As they say, its nice to be busy and so it proved, culminating with our popular annual 40’s Weekend, which went ahead with some changes (scrapped the battle re-enactments and held a minutes silence) which were made in order to be sensitive to the MEN Arena bombing.
Events – Overall we had increased visitor numbers for our SC-Fi; Princesses and School of Wizardry. The Neverland Express (previously Pirates Adventure) didn’t quite work (title confusing and some children were still in school) so will revert back to the previous title and look at event timings. As they say there is always learning from all our events.
Dining with Distinction – This year’s offering is virtually sold out (occupancy at 96%). Still No.1 on Trip Advisor across Greater Manchester. Three extra trains have been added to meet demand. Two successful weddings took place at Bolton Street, with one couple actually being married on the platform!
Footplate Experiences – This experience goes from strength to strength with 82% of places sold.
Residents Weekend – Attracted over 1,000 visitors for the first time, a 10% increase on 2016.
Spring Steam Gala – The gala attracted some 2,700 visitors a 42% increase on 2016. Maybe the running of the Union of South Africa helped, albeit only on the first day.
Day out with Thomas – On a par with 2016, around 7,200 visitors. From customer surveys taken; 88% would attend another Thomas event; 96% said they would visit the railway again.
Tourism & Travel Show – Our thanks go to Kate Walker and Nicola Wilcock to showcasing the very best of what the ELR has to offer visitors to our railway.
Nicola Wilcock our Sales Manager pictured.
Linda Henderson – I made a surprise visit to the Ramsbottom Signal Box recently, to present a certificate to mark Linda becoming the first female driver on the ELR. Congratulations to a very hard working and dedicated volunteer.
General Manager – I met up recently with Tracey Parkinson our new General Manager to discuss a number of early priorities and future developments where we have aspirations for in the future. Tracey starts on the 17th July.
Deputy General Manager – It has become clear in the period since the previous GM left there is a need to build in more resilience at senior management level. Our thanks go to David Layland who stepped in to plug the gaps and keep the ELR fully functional, along with doing his own duties as Financial Controller. To address this we have added to David’s role and he now becomes the ELR’s first Deputy General Manager.
Working Volunteers – This spring also brought sad news with the loss of Barry Worthington who was the Guard on the first train to run to Ramsbottom on 25th July 1987.
Youth Group (14-18) – Like a number of other Heritage Railways successfully operating youth groups, we are very keen to set up a youth group to help with succession planning. So far we have been unable to recruit sufficient volunteers to both organise the group and act as mentors to work with the young people.
If you can help develop the next generation of working volunteers please contact David Wilson on his mobile 07585 198455 or via e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Heritage Lottery Fund – I recently hosted a visited by the local HLR Officer who wanted to visit Baron Street to see for herself the condition of the roof. We then travelled up to Rawtenstall to advise her on our plans for the station. We received some advise as to how to put together a bid for some funds to pay for a full conditions survey of the whole build including the roof.
I did say spring was a busy period!!