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New MHR Website:

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Swan Age, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    Here, here; Preservation is a business, but not!!! Updates are important to any if not all individuals who love steam!! Preserved lines should stop thinking of themselves as a business, but how they started and how they have been going over years! Why mess up a website or a preserved line to change the ways to head towards a business? (I hope this makes sense)
     
  2. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Not really!

    Regards
     
  3. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Actually it is a business in two parts which is why the Mid-Hants has two boards, one for the society and the other for the LTD company.

    One cannot function without the other Andy, we need them both can,t you see that?.

    Regards
    Chris
     
  4. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    I shouldnt/Wouldnt expect anything less from Chris....

    So lets keep the thread as it should be.
     
  5. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    Yep, I can see that - But its not really a business is it Chris? For example the Swanage Railway and the West Somerset and possibly others...
    All in all - Railways ask for funding of the National Lottery - And this is to improve railways to get customers onto the lines for further funding of Steam... Is this not what we are all here for? Or are we missing the point somewhere??
     
  6. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    My Point Chris is that updates on the website could be alot more frequent as others and not act as a business - No one has any interest in a preserved line acting as a business. Why change something that had alot more hits and was well known with more frequent updates?! And dont tell me it has to do with the change of time....
     
  7. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    Of course it's a business 34007, and it's better for it. It is only since preserved railways started thinking of themselves as such that they have become successful. This was the pain that the Mid Hants and others went through in the 80s as the realisation came that people would not - repeat would not - keep coming to a railway simply to ride up and down, then repeat the same experience the next year. Preserved railways moved towards family experiences, catering, marketing, merchandising etc and that meant having to think of target markets, changing the experience, catering for family units, tight financial controls, and that meant the CFO and the Marketing Manager were just as important as the Loco Superintendent - in fact moreso. When I worked on the line in the early 80s Ropley was like a scrapyard, it was dump with no attempt made to improve it for the visitor - and nobody there even though about it! It was all about grumpy uncommunicative oddballs getting on with their thing, never mind whether people would actually pay to see them hammering away at some mishapen piece of metal or not . Wives would come once with their husbands take one look at the sparks from gas axes and the pools of oil and rubbish and rush with the children straight back to the car never to return.
    Yes it is a business, and if it was not nothing would have changed for the better.
     
  8. T.ASHTON

    T.ASHTON New Member

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    I think you are absolutely spot on! I took my family and realtives earlier on in the year for a picnic in Ropley.They all remarked what a pleasant experiance it was and how delightful it was to sit in a garden setting watching the trains come in and out of the station. We all travelled on the train afterwards buying teas/coffees and cakes for the return journey. They want to repeat it next year and get some chutney from the shop,as you will appreciate I am the enthusist but it's good to be able to share the experiance without it being a pain to other members of one's family.
    Preserved Railways cannot exist without visitors so we all have to look after them after all they pay for us to play trains!
    Regards,Tim
     
  9. davidarnold

    davidarnold Member

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    There you have it Tim " I took my family", and you are the enthusiast.. it proves the point that needs making.

    The point 34007 I think is making, is in distinguishing between a cold business approach and something more enclusive of the enthusiast in relation to the new website itself.

    This previously engaged the enthusiast with a constant update of details of visiting locos and engineering progress. The enthusiast was then motivated to bring his family who in turn enjoyed a pleasant experience.

    The present website, where the loco shed hasn't been updated for almost two weeks, is turning off the enthusiast website visitor , who in turn won't visit the railway anytime soon with his family.

    The complete opposite of Marketing!

    It would appear the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater!
     
  10. secr1084

    secr1084 New Member

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    I think the MHR has a good balance with its structure, the MHR plc is very far from a cold business. There does not seem to be a month or so that goes by where us in the wagon gang get offered money for our projects from the plc! Not many railways would actively fund wagon restorations with the level of funds the MHR plc does.

    Other railways rely on their charitable arms to fund such things (the MHRPS also gives us wagon restoration funds)

    As for the website, it is in some ways a great improvement. While it was great to have weekly updates (sometimes several times a week), this does take a lot of time and energy. Comparing the MHR website with other railways there is plenty of recent news, some preserved railways only seem to find the time to update some parts of their 'latest news' on a yearly basis.

    I am sure that if a volunteer can afford to be at the MHR at least twice a week, with time to take photos and write HTML code in the evenings, I am sure we will see weekly updates again, any volunteers?
     
  11. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Actually I do agree that updates should be more frequent Andy.

    However rightly of wrongly the set up is different now so it needs more input from the likes of you and me. I have done my part what about you eh?, what about taking your little girl for a walk around Ropley shed and taking some photographs , being more hand on?.

    Regards
    Chris
     
  12. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Good point Tom, it is time some of the members got off thier arses and did something for the railway.

    Now would be a good time.

    Regards
    Chris
     
  13. 73129

    73129 Member

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  14. Widge

    Widge New Member

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    Totally agree with this - the Mid Hants has currently got a pretty good balance between looking after the interests of those of us who work in the various departments on the line, and running a slick commercial operation. That's why we're consistently making progress while other railways are stagnating.

    I don't have any problem with the way Tony ran the website, or indeed the way that Tim is running it now, but I do take issue with those who seem to think that regular updates on every trivial little thing that happens on the Mid Hants are their divine right.

    I also think it's absolutely right that the loco roster is no longer on the website because ultimately it was pretty meaningless anyway. Steam engines are old and they go wrong; no heritage railway can realistically guarantee what motive power it will be able to run on a particular day months in advance. Fortunately the Mid Hants is professional enough that it doesn't try to mislead the public by making promises which due to unforeseen circumstances can't always be kept.
     
  15. ralphchadkirk1

    ralphchadkirk1 New Member Account Suspended

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    Thank you Widge - a very good post.

    I, as one of the web team, should probably post more often on this thread, however I think Chris is doing an excellent job! The reason why I stopped answering queries is that I got tired of the continual criticism of every little thing I and others did.

    Lets face it - without Tim, me, Russell, Alex and Luke you wouldn't have a website to look at. If we all hadn't stept in and said we would spend our time working extremely hard on it, you wouldn't have a website to find out the latest news.

    No one on the web team can afford to be at the railway 2 or more times a week taking photos, gathering information and then spending more days writing code and publishing it. It just isn't feasible. We are doing our level best to keep the site running, with updates, not just to the information, but also to the code to make it more accessible, while working on a new site. We have asked departments to send in their own photos and updates - which they are doing. Reporting news when there is news to be reported.

    The fact is, without marketing to families and other "non enthusiast" parties, then the railway would not exist. The Mid Hants cannot survive on just the enthusiasts money. If you want to see more excellent wagons from Chris's workshop (which I certianly do) the money for the projects has to come from somewhere.

    May I ask how people have information about the amount of hits the website has been having? This information has never been published officially. In fact, through July and August the number of bits per second out of the server (downloading pages, images etc) has remained level. Apart from the usual peaks and troughs due to peak times etc the traffic has dropped at the beginning of July, but quickly increased to the average seen in the earlier part of the year.

    Updates to any page that are not "new" (i.e in Tony's style) are very labourious. They can take up to an hour for each update to each page. With the "new/temporary" style this is greatly reduced, and makes it more user friendly.

    Through July, and the latter part of August I was the only one updating the site. Of course the number of updates slowed down, as I could only do what I could fit in around other commitments - some of that being working at the railway in my normal volunteer role. I was also meeting with Tim on a semi regular basis. Since other members joined the team, the work has becoome a lot more streamlined and efficient. Criticism was not helpful at that time when I was the only one, as it felt like a one man battle, and everything I did was criticised. Indeed, some of the comments made me feel quite upset as I was giving up my free time, during my school holidays to keep the website going.

    I hope this helps people understand more what was going on. I would also like to offer my thanks to Chris not only turning out an excellent rake of wagons, but for offering support on this thread.
     
  16. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    Chris,

    I completely agree with alot of what you write. the MHR is a fantastic railway! Always has been and always will!!

    I will be more than happy once I am back in work in taking my little girl with me and taking photos and if I can post updates - I have IT knowledge and am more than happy posting updates on locos. FTP updates are quick. So more than happy in spending the time in updating the website more frequently!!

    Whether it be updates on loco overhauls, or even Wagons. You know where I am Chris....

    Best Wishes

    Andy
     
  17. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Then you are just the man that the Railway is looking for Andy. The bottom line here is that you could take it as work experiance, also looks good on your CV that you are keeping your mind active with doing volunteer work and keeping your hand in with your IT knowledge.
    I did hear that if you are unemployed and you are doing voluntary work, you can get help with the expences, worth making enquiries??

    Kindest regards
    Chris
     
  18. chessie1

    chessie1 New Member

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  19. LN850

    LN850 New Member

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    I love how chessie can be so postive about being a 'grumpy uncommnicative oddball'.

    To my eyes, being uncommunicative is the worst way to be in life.
     
  20. davidarnold

    davidarnold Member

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    True also of heritage railways!

    Perhaps given the MHR Websites present limitations and technical difficulties someone from the Ropley Loco Works might like to start a Ropley Newsy News thread in the style of Llangollen's and SVR's. Im sure that content won't be problem!
     

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