Monday, December 31, 2007

Best in Amber Valley

"Best in Amber Valley
Your votes have helped the Midland Railway - Butterley becomes Amber Valley's 'Pride of Place'. The recent survey to find the favourite local attraction has placed the Railway top of the list in Amber Valley with 46% of the votes. We also had the second highest number of votes in the whole of the East Midlands. Thank you very much for voting for us."

Congratulations to the Midland Railway Trust for this achievement. Where was the National Tramway Museum? In 6th place with 6% of the votes. Heage Windmill came second with 12%. Crich Stand came 7th with 5%. I have been aware for many years that the Midland Railway was more highly regarded locally and often wondered why. I suspect that local people find both the railway and the windmill more welcoming.

2008 is likely to be a difficult year for all Derbyshire tourist attractions with the widely predicted turn-down in the economy and credit squeeze. The NTM has the advantage of a sound short-term financial base but both paying visitors and active voluteers are declining. This trend must be arrested and I would like to see a major review of how the Tramway Museum Society ensures that both visitors and Society members are made welcome at the NTM and to ensure that next time we are up there at the top of the list alongside the Midland Railway.


  1. The fact that the Midland Railway is the favourite local attraction is a total turnaround on which they are to be congratulated. When I visited there and Crich on consecutive weekends nearly 13 years ago I was totally put off by the attitude of the people at Butterley - they were so miserable and unwelcoming and full of themselves.
    However what needs to be borne in mind is that this survey was undertaken by "local" people who took time to log on to the Amber Valley Borough Council website and vote for one of ten locally nominated top spots.
    21 Local Authorities in the East Midlands registered for this national initiative - 36,894 votes were cast nationwide of which just under 6,500 came from the whole of the East Midlands region with Franklin Gardens in Northampton coming out as the overall East Midlands winner.
    Only 648 votes were cast in Amber Valley - admittedly 299 for the Midland Railway and only 42 for Crich Tramway Village. Is this really a good representation or is it a case of getting everybody and their mates to distort / skew the figures in favour of one local attraction?
    The Tramway Museum does face an uphill struggle, particularly given the increased cost of transportation. There is also the attitude of some individuals which leaves a lot to be desired - this is not unique and happens in any organisation though.
    I do not agree for one moment with your view that visitors are not made welcome - you only need to look at the exit surveys to show that the majority are more than happy with the welcome they receive. At the end of the day it is the visitor numbers that are important - although local perception may also need to be improved.

  2. Anonymous1/1/08 10:18

    I wanted to train to become a Conductor this year, but I have a family/life and cannot commit to your new roster system.
    I asked about a Social Life and discovered that this is generally by invitation only and controlled by the events team, very inclusive and welcoming!
    To a visitor the place seems very friendly and encouraging, I don't however recommend anyone to scratch below the surface, and therefore I wouldn't hold my breath about attracting more volunteers. Good Luck.....

  3. Anonymous2/1/08 18:28

    I'd like to make comment on both of the above comments from what is the view of essentially a normal working member with experience at other places of the same nature as well as Crich.

    As was stated in the first comment - how much are these figures scewed by the individual attractions members and indead the publics perception of different places? Competition in the Heritage Sector is rife and any attraction will try and rally its cause as much as possible. We aren't the only heritage attraction in the area and thus do face stiff competition. But how much did the general public know about this?

    I live in Amber Valley and didn't even know this competition existed, so how many others were the same? How many other places had multiple votes (if possible) and voting from extended families?

    The majority of our visitors are, as stated incredibly happy.

    From my own point of view i'd like to point out that whilst there may be some 'junk', such as railings and rail, at Crich it is only there in storage waiting to be used in the future, compared to many preserved railways (There are exceptions)this is a minor feature as most seem to hoard falling apart trucks and rotting coaches. We thankfully don't have that.

    I do however think that we do need to approach the local community more often and welcome them in. However i realise this is no mean feat...people don't realise what is on their doorstep!

    In response to the second comment.

    When i first started at the museum a few moons ago i found everybody very welcoming, this is something that has continued until this very day...not all of us are intrested in trams, in fact i can think of at least 5 people who aren't off the top of my head.

    There is a social life and it certainly isn't by invitation only. The museum provides much social life for members such as Chirstmas and New Year meetings to name a few, the percentage of the staff that put in alot of time will happily welcome anyone else as has been the case with various people over the time i have been there.

    Sometimes we even have social getherings away from the museum at other museums!

    There are no invitations on a museum social life, there are no controls on a museum social life...all you have to do is work at the museum with the right attitude and make friends from it!

    In many ways that is what volunteering is all about!

  4. Anonymous5/1/08 16:39

    Dearest Sticky

    Are you so sure that YOU are not one of the favoured few?
    For years we have had two Christmas parties, one for everyone and one at an off site location, strictly by invitation only, delegates from which then gate crash the official event afterwards to get hold of the cheap beer.
    Another 'invitation only' party resulted in damage to the main gates when a delegate crashed a vintage bus into them.
    The visits to other museums are rarely advertised to all members, and on some occassions actually detract from the overall operation of the museum by resulting in people cancelling duties they have already committed to.
    Yes, there are some museum wide social events, but far more that are just arranged for the 'in crowd'.

  5. Anonymous5/1/08 16:51

    If ALL social gatherings are open to everyone why are they not ALL openly advertised in the Tea Hut and Operations office?
    Why are only specific people ever made aware of a lot of them?
    The comment 'right attitude' says it all. In whose opinion is the attitude right? Presumably the opinions of those who want to give us a divided society, are not open to the fact that different people have different views and ways of doing things, and who generally just wish to 'bitch' amongst their own in crowd.

  6. Anonymous6/1/08 15:19

    Dear fellow commentators,

    do you consider this the appropriate place for a discussion about internal issues of a respected museum? Please remember that this blog and its comments can be read by everyone worldwide and the issues discussed are, in my opinion, not for a worldwide audience.
    To my knowledge there does not exist an official platform for museum members to communicate over the internet but there exists an unofficial project. Please contact me via email for details.

  7. Anonymous8/1/08 19:34

    Re the last comment by Anonymous.....This is possibly not the place for sharing internal views. However if information is put on the site that can be misconstrued or misrepresented (eg the Amber Valley Survey) then surely it is in the interest of the museum that additional supportive information is presented so that anybody who does read the Blog site can make their own minds up from the comments. There is also the issue that the owner of the Blog site may decide not to publish the material (as is their prerogative). I am aware of at least two other submissions, both providing the sender's name / nickname, that have been entered under other captions which have not been given the light of day.

  8. Anonymous8/1/08 21:01

    Hello motorman,

    I was mainly referring to the posts by "hard working sceptic" and "clique sick" which I consider to be inappropriate in this place although to my knowledge there is no other place on the internet to discuss internal matters at Crich.

    I am not registered with blogger and therefore appear as "anonymous" but I would assume that the combinded facts that I am a volunteer at Crich (operations) and have an email address with the suffix .de indicating the nationality would be sufficient to give away my identity.

    May we now continue this conversation by email, as, honestly, I prefer to know roughly who I am talking to.


  9. Anonymous9/1/08 15:38

    This site can be read by anyone who knows about it as stated. There is, as mentioned, no other forum for members and others to vent their frustrations and raise issues. The content is frequently subverted by all who contribute for their own ends, and why not? If anyone takes it all as gospel they are dafter than they look. So long as a fair cross section of views are published by the owner and the personally owned ones are not edited to change their meaning, it all just goes to provide evidence that we are a live society, with strong characters and differing opinions. After all anyone joining and expecting it to be all friendly and nicey nicey will soon be disappointed, it has long been acknowledged that you need a think skin to survive there.
    Carry on the blogspot, its fun.