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Wilcockon Enthusiasts in preservation

Discussion in 'Heritage Railway' started by Bean-counter, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    One for those who have seen tha latest Heritage Railway. The first part of David Wilcock's column includes some very forthright views on Railway Preservation being taken over by non-enthusiasts, quoted from Don Bishop but agreed with and indeed extended by David himself.

    At the risk of starting an all-out war, what do forum mebers feel about the argument put forward?

    Steven
     
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  2. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Steven

    perhaps silence speaks more than words

    I think as the new generation pick up preservation the desire to "preserve" will decline , the movement is now mainstream in the tourism industry and increasingly it's about interation and interpretation rather than historic presentation . You only have to look at this forum to see how enthusiastically the red 8F has been greeted however unauthentic to see how the new generation sees preservation differently

    There is a thread in the last week with an event on a preserved line where paralell running took place . The posters joy at seeing this is there for all to see and maybe i'm totally wrong to decry that even though wearing my historic hat it send shivers down my spine
     
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  3. williamfj2

    williamfj2 New Member

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    Just because someone isn't an enthusiast doesn't mean he/she isn't suitible to work/volunteer on a preserved railway, who knows maybe they will become enthusiasts in a while? If preservation gains more of a them & us mentality then the movement will struggle to keep enough people working on the railways in my honest opinion.
     
  4. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar New Member

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    I too read the article and as a member of the Bluebell for the past 20 years can only comment with regard to the photographic charter issue he mentioned. We on the Bluebell are seriously lucky to have Jon Bowers organising these photo shoots, but recently we have found opposition to these. Firstly Jon tried to organise a charter with 34059 in November of last year only for him to be told to cancel it a couple of weeks before the booked date by the Rolling Stock Director due to an number of reasons, one being given "short notice" even though the charter had been in the operating diary since April! Then more recently with B473 paired with the LBSCR vintage wagons this Spring to then be told we couldn't have the wagons because all non-engineering wagons had been withdrawn from service as they aren't "revenue earning vehicles". Which is a bit odd considering a vintage goods train has been advertised on Branch Line w/e. It does seem as David Wilcock says that on many railways, including the Bluebell, opposition is put up by management against enthusiasts who just want to re-create authentic train combinations. Whether management like it or not photo charters pay their way and bring in useful amounts of money and publicity. Unfortunately management seem to think that charters are too much hassle and only want to know about putting bums on seats.
     
  5. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I am afraid my reaction was that this article was akin to, dare it be said, silly old men grumbling into their pints that the younger generation "showed no repect". No one can afford to "preserve" a railway or its equipment exactly at some specified moment in time; so change is inevitable.

    This process started when the Talyllyn Railway commenced running a two train service in the early nineteen fifties. (No disrespect at all is intended to the T.R. here; it was an obvious thing to do).

    A further example is the recreated set of "Pickering" carriages on the Welshpool and Llanfair. Everyone admires these vehicles but they were only possible because the railway recreated itself as a tourist line utilising, in the process, equipment brought in from all over the world. Indeed these glorious carriages use a coupling system brought in during preservation days on account of it being not only more secure but also safer to use than previous systems.

    Paul H.
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Having now read the articles, I do think that there is quite a bit of truth in what he has said but whether the argument is valid, I'm not too certain.
    The NYMR is a prime example of a railway being run largely by 'non-enthusiasts' but would it still be around if it held true to the ethos of those that want a traditional railway and won't accept change? The change is frequently necessary, driven by the twin forces of H&S and finance. As someone who has been involved with railway preservation for nearly fifty years, I long for the 'good old days' when we were simply doing it for fun. (Some of the things we got up to still can't be told.) However, todays railway can't survive on enthusiasm, alone.
    The volunteer base has changed, too. There are an increasing number of what I would consider to be 'non-enthusuasts' joining our ranks; especially from those who are early retired and looking for something to do. This is very much the case at Middleton and such volunteers rarely have much of what I'd term 'railway knowledge'. They often can't understand the desire to do things in the traditional way - why rivet something together when you could weld it is just one example.
    Heritage Railway also has an article by Alan Haigh suggesting that we build new boilers along modern lines. One day, it will probably come to that but, part of our present ethos is that we are preserving the past and riveted boilers with screwed stays are part of what we are preserving. Whilst the old school are in charge, boilers will continue to be built and maintained like this but, for how much longer? It is the same with nuts and bolts. The old school will continue to use BSW but it is a pretty powerful argument for going metric when 5/8" bolts are quoted at £230/100 and the equivalent M16 ones are available at £17/100.
    The old order changeth, yielding place to the new. Even in preservation, things must change. Nothing can remain the same forever, however much we wish it.
     
  7. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    If only this were true! On the narrow gauge quite a few new boilers have been built, both rivetted and welded but the largest standard gauge re-boilerings have been of Stroudley "Terriers". This issue will have to be addressed and soon too. It is proposed that the new build "Patriot" will have a rivetted boiler. No big locomotive boiler has been built in the U.K. for around 50 years and those involved will have things to re-learn, surely.

    As an example of what can happen if fogeydom prevails, the C.F. de Vivarais may be cited. Leaving aside the question of locomotive maintenance, I understand the previous operators were absolutely set against any replacement rails being used which were not of the original weight per metre. Such rail is no longer made. Therefore no relaying took place with the end results we know.

    On the C.F. de la Baie de Somme, where fogeydom does not prevail, new rail has been laid and there are new boilers all round. The line appears to be in rude health.

    Paul H.
     
  8. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    equally one wonders whether the movement leverages it's collective buying power and skills base to it's best advantage.

    whitworth may be expensive now but the combined buying power of preservation should be able to reduce that

    If we look at all welded boilers , 60163 as a trailblazer is still in the teething phase . Where steel has been used to replace copper in fireboxes , again mixed results . Traditional boilers work , have worked for years and we have a skills base in this country to maintain and new build them . Look at the work coming out of crewe, bury, tyseley, bridgnorth , and many other places
     
  9. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    Increasingly as preserved railways have become mainstream tourist attractions, at a time when tourist attractions have become much more commercialised and market conscious, preserved railways have had to move with that. This is a phenomenon that has been happening, gradually since the early 90s when cuts in funding, combined with declining numbers, forced attractions to get their acts together on getting the word out and working aggressively along a business, rather than charitable model. I'm currently researching an essay for University on Heritage attractions of all sorts, one book I came across was a 1994 publication on how to market a museum.

    Combine this with the massively increased paperwork that has come to be necessary to the operation of any attraction, and a railway attraction in particular, (see the Foxfield RAIB thread) it is no wonder that railways have increasingly looked beyond the limited enthusiast fraternity to provide real commercial expertise in the day to day operation of the business. Sometimes you get lucky and have an enthusiast who is also a fully trained FTSE100 manager - sometimes you don't.

    That being said, 'heritage' railways should not lose their 'preserved' roots. Whilst in many, many ways our heritage railways have changed massively since the 1980s, as access has become more limited to visitors, fuel prices have risen etc., in certain ways authenticity and evocation of a past age has improved massively. Take a look at videos of the SVR in the late 80s (a chap has put a tremendous selection up on YouTube) and you will see hotchpotch carriage sets of BR Mk1s with a few LNER, LMS or GWR carriages thrown in. Since that time the SVR has consolidated and now provides one unique LMS carriage set, one of two LNER sets in the country and a fantastic collection of GWR vehicles.

    It is all about balance. A heritage railway should be a successful, commercially driven business or it will not survive now or in the future. I think at the top end of heritage railways we will only see an increase in trained businessmen - no bad thing. However, those businessmen must remember what the railway is trying to achieve on top of breaking even - evoking the past (which does not mean slavish recreation, but nevertheless limits what can and can't be done). Perhaps in the future we will see in the higher echelons of the larger railways historical consultants, experts on the pre-68 railways who can advise how something ought to be done and how it should look.
     
  10. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I'm afraid that I saw it as a photographer's rant at their every whim not being pandered to, Wilcock at his most typical. When you examine his article, it is basically decrying the fact that some railways aren't keen on staging photo charters. I don't see stations being stripped of their ornamentation or semaphore signals being replaced by colour lights, steam locos scrapped and replaced by diesels. I do see, on the NYMR at least, some changes (such as fluorescent strips on door edges and flashing tail lamps) that I deplre, but that have come about by the extension to Whitby and the need to meet certain Network Rail Standards.

    It's probably the case that most workers involved with restoration projects now can barely remember main line steam and the rolling stock associated with it but people do continue to get involved, and up and down the country there are all sorts of projects that illustrate that high quality preservation and restoration are alive. It's true that those working in given areas have to judge what compromises have to be made at times. Locos are a good example of this, where rocking grates and hopper ashpans have been fitted to make life a little easier for crews. Many restored carriages have interiors that faithfully represent what was there originally, but the underframe mounted components such as electrical and brake gear may have been changed to more readily sourced and maintained items, but it's the experience to the passenger that is most important.

    Heritage railways will stand or fall by the quality of the experience that they offer to their customers and although it is important to make profits that can be ploughed back inot the business its also important that the heritage authenticity is retained as far as possible. I think most managers recognise that we are in a form of showbusiness. Preservation and Heritage don't exist in a bubble, and if Wilcock wants real authenticity he should of course call for all main line engines that have received modified chimneys, cabs and domes to reduce their overall height to be withdrawn, be restored to original condition and reduced to preserved line running only - but as that would leave him a lot fewer photographic opportunities I somehow doubt that he will!
     
  11. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Hopefully disagreeing with Moderator Sidmouth will not earn the blue pencil!

    Certainly we have the skills in this country to maintain boilers. It remains to be seen whether this can be stepped up in order to build new large ones satisfactorily. Few if any remaining in the U.K. locomotive boilermaking industry can have first hand experience of constructing large boilers simply because of the passage of time. This would have been different had more, indeed any, orders for new large boilers been placed over the last thirty or forty yesrs.

    When Amtrak emerged in the U.S.A. it was found that the native skills to build railway passenger vehicles had atrophied. These had to be relearned.

    Basically the reply to the perennial old gaffers' cliche of "it's all going to the dogs" is "if this is so, it has a great deal to do with the omissions and commissions of the past when, dare it be said, you were in charge".

    Paul H.
     
  12. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    One of the most interesting and thought provoking posts I can recall on National Preservation!

    There is one further point that can be made which will not go down well in certain quarters I am afraid. Is it not time for established schemes to curb the urge, when faced with an empty trackbed stretching to the far horizon, to lay track upon it at the earliest opportunity? Had the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway really fixed the problems at Chicken curve (which were the final cause of closure in the B.R. era) before sprouting extensions at each end, would they have avoided the pickle they are in now? The siren voices of gricers, ever pushing for more photographic locations, need to be resisted.

    One recalls the ten year pause before the F.R. extended beyond Tan-y-Bwlch and the decision of the W&LLR to retreat back from Sylfaen to Castle Caereinion after the repair of the Banwy Bridge. They both needed to consolidate for what proved to be a considerable period.

    P.H.
     
  13. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Im sort of half and half on the issue really

    I understand getting tourists in to make money and keep the line going is the primary councern, you'd have to be an idiot not to understand that, but i don't see why it has to be at the expense of preserving railway life as once it was, surely it's possible to do both ?, as pointed out, photo charters make valuable income for a railway, often on weekdays when there is no passenger trains about so actually provide an extra income to that you are already getting, if i was a manager i would think this good enough reason to maintain certain vehicles for charters, if they pay there way and even make money whats the problem ?, it's not detracting from visiting tourists who turn up at the weekend and are happy at their ride behing a bright red LMS 8F hauling BR Mk1's despite not being authentic it does the job.

    Long story short, the Railway concerned are turning down extra income away from there main sphere i feel and i don't see why both parties can't be catered for.
     
  14. martin butler

    martin butler Member

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    This whole thing is nothing new , at every preserved railway you will get those who demand that we keep it as it was
    But things move on, we are an industry that is in competion with every other leasure outfit in our own area and have to provide the visitor with a good day out at good value for money other wise they wont come again .

    Stations have to adapt old tin hut toilets are no longer acceptible for most visitors, what do they want from their visit, thats what we should be asking and then looking at how we can deliver

    Commercialisation has crept in, yes, but its because we as an industry have had to to attract visitors, but it should never be at the cost of keeping that railway enviroment what ever your own railway is known for you dont have to be a railwayman to be a good manager, but on the other hand you cant be 100 per cent focusted purly on the commercial at the expence of everything else either, its got to be a balanced view

    At my own railway, the KESR, i often hear people say that we should keep it 100 per cent authentic, but in 2011 you cant for instance, to be authentic what would you run? no mk1 's and that means no engines that would have not worked the line in the past, so to me that means all bar 3 of the working fleet which would be financial madness when you think we need larger engines to cope with present traffic levels, a terrier cant cope with 5 coaches on its own, unless you want to wear it out and over the half term it needed a 5 coach train to cope with the ammount of passingers.

    but what do they come here for, a train ride hauled by steam or heritage railcar, as long as the coaches are clean, look in a good state and they feel comfortable for the general passinger thats enough , for the more adventurious we have the vintage train but do we market it enough? to me i dont think that railways do.

    to my way of thinking, its the public who are our bread and butter, enthusiasts by and large complain most but generally dont tend to be as willing to buy food and drinks etc where a large ammount of income happens to be from .
     
  15. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Quite a fair comment; on recent photo charters the lines concerned have gone out of their way to provide the required locos and stock, the volunteer staff have turned out willing to do what is possible to meet the (sometimes) awkward requests of the photographers yet on occasions the same photographers who make such a palaver about getting "that special shot" make as much palaver about reciprocating by buying food / refreshments from the railway on the grounds that "it's cheaper to buy fish and chips down the road". Fair do's but the fish and chip shop doesn't make the effort to provide the facilities for the photo shoot so it's easy to see which photographer supports himself rather than the railway.

    I can recall the Mid-Hants many years ago pointing out that the enthusiast creates over 90% of the problems yet provides less than 10% of the line's income so one can see why some lines promulgate from this that since they cannot please the enthusiasts why should they cater for them. We enthusiasts can sometimes be our own worst enemy and refusing to acknowledge - and work with - the changes required as the local preserved line becomes a major business within the local community and therefore subject to a raft of commercial and legal procedures is certainly not the way to "make friends and indfluence people". That said many of the younger generation now involved in the running of heritage lines fail to acknowledge the depth of our support and commitment and make no effort to encourage the older generation to become ivolved in order to understand both those changes and the need for them.
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    D. Wilcock is "banging on" again on this topic in the current Heritage Railway, in effect repeating himself.

    In order to avoid the same charge, my I quote a colleague who told me today how disgusted she was with how little members of her family got for their money on a Santa special. I won't say which railway but its identity should cause Mr. W. furiously to think. If railways are too busy with providing photo opportunities for gricers to ensure the people who really pay the bills are happy, then there will be a lot of trouble building up.

    Recent events show how dangerously dependent some lines have become on the pre-Christmas trade.

    P.H.
     
  17. class8mikado

    class8mikado Member

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    I dont neccessarily see a conflict of Interests between the family day out Punter and the Heritage cognoscenti.
    The former want a shiny Iron thing that smells of coal and hot oil has big wheels and goes chuff, pulling clean if somewhat old fashioned carriages
    then they want somewhere nice to eat , drink, go to the loo and something interesting to do/look at at the other end.
    They provide the means for the latter to apply their knowledge and recreate and maintain the historical aspect.
    Make no mistake that all things being equal most punters are discerning enough to recognise a genuine steam era Loco and Carriages and will value it far and away above an industrial or diesel shunter pulling a DMU. I wasnt born in the 14th century, but i know the difference between what the Royal armouries put on and some guys in spray painted cable knits play acting. And whilst mum and dad wont bat an eyelid at a red 8f pulling blue Scotrail Mk II's some kids will be interested enough to look into what they saw and hopefully interested enough to think' if i was running that railway i'd put that back the way it was supposed tobe like in this era or that like i saw on such and such website...
     
  18. Martin - This argument doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. You obviously weren't around in the early days of the Bluebell, Worth Valley, K&ESR etc.

    Anyone else remember Maunsell coaches and P class locos in 'bluebell' blue? Maunsell and Birdcage coaches in chocolate & cream? A USA tank in orange with silver smokebox? Just to name a few examples...

    Fictional liveries on preserved lines are nothing new and don't prove anything about the 'old guard' or the 'new guard'. Indeed, in my experience it's only in the past 30 years that 'paint veg' and their vocal demands for the use of only prototypical liveries have been so slavishly obeyed in the preservation movement.

    For many years, people were just thankful that they had been able to save these things and not worry about getting their knickers in a twist about precisely what hue of weatherproofing was applied.
     
  19. class8mikado

    class8mikado Member

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    Ah the Red 8F , I would greet Clegg and Cameron dressed up as cowboys enthusiastically, but would expect them to get the suits on and back to proper business sooner rather than later...
     

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