Businesses hope to form chamber of trade to capture Shildon rail museum windfalls

The Advertiser Series: Businesses want to re-start Shildon Chamber of Trade Businesses want to re-start Shildon Chamber of Trade

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.

Comments (4)

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5:47pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Voice-of-reality says...

As far as one can tell the visitors to 'the great goodbye' enjoyed themselves - why on earth would the staff at Locomotion have wanted to ruin that experience by sending them into the donwtrodden town centre of Shildon.
As far as one can tell the visitors to 'the great goodbye' enjoyed themselves - why on earth would the staff at Locomotion have wanted to ruin that experience by sending them into the donwtrodden town centre of Shildon. Voice-of-reality

5:59pm Fri 28 Feb 14

DaisyBear says...

I very much enjoyed attending Locomotion and did end up getting lost on the way home - going through the Shildon town centre. Unfortunately, although it looked relatively quaint, I could not really see anything that I would have wanted to visit on a day out that was already quite tiring. For example, I generally do not mix a visit with grandchildren to a railway museum with buying a washing machine. I am also quite capable to being able to think 'there is a town near here - I am hungry - I will go and have a look at what they have'. There also did not appear to be any parking in the town centre.
In the end I did avoid the cafe at Locomotion and was not sufficiently inspired to eat in Shildon - I ended up not wishing to deal with getting lost again and we ate at somewhere familiar when we were closer to home (familiar always makes a difference with the grandchildren, I find).
However, I wish the chamber well as they have an uphill battle fixing that which much larger chambers of commerce have not yet cracked - halting the decline of the high street.
I very much enjoyed attending Locomotion and did end up getting lost on the way home - going through the Shildon town centre. Unfortunately, although it looked relatively quaint, I could not really see anything that I would have wanted to visit on a day out that was already quite tiring. For example, I generally do not mix a visit with grandchildren to a railway museum with buying a washing machine. I am also quite capable to being able to think 'there is a town near here - I am hungry - I will go and have a look at what they have'. There also did not appear to be any parking in the town centre. In the end I did avoid the cafe at Locomotion and was not sufficiently inspired to eat in Shildon - I ended up not wishing to deal with getting lost again and we ate at somewhere familiar when we were closer to home (familiar always makes a difference with the grandchildren, I find). However, I wish the chamber well as they have an uphill battle fixing that which much larger chambers of commerce have not yet cracked - halting the decline of the high street. DaisyBear

10:01am Sat 1 Mar 14

CLANSMAN says...

There is nothing within Shildon town centre to attract passing trade from the Locomotion railway unless they need a pint of milk ?
Locomotion / Shildon town Council could not even work with a local businessman John Bowman many years ago when he set up Vintage vehicle display alongside the track walkway in nearby industrial building. I was a visitor many times and he had an impressive display which could have worked with events and displays and become another hand in hand site to visit, sadly Locomotion admission was free and he had to charge entrance fees .. so his business venture is now gone ... a great loss
I think he charged £3 and people wouldn't pay it .... sad to say that Locomotion Free parking became £3 a car and people where paying it
I put a donation in the box when I visited ... but how many do ??

Local businesses should have been involved, but I think Locomotion will have charged there on site outside caterers a fortune for a pitch hence why sky high prices for food and beverages that upset a few visitors ?
There is nothing within Shildon town centre to attract passing trade from the Locomotion railway unless they need a pint of milk ? Locomotion / Shildon town Council could not even work with a local businessman John Bowman many years ago when he set up Vintage vehicle display alongside the track walkway in nearby industrial building. I was a visitor many times and he had an impressive display which could have worked with events and displays and become another hand in hand site to visit, sadly Locomotion admission was free and he had to charge entrance fees .. so his business venture is now gone ... a great loss I think he charged £3 and people wouldn't pay it .... sad to say that Locomotion Free parking became £3 a car and people where paying it I put a donation in the box when I visited ... but how many do ?? Local businesses should have been involved, but I think Locomotion will have charged there on site outside caterers a fortune for a pitch hence why sky high prices for food and beverages that upset a few visitors ? CLANSMAN

6:11pm Sun 2 Mar 14

John Justice says...

I know Shildon very well. I worked there for several years and family lived there for over 50 yrs. I also have seen the demise of Shildon as an interesting place to shop. However there are some very good shops in the town including two very good butchers, an Italian restaurant, Clems fish and chip shop, a fruit and veg shop and Hacket and Baines furniture shop to name but a very few. I certainly do not want to knock the town but it is going to take a great stretch of the imagination to get visitors to such events at Locomotion to visit the town. Having said that I was not aware of any advertising for business in the town on my visit and I am surprised no action plan was in place to inform visitors of any benefits in visiting the town. A superb opportunity lost through apathy and short sightedness on the part of the powers that be.
I know Shildon very well. I worked there for several years and family lived there for over 50 yrs. I also have seen the demise of Shildon as an interesting place to shop. However there are some very good shops in the town including two very good butchers, an Italian restaurant, Clems fish and chip shop, a fruit and veg shop and Hacket and Baines furniture shop to name but a very few. I certainly do not want to knock the town but it is going to take a great stretch of the imagination to get visitors to such events at Locomotion to visit the town. Having said that I was not aware of any advertising for business in the town on my visit and I am surprised no action plan was in place to inform visitors of any benefits in visiting the town. A superb opportunity lost through apathy and short sightedness on the part of the powers that be. John Justice

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