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.

GWSR General Discussion and Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by michaelh, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. 60044

    60044 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    392
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Salisbury
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    If the PLC is a not-for profit business, where is the problem? All the money is being spent on the railway regardless of the pot it comes from. But it seems a bit like the WSR in being set up the wrong way round - normally the PLC would be the trading subsidiary of the Charity and would covenant any surplus it generates to the Trust. Ownership of land and other assets would be vested in the Charity which would foot the bills in order to get the best possible tax advantages and grant possibilities. It sounds to me as though the GWRT is setting itself up to "take over" the PLC, something which (in a sensible world) the WSRA should be doing. Of course, in each case both parties should be looking for an amicable takeover!
     
    jnc likes this.
  2. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    972
    Likes Received:
    1,232
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Atlantic
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    It's been very well covered in their departmental blogs, particularly the drainage blog. It's been mentioned here (e.g. here), with link given to the blog.

    Noel

    PS: I see this was already answered. Memo to self: must learn to read the whole thread before replying! I'll leave this, though, since it has some useful links.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
    Forestpines likes this.
  3. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,191
    Likes Received:
    2,062
    Location:
    Gloucestershire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The GWRT is a charity (trust) which has the membership of the railway, and a charitable objective of establishing and maintaining a railway museum.
    The GWSR (plc) is the operating company and in its statutes the objectives are pretty much wide open. The plc has the assets and operates the railway line.
     
  4. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7,582
    Likes Received:
    10,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I've had a few thoughts on this.

    The Trust already donates a lot of money to the Plc to support the railway as a whole. I understand it has granted £200,000 out of the £500,000 needed to repair the recent Gotherington landslip for example. It has also in the past funded the purchase of carriages for use by the railway, I believe by granting money to the Plc for their purchase, rather than purchasing them themselves. I seem to also recall a grant to the Toddington station group (a department of the Plc) to renew the children's play area with new equipment. During the Broadway share offer, the Trust also accepted donations for those who didn't want to purchase shares for whatever reason, again I believe it all went more or less, one way or another to the same pot i.e. money spent on extending the line to Broadway.

    I don't have any problem with any of the above, if the railway has to shut due to a landslip and the trust is sitting on a pot of money that could help, but can't, how is that fulfilling its charitable objectives, and certainly the wishes of the membership, who all join to support the running of the railway?

    A "Railway museum" I tend to think of the NRM or the museums you often get as part of a railway, quite separate to the railway itself, e.g. Highley engine house, gauge museum at Bishop's Lydeard etc. We've never really had a proper one of these. A "living museum" does seem to more closely match the ambition of the whole railway being the museum, rather than just a little corner of it.

    Therefore I'm not convinced that this does widen the Trust's remit in practical terms, it merely updates the charitable objectives to better reflect what it already does, and has done since its inception. My only reservation would be if this might hinder any potential future grant application. It may well make such an application stronger. I have no idea, but an opinion from someone who has experience would be interesting. @Andy Norman perhaps? In my very humble opinion, we've been very poor at attracting grant funding. Since I joined the railway 7 years ago I can only think of the £25,000 we got from Aviva in 2017 to fit out the new building at Winchcombe. I'm unaware of any external grants at all in the railway's lifetime, I'd be interested to find out if there have been any. In contrast the 2874 trust has managed to extract twice that amount from the HLF last year alone. Perhaps @Jamessquared could give a rough idea how many millions the Bluebell for example has received in external grants over the years, it does seem particularly good at it.

    I think overall, whilst there are things I'd like the Trust to do differently, it seems clear that the current objectives haven't prevented them from doing other things, and I can't think what the new objectives might allow the trust to do that they don't already do.
     
  5. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    1,520
    Occupation:
    Solicitor
    Location:
    South Wales
    Have a look at the objects for the Bluebell Trust, which are very wide but in practice it is only the Bluebell Railway as a whole that benefits.

    specifically on heritage function I would suggest as follows -

    1. it cannot be assumed that the “good times will keep coming” for the Plc and it is useful for the charity to be flexible. See Llangollen Railway
    thread.

    2. “Restricted funds” should allow suitable heritage projects to be developed and prosper. A Charity should have a mix of restricted and non restricted funds to function effectively.

    3. unlike other charities the GWR Trust doesn’t own a loco (money-pit) and so doesn’t have this distraction/priority thus giving more room for the heritage side.

    4. The decision making of the the Trustees is paramount if funds are not restricted. Make sure you have a good “heritage” representation on the Board.

    Just my thoughts

    regards

    Matt
     
  6. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    3,089
    Likes Received:
    1,289
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Very comfortably early retired
    Location:
    1029
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer

    I've been involved in the establishment of several trusts and served as a trustee on a number.

    As a general principle, it's best to write the Trust Deed setting out the objectives and the powers of the trust in the widest possible terms to "future-proof" things - even if those powers are not used immediately
     
    jnc and Steve like this.
  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    17,893
    Likes Received:
    28,879
    Location:
    21C102
    I don't know if we are conspicuously successful at winning major grants. I think we have been very successful at raising money from individual donations in an altruistic fashion. There are two big HLF grants I can think of: one for about £2.8m back in 2003, which partly paid for the sequence of projects that built the Sheffield Park carriage shed and redeveloped and enlarged the museum; more recently one for about £1m a couple of years back that resulted in SteamWorks! (the accessible loco shed display). The objectives of the HLF change over time: these days they are much more focussed on access and interpretation - it is unlikely you could get an award for a purely operational carriage storage shed now, the business benefit of which which was focused more on conservation. Horsted Keynes carriage shed was primarily funded by individual donations. By contrast, the "train Story" building at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight was part funded by the HLF, but has a strong focus on access and interpretation, which inevitably means it is larger building than a pure storage shed of the same capacity would be.

    Incidentally, I might be wrong but I don't believe that those large grants were paid to the Bluebell Railway Trust, but rather to the plc. As far as I can see, there is no reason why a company can't be the recipient of a grant from a grant giving body. The primary benefit of having a charity within the structure comes from the taxation advantages from individual donations, but that is generally not an issue with receiving a grant from another grant-giving body.

    It's not entirely true that the Bluebell Railway is the only beneficiary from the Bluebell Railway Trust, though obviously there is a linkage. The Trust has funded locomotive work on locos that aren't owned by the Bluebell (but operate there). Perhaps more interestingly, there is an ongoing project to build a Research and Records Centre that, though it will be built on the Bluebell's property, will be a general resource for historic records from the Southern Railway and its constituents and the archive will be available for all historic researchers, not just BRPS members. I understand that a number of other bodies are looking to host their own records there.

    I'd agree with that. Also, the articles should be the enablers of the charity's objectives, not blockers. I can think of long discussions on NP about a long heritage railway not a million miles south west of Toddington in which all the discussion seemed to be about the things the charity couldn't do, and very little about what it could do.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
  8. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    9,688
    Likes Received:
    5,377
    Occupation:
    Gentleman of leisure, nowadays
    Location:
    Near Leeds
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    So, if the plc gets into trouble, it could be the end of the GWSR, even if the GWRT is sitting on lots of pennies because it cannot help as that is not establishing and maintaining a railway museum?
     
  9. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7,582
    Likes Received:
    10,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Merely that when googling "Bluebell Railway grant funding" a variety of results come up, I haven't had time to click on them all to check them all out, but I counted what looked like around half a dozen on the first page alone, although on reflection some of those could be connected e.g. an initial sum to aid further planning followed by a bigger lump.

    It feels unlikely to me that the GWSR as a railway entity would cease if the Trust had enough money to "save" it. As I've mentioned it has had no qualms about donating significant 6 figure sums in the past to help repair landslips and the like. The Plc is highly unlikely to ever get into major debt as due to historical legal reasons it's not possible to use the land as security for any loans, even though we paid the mortgage on it off years ago.
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    17,893
    Likes Received:
    28,879
    Location:
    21C102
    I'm sure there are others; the two HLF grants are the ones that sprung immediately to mind. The others I should have remembered was a grant of £75k from the DfT which is part-funding the restoration of a Pullman car including conversion to enable wheelchair access, part of a long-term programme to ensure we can offer wheelchair access on any train, including the vintage and dining ones; and £84k from the Arts Council for the play carriage (elephant van) at Horsted Keynes.

    Tom
     
  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7,582
    Likes Received:
    10,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I meant to comment on this but forgot, it was something I missed in the letter first time round. I don't see any ambition from anyone on the railway to own a locomotive. The relative merits either side have been discussed here before, but we make sure the arrangement we have works as well as it can which helps provide long term sustainability. But a number of railway charities have had locomotives donated to them in recent years, from individuals or groups who o longer feel able to look after them. A charity is a much more appropriate body than a Plc to take on this role in my view. I have often postulated that should the railway ever find itself owning a locomotive, it should have its own department structure and budget to mirror as closely as possible the current arrangements. Some carriages and many wagons on the railway are also privately owned. Making sure we're capable of receiving such donations should they ever come to pass would seem sensible to me.

    And as far as supporting other organisations, within reason I don't have a problem with that either. If, say, the 2807 group needed new buffers, but the cost of original GWR ones were higher than replacement BR ones it currently carries, a grant from the trust might be reasonable assuming it could be certain the locomotive would remain on the railway.
     
    The Dainton Banker likes this.
  12. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    1,531
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I would be interested in what is meant by a 'living museum', to me that brings to mind places such as the Weald and Down, Ironbridge, etc where the emphasis is a much more holistic - economic, social, cultural in its story telling and much more about educating the public. Many railways are 'here is historical artifact restored to how it looked in 1937 isn't it pretty. Enjoy your ride'. Does this mean a broadening of remit? Also, perhaps this emphasis acts as a safeguard, against any attempts to become a DSR-lite and the line becoming a purely commercial operation
     
    Forestpines likes this.
  13. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    972
    Likes Received:
    1,232
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Atlantic
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Well, if I look at the change(s), I see:
    • "establish" has changed to "support" - fair enough, there's a going concern there now
    • mentions the GWSR explicitly instead of the generic "a railway museum" - that would prevent them helping some other line, but is that a problem?
    • uses the term "living museum" instead of " railway museum" - that would seem to allow non-rail stuff, but it is limited to the GWSR
    So all in all, fairly innocuous, I think?
    As others have pointed out, it's effectively a single, fairly tight organization; as @60044 says, "All the money is being spent on the railway regardless of the pot it comes from", so I'm not so concerned about who should be paying for what.

    I think it's important to have the goal be given in a concise but broad way, which I think the above does. (In particular, it's quite clear that the whole point is a museum, not just 'a fun activity people can partake of'.) The 'how', i.e. what actions the trust may take in furtherance of that goal, may go into more detail, but I'd make sure it's done in the usual legalism form of 'such as, but not limited to {list of things}', so that as @michaelh says, it's future-proofed and doesn't set limits that may one day prove problematic.

    Noel
     
  14. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Messages:
    7,512
    Likes Received:
    2,906
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Alderan !
  15. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    11,895
    Likes Received:
    8,664
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    For what it’s worth I like the changes. They’re enabling in nature and the phrase “living museum” implies an operational railway rather than leaving open the possibility of a static site.

    I suggest, as others have, that the real key is in the people who will be charged with making it work. Where there’s been discussion of other railways with organisational issues, I suggest the real issue has been with people, and organisation has variously exacerbated or mitigated the problems.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    jnc, Forestpines, Poolbrook and 3 others like this.
  16. toplight

    toplight Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,010
    Likes Received:
    831
    Location:
    Swindon, England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    A friend of mine did get a grant for the GWSR, (was probably about 15 years ago) for the Cheltenham Racecourse station platform. At first only part of it was restored, so the grant was originally intended to restore the platform 2 on the opposite side to the buildings, but then after the grant was obtained the railway wanted to use it to restore the platform 1 to the full length so it was used for that instead. Cant remember how much or where he got it from but it was reported at the time. I can ask him next time I speak with him.
     
    flying scotsman123 likes this.
  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7,582
    Likes Received:
    10,184
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    That rings a vague bell, and now you mention it, I'm fairly sure Cheltenham council gave us a few thousand to do P2 as well a few years ago.
     
  18. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    3,089
    Likes Received:
    1,289
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Very comfortably early retired
    Location:
    1029
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer

    Tom

    What is the structural relationship between the Bluebell Railway plc, the Bluebell Railway PS and the Bluebell Railway Trust?
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    17,893
    Likes Received:
    28,879
    Location:
    21C102
    In brief: the BRPS is the membership body, with about 10,000+ members. It has no paid employees, no significant physical assets, and its primary source of income is the membership subscriptions. It produces, subject to the periodic agreement of the membership, the "Long term plan" which is in essence the strategic direction of the projects the membership does, and doesn't, want to do. It is not a charity. Currently it is an unincorporated body, but if an EGM passes later this year, it will become a limited company. It is the majority shareholder of the plc (about 80% at the moment, but always required to be a majority, i.e. at least 50%), and the BRPS chairman sits on the board of the plc.

    The plc is the executive body: it owns the freehold of the railway, all the buildings, about 2/3 of the locos, most of the rolling stock, infrastructure and other assets. Its role is to run the railway according to the wishes of its shareholders, the majority shareholder being the BRPS. It has a board of directors that have functional roles (i.e. a Chariman, Loco Director, Infrastructure Director etc); the Chairman of the BRPS sits on the board. It is the operator of the railway and therefore the SMS defines management lines of reporting for both paid and volunteer staff that culminate in the Board of the company. With the exception of the BRPS Chairman, the directors are different from those of the BRPS, but there is a requirement that the Directors "retain the confidence of the society" or some such wording, which in practical terms occurs since the Society Trustees could use their majority shareholding to vote against the appointment of any Director as it saw fit at the company AGM.

    The Trust is a Charity. In practical terms, it has a board of "Governors", one of whom is appointed by the BRPS via a vote of the membership; and one of whom is the Chairman of the BRPS. It owns a couple of locos and, I believe, the four wheel carriages on the railway, both operational and the bodies waiting for restoration; it has no paid staff and its outgoings are to meet its own charitable objectives.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
    Monkey Magic, 35B, jnc and 1 other person like this.
  20. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    3,089
    Likes Received:
    1,289
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Very comfortably early retired
    Location:
    1029
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Thanks
     

Share This Page