the building of a volunteers hostel at the Blackmoor site and also an entertainment/Function rooms/venue as well (Live music, Parties, Discos or what ever they call them this day and age.

    Barnstaple used to have great live music evenings the last but one time I went.
     
  3. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    You seem hell bent on a city centre pub at Blackmoor, where exactly are the people who are supposed to come from to popularise this? Its not exactly a built up area!!!

    No offence but hopefully those in charge have more of a clue/listen to someone who knows what they are doing as your plans would probably end up with the pub going bust ;)
     
  4. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I visit some pubs who seem to struggle to staff even one bar properly, let alone four :)
     
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  5. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Oh seriously??? Get real
     
  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ignoring bars (3) and (4) (in both cases, why?), I see no reason why those markets couldn't be served without the cost and hassle of separate facilities for each. Plenty of pubs do this very well; there's no reason why Blackmoor should be any different if there's the market.

    Long ago, I learned that when trying to make money from a venture, I need to focus not on selling what I'd buy, but on what other people will buy. I prefer to trust an organisation that's spent significantly on the site to identify and exploit those markets than a more or less random selection of people, most if not all of whom will rarely actually visit the premises.
     
  7. lynbarn

    lynbarn Well-Known Member

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    Its doing that without my help

    No I don't have in mind a city centre theme type pub, when the railway does get built, you will need something on the lines of but not as big as a motorway service station to cater for all tastes, don't forget that OSHI is unique in that it sits on a major crossroads with roads (A39 and the A399) going to Lynton, Ilfracombe, Barnstaple and South Molton, Both main roads with the potential of a lot more passing traffic.

    If it get screwed up then it will be without me, many years ago and I can't recall who was involved but when Herman the German ran Blackmoor he gave someone some good advice about running the pub if the railway was every to get back there. Make the whole place into a self contained museum/heritage centre and have as many outlets with in the center that is possible.

    Not everyone is going to want to travel on a train, also if you can afford it have a children's centre while the adults can wander around the museum, childcare in North Devon could be better there are a few in Barnstaple but outside of there nothing that I can find at the moment.

    It will be crucial that we don't get stuck in one commercial model with the OSHI people want more that just a train ride this day and age and as Blackmoor will be the centre of the whole L&BR Operation, we shall need it to be successful with in its own right. If we can see something which the population of North Devon needs beside a steam train ride then we need to look at it.

    In a recent Exmoor report they have suggested that the food and drink industry make up 38% of the total spent on exmoor by tourists

    https://www.somersetcountygazette.c...onal-park-authority-landmark-study-published/

    Why not have a cyber cafe on site?
     
  8. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Why not put a Tescos, a leisure centre and a multistorey car park in while you're at it?
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Why do I feel I've strayed into one of the lesser known episodes of "World of Pub"?

    "Yes Mate. No Mate. What this pub needs is a rollercoaster".

    Tom
     
  10. Pete Thornhill

    Pete Thornhill Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Administrator Moderator Friend

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    It’s hard enough to get the people of Parracombe to let the railway build a turntable which is actually a sector plate, do you really think the people of Blackmoor and the surrounding area would be happy with your vision of a new community hub for North Devon?

    Being a bit more serious, what the pub needs to be is a pub which manages to wash its face and ideally make a profit.

    I am completely aware of its location (not unique on sitting on the meeting a pair of A Roads in North Devon or otherwise btw), just because they are A Roads doesn’t automatically make them particularly busy either.
     
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  11. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    What gives you the idea that the pub is currently going broke? All the signs are that the current owners have a successful model which has survived a very difficult trading period. Their reason for selling : that they wish to retire / have a change of life-style, seems fair enough and does not necessarily tell us anything about the trading situation. If, as it seems, it is a successful model of operation then there is little point in changing it, at least for the present, and the appointment of an experienced country pub manager (not from a chain ! ) could keep things going or improve on them.

    Like others on here I am bemused by your determination to find every reason under the sun as to why OSHI cannot work, whilst at the same time making complex and expensive suggestions for potential developments. What comes across is that you have little understanding or experience of running a business, particularly one in as diverse a field as hospitality.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2022
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  12. Musket The Dog

    Musket The Dog New Member

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    As a museum exhibit?
     
  13. Snail368

    Snail368 New Member

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    Lynbarn has some interesting ideas for the OSHI. I'm not sure however that having a mini-service station theme in a tourist area would be a viable USP - even with a railway attached. However as they rightly point out that a large part of discretionary tourism spend is on food and drink. So surely it would make sense to develop the existing tourist attraction (Woody Bay) together with the OSHI - hopefully being linked by the railway in due course - and this is (AIUI) basically what is planned.

    As an aside, a lot of food venues offer different priced menus at different times of the day - thereby keeping trade throughout the day - so a lunchtime menu, afternoon menu and evening menu. This can prove attractive to many people and indeed I have seen venues that have to be driven to (e.g. Beefeaters) that are busy serving food and drink all afternoon (M-F).
     
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  14. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    It's understandable finding armchair experts pontificating on here about trains, or about pubs from the perspective of customers; but how come so many think they know how to run a pub?
     
  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I know full well that I don't know how to run a pub, but enough about pubs to know that chains have weaknesses as well as strengths, and that making a success of OSHI requires care and nurture.

    As I said previously, the way to make a profit is to focus on what would be customers want, rather than to provide your own ideal venue.
    This statistic needs to be treated with care, as it lacks context. It tells us nothing about whether that share is high or low compared to other areas. If (as I suspect) it is high, that also raises the question of what else there is for tourists to spend money on - part of the attraction of Exmoor is the lack of development, which by definition means that there are relatively few places to spend money. It may well point to where opportunity lies, but it may also mislead about whether there is actually a crock of gold at the end of that rainbow.

    Without any data to support me either way, I could perfectly well draw the conclusion that the area is saturated with food and drink outlets, and therefore that (a) growth at any venue would be taken from competitors in the area and (b) that the real opportunities to make new income lie outside catering.

    I welcome and support the purchase of OSHI, because it provides a resolution for complex issues at an important site, but care is required.
     
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  16. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Welcome to my world…
     
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  17. lynbarn

    lynbarn Well-Known Member

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    As for running a pub not quite, but I have run a social club on the same lines for over six months, so I do have some idea of what is involved and it was hard work at weekends. Besides the food and drink, the social club was also required to have live entertainment at weekend be it a disco, band or something else, we even had a comedy night while I was there and that was appreciated by all.

    One of the other guys managed to borrow a large tv screen while one of world cups was on (this is now dating it). It didn't go down to well with the hospital management, as the staff all wanted to come and watch the footie. Be that as it may, compared to my day job as a steam boiler maintenance electrician/fitter (some one has to maintain the HP steam boiler control systems), it could be hard work.

    I am not against the purchase of OSHI and I do welcome it, but with some caution and reservation in today's business climate. I have been a member of the L&BR group since it was started back in 1979 and according to some records I am one of the longest severing members of the group, but does this give me any special rights? no it doesn't but if I can't say how I feel and what I think is wrong or make suggestions for the long term viability of the railway project then something is wrong.

    Knowing that many local pubs will not make it through this winter thanks to the extra higher energy bills, rising staff costs, insurance etc and all the other outlay's that goes with running a small business, I can't help but think the worst right now.

    For those of you who are not L&BR members but think I am wrong look at it this way. If someone came up to you right now and offered to sell you a pub for say £2 million quid, in the middle of nowhere would you do it (there is no railway attached or anything else for that matter, just purely as it is)?

    For what it is worth, anything that helps bring the money in and is also needed by the local population at large has to be a good thing. Besides helping to rebuild the railway. Heritage railways have had sponsorship/partnership deals for a long time so why not have something like that in place for the L&B to survive?

    In time the OSHI will have to make money not just for the shareholders but to help the Railway. Just how that will happen I don't know yet, but one thing I do know and that is it is not going to take the L&BR down with it if it fails, that is all I am saying.
     
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  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Pubs are like schools and hospitals

    We have all been in them so think we know how to run them
     
  19. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I don’t know the ins and outs of this particular site Pete, there are so many variables to be considered, what’s the footfall like? Location? (Which leads to do you have a customer base nearby and where can you get your staff from?) Regarding Management what are they like as people? A bad management team can really ruin your business especially if they annoy regular customers.

    What are the business rates like? Suppliers?
    It’s really not just as simple as ‘This works for X so it should work for Y.

    Certainly looking at ourselves and some of the other small operators we know operating multiple sites in Cambridge we know what works in one location may not work in another so why try and replicate that?

    My own opinion for what it’s worth is regarding OSHI is if the L&B are wanting to take it over and running it as a pub/restaurant I’d be wanting a friendly conversation those selling about what they do and how they’ve gone about it.
    But I’d urge caution about those that think that using these premises will become a cash cow to rebuild the L&B.
     
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  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Again, there are a lot of good points to consider in there - but the pub management needs to be focused on allowing the pub to be successful in it's own right. Then, and only then, will it stand a chance of returning an income to the railway.

    Rising costs are important, and they are hurting many businesses. But without knowing the circumstances of each, it's impossible to draw specific conclusions about any other business.

    Finally, I'm glad to read that failure of the OSHI wouldn't lead to failure of the L&B, though I'm sure I've seen mention of formal links that make me wonder quite how confidently that statement can be made. But there are more ways than one to damage an organisation, and if the purchase is successful, the OSHI will be seen in the area as the L&B. At the risk of repeating myself, it needs to nurture it's reputation as a pub if it's to support the L&B.
     

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