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Grounding the Dreams!

GWSR pioneers on a sponsored track-laying event in 1982

It’s funny how the energy shifts in groups and organisations just as much as it does in people. I’ve just been reading about the ups and downs of Manchester United over the years and the same wave motion seems to affect all groups.  My wife is an astrologer and she will tell you that the current problems the GWSR has been going through are all down to the roughly 29 year cycle where we have to change our attitudes and get ‘real’.  So all the slip problems are a way of learning the lesssons of the past and, boy, has it been expensive learning!  We now know the GWR skimped on the building of the line so it is not ‘job done’ yet and there will more money still that must be spent elsewhere on the trackbed before we get to Broadway, let alone Honeybourne.

But the atmosphere is changing on the railway as these problems get put right and there seems  to be the beginnings of an upsurge in energy, commitment and enthusiasm about the place.  Spring cleaning and decluttering of dedundant stock is being dealt with, people are talking about preserving the railway’s heritage and there is some movement towards starting up a Heritage Trust to safeguard and, hopefully, to develop the historical side of the railway’s character.

This would be a great idea but we now know we have to be coldly realistic about our dreams from now on.  The slip has taken all the railway’s reserves of money and the reality is that all new projects have to find a way or funding themselves that relies not only on the limited resource of volunteer labour and commitment, but also on ways of raising new money.  Public sources of grant aid, like the Heritage Lottery Fund have tightened their criteria, rich benefactors like Pete Waterman and Jeremy Hoskin are always under huge pressure to give from their deep pockets to everybody’s wonderful scheme, so all development depends on being able to raise money from within.

It’s back to the first days, where it all started. It’s about rekindling the vigour of the early GWSR pioneers who came onto a derelict site and just got on with it.  It’s about encourgaing the new generations of volunteers to bring in their mates to help.   If you have any doubt of what has been achieved, with an entirely volunteer labor force, just look at the new archive of photos of the railway that is starting up on Facebook.  Click here to go to it.

And, if you have any spare cash or time, support the slip fund and come and offer a hand whenever you can. You will be made very welcome at what is, we like to think, one of the friendliest railways on the planet!

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