I thought I would share with you, in a blow by blow commentary, how we have moved on in our 10+ plus years of activity from the customers point of view. My son, wife and two children, one and two and half years old, descended on us of the Easter Weekend and some thought had been put into the time to ensure they were entertained.
We commenced our day at Wirksworth station at around 1130 yesterday and the first port of call was Mary's egg hunt stall and armed with the location questionnaire we set off to respond to the 10 questions. The first few were polished off before taking the 1155 Wirksworth to Ravenstor and return which was followed by the children and their parents wanting food. Angela and team produced the adult all day breakfasts and sandwiches for the children, all well received and the back to the egg hunt. This took us to the Museum, C&HPR water tank and talking tunnel for a ride on the narrow gauge railway. During this trip the children could see No3 taking water and "pacing" us back to the steam loco shed. Coins were thrown into the waterfall together with "Poo sticks". A return to the remaining egg locations brought us to a journey to Duffield on the 1420 departure from Wirksworth. Ben was on trolley duty and the journey passed pleasantly as the children had fallen asleep and remained inert on the return journey. They woke up in time to enjoy a further visit to the Buffet Car before departing for home at around 1630.
Everyone encountered had been pleasant and informative ensuring a good day out for those less than fascinated by railways.
I write this as when we started this adventure we may have held peoples attention for 30 minutes to an hour and now we can claim to be a destination that will occupy the visitor of 5 or 6 hours with the ancillary support of other than pure railway things to do.
Importantly for all of us the total spend was of the order of £70 compared with, maybe, £3 ten years ago. This will surely sustain our future if we continue to get it right.
By way of contrast the same tribe visited Steeple Grange today with a similarly warm welcome and it was good to travel over the "Duke's" level crossing for the first time and experience their "branch" to the quarry en route to the National Stone Centre. The explanation of the fossils to be found there was quite fascinating, even to one who may be known for his cynicism! The SGLR have a lot going for them that is complimentary to our own operation and joint activities are to be encouraged.
We have certainly come a long way thanks to all the people that made Saturday's experience rewarding for all those that experienced it.