Well, nearly two weeks have passed since the whirlwind that was the 2017 Great North Steam Fair. The event can be considered to have been successful – no major incidents, all passed safely and whilst Thursday and Friday were quieter than previous years, no doubt on account of it not being within the school holidays this time, the Saturday and Sunday were extraordinarily busy. The figures read thus:
- Thursday 2391
- Friday 2260
- Saturday 5990
- Sunday 6325
We had some additional challenges, with overrunning track work on the Tramway giving us an operational headache on the Thursday, and the currently diminished tramcar fleet being under pressure the rest of the time. This was assisted through the use of Rotherham 220 – which ably proved its value and was observed by some that running four of these instead of the trams would speed up the job of moving the crowds!
We are extremely grateful, as ever, to those exhibitors who attended and contributed to such a fantastic event. With such crowds there will no doubt be pressure to extend the car parks and look at improving access, but there is obviously a corresponding pressure on the site if we do accommodate more visitors. Suggestion of opening until 6pm has been made, but we do not pay overtime for staff, and cannot reasonably ask the many volunteers who work at the event (and exhibitors too) to stay later as usually by 5pm everyone is ready to call it a day. The Town marshalling worked very effectively, and we will look at other areas where this would be useful (not least to regulate some excessive speeding that was observed and had to be managed – this is a shame as exhibitors are made fully aware of the 12mph or 5mph limits that we have in force). Other feedback received has also been noted and will form part of the de-brief for this event, and the overall transport festival, once complete.
As for those ‘baffled’ by our tramcar situation – it is what it is and we were not able to retain 147 any longer as it was required in Blackpool. Our resources are what they are and must stretch across a wide range of activities and operations, and allied with sickness, jury service and holiday, we can only do what there are actually hours in the day and staff available to fulfil them, for. It is easy, I am sure, for those on internet forums to speculate and criticise, but actually running the ‘show’ is a rather different matter and one that I know is something other department/event managers at other heritage sites/railways also have to observe with a certain wry smile!
There has been a great deal of photographic coverage online of the event, have a look at Flickr for several albums taken over the four days, not least when the sun was shining at the weekend!
So, all that said, here is a last collection of my own images from the event:
This post closes with a selection of Dave Hewitt’s photographs – please note that these are his copyright and cannot be used or reproduced without permission.
So that concludes the GNSF for this year… 2018 will return to the same theme, i.e. pre 1920 wherever possible, but with an emphasis on WW1 equipment and probably named the Great War Steam Fair once again.