Retford Mayor and BCH supports Retford at rail event in London

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.

John Mann’s Pilgrim 400 debate in Parliament

Bassetlaw MP John Mann recently asked questions in Parliament about the plans for the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage, coming up in 2020.

You can read the debate in Hansard or watch the debate on parliamentlive.tv.

Mr Mann outlined the history of the Pilgrims, and their roots in Bassetlaw:

“At first glance, nonconformity and its influence on democracy are a series of extraordinary coincidences based in the beautiful setting of rural Bassetlaw, and they are all linked by geography, message and history. The modern history of our great ally and special partner, the United States of America, comes from a tiny group of men and women who, in the autumn of 1620, arrived on board the Mayflower at Cape Cod in Massachusetts. They were a group of religious and political nonconformists who risked their lives, and at times lost their liberty, in order to establish the basis and values of the society they wanted. It was a society that, through the Mayflower compact—which was the basis of that first settlement on the east coast of America—created both the foundations for the constitution of the United States and the model for parliamentary democracy.”

Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, acknowledging Plymouth’s role in the story of the Mayflower, invited Mr Mann to join with him and co-chair an all-party parliamentary group to recognise the 400th anniversary.

Mr Mann positively embraced the invitation, hoping that a:

“Bassetlaw-Plymouth amalgam cross-party group would be a powerful way to spread the message of the values and principles of the Mayflower Pilgrims.”

In response to Mr Mann’s statements about Bassetlaw, David Evennett, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, stated that:

“It is only right that all parts of the United Kingdom that were involved in that momentous occasion can profit from the renewed interest that the citizens of the USA will have in visiting the UK as part of the 400th anniversary commemorations in 2020. This matters not just for the constituencies involved, but for tourism and the economic benefits brought by those tourists from America and other parts of the world, because we have a great story to tell. American tourists spent nearly £3 billion in this country in 2014.

The Plymouth area has received financial support from the Government, with £35,000 announced to upgrade facilities at the Mayflower museum. However, I would like to allay any fears that the people of Bassetlaw might have that all Mayflower-related financial support is going to Plymouth and will not be distributed across the country: £500,000 worth of support was announced in the autumn statement 2015 by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, as we heard, for Mayflower-related celebrations across the country. VisitEngland is in the process of allocating that sum and will involve in its work a number of areas across the nation, not just the city of Plymouth.”

You can read the full debate from 9 March 2016, including Mr Mann’s history of Bassetlaw, in Hansard.