Buckinghamshire Railway Centre

Forward Plan 2015-2018


Name of governing body: Board of Trustees – Quainton Railway Society Limited

Date this Forward Plan was approved: 8th November 2014

Date this Forward Plan will be reviewed: 8th November 2015

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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 site development.

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 volunteer’s 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 repair them.

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.