A team from North Nottinghamshire “let the train take the strain” on a trip to London to promote Retford and the surrounding area. Cllr Garry Clarkson, Retford’s Deputy Mayor, joined the team from North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP), the Poacher Line, and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) at an event in Kings Cross Station in London on Friday 17th May 2019.
Dressed in his mayoral robes, Cllr Clarkson was a very popular subject for photographs with many of the visitors.
Throughout the day, the team handled a constant stream of enquiries about the Mayflower Pilgrims, and the areas being promoted – even a conversation about commuting from Retford to London. Through leaflets designed for the event, Retford Business Forum highlighted the many exciting events planned for the rest of 2019, including Summer on the Square, Heritage Day and Pilgrims Festival – led by BCH; Bassetlaw District Council provided information on Pilgrim Roots and the Mayflower Trail.
A range of leaflets, promoting Mayflower 400, Retford, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Boston and Skegness, were handed out to passengers and visitors by the teams from 5am to 6pm.
The focus of the display was the Mayflower 400 story and was part of a promotion with other community rail partnerships from Essex, Southampton, Devon and Cornwall which had also held Mayflower 400 events at a range of London mainline railway stations on Wednesday 15th May.
The groups took part in ‘Community Rail in the City’, a flagship annual celebration, now in its ninth year, aimed at developing tourism and travel for recreation on Britain’s community rail routes, encouraging thousands of people to explore epic landscapes, coastal scenes, and sites of historic interest.
This year’s event saw 36 community rail partnerships and tourism partners – up from 24 groups last year – hosting activities at 20 mainline railway stations, including those in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Groups spoke to an estimated 75,000 people across the event, giving out information promoting the tourism opportunities accessible via Britain’s expanding community rail network.
Rick Brand, Vice Chair of NNLCRP, and Chair of the Bassetlaw Area Group, and also Chair of BCH, said “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity to promote our railway lines to thousands of commuters and potential visitors. We highlight the fantastic things there are to see and explore and encourage people to visit by rail. As well as being a more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting the area by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities.”
Community rail partnerships work at grassroots level to engage local communities, help people to get the most from their railways, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, healthy travel.
The event was organised by ACoRP, the umbrella body for community rail groups across Britain, which supports its members to work with partners to integrate rail travel into their area’s local tourism offer.
From 20th May 2019, a significantly increased number of trains is being provided on the East-West line as the new service opens from Sheffield to Gainsborough Central, including Worksop and Retford. The new LNER Azuma trains were also introduced from 15th May 2019 bringing shorter journey times and greater travel comfort.
Retford Railway Station already counts over 500,000 passengers per year and this number will increase not only with larger numbers of tourists visiting Mayflower Pilgrims Country in the run-up to 2020, but also as the convenience of the connectivity of Retford becomes more widely known up and down the East Coast Mainline.
North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership works towards integrating public and private service provision to offer travellers an effective and efficient range of transport choices. It works in partnership with transport operators, public and private organisations to serve the needs of the communities within which it operates.
Photographs courtesy of Rick Brand and Barry Coward, NNLCRP and Paul Webster, ACoRP.