Netley Marsh revisited

Well it’s been a while since I put fingertips to keyboard, so this is a catchup on all things Alexander since Adlington Carnival, only a few weeks ago now but seems like an age.

The first important development is that the stage trailer is now safe and legal.  I had been worried about the axles as they really weren’t to a high enough spec. Although I have not had the trailer weighed recently, my feeling was that it was heavier the two tonne rating it came with, so the ‘can do’ guys at Chester Trailer Centre did their magic and it now is rated at over three tonnes so ample room for moderate expansion.  New axles and new heavier, chunkier tyres and tows a dream!  One less thing for me to worry about.  The down side is that the old electric mover which allowed me to finally manipulate it into tight pitches where the lorry could not go will have to be replaced as the previous one does not fit the new tyres.  I’ve booked the job in for next week.  Vast expense but I had a new booking at Beamish Museum for four days in September so my thought is that will pay for it!

My weekend off was rare and most enjoyable. A rare opportunity for me to relax, reflect and catch up on myself mid-season.  It’s been a classic season so far.  Not without its dramas (my ankle is now fully recovered) and some lovely new events the memory of which I will savour over winter nights. And meeting old friends from all.

My return to Netley Marsh Steam Rally the following weekend was typical of the best.  I hadn’t been there for a couple of years as the event had clashed with Welland Steam Rally.  For a number of reasons I had gone off Welland.  I didn’t like the monster banging machine, the ‘Sonic Cannon’ which they trundled into the arena at the end of each day.  The noise terrified all the dogs on the site, mine included, which meant that we had to take a two mile walk away from the event to escape it at the end of every afternoon, and even then it could be heard and my two became scared and unworkable.

But more significantly, the people at Welland had an entirely different attitude to me and to the event and I wasn’t sure why. Until someone told me that the Welland Steam Rally was run on a ‘for profit’ basis.  Major difference. Netley Marsh is organised by volunteers for charity (as are most of the other steam rallies I attend).  It showed, and it’s odd but it filtered down to every level of both events.  At Welland it felt as though I was there just to do a job. I had no real feeling of welcome or pleasure when I met up with the organisers and no-one from their organisers said anything to me about the shows.  Good or Bad. I don’t think they even watched them.

An amazing contrast then this time at Netley Marsh.  Those in charge made me feel really welcome.  They returned several times during the set up to ask whether everything was OK and there was real warmth from many people about my being there again, and this carried on through the weekend and it made the event a great and memorable success.  It was lovely to be back and I have already confirmed the booking for next year.

Now of course there were people at Welland who enjoyed the shows and spoke to me afterwards, but they were visitors or stall holders who knew me.  At Netley it was the organisers who made the event such a great success I believe because the warmth and enthusiasm for the event was not linked to the amount of money they had to make from it.  It’s amazing how leadership attitude can filter down so obviously, and not just in corporations and big organisations.

A week later and I’m at another place whose volunteers really make it work, but I will save the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for a blog of its very own.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander