The Great Little Trains of Wales…


A thumbnail of the home page of The Great Little Trains of Wales website. ©Bruce Yarborough

(Click on the thumbnail to go to the TGLTW website.)

Regular readers of BTWT may be wondering what new calamity prompted yesterday’s sad soliloquy and whether today’s post was really intended for Tunnel Vision. Rest assured, no new narrow gauge railway has collapsed overnight and there are no new plans, apart from those that we have already written about, to muck around with Wolsztyn. Instead of a single calamity, a series of unfortunate events culminated in a conference about how Polish regions could gain competitive advantage. The conference organisers not only invited me to speak, but actually paid me to do so, so you may be wondering why this attack of depression. Read on gentle reader, read on.

It seems that the secret ingredient that this province is focussing on is tourism, and I was asked to speak about railway tourism. Professor after professor got up and spoke about really important matters such as the proper definition of tourism and what the word product really meant. During the morning panel discussion a distinguished professor got up to ask why the Poles were using words derived from English like: mapowanie (mapping), walidowanie (validation) and klaster (cluster). After spending 5 minutes outlining the reason for his question, he spent another 5 minutes hypothesizing on the answers that he expected the panel members would give, and then 5 more minutes commenting on the hypothetical answers that he never received. Learned professors like him regularly act as paid advisers on EU projects.

By the time the second session started we were already running late. The chairman not only had to claw back some of the lost time, but also to make room for a member of the Polish Senate who just wanted to add his threeha’pence worth to the proceedings. I was booked to speak for 20 minutes and 15 minutes through my presentation, just as I reached the climax on how the Great Little Trains of Wales had created their own klaster in 1970, the chairman started making frantic signs for me to wind up.

The whole junket was paid for from EU funds and I am sure left most of the participants even more puzzled than they were before they came. And if you would like a little more information about The Great Little Trains of Wales then click on the thumbnail above or on the links below.

Dr Colin Parsons – Great Little Trains of Wales

Talyllyn Railway

Llanberis Lake Railway

Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (Portmadoc)

Welshpool & Llanfair Railway

Vale of Rheidol Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway

Bala Lake Railway

Snowdon Mountain Railway

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3 Responses to “The Great Little Trains of Wales…”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Sorry, I just get a picture of Stanley Unwin in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in my head reading your last post about the professor who spent all the atime discussing what tourism meant and why English words were being used as the root of new Polish words.

    Well he isn’t MUCH of a professor if he doesn’t realise that that is how language changes and develops.

    Anyway, junkets like this (and that is all it was as they had no intention of listening to the voices of reason like you) will do nothing to improve tourism and from what I have seen of tourism Poland needs all the help it can get. As this conference seems to prove they just don’t understand it at all.

    People become professors by writing thesis and once they have the title it seems to be a given that EVERYTHING they spout is gospel. Well it isn’t and the world is littered with the remnants of projects where the professors and others got it wrong.

    It seems as if the Poles are transfixed by The Emperor’s New Clothes……

    It is five to twelve on the preservation clock and if they don’t get it right by midnight it will all have gone by tomorrow.

  2. rik degruyter Says:

    In 2008 the local heritage committee that serves the Maldegem area, where my railway is located, supported the writing of a book about little field chapels and devotion in the country side. A lot of money was provided to ‘help’ the authors in their research.

    When the book was presented to the public, a farmer asked for a small amount of financial support towards the restoration of a little St Mary chapel on the corner of his field. He was told that this kind of support was not possible under the current funding programme !

    While the Senate was debating Saguntum went down… Even the Romans knew the feeling!

  3. White Horse Pilgrim Says:

    Oh dear, I can well imagine that conference. In another part of the former Eastern Bloc, just such a professor designed an incredibly complex set of rules for rural guesthouses on farms. I met the man – a dull grey aparatchik type who loved to feel important, but who knew nothing about business, rural life, etc. An upshot of the new rules was that a state inspector tried to fine my business because the bedcovers in the guesthouse didn’t touch the carpet all the way around as the professor had mandated. (No-one had a clue why they needed to, but that was the rule!) In the end, that kind of stupidity meant that I withdrew my investment and moved back to the West. I only hope that the Poles do better, and that tourism isn’t run by know-alls like the “experts” in Balkan countries who busily tell the foreign tourists what kinds of things they are obliged to “enjoy”.

    Maybe Hungary is a good model for Poland? Narrow gauge tourist railways seem to be flourishing there.

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