GWSR appoints new Marketing Manager
Catherine Johnson BSc (Hons), CIM to build new marketing plan
Appointment will help railway recover from pandemic
Eighth member of professional staff team among 950 volunteers
Railway resumes Covid-secure services on 13 April
Winchcombe, Gloucestershire 09 March 2021: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has appointed its first Marketing Manager in a paid position. Catherine Johnson, BSc (Hons), CIM of Solihull, is only the eighth employee within the otherwise entirely volunteer-run heritage railway.
Catherine Johnson (pic Ian Crowder)
At a time when the railway is preparing to restart Covid-secure services from 13th April, Miss Johnson joins the management team at a crucial point in its development. She is at present reporting to Janet Gough, the railway’s Volunteer Resources Director and acting Marketing Director, following the recent resignation of Graham Radband for family reasons.
The steam railway, which counts on over 950 volunteers, expects to appoint a new Marketing Director in a voluntary capacity (the entire board of GWSR Plc are volunteers) and to whom Miss Johnson will report in due course.
Miss Johnson has previously held marketing management or director positions within industry, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and latterly, having gained her PGCE at Worcester University, has been teaching in Solihull and Coventry.
Janet Gough comments: “As we emerge from a series of lockdowns which have significantly curtailed the railway’s business, the Board has taken the opportunity to re-think the railway’s management structure. It is clear that marketing is a crucial discipline that needs professional input to help grow our railway’s busines into the future.
“We operate a 14-mile railway between Cheltenham and Broadway, through some of the most glorious countryside in England. We are one of the largest tourist attractions in the Cotswolds and we have the capacity to carry many more passengers than the 125,000 who enjoyed our railway in 2019.”
Adds Catherine Johnson: “My first task, is to audit the range of marketing and communications activities on the railway and recommend a marketing plan that both co-ordinates these and firmly places the GWSR in the top echelon of the Cotswolds tourism market. Our railway is well placed to become top-of-mind for families looking for an enjoyable day out. This year of our 40th Anniversary is the perfect time to do this.”
Miss Johnson is supported by a volunteer team managing public relations, social media, event organisation and advertising.
She says: “I’m really impressed with the railway and all that it has achieved over four decades and almost entirely by volunteers. It’s a truly astonishing story that needs to be told. The railway has grown to become a £2m turnover business with a significant impact on the region’s tourist economy.
“People who visit our railway also spend money at other attractions, support local businesses such as shops, pubs, restaurants, B&Bs and hotels,” she points out. “As our railway develops, so does the local economy. Our growth will play a vital part in helping the region to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic by attracting new as well as returning visitors.”
Miss Johnson is based at the railway’s headquarters offices in Churchward House, Winchcombe station.
The GWSR resumes train services on 13 April, operating a covid-secure round-trip service from Toddington station GL54 5DT* to Cheltenham Racecourse, back via Toddington to Broadway and returning to Toddington. Subject to continuing Government advice, trains will operate Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends until the end of June when current restrictions are expected to be lifted. Advance booking is essential at www.gwsr.com.
Ends / more
Ian Crowder, 07775 566555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Johnson, 07920 406630 or email@example.com
Bryony Exton, firstname.lastname@example.org
HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTOGRAPHS AVAILABLE - PLEASE CONTACT IAN CROWDER
Train services from Tuesday 13 April 2021:
One train timetable (steam)
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays to the end of April
Trains depart Toddington at 10.00 and 13.20 (round trip takes approx. 2.5 hours)
Two train timetable (steam)
Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday (2 May) and from 4 May, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 30 June (except 25 April, 23 May and 27 June**),
Trains depart Toddington at 10.00; 11.40; 13.20 and 15.00 (round trip takes approx. 1.5 hours)
Heritage Diesel Days Sundays 25 April, 23 May and 27 June - Trains depart Toddington 10.00, 12.30 and 15.00 using a variety of heritage diesel motive power
Details of train services from the end of June will be published on www.gwsr.com when available.
ABOUT GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARWICKSHIRE STEAM RAILWAY
The award-winning Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) operates over 14 miles through the Cotswolds between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the railway has, since 15th August operated round trips when permitted under government guidance only from Toddington station, bookable in advance and that continues from 13 April until the end of June, unless restrictions are eased earlier. Subject to continuing Covid-19 advice. Turn-up-and-go tickets have been available subject to space being available on trains. Services have and continue to reflect prevailing Government guidelines. The GWSR is on part of the former Great Western Railway route between the West Midlands and Bristol, South Wales and the West Country. The line between Cheltenham and Stratford-upon Avon closed in 1976 and the infrastructure was removed in 1979, the formative GWSR beginning to rebuild the line 40 years ago in 1981.