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What is preservation ?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by zigzag, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    So what do you think happened before preservation? Artefacts, as you call them were being used, worn out and parts replaced. The stuffed and mounted A4, Mallard is not the original, it’s carrying its ninth boiler and is not coupled to its original tender. I doubt if much of the original material in the former A1 Pacific called flying Scotsman remains in the locomotive we see today.
     
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  2. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    Hence my preference for referring to such things as heritage, rather than preserved.

    If you want to preserve something then you should be keeping it as near to the condition in which you acquired it as possible. That is what I see as preservation in it's truest sense. The fact that preceeding owners may have changed parts does not mean you cannot preserve it in the condition you received it. You could also restore it to resemble an earlier condition, but is that preservation in it's truest sense? (unless you had the original parts that had previously been replaced, you would still be adding new parts - even if they have been made to resemble the original ones).
     
  3. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    So are you saying you would prefer to see the history of railways consigned to cold non working exhibits is a museum environment that bears no relation to what the everyday railway scene was like? Preservation is more than that, it’s preserving the spectacle of locomotives hauling trains and the dirt and tough environment of the steam age, no museum can ever do that.
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    TBH, I'm not certain even the FR meets your criteria. In the strictest sense, of lines which existed pre-preservation era, only the Snowdon Mountain Rly, the Snaefell Mountain Rly and the Great Orme Tramway ... arguably the VoR and Groudle Glen Rly (the latter 'arguable' since it underwent a considerable period of dormancy) ... are actually performing the primary task for which they were created and are therefore 'preserved'.

    Some of our older miniature lines (incl. Blackpool, La'al Ratty, RH&D, North Bay) perhaps deserve that honorific too. But for it's reguaging in the 80s, I'd include the Fairbourne.
     
  5. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    You seem determine to misunderstand me. I am simply pointing out what I believe to be correct terminology and at no point have I suggested anything of the sort you are trying to attribute to me. Disagree if you like, but please don't put words into my mouth (or whatever the written equivelent of that is).

    If you know me (or have read anything about my background http://www.heritage-railways.com/about.php) you would know that I am very much in favour of demonstrating our railway heritage by keeping things running.
     
  6. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    Sorry I did misunderstand what you were saying
     
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  7. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    There seems to be an underlying assumption in a some of these comments that 100% preservation (whatever that is) is the goal and the further away a given railway is from that, the worse. Which is a problematic suggestion because it is simply not practical.
    Take the Great Central Railway Nottingham (where I am a volunteer). Our Ruddington Fields base is developed from an old MOD depot, the station and much of the railway infrastructure has all been set up in the past 30 years. The railway operates a spur onto a section of former mainline, and our current steam operation is an Austerity painted in BR colours (specifically as the engine which shunted at the bottom of the garden where its now owner grew up. Say what you like but owners' privileges mean he can paint it what he likes!). The loco is capable, and while an ex BR loco would be nice for various reasons, there simply was not one available for a hire agreement suitable to all parties to be agreed. Steam services consist of a 4 coach Vacuum set with a makeshift viewing board at one end to allow push-pull operation as there isn't a run round loop at the southern extent of the line. The southern half of the line and station is used during the week by freight trains from the national network, so for ease of use for both combined there is a compromise of ground frames at each end of the loop at Rushcliffe Halt. Given that the majority of weekends the railway only runs a single set, this rarely presents an operational problem. Diesel wise currently there is a 20, 33, 47 and 56, and an air braked set fo Mk3s owned by the 125 group, who are also custodians of the protoype HST, which is currently undergoing repair. As a 10 mile railway, the volunteer base is much smaller than other railways of comparable length.
    Now consider the scenario that the railway decides to attempt to run as close as possible to a point in its history, only running loco classes which ran on the line before it closed. Let's pick the end of the 1950s-1960s when ex LNER locos were being phased out in favour of ex LMS locos simply because this offers a greater pool. From preserved locos we have today, the railway can draw from locos of classes A3, B1, V2, O4, D11, Black 5, 8F, Fairburn Tank, Jubilee, Royal Scot, Jinty, Hall, 28xx, 9F, Standard 5, Britannia, WD, Standard 4 Mogul, and others which I am not aware of. This massively restricts the pool of locos the railway can hire. Most of the engines in these classes will command higher steaming fees and operating costs than the railway can justify with likely loadings.
    Yes, there is an aspect of recreating the atmosphere of a certain period, based on the restoration of stations, signalling systems used, outfits of volunteers etc, but Joe Public who just wants a ride on a steam train wants a comfortable ride in a relatively clean carriage pulled by something that puffs steam and goes 'choo choo' now and then, and the possiblity of having a cup of tea if they get thirsty. Very few, if any, heritage attractions will perfectly recreate what things were like in a given year for a number of reasons, and we should make our peace with this. Any heritage railway operating a steam service and attracting enough passengers to keep going year after year is a win for me, anything else is bonus.
    Also, I am by no means a diesel man, but diesels are a valuable asset to preserved railways for a number of reasons, so don't knock them. They have their place and should be allowed to keep it.
     
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  8. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    There seems to be a number of posts that assume you can only attempt to preserve 'things' (steam locomotives, carriages, track, signalling, stations etc.) Are not working practices, knowledge and skills things that also are important to preserve - and impossible to preserve by keeping things 'in aspic'?

    To me, the 'preservation'/'heritage'/recreating a bygone age are all vital parts of the 'product' preserved railways sell. It is not 'commercial' or 'preservation' - in the market in which railways operate, getting the 'preservation' right is highly commercial!

    That may not be 'totally authentic' but a good enough effort to make a visit 'more than a train ride'. Some railways, because of their location, can attract considerable patronage from providing a train ride and all the things - cleanliness, courtesy, reasonable punctuality - that one would expect of 'a train ride' are important but the style of provision is also important. If some - even a majority - of passengers come to the line for this, fine - but they should go away with a reasonable impression of the past, not a feeling of having been on a steam train on a modern railway. Many may not come for vintage coaching stock, but most will remember such stock whether they have just seen it passing or especially if they have ridden on it!

    Steven
     
  9. Peter James

    Peter James New Member

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    Absolutely we should be preserving practices and skills. Part of my point was that we should build new parts for locomotives and carriages and new buildings where beneficial.

    We should give a good experience also which will include inauthentic tea rooms and educational displays. I think we have to be a little careful about the nostalgia element; what interests enthusiasts may not always interest the general public. Additionally, railways are generally run by middle-aged men who remember BR steam and we must be careful not to let this era dominate. Sometimes the excess of paraphernalia at stations can look indulgent as well as untidy. Somebody, somewhere will have a collection for this sort of thing and we could avoid the risk of looking like the volunteers in question are playing with a grown up train set. I really don't wish to offend anybody but we have all seen the volunteer member of staff with a hundred pin badges on his or her uniform...
     
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  10. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    I think a few people will find this a bit patronising myself included. ;)
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I disagree with a lot of that. Taking say the WSR and comparing with, say, the NYMR: both are long lines; both have attractive villages along the line (Goathland or Watchet / Dunster); both terminate in a seaside resort. But one is notably more successful financially than the other. So both are going "somewhere to somewhere" and offering further attractions to the principal train ride, but both are not equally successful. If nothing else, that shows there is no magic formula for success.

    The second point about assuming people will wish to do a second attraction off the railway is the cost of doing so, particularly for families. If I am holidaying in an area, I may choose to do the railway one day and the stately home another; doing both in a day gets expensive, as well as tiring for small children. There is also the timetable to consider, both for the railway and the potential visitor. In my experience, visiting an attraction off railway while simultaneously keeping half an eye on a watch to make time back for a train reduces the enjoyment (and who hasn't been out with a family hoofing it back to catch a last train only for a little one to suddenly need a wee...) It doesn't in my view add to the enjoyment of the off-railway attraction. From the railway's point of view, it is not always possible to arrange a timetable that gives a viable day out at the secondary attraction; certainly on the Bluebell that has been our experience where it is difficult to provide time for a visitor starting at East Grinstead to visit Sheffield Park Garden without running unremunerative trains early / late to give an early enough start / late enough finish. Running near empty trains to enable visits to somewhere else is not viable for the railway concerned. That's not to say I have never done a "double day" (using the Swanage Railway to visit the beach; or the KESR to visit Bodiam Castle) but I doubt I would have done either had I had to pay for the second attraction. (As a NT member I get Bodiam Castole free; I wouldn't have visited had I had to pay on the same day as a visit to the KESR for which I also had to pay - certainly not with a family. You could easily have ended up spending over £100 for a day out).

    Away from the Bluebell, two of the lines I think ooze atmosphere, at opposite ends of the country, are (1) relatively short (2) run nowhere to nowhere. One has a non-railway attraction on railway land if you are that way inclined; the other has a short but pleasant walk from a middle station to a significant bit of local history to break up the day.

    So by all means railways should be working closely with their local tourism bodies; but I am not sure that assuming they are gateways to other attractions is always desirable. Of course, being one of a cluster of attractions enhances the desirability of the area for longer stays, but not trying to do all in one day.

    Tom
     
  12. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    I was 17 when steam finished on BR but I would hardly call myself middle-aged. Many railways now have departmental managers who are far too young to remember BR steam.
     
  13. Peter James

    Peter James New Member

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    I wasn't intending to have a dig at anyone's age; if that was the effect then I apologise unreservedly.
     
  14. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    I wasn’t offended at all by my age, my point is that my generation of managers at Heritage Railways are mostly as I am now retired. In my own case I handed over to someone in their mid 30s. It is his generation that are making the decisions now and not those that remember BR Steam.
     

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