Governance and Management
The museum is
governed by 9 trustees who form the Executive Committee (Exec). They
meet on average every 6 weeks to monitor income and expenditure,
agree the annual events timetable, and discuss engineering works and
The day to day
operation of the museum is carried out by 5 full and part time staff
supported by a team of approximately 100 regular volunteers who look
after visitors, restore, maintain and operate the infrastructure,
locomotives and rolling stock, and care for the collection of smaller
objects and the library.
The majority of
these volunteers come as visitors and then volunteer their services.
We are seeing an increase of volunteers being recruited by word of
mouth. Paid members of staff are recruited by adverts in the
appropriate places. All appropriate training is given, including
training for safety critical roles and customer care. A
volunteers handbook is currently being created, along with
guidance notes for different roles. We place great pride in our
customer care and we encourage all volunteers who are engaged with
users to wear corporate clothing. Volunteers who are involved in
restoration are always eager to talk about their projects.
We are constantly
updating point of sale procedures to ensure that we can help and
process all users in the best way possible. Our aim is for all users
to be able to identify staff and volunteers and ask for help or
information should they need it during their visit.
Many of the
volunteers have been with the museum for over 10 years, some for up
to 40 years. Efforts to recruit younger volunteers to work alongside
them, and in due course replace them, have not been very successful.
Without a pool of appropriately trained volunteers there will come a
time when we will not be able to run trains, let alone restore and
In the summer of
2014 we worked with an external facilitator to review the way the
organisation is run. We became aware that the Exec spends too much
time dealing with operational matters to the detriment of planning
for the medium and longer term. The blurred boundaries between
governance and management and the inability to take a strategic view
of what needs to be done have resulted in a loss of corporate
purpose. During a workshop attended by most of the Exec, paid staff,
and key volunteers, everyone agreed that there was a lack of
coordination and poor communication between the many teams
responsible for operating the museum. This fragmentation means that
unless we change the way we run ourselves, the museum will gradually
decline and eventually be forced to close. Fortunately most of our
workforce is loyal to the museum and wants it to prosper.
A priority for
2015 will be to put in place some measures for ensuring that the Exec
delivers its governing responsibilities more effectively, and
delegates the management and operation of the museum to committees
and teams that are accountable to the Exec. The recommended solution
is to establish working groups with terms of reference defining their
roles and responsibilities, each led by one Trustee and comprising
two or three paid staff and/or volunteers, as appropriate.
We also need to
improve the way we communicate and share our vision with staff,
volunteers and QRS Members. The working group structure will help us
develop greater cohesion between the disparate groups of volunteers,
and ensure they are better supported and more accountable in the way
they carry out their duties.
There is also an
urgent need to recruit more, and younger, volunteers who can be
trained to appropriate standards and ensure that the museum survives
as an operating railway for the next generation of visitors.