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Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by lynbarn, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    You can "preserve" something in its original location, but the money needs to come in regularly from somewhere to keep it in reasonable condition. You also need to save enough to develop the project (new cafe?) and pay the big unexpected bills (viaduct?).

    The facilities at Kemsley might have been acceptable a few years ago, but the public now expect more and more from the sites they visit.

    When standard gauge projects have had to leave their sites for whatever reason, the stock can be moved to other heritage railways. But at 2ft 6in, the S&KLR have fewer options if they have to leave their current site.

    The S&KR members should certainly be credited for preserving the line and operating it for so long, but I wonder if the latest development is a blessing in disguise?

    Richard
     
  2. steamybrian

    steamybrian New Member

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    I fully agree Richard.....
    Four examples of railways who have moved to bigger and better locations elsewhere.
    Eastbourne Tramway-moved from a short nowhere-nowhere line in Sussex to a much longer more useful route in Seaton.
    North Downs Steam Railway moved from a site around a field at Dartford to help create the 5 mile Spa Valley Railway.
    Peak Rail moved from Buxton to re-build Matlock-Rowsley.
    Brockham Museum moved from Surrey to Amberley Chalk Pits.

    Finally-why are the golfers at Rye objecting to re-opening Rye- Camber? Maybe the sight of a steam train may upset one of the councillors round of golf or are a few " nimbys" objecting.? Another thought as reopening Rye- Camber does not cross any public road either across it, under it or over it would it still require a Transport & Works Order...???
    I do not think that extending the S&K in its present location at Sittingbourne through the same scenery to Kemsley "sewage works" then one mile beside tidal smelly mudflats will attract the public.
     
  3. Bongoharry

    Bongoharry Member

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    It's rather odd to read people saying the line has little to offer. I disagree - from both an enthusiast and family point of view.

    If I had friends visiting with children I think they'd probably get more from a visit to the SKLR than to other lines locally. The site at Kemsley has been developed and transformed over recent years and is a credit to those who have worked so hard there. It certainly used to be rather dreary - not now!

    Plus - have any of those moaning about the estuary ever walked any part fo the Saxon Shore Way - it is wonderful and is the footpath just outside the fence at Kemsley.
     
  4. Hunslets Finest

    Hunslets Finest Well-Known Member

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    I am with Bongoharry.

    Ideal length for the family visitor, large catchment area on the doorstep, great buffet.

    The walk by the Swale is very nice especially at sunrise with the tide in.

    It isn't the Severn Valley and it never will be (all the better for that in my eyes!) but these small lines have a role to play.

    Enthusiasts should visit as it is far more authentic operation than most tourist lines.

    Also I don't think the railway has ever struggled for funding or visitors to do what they want to do.. The problem is the trackbed is being sold from under them. With some significant investment the railway could be a major 'industrial/living history' attraction.
     
  5. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    [quote="Hunslets Finest"



    Also I don't think the railway has ever struggled for funding or visitors to do what they want to do..



    But the railway's own website says that they have struggled for 40 years.
     
  6. Hunslets Finest

    Hunslets Finest Well-Known Member

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    Well they have been there for 39 years with very little external funding. All lines could do with more.
     
  7. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    External funding is fine when you can get it, but there is no guarantee on how much or how often. What is needed is regular, predictable income from passengers (tickets, cafe, shop etc). But visitors won't want to come back is they travel on overgrown, poorly-aligned track such as the photo earlier in this thread. It suggests that the railway doesn't care for its environment, let alone its visitors.

    It's surprising how few heritage railways run any sort of "customer loyalty" scheme. I remember the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway had a fundraising system where passengers could buy vouchers which entitled them to twice your money back if they visited again - but they weren't allowed to use them for 6 or 12 months. Most of the vouchers were forgotten or lost (fortunately!), but the few passengers who brought them back made a killing on their train fares. Maybe they also spent more money in the shop/cafe, having made such a good deal on the tickets. There are a couple of children's clubs on steam railways offering reduced/free travel for a small membership fee, but the railway can also send their young "members" regular mailings to keep them informed during the year. If the kids want to come back, the parents will spend the money.

    Richard
     
  8. pingadam

    pingadam New Member

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    I know the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway has such a scheme: you are given a keyring fob card that entitles you to a discount on subsequent visits.
     
  9. Roger Dimmick

    Roger Dimmick Member

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    The F&WHR also have the 'Y Cerdyn /The Card' scheme for residents of North Wales (Conwy County Borough, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey or Wrexham)

    'Y Cerdyn /The Card' is valid for 5 years, currently costs just £10 and offers travel (with an unlimited number of visits) at one-third of the normal fare.

    Each Adult cardholder can take a FREE child with them...
     
  10. Anthony Coulls

    Anthony Coulls Well-Known Member

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    I would agree in part that the line does not run through the most salubrious or olfactoriraly delightful landscape, but if the developments in the environs are to happen, there is the potential for the SKLR to blossom. I have 2 small daughters - Kemsley Down is ideal for them and so is the size of narrow gauge and the length of the line, plus the partially elevated section -they love that. I can understand the issues over each end, but this is also the chance for those nettles to be grasped, rather than walked away from.

    Yes, they have struggled, and I take my hat off to them for getting so far before calling for help big time. Who hasn't struggled, and Michael, you and I know of a line very dear to both our hearts that is struggling right now too - but that is being discussed elsewhere.

    Go to Bowes, it's the same, not the prettiest, but a VERY important part of our industrial heritage. Put it on a new trackbed and it loses one heck of a lot. It's not all gas lamps and flower beds this preservation business. No one has told Crossness Pumping Station to give up, and they're even further out in the wilds and just as lovely on the nose...
     
  11. Bongoharry

    Bongoharry Member

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    Struggled for volunteers I'd suggest. I believe they could speed up loco overhauls if people could get down there to do the work as the money is available.
     
  12. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    Well said, Anthony
     
  13. Hunslets Finest

    Hunslets Finest Well-Known Member

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    An ideal opportunity to see this railways at its best...

    The Return of The Bogie - 15th November 2008

    As many of you will be aware the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light
    Railway is under threat of closure. This 2'6'' gauge railway is a
    unique survivor using original rolling stock on the former Bowaters
    Railway, which served the paper industry in north Kent. To raise
    funds for the railway's SOS Appeal I am organising a photo charter
    which aims to recreate the last years of The Bowaters Railway (The
    Bogie).

    The charter will use Bagnall 15'' 0-6-2T Triumph on various train
    formations. At least three original carriages and four wagons will be
    available for use use during the day and the loco will run in 1969
    condition with cab-side windows, oil cans and hopefully uncleaned.

    To allow maximum opportunity for all participants the charter will be
    limited to 20 persons. The cost is £35 each, with all monies going to
    the railway. If interested in attending please PM me and I will
    forward you the booking details.

    I hope some of you find this event of interest and may wish to
    support this unique and very friendly railway in its' time of need.

    Best regards,

    David Fletcher
     
  14. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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  15. Bongoharry

    Bongoharry Member

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    I'll echo the thanks above - well done David, a great day. Special praise though for our hosts for whom nothing was too much trouble.

    The ride back on the open wagon in the dark was one I will never forget!
     
  16. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    The attraction for the enthusiast is obvious - however, it must struggle to attract the family audience with scenery like that!
     
  17. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Glad you had a good day but it's a shame the railway turned down the offer to run at least one other charter. Saturday's crew seemed up for it but management decided otherwise. Would have thought the extra money would have come in useful.
     
  18. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    Interestingly enough - although the railway was shut to the public a couple of families with young children got up the station and were keen for a ride.
     
  19. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    An excellent day out yesterday, well done David for organising it. Shame it was Triumph's last steaming. Photos up some time this week hopefully when my computer feels like working again.
     
  20. Hunslets Finest

    Hunslets Finest Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the postive comments and gald you all enjoyed yourselves. By my calculations we should have contributed about £1K to the fighting fund. As always with charters it is nice for us photographers to give something back!

    The railway couldn't have done more for us. As a guide to how helpful they were the fire truck behind the shed was hidden by under-overhaul Superb - it hadn't been moved out of the shed for 7 years!

    They would like to do more charters but can not - they have their reasons and they are very understandable.

    The scenary may not be the most attractive and may not draw people a long way but starting in the middle of a retail park has its benefits and will attract people who want an hour or so entertainment. The North York Moors (or even the K&ESR) is a long way from North Kent...

    Thanks to all at the S&KLR.

    David
     

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