Santa Specials – I am starting my roundup with our final event of the year. This year everyone put in a herculean effort as almost 40,000 visitors (up 9% on 2016) enjoyed this unique ELR experience. My thanks to everyone who put in a shift or two or three and more, enjoy your well earned break. I know I will!!
Roundup – Overall the staff and volunteers can be very proud of what has been a stunning year of achievement as we continue to excel in the delivery of our many and diverse events along with our traditional steam and diesel galas. No one expected, I’m sure we could match 2016’s visitor numbers but compared with 2015 we were up (more details in my January blog)
In the spring we saw the Burrs station fully operational; works to the Trackside and Buffer Stops got underway; improvements to the Castlecroft shed went ahead to improve these shared facilities between the Diesel Group and Bury Transport Museum; the Horncliffe slip was fully reinstated; our new wedding poster (opposite) was launched and with the ELR now hosting weddings we have opened up a new revenue stream; we welcomed back the Union of South Africa; FXP and Dining with Distinction were virtually sold out and where DwD won a deserved award in the Made in Bury Awards.
With the creation of a new Rawtenstall working group, we finally got planning permission for Rawtenstall; at Burrs we are working with the Council to develop the park’s facilities, where the new Burrs station, in future years, will be a major gateway into the park; at Heywood the new play area was opened and catering coach available for major events; work continues on the feasibility of a building a new cross platform at Castleton.
During the year we also set up a Buckley Wells project group. The group led by Roy Chapman our newly appointed Director of Development are tasked with creating a masterplan for the site in conjunction with a new 2020-2030 strategy, due to be published later in 2018.
In July we welcomed Tracey Parkinson as our new General Manager and now TV star after appearing with Julie Walters recently, when Tracey was GM at the Talyllyn Railway.
Tracey will need all our support if we are to get to grip with the financial and resilience challenges facing us in 2018.
This is my final blog of 2017 from my conservatory, where I do most of my writing work as your Chairman. I have been honoured to be the Chairman of the ELR and enjoyed my second year, meeting so many of our great volunteers and staff where this continues to be a highlight for me throughout year.
I hope the people who visited the web site and my Twitter feed @elrchairman over the past year felt informed and briefed on the great and unselfish work that goes on every day right across the ELR. Don’t forget, I love your feedback good and bad and of course questions and suggestions.
As we reach the end of another eventful year, I wish to sincerely thank all our working volunteers and staff for giving us and delivering such fantastic loyalty and quality of service, ensuring 2017 was another year we can all look back on with pride.
I sincerely wish all our volunteers and staff and your families a peaceful and restful Christmas and a Happy New Year