Blog Archives

Half way there

Well here we are half way through the year, the first six months have gone very quickly, or at least I think so.

Some of the events have been a great success, some have been average and some should have been abandoned.

But sometimes you have to do something to find out if it works, and has often been the case over the years the most unlikely events have been amongst some of the best.

And through it all we plod on and do our best, acknowledging the fact that sometimes the best is not good enough for some people. But that’s life.

I have been in customer service industries long enough to know that some people just want to enjoy themselves and normally do, whilst others seem hell bent on being miserable and moaning about everything.

We even had one visitor some months ago moan because the train was on time!!

Reviews are often looked on as a sacred place to find out what somewhere is like. I often look at two peoples comments about the same event at whatever location I am looking at and wonder if they were actually both there at the same event on the same day, because their reviews are so dynamically opposed to each other.

This weekend sees our rural railway service, or in layman terms a small engine pulling 4 coaches as opposed to a large engine pulling 6 or 7. The locomotive in question has not visited us before so that will add interest especially to the none paying public who will be out to take pictures.

I am looking forward to it, but as with any running weekend it will be certainly from my stations perspective all down to the weather. We shall see how it goes.

At the Hot Spot

Last weekend was to put it mildly a bit hot.

It’s rare we say it’s too hot at Orton Mere, normally we comment on the cold! But on Saturday it was a shade under 30c and on Sunday it peaked at 31.5c.

Not many people about but those that were spent money on keeping cool. With the chairs in the codgers corner being quite popular as well.

Sunday was a strain with the heat, it was not a day for any strenuous work outside. I did not envy the steam crew on Sunday at all.

Not a lot to say otherwise, except that we were also competing with the heritage weekend in the city centre and it’s not easy to compete with free!

Hopefully a bit cooler this coming weekend.


Back in the quiet lane.

Well, after the previous weeks 40th anniversary weekend last weekend was bound to be quieter.

It was aThomas weekend so we had a fair number of people off to ride on the Thomas shuttle from Wansford to Yarwell.

One thing that special events always show is that people seem to not have either the desire or the ability to read information. Full details of what was happening was on the web site, but as always it was obvious from the start that the majority of people had selectively read the information provided.

If I had one pound for every person that though Thomas was coming the whole length of the line and pulling all services then I would be a very wealthy man.

The same goes for train times generally, we get a few a month who will look at the chalk board outside with the train times on and then come and ask when the next train is.

Last Sunday was a diesel service for the main train and that was clearly stated on the board outside, but I lost count of the number of people when muttered Oh it’s a diesel I thought it was steam today when each service arrived.

Having said that I did hear one visitor on Saturday mutter that he thought it was diesel when the steam hauled service arrived. Just goes to show whatever you do somebody will be disappointed. It is I suppose just a fact of life.

One thing I have noticed this year is that we have more families just wandering round, looking at what’s in the area and not spending a penny between them. The adults and their off springs just wander about for an hour or so and then disappear heaven knows where.

This coming weekend is forecast to be hot and sunny I gather, well based on previous experiences I had better prepare for rain.


Forty Years and Counting

On the 1st June 2017 Nene Valley Railway celebrated it’s 40th anniversary, and over the weekend of 3/4th we ran an enhanced service for the visitors to mark the occassion.

It was the most enjoyable weekend I have seen on the railway for a long time. The weather was just right, we had nine services each way on both days at Orton Mere including terminating services. We had Royal Scot, 92 Squadron and the Deltic spend time with us so that meant that people had plenty of time to take all the images they wanted.

From a money perspective I can say without doubt it will have been a very successful weekend for the railway, at Orton Mere on Saturday I had one of my days ever for sales in the 13+ years I have been running the station.

There were however a few shocks along the way, I had a couple of visitors describe the new look interior of Orton Mere station building as “Quaint.” Now I will be the first to admit I can think of many words over the time I have been at the station used to describe it and Quaint has never ever been amongst them.

The old codgers corner with the two armchairs is proving very successful with a couple of people dozing off over the weekend whilst sitting in the arm chairs!

Over the weekend we only had one miserable ungrateful and frankly rude visitor. Shame it was a member!!

I did not have time at the weekend to take pictures but here are a couple from Friday when Royal Scot was out on driver experience.

I would like to thank all those who helped at the station over the weekend, no matter how much or little time you were able to give your assistance was very much appreciated. My thanks also to any of the visitors who read this for supporting the railway. Without the paying visitors there would be no Railway.

However, if you are one of the people who came along, took pictures and bought or donated nothing then shame on you, all the people who did spend money subsidised your visit. Please remember that next time you visit the railway.

Back to normal next weekend, or as normal as we ever are at Orton Mere.




If you go down to the woods this weekend.

Here we are on a wet Monday evening doing a blog post!!

This bank holiday weekend saw the Teddy Bears picnic running over all three days.

I must say it was most enjoyable. We had a steady flow of visitors to travel with their children clutching bears. They were without exception a happy bunch. The children were excited and happy which in turn of course made the parents or grandparents happy as well.

Plenty of passengers on most services to and from Wansford.

It just goes to show what a well planned, thought out and executed special event can achieve. We will know the final money figures soon, but I will bet that it did not make a loss. It generated good will and many of the first time visitors I spoke to said they will return. We can ask for no more. Even down to the child this afternoon holding onto the fence for dear life because he did not want to go home.

One thing that was noticeably missing this weekend were the locals, they are my weekly visitors who keep the shop ticking over during the quiet periods. It was nice enough on Saturday and Sunday for them to have had days out away from the city. Hopefully they will return soon.

Now we  have a few days before the 40th anniversary of the railway commences on Thursday. I am looking forward to next weekend it will be most enjoyable. Providing of course the weather gods shine down upon us.

A weekend of four quarters.

I know I am late with the blog post, but better late than never.

Last weekend saw two very different days.

Saturday was a diesel day with two class 14’s running, it was never going to be a crowd pulling day (Excuse the pun.) But never the less the services all ran on time as near as makes no difference.

Here are a couple of pictures of the two locomotives. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice the first loco is pulling freight. This was being returned to Peterborough Nene Valley station after last weeks industrial weekend. we were not offering an open top service.

We had a few visitors who came to travel because these two were running.

Sunday saw 92 Squadron hauling the main service plus the Thomas big adventure. On his trip to Peterborough Thomas had problems and a class 14 was sent out for support, or as one little by put it “Thomas was naughty and the diesel was sent to sort him out.”

Here is Thomas on the front with the class 14 on the rear.

The main service ran late because of the problems and one service was missed out, but I must say nobody seemed to mind, as as normal when we have late running complementary tea & coffee was handed out at Orton Mere for those waiting.

I have said it many times, it’s important that when we have problems we not only sort them but that we are seen to sort them. Despite being late I did not see one unhappy face on the Thomas Big Adventure. That’s important.

This coming weekend sees the teddy bears picnic and yet another bank holiday weekend. Hopefully the weather will be good and things will run to time. We shall see…. It’s worth stating that I have my Teddy Bear at the ready.

Always look on the bright side of a weekend.

Well here we are on a wet Wednesday afternoon and I am looking back at last weekend for the inspiration for this blog post.

It was shall we say an interesting weekend, we had a mixture of everything, sun, rain, wind, cloud, the odd customer and trains.

Without doubt we have had more successful events than the small loco weekend, but you have to try things to see if they work or not.

The weekend consisted of small industrial locos both steam and in one case a diesel chugging up and down the line, pulling normal and local services, freight and brake vans. Now thats a decent choice, but it just did not jell for some reason.

Many people like to see big steam locomotives when they visit or even large diesels at a pinch, but I am not sure of little tank engines. Visitors seem to have very strange memories of how things used to be back in what people fondly call “The Good Old Days.”

Little tank engines were the bread and butter of many rural lines and not every line had a big locomotive tearing up and down with the crew waving friendly greetings to all those in sight as they went past golden meadows full of cows or sheep bathed in bright sunshine.

But people forget this. I don’t know are heritage railways perhaps to blame by promoting big shiny locomotives over the smaller stuff that in reality chugged up and down many many lines?

We are not a first and foremost a tourist attraction, we are primarily a working museum where visitors, who may or may not be tourists can if they wish, experience a train ride behind an old locomotive. It’s easy in the fight for cash to forget this.

So here are a few pictures from the weekend where we ran a part of history that is often forgotten as we see on TV yet another story of some over rated large locomotive zooming up or down the main lines on the network.


Trying to out fox the staff

Seen on the track today.

One of the many wild animals we see, those in the day normally have four legs and those in the hours of darkness  have two.

Well that was an interesting weekend…

Last Saturday evening saw me fulfil a long time ambition. I finally got rid of the horrible tables and green chair all in one units that I think were built for people 4ft 3in and under. Now we have the nice oval tables and wooden chairs. Five tables and 20 chairs in all. The station is looking really nice.

In the far corner we have the old codgers corner complete with two easy chairs, that area is already proving popular with, shall we say the older customer.

It’s amazing what a change of tables and chairs can do to the place.

Sunday…. Well what can I say except it was unusual. If you have come to the blog for details of exactly what problems befell 92 Squadron you will be disappointed, for two reasons. The first is I don’t know and I don’t wish to surmise and the second reason is if I did know then here is not the place to discuss it anyway.

This coming weekend sees the Industrial weekend, and it’s success or otherwise is down to the weather, as of course it is with many events, believe it or not rain stops people visiting, in an ideal world it would be nice first thing then throw it down when people had arrived, keeping them in the cafe or gift shop at Wansford spending money, or on the train in the buffet coach. But of course we don’t live in an ideal world, far from it. So on the day we will have to do the best we can with what we have.

So this weekend please pay a visit if only to see the new tables and chairs, there will be regular conducted tours of the seating area every hour on the hour.

It should be noted that we have black bags ready to put over both the tables and chairs if any of the crews or civils venture inside.

Anybody smelling of diesel will get a quick spray down as they enter. This is only a temporary measure until we get the sheep dip fitted by the doors onto the platform.

Well that’s another one out of the way.

Last weekend was yet another bank holiday. But for many the Monday was a normal working day.

We were not that busy at the station, it was fairly even across the three days with 92 Squadron hauling the main services and Thomas playing with the TPO.

Here is 92 Squadron approaching the station, as you can see it was typical bank holiday weather minus the rain and plus a bit of sun..

Sunday saw the Lord Mayor of Peterborough paying a quick visit on his way to an event at Railworld. This picture shows him looking into the distance, I hope he was not looking for the train, he was facing the wrong way.

Had a chat and he was a really nice chap, and no I am not biased because I sold him a Kit-Kat.

Monday saw a diesel convoy leave the railway first thing on it’s was to the Severn Valley Railway, here is a video of it passing through.

IMG_0080  Just click on the link for the video it’s even got sound!!! It was not publicised so we did not have the non-paying public out to take pictures.

Customer wise we had some really nice people in over the three days, it was quite worrying not having a regular flow of shall we say the socially challenged.

We have another bank holiday at the end of the month to look forward to as well, the excitement just keeps on coming. I must admit I am not a fan of three or four day weekends, it can get a bit much at times. Perhaps it’s a sign of old age.

The start of next month sees the 40th anniversary of the Nene Valley Railway, with events planned, you watch it rain!!