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Walking backwards from Christmas (2014)

Well our Fat Controller has had his way again!

We have just picked up a 2016 BRC leaflets for the coming year and apart from the odd date adjustment and maybe the front cover we might just as well be back at the start of 2014. The same old events, the same very old layout, same old pictures and same old wasted space.

It is hard to envisage a worse leaflet to be printed and distributed at the cost of several thousand pounds where it is less likely to attract visitors than any previous incarnations of this publication. For a Railway Centre that has just achieved Museum Accreditation it does little to embrace the majority of attractions that might interested family people who are not dyed in the wool steam enthusiasts. With a claimed background of marketing expertise we are surprised that our Acting Chairman allowed this publication to be designed in this old format. (See page 15 Quainton News Issue 113.)

While Tony Lyster extols in QEL the virtues of returning to the comfort zone of the familiar calendar of events members will miss the point that this leaflet is our major investment to attract a broad spectrum of interested visitors. Absolutely no regard has been paid to the Collection Statement contained in the 2014 Forward Plan wherein a commitment to projecting the Metropolitan and Great Central Railway is documented.

Even MET 1 has disappeared from the front cover illustration and nothing about when she might run in 2016. Surely “Swanscombe” resplendent as “Brill No.1” deserved illustration or even front cover selection but remains remains secret as does the Dreadnought coach along with the “Art Deco” style COP cars and recently acquired “T” stock. We still retain the Underground “tube” train emerging from the wall of the museum which has little to do with our claimed Metropolitan ethos although if we managed to change the destination plate to Rayners Lane it could claim some association with the Uxbridge branch.

What about 6989 and the likely return of this locomotive at least to test running order during the coming year and the near forgotten 7200 both of which are a testament to the dogged skills and dedicated work of their restoration teams. These items remain the private dreams and realities associated only with the members who receive copies of the splendid Quainton News.

The unique working Travelling Post Office exhibits are relegated to a small corner panel together with VAMES and the “Downside” museum is virtually ignored. Of course Thomas the Tank Engine looms large even though we have no idea how many of our leaflets attract these enthusiasts and despite another special Thomas leaflet having been printed and distributed. In fact we have no idea how effective this costly leaflet distribution contributes to our visitor numbers except, last year, only one or two per weekend were presented for the available discount voucher printed inside.

We do know how many visitors present Groupon, Amazon and Travelzoo vouchers which indicates the power of the internet but our BRC internet site remains a simple booking system with the return of fuzzy pictures again. Let us hope that our new appointed marketing lady, Louisa Richards, has sufficient influence to make changes in this part of the enterprise and is able to stay the distance long enough in the face of obstinacy from those that resist change. The writer wishes her well.