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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    Yes, pity it wasn't "...punctuate the coastal steam train line, the West Somerset Railway -"
    For the WSR, it seems, free publicity is something that only happens to other people.
     
  2. goldfish

    goldfish Resident of Nat Pres

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    Seems like a really interesting initiative with lots of crafts represented. One thing missing is engineering though… I wonder if it’s occurred to anyone at the WSR to link up with this ambitious project to showcase not just the railway for potential punters but also volunteers?

    Simon
     
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  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Given recent events might they want to keep the railway at arms length?
     
  4. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    Showcase them by telling them about their museums? The S&D and the Bakelite still feature on their web site. Or pass over the delightful display board from the fence in Minehead to put in a prominent position that advertises the S&D? That is still sitting beside the chip shop. If they can't get their act together would you want to promote them!
     
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  5. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Eh? This looks like another dig at the WSR. Please explain.

    Steve
    wsr.org.uk
     
  6. Great Western

    Great Western New Member

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    The forum where ANY negative comments about a manufacturer is censored.
     
  7. burnham-t

    burnham-t New Member

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    Note intended as any sort of dig at the WSR as far as I'm concerned, rather at the art adninistrator-speak.
     
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  8. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    Well ,it would have been good to have read the linked Guardian article and found a mention of the West Somerset Railway and the fact that it was a steam railway. As it is, Guardian readers will no doubt think the "coastal train line" "punctuated" by signal boxes is part of the national network. This could be bad luck, but the low profile of the railway has been highlighted on other occasions and, as pointed out above, despite having had a year where a lot of volunteers had a lot of time on their hands, the website is still not up to date. Your excellent efforts at providing a web presence for the WSR just show up the poorness of the official offering.
    Does the Onion Collective have any links with the WSR? It would seem worthwhile someone on the railway talking to them, seeing as they managed to get £5.3M out of the government. How much has the WSR received from the Coastal Communities Fund? It too, is offering employment and things for people to get involved in in an area where there isn't much of either. Perhaps someone from the railway has been talking to the Onion Collective and perhaps the Guardian reporter was pointed at the WSR, but decided for some reason, not to mention it in their article, in which case it was bad luck, however this is not the first time I have read a national media article about something in West Somerset and looked in vain for a mention of the railway.
    Your choice of language is also revealing. This is not a "dig at the WSR", it is well-deserved criticism of whoever in the WSR is in charge of publicity, who appears, not just from this, to be asleep at the wheel. However the official line is that any criticism of any part of the WSR is criticism of the railway as a whole and hence unjustified criticism of all those volunteers who give up their time and money to produce such a splendid turnout as has been seen this last summer.
     
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  9. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Thanks for the response. Some observations.
    (1) I agree. It would have been nice to read the Guardian article and found the words "West Somerset Railway".
    (2) Volunteers do not manage content on the official WSR website as far as I am aware. It has always been carried out by Plc staff and so volunteers with time on the hands in recent times would not have helped get that website up to date.
    (3) You may not have meant it to be a dig at the WSR but it still looks like it to me, even after your fuller comments. To suggest the WSR's publicity guy is "asleep at the wheel", including this example, is unfair and unfounded. No publicity guy can maintain regular contact with every writer on the off chance the writer is working on an article about something near them. It is quite possible the Onions named the adjacent line, but there's no guarantee those words will make the final cut. Have you asked them?
    (4) Your last paragraph is a tad off target. No-one has (yet) suggested your comments are a slap in the face for "all those volunteers who give up their time and money to produce such a splendid turnout as has been seen this last summer" but such digs, even targeted, do hurt the wider community at a time when that community needs such criticism to be aired/directed with the team/dept/manager/board/whatever who is responsible for such things. That would be really helpful. I'd like to see more volunteer involvement (not me! see below) in the management and maintenance of the official website.
    (5) We are promised improvements to the official website next year. I have no idea what the Plc have in mind but I hope a regular, daily perhaps, churn of news and pictures in planned, but mostly I'd hope for content currency that is up-to-date, well written and makes folks want to return for another look next day. My own plans for 2021 - mentioned on my own 'about' page - might, just might, focus the official website manager to consider taking on what I am dropping.

    Steve
     
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  10. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    I remember seeing a west country station painted in GWR stone in the 1960s.
     
  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Last time I visited the WSR with my wife she was far from complimentary about how the railway was presented, with poor qulity coaching stock and abandoned planters, unlike the North Norfolk Railway which she considered to be very well cared for.

    I suggest that things like the posters for long closed attractions and an out of date website are symptoms of issues that need to be addressed.
     
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  12. burnham-t

    burnham-t New Member

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    My wife and I visited the WSR very recently for the first time, and were impressed by how well kept the stations were (and so many of them). The Mark 1 carriages were unexciting but were clean and looked in reasonable condition. The staff we spoke to were all helpful and ready to talk about the railway. The bus transition was a nuisance but was managed as well as could be expected, with a taxi with wheelchair lift on hand for passengers who weren't able to climb into the vintage buses. The two GWR steam locos looked very fine in green. No doubt there are issues behind the scenes, as most places, but if you're closely involved with a railway it's easy to spot things you know are wrong, but don't see the good stuff as well as a more casual observer.
    Incidentally, I was impressed that the car park and toilets at Bishops L are provided by the local District Council. I can think of other railways that would be very pleased to get that level of practical support from the local authority.
     
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  13. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Here's the thing. You fly the flag for the WSR and you promote the WSR through your site. That includes keeping news you become aware of in high profile on your site. All this is admirable.

    Other heritage railways take responsibility themselves through their management for this kind of promotion and publicity. By doing what you do the unofficial site compensates for what the official site may not do. For some the duplication may be confusing. Others may argue that duplication just spreads the word more widely. Either way, it is just another example of a complicated overlay of multiple involvement by different groups.

    You say there are plans to improve the official web site next year. Maybe what is done will render your website redundant or maybe they will be merged into one comprehensive site. (It's not as if there are not many other examples to model on.) But sadly, whichever way you look at it there remain difficulties at many levels with the railway that drown out what it may be doing well.

    As for promoting the railway, I have previously expressed amazement that in probably the most prominent position at Minehead there is a billboard advertising an eatery four hundred yards away when anyone reading it has their back to the Railway's own 'Turntable Cafe'. OK - this is not a pub/restaurant but talk about driving away custom! I can only hope that the other hostelry is paying a four figure annual sum for the privilege of having a prime location to advertise itself. :rolleyes:
     
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  14. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    I agree with many of your words. Thanks for kind words, but I can't comment on the first paragraph.

    On your second paragraph, it has always been clear that the Plc, whilst assuming its right to be the official website, has never felt a need to provide regular updates of news and pictures, preferring instead to concentrate on the 'business'. In 1998, I felt that gap needed to be plugged, in the hope it might spur the Plc to expand their website. Not so. Hence I battle on and have no plans to close it, but it will shrink. I do understand the risk of confusion and duplication, but have always reckoned it is better for folks to discover online the WSR than remain unaware. The train times and events pages have already gone, so no duplication risk there, now, but whilst I'd rather still go full on, I really must cut back.

    On your third paragraph, the longstanding and enduring website situation is, as you say, something the WSR needs to address. The Plc's recent answer to shareholder concerns is that the website will be overhauled in 2021. It had better be.

    On your fourth, I quite understand your point. I have no idea so can't provide detailed answers about the H****D** advert. However, that place and the TT Cafe are rather different beasts- I made recently good use of a station cafe (many miles from Minehead!) as it had the tea and light snacks I wanted, rather than the beer and lashings of chips at a well known place across the road. At the same time, the Railway is an important part of the local economy and needs other retail places to advertise the Railway in return for the WSR "selling" the towns and villages it serves. Even the H**** D** example helps that and yes I hope the space rental exceeds any loss. Tis often a tricky balancing act.

    Those of us who sincerely want the WSR to prosper really do need to work with the Plc - and yep I know that is not easy - to make change happen. Alternative methods will only widen the chasm. It is not about the individual but about the Railway - and that applies to every single supporter, volunteer, staff member, board member. And ultimately it is the folks who spend their cash on tickets, merchandise, grub, donations and so on, feel they have good value and perhaps alongside that they are helping to keep a fine Railway going.

    Steve
    wsr.org.uk
     
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  15. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Some would say working with the PLC is next to impossible, unless you touch your forelock and keep schtumm about certain issues. And if you do that and support the PLC on its present path, how long can the railway survive at all?
     
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  16. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Nah - I bow to no man or woman (except my wife of course). So no "forelock touching" for me and certainly no keeping "schtumm" about certain issues - those who need to know how I feel about certain issues will certainly hear from me. As ever it is what you do and what you say and how you say it.

    Here (and possibly elsewhere) I read about people like me "supporting the Plc on its present path". Well, if you know anything about the WSR you will know that is the present structure and we are stuck with it. If we don't like it, then we walk away and some have. Many, many have not and it does not mean any of us by default support the decisions of the Plc board. We may or may not agree, of course, but I suggest we uppermost support the Railway. We can applaud or boo the Plc for what it does for the Railway. So that's how it is and it would be wonderful if other observers could just get their heads around that.

    As for "how long can the railway survive at all" - I've been hearing this since I first set foot on Lydeard platform in 1976. Things then and now could be vastly improved by sensible structural change. I remain hopeful a real enduring start on the road to change will emerge in the next year or so. That is, you will surely realise by now, is entirely the decision of the Plc who must then fund the change (or find the funds) and manage all the not simple processes to achieve what any of us hope for.

    Supporting the Railway has always required general support for the Plc (even if we disagree with Plc decisions) as the former depends on the latter, and vice versa. Those who say working with the Plc is "nigh impossible" may have expectations beyond the average person. I've been there. Had me bust ups over the last 45 years on the Railway. And I'm still here. Anyone can still be here if they choose.

    Steve
    wsr.org.uk
     
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  17. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    there are roughly 41000 posts which show that unless you accept and support the plc position and idea then you will be marginalised and ignored.

    to pick up an earlier point and one that is broader than the WSR . Those with a very active online and website presence do seem to do better . SVR, FFWHR, Swanage all have very good and very positive online presences across multiple platforms . The SVR home and dry appeal which has seen a coordinated approach across social media, mail , website has raised in excess of £400000. remind me how much the WSR raised ?

    Online marketing is a skilled activity and a good person certainly seems worth every penny . Were it not for wsr.org then the WSR would have little or no presence and would compare even more unfavourably with peers .
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  18. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member

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    Having been in a similar situation with the Epping Ongar in its original form (pre Roger's takeover) when we had to put up with a shortage of volunteers and finance for several years, while enduring lots of negative publicity*, I can certainly sympathise with the WSR volunteers. Sometimes you just have to keep your head down and get on with the railway work, and hope the situation improves.

    Best wishes to everyone who continues to 'get the job done' despite all the politics etc which WSR is currently enduring.

    (* I was Publicity Officer at the time and certainly 'not asleep at the wheel', but there is little you can do when other people and organisations produce and publish rubbish without you being given any chance to correct or respond to it).
     
  19. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Those who accept the situation do not necessarily support the Plc's position, and most of those are not "marginalised" or "ignored".

    It would be helpful if folks could see the difference between accept and support. It's a bit like our political system or even our laws.

    Steve
    wsr.org.uk
     
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  20. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Whilst I understand your enthusiasm for the railway and your comments about the plc, I seem to recall Tom? commenting that (based on experience elsewhere) the costs associated with change should not be anything like the 6 figure sum being used to postpone any change. That does not bode well for change in the future.
    I also must point out that your last statement is not actually true for those volunteers who had their ID cards removed and were persecuted using expensive HR consultants.
     

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