Trust volunteers recently took the SRT promotional stand to the Warley Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Our Shop Manager Stewart Green, who is also a highly skilled modeller, exhibited his layouts “Bird’s Folly” and “Bridge over the Blyth” – and such was their popularity that the Trust stand, between them, was heavily visited.
We gave out around five hundred Heritage Train Project leaflets, and talked about the Trust and the Project to almost as many people. We were lucky enough to be in a very good position, close to the Talyllyn Railway’s (full size) locomotive and coach, as well as to the catering (always a good move!). The show never fails to attract large numbers, so we were all pretty tired by the end – but we did make lots of useful contacts, because many well-established heritage railways exhibit at the show, and we all tend to work together. For example, we exchanged details of possible rolling stock contractors with other railways which are doing similar things.
It’s exactly this kind of occasion that is gradually changing the previously prevailing view that the Southwold Railway Trust is just a talking-shop, and not an organisation which will achieve worthwhile goals: notwithstanding our well-known troubles with intransigent bureaucrats and NIMBY neighbours (attitudes which
almost everyone in Birmingham found unbelievably – well – ‘silly’ is probably the word), our chutzpah in launching the Train Project at this point is generally more admired than deprecated.
We were particularly interested to learn that the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway was launching a Pickering Brake Composite replica coach, to complete their NWNGR heritage train. This is probably a more sophisticated vehicle than ours – having extensive decorative panelling, and a full Guard’s
compartment – but it will be interesting to see how the two coaches progress. The WHHR is a much larger organisation than the SRT, and of course already has a working railway and museum in Porthmadog.
We are planning to keep up the good work in 2015, with several promotional visits already booked, and of course, most importantly, with our own Southwold Railway Model Show at St. Edmund’s Hall, Southwold, on May 2nd and 3rd.