Great Gathering attracts coach groups

Great Gathering attracts coach groups Great Gathering attracts coach groups
July’s Great Gathering at the National Railway Museum in York marked a new record for visitor figures while celebrating 75 years since Mallard broke the world steam speed record. A total of 138,481 visitors, an average of over 9,000 per day, visited the museum in two weeks with part of the success down to coach groups.

The museum had 54 coach tours over two weeks, bringing in just over 2,500 visitors with the busiest days being the weekend of the 13 and 14 July which had 21 coach groups carrying 1,100 passengers.

The previous major two-week events were A Day out with Thomas in 2007 with 83,600 visitors, Railfest in 2004 with 70,000 visitors over nine days, and Wizard Week in 2012 with 56,888 visitors in eight days, an average of 7,000 daily.

The York-based attraction will be holding a similar event in October. The Autumn Great Gathering takes place from 26 October to 8 November, offering a second chance to see Mallard and its sisters around the turntable as part of Illuminating York (30 October to 2 November from 6.30pm-10.00pm).

These streamlined steam giants will be the subjects of a spectacular visual display giving visitors another opportunity to see the historic locomotives in a whole new light.

On 3 July 1938, the mighty blue Mallard was recorded as reaching the awe-inspiring speed of 126mph on the East Coast Main Line, breaking the existing German record of 124 mph set in 1936. No 4468 Mallard built at LNER’s Doncaster Works was chosen as the perfect vehicle for the latest attempt on the world steam speed crown because it was the first of the class to be fitted with a double chimney. Due to the subsequent evolution of diesel traction and the outbreak of the Second World War, Mallard’s record still stands and is still recognised across the globe as the fastest steam locomotive in the world.

The museum’s onsite caterers have refreshed both restaurants to enable visitors to dine in a Victorian inspired ‘dining car’ or enjoy an ice cream in the quirky outdoor container café. A new state-of-the-art simulator has also been created to celebrate the record-breaking run of 1938 with sights, sounds and smells of this historic journey.

“We have been thrilled at the success of this event and the visitor figures have exceeded the numbers that we had anticipated,” says Jim Lowe, visitor experiences operations manager.

“As we’re running a similar event in October we hope that tour operators will get in touch early to book. Drivers get a free meal, and groups can also enjoy a 2-for-1 deal on our road train and a discount in our shop.”

The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and admission is free.