Businesses hope to form chamber of trade to capture Shildon rail museum windfalls (From The Advertiser Series)
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Businesses hope to form chamber of trade to capture Shildon rail museum windfalls
1:36pm Friday 28th February 2014 in News
BUSINESS leaders are hoping to resurrect a town’s chamber of trade as a way of boosting their profits by tapping into a rail museum’s windfall events.
Traders are angry that the bulk of the 120,000 visitors to Locomotion: The National Railway Museum in Shildon for the Mallard anniversary show The Great Goodbye did not venture into the town centre.
They feel museum staff failed to point visitors to the cafes and shops on Church Street.
Museum bosses have hit back claiming they did advertise the businesses and that the traders made little effort to approach them for help.
In a bid to ensure better future co-operation plans have been drawn up to re-start Shildon Chamber of Trade, which it is thought last met in 1999.
Chris Bowman, the owner of Console Connections, on Church Street, said: “I think the museum did well out of the event, but the rest of the town was left to suffer.
“This was a big kick in the teeth for the traders. Attracting people from the museum to the high street has always been a problem.
“I’m setting up a trade chamber to improve things and the feedback has been good.
“It’s a good opportunity to put things right for next time an event like The Great Goodbye takes place.”
Traders think the town square could have been utilised with shuttle buses running visitors along Church Street to it.
Some also felt that businesses should have been allowed to place advertising boards at the museum and they feel ignored.
Some signs directing visitors to the town centre businesses, believed to have been put up by a Shildon trader, were erected.
Pam Porter, Locomotion’s events officer, said talks between the museum and traders several years ago had come to nothing, but that no-one had come forward recently.
She said: “We’re happy to work with any group so that events benefit the museum and the town. We’ve pointed out to visitors where they can buy items in Shildon.
“We’ve a community noticeboard which anyone can use but advertising boards could be a problem with access.
“If anyone has a concrete proposal to benefit the whole town then we’ll talk to them.”
Durham County Council said that it would not normally erect brown tourist signs at events like The Great Goodbye directing people from the museum to the town centre.