August 2004

COMMUNICATION  - As the business of building, operating and maintaining the Railway develops, communication becomes increasingly important - but potentially more difficult.  Everyone wants be kept in touch with the latest information, but that’s not always possible.  This is not any one person’s fault, but it reflects the rapidly increasing development of what is now a business. This is reflected in the way that changes to plans can occur weekly, daily or even hourly, so it’s not always possible to keep everyone completely up to date.

To attempt to make the best possible effort to communicate, we have :

* Semaphore - mailed to members and covering major developments on the railway whilst, at the same time, providing a “guide book” to visitors.

* Ground Signal - also mailed to members and providing a round-up of useful information.

* Whistleblower – which can be collected from the Mess Coach and is published mainly to keep working members informed.

In addition to this, we have various electronic forms of communication at our disposal, both formal on behalf of the Trust and informal between members.

Bob Hitchings.

4th November 2003

The past few months have for me personally been of two extremes.  On the positive side the railway continues to be successful - Avon Riverside is developing well, and relations with the Council and other relevant organisations are excellent.  However on the negative side our internal relationships are not as good as they should be, and I have had to try to resolve various differences.

It can be difficult to cope with the changes that arise from the development of the RAILWAY BUSINESS, particularly when as a voluntary organisation we do not ALL hear about things at the same time.  The business operates seven days a week, and enquiries also arrive after hours by phone, fax and email - this is reflected in a proactive management process.

For the railway to operate EVERYONE is needed BUT our first responsibility must be to ensure our area of responsibility is provided correctly for the good of our customers, rather than comment or criticise others.

For example :-

Consider a wet, cold, miserable day.  A group of members are trying to repair a piece of vital equipment to ensure the railway operates the next day.  They are cold, wet and tired as they struggle in the open with a difficult situation.  They eventually complete their work and go home satisfied in theknowledge thay have ensured the railway runs the next day.

NOW also consider ,on the same, cold, wet day, another group of members are sitting in the warm and dry, studying many documents regarding a five figure bank loan for the railway.  After much detailed study, consultation and debate they sign the forms guaranteeing the loan for the railway for the next six years.  

Who is most important?  THEY ALL ARE!!

Next year will be the railway's 'coming of age' - we will be operating a service in every sense.  The railway will only be able to do this if we all work together.  This will also mean we have to adapt to the changes that come with progress.

It will be a major challenge for all of us . . . . . I am confident that we can meet it.

Bob Hitchings.

2nd September 2003

The AGM will see some changes of faces and responsibilities. John Mann will be standing down as a Trustee, and Steve Walters is standing down as roster clerk from the end of the year. The Trustees and Directors would like to thank John and Steve for all their help in running the railway, and we hope they will share in future developments.

The year under review (1/2/02 to 31/1/03) was the first full year for the Trust, and all our activities (Membership, Raffles, Donations and Gift Aid) have proved satisfactory. The income from this plus the covented income from the trading company (Avon Valley Railway Company Limited) has allowed us to make further progress on our planned developments.

Some highlights of the year were:-

* Completion of goods shed roofing.

* Further Yard Tarmacing.

* Fitting of the first two sets of Barge Boards

* Inspection and Assessment of River Avon Holmead Bridge.

* Further development of Avon Riverside.

All of this and the operating of the Avon Valley Railway has only been possible with the support and dedication of the Trust members, so can I thank you for all your efforts over the past year and ask for your continued support as we enter a new year and a new opportunity beyond the river.

Bob Hitchings.

28th May 2003

It is very pleasing to know that 'Semaphore' the magazine, will be out soon. The reasons have been fully explained together with the proposed actions by the Trustees and Editor which we hope will enable the future production of two editions per year.

Progress has continued at Bitton, and on the railway, such as the completion of the work on the goods shed roof and the fitting of the first two pairs of barge boards on the station.

The River Avon 'Holmead bridge' was approved for our use by the engineers, and track has now been laid over the bridge along with the installation of the point for the loop. The associated work on the Bristol to Bath railway path has been completed and was opened for public use in March.

The river pontoons are in regular use by river boats as is the riverside picnic area, and work is progressing on the access ramp and path.

A coach on loan from the Bicester Military Railway has arrived and been added to the working set for public use and 'Steam and Cuisine' trains - this will enable the operating company to continue the success they have had with 'Santa' and 'Thomas' trains, and to develop future business.

Our 'Gift Aid' system is now producing revenue for the Trust and we are re-launching the 'Development Fund' to provide specific income for projects. Please consider if you can support either or both of these schemes.

This progress has only been possible due to the work and commitment of our members. It has also enabled further opportunities for volunteers during the week for both operational and administration work, so if you feel you would like to join us please contact the station for further details.

Bob Hitchings.

17th February 2003

The first few weeks of the New Year have seen continued progress around the railway and in the development of the management of the organization.

The removal of the scaffolding on the goods shed for the roof repairs, and on the station for the fitting of the barge boards, together with the pre-Christmas tidy up in the yard, has revealed an improved appearance of the site, well noticed by our visitors. Good progress has continued at Avon Riverside, with every hope that it will be in use during the summer.

The Trustees have restructured the management of the Trading Company and appointed new auditors. Further appointments and employments will be required to meet the demands of our commercial progress.

The start of the new operating season is very near, so please give as much assistance as you can in support of our railway, and help sustain the present progress.

As was mentioned at the AGM in October 2002, the Trustees were considering appointing new auditors. The reason for this was that our present auditors, Evans and Partners, do not have a defined Charity department to deal with the requirements of our accounts. Our Charity advisors, Burton & Sweet, do have, and can also audit both the Trust and Trading Company accounts, together with a cost saving in fees.

An Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) will be convened to approve the change.


Following the display of the plans at the AGM, comments received, and further site visits, drawings are now being prepared for presentation to the Council planners.


The Trustees have defined the Trading Company directors' management responsibilities as follows:-

Chairman - Ken Goodway - responsible for management meetings, Railway Inspector liaison and implementation, operating rules and Health & Safety risk assessment.

Vice Chairman - Peter Bell - responsible for line management of employees, Business Plan development and implementation.

Director - John Miles - responsible for locomotives and rolling stock, operating of railway equipment and infrastructure.

Director - Stuart Hobday - responsible for press, media, PR and promotion.

Director - John Whale - responsible for minutes and correspondence.


Over the past few months the production of 'Semaphore' has become more and more difficult, due to both personal and 'in house' production problems. These, together with the increased speed of progress of events on the railway, makes this method of production of 'Semaphore' difficult.

In order to both continue with 'Semaphore' and keep members informed, the Trustees have decided that the existing format of 'Semaphore' will continue as a two or three times a year publication of articles, stories, photographs (of both the history and the progress of the railway) - edited 'in house' but produced by a commercial printer, as most railway journals now are.

This will be supplemented by the newsletter 'Ground Signal', produced 'in house', for news to members.

Bob Hitchings.

25th November 2002

The last few weeks have seen much progress around the railway, the goods shed roof is having the remainder of the slates fitted; the initial engineer reports on the River Avon bridge are good; British Waterways are fitting the pontoon into the river; work is progressing at Avon Riverside; the first set of Barge Boards for Bitton station have been ordered, and further improvements have been made to the car park - all of this while Bitton has a more ‘open’ feel with the Buffet and Booking office open daily and doing business.

May I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year from myself and my fellow Trustees.

Bob Hitchings.

20th August 2002

You will be reading this report around the time of the A.G.M. and there are several items to be reported. The first is about the A.G.M itself. As I said in my last report the setting up of the Ttrust, the Trading Company and the separation of the accounts has been a major task which at times was almost unending. Although the task is now complete and the accounts are with the auditors this was not in time for formal presentation at the 11th October A.G.M., which will still take place as you have been notified. The full audited accounts will be presented at a second meeting on Friday 10th January 2003 at Bitton Recreation Club.

The trustees have made two appointments. Stuart Hobday becomes a director of the Avon Valley Railway Co Ltd and Paul Baulch will take charge of the trust's collection. A project team for the Bitton site development has been created and is preparing a planning application for covered accommodation and visitor centre.

The Business plan is progressing with a view to presenting it to members on January 10th. A maior part of the plan will be to establish priorities for future developments of facilities and operations; there is little point in just building a longer railway without providing the structure to support it.

As our railway, and our dreams, become reality we have to be prepared to provide the service to our passengers and visitors that we advertise in our timetable.

Bob Hitchings.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 14/8/2004.