The WSRHT has been asked to form a new Heritage Committee for the whole WSR and Ian Coleby has volunteered to take on the role on behalf of the Trust.
The WSR is a heritage railway and part of its Unique Selling Position (USP) is to provide a heritage experience for the passengers. This includes the rolling stock, locomotives, stations and infrastructure, props (eg period posters and station furniture) and staff presentation. This is important to provide a complete experience for passengers.
There can be conflicts with modern safety standards and the need for cost effectiveness. Though not always true, it is often the case that doing things in a heritage fashion can be more expensive or may not meet modern safety or performance standards.
The WSR is fortunate that much of the previous infrastructure was left in situ when the railway was closed in 1971 and that subsequent financial issues have meant that money has not always been available to upgrade certain things. Thus a rich heritage remains and this must be protected. The WSR has never had a consistent or properly thought-through heritage policy and individuals have been left to just get on with things as they see fit. Whilst in many respects that has not been a problem and there are some really good examples of things being done sympathetically, it has resulted in the loss of some of the railway’s heritage and an uncoordinated approach.
There have been attempts to bring some order to this in the past and various attempts at forming heritage teams, but these have all fallen apart for various reasons. This now is a fresh attempt to revitalize this important area of work. The aims of the committee will be to develop an overall, agreed strategy and plan with processes and outcomes. The committee will need to address finance and how best to provide help and advice to those implementing the plan.