If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Spa Valley Railway - Latest News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by matt41312, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    1,373
    Occupation:
    Safety, Technical and Offroad Driver Trainer
    Location:
    South Yorkshore
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    The catering/sandwich thing is an interesting one..

    From my point of view, we often take a small picnic/pickup when we visit railways, but tend to buy hot/cold drinks through the day.

    It's a financial balancing act and also risk of either not being able to get food or the food that is available being well......rubbish (just to be clear, this is a general comment, not aimed at the SPA).

    There is also another part to this, there is a railway in the North that as a family we have, and still do visit fairly regularly- a number of years ago they opened a new cafe at one end of the line.
    Previously as part of a holiday treat day out we would make a day, go up the line have lunch at the new cafe, which served nice food and presented a "value" proposition as we felt that it was appropriately priced.

    Subsequently, the choice and quality has fallen whilst the price has increased significantly.

    I am well aware that in the main prices have gone up, across the board however if we do do the same day out, it is now slightly cheaper, the food is better and there is a larger choice at a pub just around the corner- so they get our additional spend.

    It's a difficult balancing act and I do feel for those who are trying to get the sums to work- at the other side of this there are families like my own who are doing similar calculations.

    I would like to visit a few galas this year, but in reality can probably only justify our discressional spend on one maybe 2- the KWVR gala being the likely one, as I really want to see 4079.

    Chris
     
  2. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2021
    Messages:
    1,088
    Likes Received:
    199
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Hampshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    In fairness though, the weather was rather dreadful and let's just face it, you did plan it right before Valentines Day, so it wasn't going to be that well attended anyway.
    But, at least you guys actually advertised what exactly was going on and put on a good show [despite 34066].

    Unlike:
    Watercress Line - Still needs to announce Leander on their website.
    Bluebell - Still needs to advertise 7714 on their website.
    Swanage - Still need to add 31806 and Eddystone on their website.

    Seriously, how long does it take to update a website?
     
  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    35,143
    Likes Received:
    20,788
    Occupation:
    Training moles
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    What do you mean “despite 34066?”
     
    A1X, The Gricing Owl and ghost like this.
  4. Brockenman

    Brockenman New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    91
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Not on the Brocken
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Why would Valentine's day affect the attendance,and as for the weather it wasn't that bad,some rain,rather dull at times but the sun did come out at times.Main thing was it wasn't cold and there was no wind and I was in Tunbridge Wells from Friday afternoon until Monday morning,no weather complaints from me.can I suggest you offer your services to the above railways that you are able to help them out with website updates,i'm sure they would be happy to here from you.
     
    The Gricing Owl, ghost and Matt37401 like this.
  5. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Messages:
    2,518
    Likes Received:
    3,267
    Location:
    Powys
    Really interesting read the last few pages. In answer to what else can a railway do to attract enthusiasts - I really don't know!
    Enthusiasts really are a fickle bunch, I can't help but compare this event with the Battlefield Line gala, which had 2 prairies and a 2MT. Why did the Battlefield get record numbers and SVR struggle? Answer that and you have the key, but I'm not sure there is an answer. Weather, timing, the promise of 6880 (which then didn't materialise), phase of the moon!!
    Perhaps the real bonus was the fact everyone enjoyed themselves, volunteers had a morale boost and it washed its face financially. With all of these things the profile and reputation of the railway improves bit by bit and that is important in the long term.
    I enjoyed looking at the YouTube coverage of the event and wished it was a bit closer to home as I would definitely have attended. I enjoyed the Battlefield event, but I'm sure I would also have enjoyed the Spa Valley one too.
    If ever I find myself in the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells, I will be sure to call in - this is clearly an impressive railway that is starting to make a name for itself. It is perhaps one I may have overlooked 5 years ago.
     
    Greenway and The Gricing Owl like this.
  6. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    1,562
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    General Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I've read a lot of things in my life to do with heritage railways but this has got to win the award for the most unusual reason for why people wouldn't attend an event.

    However, the more you post the more intrigued I am to learn about what you think we should do. Would you like to come and meet up, discuss it in person at Spa Valley? I'll throw in a free brake van ride too!
     
  7. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Messages:
    3,988
    Likes Received:
    5,105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    N.Ireland
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Why don't you volunteer to help with one of these railways then, instead of constantly finding fault with anything they try to do? Honestly, from your posts on here, it seems that nothing would ever please you.
     
  8. Spitfire

    Spitfire New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    65
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    It seems the romance of steam is dead!

    But seriously: there are a lot of competing attractions/distractions that affect patronage at heritage railways. I’m not sure that Valentine’s Day falling 3/4 days after the gala is high amongst them - particularly for the target market for this event.
     
    The Gricing Owl and ghost like this.
  9. Ben Jenden

    Ben Jenden Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2019
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    635
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Croydon
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    You really come out with such rubbish.
     
    ykin01, A1X, Bluenosejohn and 5 others like this.
  10. Ben Jenden

    Ben Jenden Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2019
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    635
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Croydon
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    He clearly hates Bulleids hence why the derogatory comment
     
  11. Johnb

    Johnb Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    14,386
    Likes Received:
    16,506
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired, best job I've ever had
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I will put my cards on the table and say that I do attend a fair number of gala events but my interest is in photography rather than travel. I always make a donation equivalent to the cost of a day rover ticket and I would encourage others like me to do the same. A donation rather than buy a ticket as it can be gift aided. I also participate in photo charters which some railways seem to think are not worth the effort but the recent Spa Valley event made a lot of new friends for the line, including me and hopefully there was a bit of cash in it for the railway. As I said above I think your main problem is being squeezed between the K&ESR and the Bluebell and the line doesn’t come up on people’s radar as they do. That will change as you become more well known. Is there any mileage in some cooperative marketing with the others? A bit like a mini version of the Great Little Trains of Wales initiative a few years ago? There are a lot of other attractions in your part of the world, NT properties etc so the tourists are there, it’s just a matter of getting your name on the list of places to visit.
     
    The Gricing Owl likes this.
  12. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    1,562
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    General Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I drove the afternoon of the photo charter with 80078 last week and it was quite enjoyable plodding along the High Weald. Whilst they don't make us thousands it did give me some fantastic images to use for advertising and with 30,000 followers on Facebook and 6,000 on Instagram that does help promote the railway, which in turn gets people to visit or book something with us via our website.

    I'm not sure what to suggest from an enthusiasts point of view and why people would/wouldn't come (other than of course Valentine's Day), I'd hope following the arrival of 34053, 34072 and the big Scottish event people would know we existed. Being between Bluebell and KESR probably does impact on our visitors as whilst we aren't competing with each other directly, if you wanted a steam train ride in the South East you have three heritage lines very close to each other. There is no doubt that the three of us then have the impact of there being so much to do in the surrounding area, as soon as its hot and sunny enough the seaside is around an hour away at most, there's plenty of National Trust and English Heritage places to go plus the many other attractions such as Leeds Castle, Chatham Dockyard, Seven Sisters, Drusilla's Zoo, Bewl Water, Go Ape, Knockhatch Adventure Park, Ashdown Forest etc. It goes on!

    We are part of the Seven Wonders of the Weald program, we have been for a number of years now and that has no doubt benefited us. If you're not sure what that is take a look here: https://www.sevenwonders.org.uk/

    We have another steam gala in July, the last one we did in July was in 2021 which featured Knowle on its way back to KESR, 34053 and Douglas. This year I'm not sure what it'll bring, I hope 34053 and 34072 operating together, plus 828 and then we should have an engine coming on loan for the July/August period as it is possible 34072 will be on loan elsewhere and whilst 34053 should be with us 828's annual exam falls due then and it might require some other works to be undertaken at the same time.

    Hopefully in 2025 our own Jinty should be in service again and can front a Steam Gala along with a Bulleid and whatever else we have here.
     
    Sheff, ykin01, A1X and 6 others like this.
  13. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Messages:
    2,518
    Likes Received:
    3,267
    Location:
    Powys
    We are all being told to diversify and try and do different things. As a forty year old I still feel quite 'young' at steam galas which is a strange feeling these days! So here are some thoughts on how to attract more of my age group. Spoiler alert, I have more than myself to consider when it comes to limited disposable income...
    Being a dad of an 11 year old, one thing I have learnt is don't be afraid to market enthusiast events to families and 'normals'! My daughter asked to go to the Severn Valley winter event and being timed in the school holidays it was a handy thing to take a bored child too, she thoroughly enjoyed it and wants to go to the Spring one.
    I note that the West Somerset are doing 'kids for a quid' at their Spring event (that's a big saving on other family attractions) and when the Severn Valley spring gala fell into the Easter holidays a few years ago I was amazed how many kids and families were at the event. The locals and freight were something many of them hadn't seen before and there was a lot of interest.
    One thing that has caught my eye is the GCR 'Railways at Work' event, it appears to be a mashing up of a steam gala and reenactment event and looks like it could appeal to both enthusiasts and families - my wife showed interest in it when I mentioned it and I wouldn't normally get her anywhere near a steam gala!!
    Children and families are the enthusiasts of the future and all kids love steam trains - why wouldn't they enjoy an event with lots of locos!?! Anyone who is offering a cost effective family day out (which all will enjoy) will get my attention at the moment!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    smasher, 35B, 5944 and 5 others like this.
  14. The Gricing Owl

    The Gricing Owl New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2023
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    404
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mid-Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Good man John. Yes, I adopt the same aproach re photography of heritage lines, but usually buy tickets rather than make donations. Although the Spa Valley Railway now have my Gift Aid form (I think the Bluebell too), and I am thinking that on days when there is zero chance of me travelling I may replace ticket purchase with a donation to the same value. But somehow I would feel uneasy about using station facilities etc without having a valid ticket in my pocket!
     
  15. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Messages:
    6,193
    Likes Received:
    4,963
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Swanage
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    The other thing you have not mentioned in the form of food competition is speed. Your supermarket competition is very similar to the Co-op and Budgens at Swanage. Very easy to rush in, grab a sandwich and a drink whilst the loco is running round/next one backing down, and be back on the train with time to spare.
    Quite often (and I cannot remember your facility as it is a few years since I was there last) but a rush of people off a train leads to queues and maybe missing (especially at a gala) the loco you want a ride behind. Hence those railways "in the middle of nowhere", Shackerstone or Sheffield Park for example, really benefit as they are the only catering option. Sainsbury's at E.G. on the Bluebell I suspect a smaller threat as unless you know it is there if you started at that end, or are a frequent visitor you may well have used the lines own facility by then or at least checked it out and have planned to.
    Of course no line can do anything about the external competition at their location, and in town locations can bring other benefits.
     
  16. The Gricing Owl

    The Gricing Owl New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2023
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    404
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mid-Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    @Jonnie re the arrival of the Bulleids, my very first photo taken at the Spa ValleyRailway is below. July 2021. That really made me sit up and take notice - a Bulleid (really 34053 of course) running 2o miles away, and one whose identity is changed from time to time which fits superbly with me getting photos to accompany the 1960s timing logs in my BR SR steam loco memoirs. Followed by 75069 that I photographed in 1962 at Oxted, 80078 from a class that did so much work in the area in normal steam days, 34053, 34092, 34072 and as 34066, an A1X that I photographed on the Hayling Island branch on 9 September 1962 and another one of the same being overhauled - and such as 78019, a mogul to put alongside my SR moguls shots at Groombridge from 1962. Plus the possibility of other varying BR SR classes, and of course non-BR SR clases when I will still support events in between BR SR locos being the main draw. It's not just the locos at SPV, but the very friendly staff and the ready availability of hot de-caff coffe and snacks. I would volunteer at the SPV, but my continuing Short-eared Owl study and my owl and other duties volunteering at the very big Isle of Sheppey nature reserve (more than ten years as a volunteer there) would not allow any reliability with my attendance, but also push me beyond what I can physically manage to do these days.

    001-34095-Groombridge-14.05-Eridge-26June-2021.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
  17. Cuckoo Line

    Cuckoo Line Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2020
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    301
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    South West
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Jonnie for us being National Trust members having a National Trust close is a bonus especially if the NT allows dogs, gives us a chance to exercise the dog as well as a Train trip, so if we go to for example KESR we tend to go to Bodiam Castle also and Bluebell Sheffield Park. But then I guess they are very close to the railway
     
  18. alexl102

    alexl102 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2019
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    314
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I don’t wish to interrupt this brilliant discussion, but I’d like to ask a question before the subject of the photo charter is 5 pages back. I’m absolutely not turning up my nose by asking this; I’m genuinely very curious to read people’s thoughts.

    So:
    In my limited experience, photo charters tend to be an opportunity to recreate things you wouldn’t normally see on a heritage railway - 45212 on the breakdown train at Keighley last year, for example, or Tornado on the vans.

    With that in mind, from an enthusiast point of view, what was the attraction of a 4MT on a rake of green mk1s? I’d imagine it’s a fairly common occurrence at the Bluebell, and until fairly recently was a regular feature at Swanage.

    Was it simply the chance to get some shots from angles that aren’t normally available, or is there some specific history surrounding a 4MT on this line, for example?

    Thanks!
     
    The Gricing Owl likes this.
  19. The Gricing Owl

    The Gricing Owl New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2023
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    404
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mid-Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Another very pleasant day at the Spa Valley Railway today. I started at 75F and - check for the blue loco just visible between 78019 and 80078 - managed to catch all 4 of the larger locos together as 78019 shunted 80078 out of the shed. Then a 300 mm zoom shot of just one horsepower together with, from watching it climb up towards TWW later, rather a lot more h.p. just as 78019 shut off on the approach to Forge Farm Crossing. Without the benefit of my 300 mm lens I did initially wonder why a rhinocerous was in the field next to the railway - Specsavers appointment now booked!

    A brief visit to Groombridge station for the usual warm welcome and a coffee and snack from the excellent kiosk, then off to Fairview Lane to see 78019 restarting trains from High Rocks.

    On a day of mostly very dull weather I suspect the two very full looking cheese train coaches were what made money for the railway today.

    Bryan


    050-34072-80078-78019-57566-75F-25-Feb-2024.jpg


    051-78019-approaching-Forge-Farm-Crossing-10.50-Eridge-25Feb-2024.jpg


    053-78019-departs-High-Rocks-12.05-Eridge-25Feb-2024.jpg


    055-78019-Fairview-Ln-Bridge-restart-H-Rocks-13.30-Eridge-25Feb-2024.jpg
     
    Johnme101 and Bluenosejohn like this.
  20. The Gricing Owl

    The Gricing Owl New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2023
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    404
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Mid-Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    They operated quite a lot of passenger services in this general area in normal steam days. With 80144 on the last rostered steam working into/back out from TWW in June 1965.
     
    alexl102 likes this.

Share This Page