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Severn Valley Railway to launch £4,000,000 share issue.

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by geekfindergeneral, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. geekfindergeneral

    geekfindergeneral Member

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    The flirtation with financial suicide that has dogged SVR for a year is over. On Tuesday the Holdings Board confirmed the creation of a Heritage Conservation Committee with plenipotentiary powers over all aspects of the built environment. Old Codgers who remember the glory days of SVR being the Premier Line will be especially moved that this committee not only drags SVR back from the brink of bankruptcy, which would be a splendid achievement in its own right, but has also set itself a role of being a standard setter for the entire heritage railway movement with regards to building conservation. This may reduce the Carbuncle Factor across the entire movement, not just at home. It is not just the SVR that has been woefully short of leadership and focus.

    The full statement is available in the Other Place. Of particular interest is that it is a small group, dominated by volunteers, and carefully excludes anyone tainted by the Steamworks debacle, including the very expensive General Manager, although he was permitted the fig leaf of signing the statement. It will act both as a regulator of new schemes and an information and advice resource for smaller projects. It does not seem too enthralled by glass footbridges or other nonsense, and one of the volunteer positions will be concerned with business planning. It is that last commitment that puts Steamworks very firmly in the dustbin, which is the proper place for it.

    The only outstanding bit of business is the ticking time bomb of how much Steamworks has cost. The General Manager is coy about the total, and would prefer we didn't know, but life is full of disappointments and it will have to emerge at the Holdings AGM if not before. It will be a horribly big number.
     
  2. ee50ok

    ee50ok New Member

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    Golly Neil, I can't help but think you are completely adrift from the reality of running a major tourist attraction with the added complication of a large volunteer workforce.


    While I agree with much of your points made in this thread and the effect of it has, on the whole, been beneficial, the level of what appears to be sniping at individuals (or possibly poor writing) does your efforts a disservice.

    I for one look forward to working with the management and everyone who works on the SVR (paid and voluntary) to improve the passenger facilities at Bridgnorth and provide a pleasant experience for our customers who pay us so that we can indulge our hobby.

    By all means challenge and hold to account, but get behind the railway (its bigger than any individual or group of individuals).

    Joe - SVR Volunteer - MPD
     
  3. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    I don't want to get involved in the rights and wrongs of this issue but can I say that, to an outsider, the writing style of G-F-G is far from poor! His postings are some of the most vivid and compelling to be found on N.P.

    P.H.
     
  4. Corbs

    Corbs Well-Known Member

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    They do come across with a certain charisma. I think remarks aimed at individuals will always get neck hair standing on end though, no matter what the opinion of the person concerned is.
     
  5. geekfindergeneral

    geekfindergeneral Member

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    Joe

    I rather think I did “get behind the railway”, even if it hurt. I called for and got support for an EGM with the sole intention of stopping the railway committing financial suicide. The Holdings Board, to its credit more than mine, listened and is now in a much better place, but they are not out of the financial hole yet.

    I have said before that I sympathise with those who dislike what I have spoken of, but I did not start this thing to be liked and I am completely unmoved by your comments about my manners. There is a time and a place for being polite,and it was probably not when the railway was being driven at full speed over the cliff. Do not underestimate the financial mess the railway was in before the share issue – and will be again if it does not speak to sales and the relationship with anxious shareholders pretty soon. 2012 was grim enough but in 2013 ticket sales will barely cover the payroll and the projected “profit” is just an accountancy chimera. You cannot pretend 2012 didn’t happen or hope it will just go away.

    SVR can be structurally schizophrenic – part public company,part workers collective, and that complexity delivered four decades of success. Running it calls for the highest standards of leadership, or it falls apart. It is not a text-book exercise. I believe it is demonstrable through hard evidence of numbers alone that the experiment of having a General Manager with no previous entrepreneurial, business leadership or railway management skills has failed.

    People will want to know how something as obviously bonkers as Steamworks happened in the first place. Undoubtedly the General Manager could have stopped it at any time just by asking for the supporting numbers, but he did not – and we know that because none were ever compiled (which is simply shocking). He does not want to say how much this has all cost in real terms, but I would not be surprised if the total wasted is £50,000 or more - the revenue from 5000 tickets. For all the SVR got out of it, he may as well have taken the cash to Spearmint Rhino, and bought every volunteer a lap dance. It is not for me to answer the question, but I am the one asking it. Someone has to.

    Regards


    Neil


    PS I don't think I have ever heard anyone say "Golly" before!
     
  6. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    Most educated estimates put the figure spent thus far at between £50000 to £100000. I'm still of the belief the GM and his sycophants would still like to rescue something from thus huge spend. Simply put "I'm still not sure we should trust them". I will only be completely convinced that Steamworks is dead and buried when all traces of it are removed from things like item 2 at SVR Charitable Trust
     
  7. ee50ok

    ee50ok New Member

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    A facet of the redrafting exercise.....
     
  8. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    I get the strong impression that he does care deeply for the railway, and does very much want it to succeed, and that all his recent doings were not at all because he didn't support it (in fact, the exact opposite); I would assume that once he feels that it is once again 'on the right track' (to use an apropos phrase) he will indeed "get behind the railway".

    Noel
     
  9. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    Has anything further been revealed about the meeting between the Plan B people and SVR(H)?
     
  10. Lingus

    Lingus New Member

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    The latest missive from the SVR's unofficial spokesperson, Tigger, has appeared at the other place.
     
  11. gios

    gios Member

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    Interesting to note that the term 'steamworks' is still being used. If plan A has indeed been discarded, then before the next share push I would have thought that this discredited term with all its' related implications would have been removed.

    Another rather odd situation is the fact that in several areas of the SVR, including the charitable trust, an 'unofficial' spokesperson is used to communicate information. Is such information official or unofficial ?
     
  12. Richard L

    Richard L New Member

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    SVR's railway saving option is surely to stop the redevelopment at Bridgnorth happening at all, it is not needed. Start some guided tours of their works and continue promoting the £95 per year deal to families to visit as much as they want. The love in the local areas around the SVR for the Engines and the SVR is immense, if more people knew about that deal there would be quite a stampede, I know I begged for it as a birthday gift as soon as my wife told me about it, but it took her looking in detail on their site, hardly well promoted. Moreover the carriage works are possibly the best in the country according to reputation.

    I got my family season pass today, it made my birthday which isn't till June but I couldn't wait! Its a great day out and packed enough with the Engine House as part of it. Why dilute it by adding stuff at Bridgnorth in terms of visitors centres etc? Most times I take the family to Bridgnorth there is barely time to do the Engine House justice as it is, although I try to go as much as possible when I do go, I think its a great feature that most heritage railways would kill for. Why the constant need to keep expanding till the railway collapses?
     
  13. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    There is widespread agreement on the SVR that some development at Bridgnorth IS needed to particularly include:
    A new cafe
    Better volunteer accommodation
    More space in the Railwaymans Arms
    A larger shop (though the growth in online retailing might reduce the need to improve that)
    Improvements to the toilets

    There is far less agreement (understatement) that anything else building wise is at all necessary or even desirable let alone affordable
     
  14. b.oldford

    b.oldford Member

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    I'm informed by one director that the present thinking is "The four Bs"

    Buffet
    Bar
    Bookshop
    Bogs

    That'd probably satisfy most of our visitors.
     
  15. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    I'm very much minded to agree the Steamworks term is now tarnished. Those persons not wishing to be similarly tarnished would be well advised to drop its use. There has been no confirmation from within the SVR that these various postings are of either an official or unofficial nature. I think it would be prudent to treat any postings by that person with a degree of caution. It isn't unusual for people with otherwise dull and unimportant lives to trail on the coat-tails of those that, for the time being, retain some standing.
     
  16. ee50ok

    ee50ok New Member

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    Steamworks tarnished? Really? In the very limited circulation of this forum (and few other places) that may be true. But to a much wider community that don't get involved on line, I see no evidence of it being tarnished at all.

    Steamworks is a project name, and I suggest it will probably be used to cover any arrangement of improvements at Bridgnorth up to and including project completion or abandonment.

    The name (in my opinion) is not important, only the facilities it delivers, their aesthetics and the costs associated with it are worth any debate.
     
  17. geekfindergeneral

    geekfindergeneral Member

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    "Steamworks" stands for a very bleak period of SVR history - when the H Board failed to exercise any Duty of Care over the financial security of the railway, and demonstrated through a dismal share issue how little it knew about its own supporters. If that isn't "tarnished" then my name is Sir Gerald Nabarro.

    If the Plan B Wizards produce something that delivers the Four Bs, there is probably another £1,000,000 waiting in shareholder's wallets. if, for reasons of ideological arrogance or face-saving the Board stick with "Steamworks" they will get nothing because it is not a trusted brand. Judging from his words in the latest Shareholder Newsletter, the Chairman is now very aware of that.

    Neil
     
  18. geekfindergeneral

    geekfindergeneral Member

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    Some very good news from the new Heritage Conservation Committee has been posted in the other place.

    SVR-Online Forum :: View topic - Bridgnorth Station redevelopment

    Discipline, order, transparency and leadership all seem to be making a welcome comeback, framed by a clear commitment to heritage and historic integrity. and professional solvent railway working. The SVR is starting to look investible again, after rather too many years in the managerial wilderness, which is a massive tribute to both sides in the negotiation.

    Neil
     
  19. louis.pole

    louis.pole New Member

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    The presentations today indicate that lessons have been learned and we enter a new era where the five Bs are now paramount. The additional one being "Building" - refering to the planned refurbishment of the original station building. I never noticed the use of the "S********s" word once.
     
  20. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Absolutely so. If these are not present just don't spend the money.

    Good. Starry eyed fervour is never far away in heritage railway affairs.

    PH
     

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