by ANDREW P M WRIGHT

Recognition for preserved railways’ economic boost to tourism

Published: 25th November 2014

The contribution of heritage railways to local economies recognised by a range of awards

National Railway Museum wins tourism accolade for Mallard 75

The National Railway Museum’s Mallard 75 spectacular was named Tourism Event of the Year at the White Rose Awards 2014, which recognise the best of the best in Yorkshire’s tourism industry.

The Mallard 75 season centred on a celebration of the 75th anniversary of A4 No. 4468 Mallard reaching 126m.p.h. on July 3 1938 to capture the steam locomotive speed record. The headline event was ‘The Great Gathering’ in July 2013 when all six of the surviving A4s appeared together around the turntable at the York museum.

To achieve this, the NRM had organised transatlantic visits of No. 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower and No. 4489 Dominion of Canada from their American and Canadian museum homes to join Doncaster-built sisters Mallard, No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, No. 60009 Union of South Africa and No. 60019 Bittern.

The six A4s appeared in company again at the NRM in autumn 2013 and finally for ‘The Great Goodbye’ at Shildon’s Locomotion museum in February this year. Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada then returned to their homes across the pond.

They said;

“We are so pleased to have been given this award against such strong competition, commented NRM Director, Paul Kirkman. “It’s been an amazing year for the National Railway Museum, with our increase in visitors mainly due to the staggering success of the Mallard 75 season.”

The award caps a series of accolades recognising the success of the Mallard 75 season. The NRM’s collaboration with Hornby for the event won an Arts and Business Sponsorship Award (10k and above) 2014 and the Herbert Crow Memorial Award was presented by the Lord Mayor of London in recognition of the knowledge-enhancing achievements of Mallard 75 to the transport industry. The museum also won Visitor Experience of the Year in the Visit York Tourism Awards 2014 for Mallard 75.

Accompanying pictures by Cliff Thomas show No. 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower and No. 4489 Dominion of Canada at Barrow Hill Roundhouse on February 8 2014, shortly before they returned across the Atlantic to their American and Canadian museum homes – and A4 Mallard at the NRM’s Railfest event in June 2012.

Seventh award this year for South Devon Railway

The South Devon Railway (SDR) scooped up its seventh award for 2014 on the evening of November 20 when it won the Best Tourism or Hospitality Business category in the Western Morning News 2014 Business Awards. This success followed the SDR being named joint-bronze winner in the large visitor attraction category of the Visit Devon Tourism Awards on November 19.

The Buckfastleigh-based SDR, which carried its two millionth passenger in June, started its run of 2014 awards with a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in June, followed in July by a Bronze medal for the railway’s refreshment rooms from ‘Taste of the West’. In September came an RHS & Britain in Bloom ‘It's your Neighbourhood’ Level 4 award (related to the extensive landscaped gardens at Buckfastleigh which were described as 'Thriving') representing a first-time success, this being the first time the SDR had entered the competition.

October brought further recognition in the Herald Express (English Riviera & South Devon) Tourism & Hospitality awards in the form of a Silver for the railway in the best visitor attraction category and Bronze for the ‘Taste of South Devon’ café/tearoom category.

“Winning these awards reflects the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of all volunteers and staff throughout the year, many of whom do far more than is expected of them in helping to run the railway and its constituent businesses,” commented SDR Railway Manager Chris Williams.

Enhancements introduced by the SDR this year include the introduction of e-ticketing for website purchases for selected events and the installation of Wi-Fi in the refreshment rooms.

The SDR picture from Sarah Ann Harvey shows SDR Retail & Catering Manager Graham Coates (left) and SDR Railway Manager Chris Williams (right) holding the Herald Express awards in front of GWR 0-6-0 No. 3205.

Top Lancashire award for East Lancs Railway

The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) was named Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the November 6 Lancashire Tourism Awards ceremony held in Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

The award recognises the contribution of Lancashire’s tourism businesses to the local visitor economy. In winning, the ELR (which attracts nearly 150,000 visitors each year) beat off stiff competition from other highly acclaimed regional finalists including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Zoo, Brockholes, Sandcastle Waterpark and WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre.

They said;

“We are delighted to have been named Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the Lancashire Tourism Awards, especially as the category included some truly fantastic attractions, commented ELR Marketing Manager, Kate Walker. “As a predominantly volunteer run organisation, the award acknowledges the hard work and dedication of our 600 volunteers that help run the railway on a day-to-day basis and is something that we will all treasure for a long time to come. Lancashire boasts some fantastic tourist attractions and experiences and we are very honoured to represent our beautiful region as the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year.”

The ELR will now progress to the Visit England Excellence Awards 2014, representing Lancashire in the national tourism awards.

Swanage picks up bronze in Dorset Tourism Awards

The Swanage Railway won a bronze trophy for quality in the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category of the 2014 Dorset Tourism Awards. This was the first time the preserved six-mile steam operated line had entered the competition, which highlights the best of tourist attractions and services in the county.

The October 16 presentation evening held at the Bovington Tank Museum near Wareham saw a total of 46 trophies awarded in this, the second year, of the special Dorset Tourism Awards 2014.

The Swanage Railway has been rebuilt virtually from scratch since 1976 after closure and demolition by BR. It now carries more than 210,000 passengers a year, running trains daily from April to October inclusive and weekends during the rest of the year.

They said;

"Our dedicated staff and volunteers work very hard to ensure that our many visitors have an enjoyable and value for money visit to the Swanage Railway,” commented General Manager, Richard Jones.

"Everyone on the Swanage Railway is delighted to win this coveted award which is a real accolade, the recognition rewarding the hard work and commitment that our staff and volunteers put into running and maintaining our heritage line throughout the year,” added Swanage Railway Company chairman, Peter Sills.

The Swanage Railway will now be entered in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards (February 2015) and then possibly on to the National Visit England Awards to be held later next year.

Accompanying picture courtesy Andrew P M Wright shows Swanage Railway general manager Richard Jones holding the bronze trophy from the 2014 Dorset Tourism Awards in front of LSWR M7 0-4-4T No. 30053 at Swanage station.

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