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S&D Railway Trust and Washford Eviction Notice

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Andy Norman, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. ikcdab

    ikcdab Member

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    From 1976 the plc did indeed pay rent to SCC. I don't have the details to hand, but I think it was around £20k pa. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, the plc bought a 99 year lease from SCC which removed the requirement to pay an annual rental.
    Ian Coleby
     
  2. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I’d like to comment on Michael Rowe’s comments in post # 767, and make my own observations.

    I’m lucky to have a man-cave at Blue Anchor and during the running season spend approximately one week a month there.
    Consequently I have travelled the length of the line on numerous occasions. I have never left the train at Washford station, admittedly probably my loss. What has always struck me is how few passengers leave the train there. Whilst very attractive the whole station doesn’t tempt me to get out and have a look around, the way that some other stations do.

    However, for some events such as the 1940’s weekend and the Beer Festival (for the Diesel Gala) numbers alighting have been noticeably higher.

    Much has been made of the fact that profits from the Beer Festival go to the Plc. I was employed for many years by the South West’s largest brewing and retailing company, and have a fair amount of experience of ‘outside bar’ operations. Profits are rarely very high, even when simply equating the cost of the drinks against the sale prices. Factor in other incidental costs and profit can be very low indeed.

    All the above is based on my own personal experience. I am happy for @Barrie the Beer, whose experience is considerable, to comment on my thoughts.
     
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    No one uses Washford - check

    And a new one:

    Yes they do give money but nothing very much.

    Kick out the ingrates.
     
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  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It is frequently asserted as a justification for terminating the SDRT lease that, outside of galas, no-one uses Washford. But realistically, much of the traffic on the WSR is tidal in nature: out to Minehead in the morning, back in the afternoon. So perhaps worth asking the question whether, outside of galas, do many people use any of the wayside stations? How many people routinely stop at Stogumber or Dunster, for instance?

    The lack of footfall at Washford only carries any weight if it could be shown to be at variance with other comparable stations. Is it significantly quieter than Dunster, for instance? If you applied the logic that low footfall should mean removing attractions from the station, the end point might be to operate the line as a twenty mile out-and-back experience, with passing loops but no intermediate stations. That possibly better reflects the traffic, but goes a long way from one of the significant attractions of the WSR which is the preservation and portrayal of a complete West Country branch line, junction to terminus.

    Tom
     
  5. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I would query that view. Having helped organise charitable beer festivals, the margins on an event can be really quite good - especially where the bar staff are volunteers. What that equates to in terms of cash will of course depend a lot on the scale of the event, and the amount of left over stock.

    More relevant to this particular location, though, is the fact that those profits were shared at all. Whatever the arguments about the scale of those profits, or of the rent, you come back to what the intentions of the plc for the site were at the time the eviction notice was issued, and how those plans (not any that may subsequently have evolved) would generate as much or more cash than hosting the S&DRT as tenants. And, thinking of the questions of footfall, I would also ask what effect extra demand for travel to Washford would have on demand for travel over the full line - so reducing fares income.
     
  6. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    >>>The lack of footfall at Washford only carries any weight if it could be shown to be at variance with other comparable stations. Is it significantly quieter than Dunster, for instance?

    I am only guessing here, but I would say yes. I am sure that there are far more people who get off at DR to walk to the village than do the same at WD, and - meaning no disrespect to the good citizens of WD - I suspect the reason is simply that the attractions of the DR are far more appealing than those of WD, tho' I doubt many PW-wagon enthusiasts get off there :)

    I would imagine that, in the summer at least, quite a few get off at SR do have tea in the gardens etc, but I wonder how many do so just to wander down around SR village? Perhaps Robin may have a better idea from her vantage point ?
     
  7. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    I’m one of those who cannot resist leaving the train at Stogumber.

    On a sunny Summers day there will be as many people in the garden there as at any intermediate station bar Watchet. And all spending money, which finds its way into the Railways coffers.
     
  8. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    But do you ever leave the station and go for a wander around the village?
     
  9. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    More of a 'yomp' than a wander. Closer to it's village than HK on the Bluebell, maybe, but adjacent it certainly ain't!
     
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  10. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    As a volunteer at Crowcombe, my observations are that very few people actually get off the train here because there is little to attract them locally, no castles or beaches, the village is about 1.5 miles away which involves walking along the A358 with no footpaths. However, we do get occasional visitors who go for a walk, for example, to Stogumber and get the train back and vice versa. The number who start their journeys here is also very holiday-reliant, our best supplier of passengers being the nearby camping and caravan site, and if we get double-figure ticket sales in a day, we feel we have done well! Our biggest footfall is from regular friends who drive to the station for a cup of tea, slice of cake, a bit of peace and quiet and the opportunity to see a steam train arrive and depart.

    I previously spent 15 years as a TTI then Guard, and my experience from then would lead me to say that the most popular stations are from Watchet to Minehead with the exception of Washford.
     
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  11. tracker

    tracker Member

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    ...the most popular stations are from Watchet to Minehead with the exception of Washford.

    Was there any need for that snide swipe?
    Robin L.
     
  12. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    It wasn't intended as a snide swipe, just a statement of fact to reinforce other posts.
     
  13. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    I'm not sure your first sentence is correct, Tom. Neither amongst the pile of postings here or in the world beyond NP.

    I'm sure no-one reckons Washford Station could be vastly improved and become a real moneyspinner. It just ain't so.

    However, the S&DRT have created a truly wonderful station at Washford, even without the even more wonderful musuem and the simply magnificently restored S&DJR rolling stock. For those moved by such things, Washford is a place to visit and more than once. For the "average guy" too, it is a very pleasant place to visit, as most who have actually been there will agree. I do hope things can remain as they are.

    Other WSR stations will have something to offer. A trip on the IoMSR will reveal a similar ridership pattern of passengers being mostly end-to-end-and-back with a smattering of folks (if any) joining or leaving the train at intermediate stations. It is the nature of railways.

    Steve
     
  14. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    One could argue that only Watchet and Blue Anchor are intermediate destinations and everywhere else is just a place you pass through. If every station doesn't have a compelling reason for a train calling there, irrespective of how attractive and authentic it may be, then sadly you are managing and wasting money on a resource that drains the bank.

    Not a particularly fair comparison, I know but the Mid Hants has four stations and all of them serve a purpose and can be busy. Other examples are available.
     
  15. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Maybe if the WSR did more to promote Washford as a place to visit then maybe more people might break their journey there.

    The SVR for example pushes Highley as somewhere to stop off and to go to the Engine House.

    A nifty bit of one railway thinking,

    It would make a change from the WSR PLC apologists who spend all their time denigrating the S&D and their efforts, while crying about how people keep on being negative about the WSR and banging on about all the wonderful things the WSR has achieved. Frankly, if JJP opened an envelope you'd send a photographer round to capture the moment.
     
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  16. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    You seem well-versed in both SVR and WSR so your help would be most welcome - what exactly do the SVR do (and spend) when pushing Highley compared with what the WSR does for Washford? A sincere request for advice.

    Steve
     
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  17. daveb

    daveb Member

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    The main attraction at Highley is The Engine House. See https://www.svr.co.uk/EngineHouse.aspx
     
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  18. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Well, one might argue that, but I think I'd add Dunster.

    Please keep in mind that most stations are staffed by Volunteers
    that most stations are expected to pay for, or at least contribute to, their utilities
    that most stations were expected, last year, to make a contribution to the Plc for operating expenses, something a registered charity usually cannot legally do
    that most stations are expected to perform, & pay for, basic maintenance - any major repairs being up to the Plc.
    So the immediate cost to the Plc for most stations is about as low as it's going to get.

    Every station on the 'String of Pearls' has its own attraction of one kind or another, each appealing to different segments of the Visitors.
    The majority of tickets sold are 'Rovers' which makes tracking intermediate journeys difficult, so, as usual, the best data & observations come from active station staff, TTI's & Guards etc..
    What's perhaps missing is a serious, cohesive effort to market all of the intermediate stations. I know there are some posters; I know there's a 'View from the Window' booklet - is there much else?
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  19. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Then you have missed lunch at the Driftwood cafe Blue Anchor or a cream tea at Stogumber. Both very tasty.
     
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  20. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry as somebody with a foot in both SVR & WSR camps you are comparing chalk & cheese with respect to Highley and Washford. The former is effectively a well laid out museum with a number of out of ticket locos & some rolling stock exhibits, a café, childrens playground, shop, paid staff etc. The later would need multi million pound investment to come close as well as needing a considerable increase in the number of main items on display. See here - https://www.svr.co.uk/EngineHouse_Attractions.aspx
     

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