Posted by: wrha | July 19, 2010

Open Weekend & Official Opening

The annual WRHA open weekend was held over the 17th and 18th July 2010, with the official opening of our heritage centre and platform at Whitrope taking place on the Sunday afternoon. Carrying out the ribbon cutting was our local MP, the Rt Hon Michael Moore, recently elevated to the post of Scottish Secretary in the new coalition government. Also in the official party and delivering speeches on the day were Madge Elliot, veteran Borders rail campaigner who led the anti- closure protests all the way to Downing Street in 1968, Richard Crockett, current Chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail and Ian Crooks, current Chairman of the WRHA.

Despite a dreich, damp day on the Sunday (Scottish summertime??), the weekend was very well attended, with the car park overflowing at times onto the trackbed and roadside verges. Local media was in attendance, and the coverage on Borders TV both before and after the event culminated in the best publicity the Association has had to date. It was also one of our most profitable events, with income from catering, raffle and tombola, merchandise and railwayana sales, hogroast and memberships well into four figures.

For anyone who has ever doubted how serious and determined the Association is in creating a heritage railway and viable tourist attraction in the Scottish Borders, we hope that the recent fantastic rate of progress on the ground, culminating in this well received open weekend, will go a long way to convincing you that we are well and truly on our way. Everything you see at Whitrope is a result of the sheer hard graft of our volunteers, and it’s worth remembering that construction work on the platform itself didn’t even start until late 2007.

Thoughts are already turning towards how we can deliver an even bigger and better event next year (a working locomotive?), but in the meantime we must thank everyone who contributed so magnificently this year: Joyce Crooks for manning the buffet; Heather, Jan and Anna for the home baking; Philip and Helen- Jane Hedley for the hog roast; the girls from Black Diamond FM*, Sharon Colvin, Janet Murray, Ailsa and her Daughter Kimberley MacIntosh for manning the tombola and raffles; the Ruderham clan for merchandising, publicity and the supply of copious bunting; Joe for the mad dash to the “wire” in finishing off the car park fencing; Tom and Peter for assuming the role of car park marshals on Sunday; Iain for the posters; the coach painting gang who managed to get rid of the South West Trains livery on the west side of the Mark 1; Alastair for the printed programme and lots of other things; the volunteers who tidied the site and manned the centre; ITV Borders for doing us proud; all the local businesses who generously donated prizes, support and publicity; David Tough who donated the two coaches in the first place; Leader Plus for grant assistance; Matt for the making and erecting the running- in sign and last but not least, to all our members, visitors and friends for turning out to support us (including some of our furthest flung members from Germany and even New Zealand!!!).

*Black Diamond 107.8 FM, Community Radio in Midlothian