Crich seek new Manager – at a price

Plans by the Tramway Museum Society to appoint a General Manager to oversee the operation of the charity and its commercial side, Crich Tramway Village, have been under discussion for some time now. However, following some encouragement from Society members, the vacancy has now been formally advertised on the Museum’s website, with potential applicants being invited to submit their interest.

Earlier this year, a group of TMS members set about to try and change the way the Society is being managed. Several proposals were put to the membership at an Emergency General Meeting in August, with a strong majority voting against them all. However, soon afterwards Society Chairman Colin Heaton issued a statement explaining that the growing desire for changes to the way the Museum is being run had been acknowledged, and that this would be taken further. One of the proposals was to speed up the process of advertising for a new General Manager as a paid position – and this has now been acted upon.

Some TMS members have been concerned that the Museum currently lacks direction, and that the decline in visitor numbers is not being taken seriously enough by the Board of Management, all of whom are volunteers who are voted into power by their fellow members. Appointing a professional manager was considered as one way of attempting to deal with these issues, as it had been argued that some of the challenges currently facing the TMS were too great for a group of enthusiastic volunteers, some of whom have full time jobs and other commitments. Although the timing of these concerns was a little surprising – 2012 has been largely hailed as a very good year for Crich and some real positive progress has been made, particularly in terms of attracting more tram enthusiasts to support the Museum – at least some of them were very hard to argue with, and presumably this has led to the search for a new Manager.

Perhaps inevitably, the person specification for this new role focusses on qualifications, people skills and previous business experience rather than a passion for trams – opening up the very real possible that a succesful candidate may not be particularly knowledgeable about the Society’s reason for being. Concern could also be expressed over the large salary on offer. The new Managing Director is to be paid between £45,000 and £50,000 per annum, presumably depending on their level of previous experience. As revenue from visitors continues to fall, it could be questioned whether it is wise to spend such a large amount of money on employing a single person.

Hopefully, the TMS will find a suitable Managing Director who will be able to guide the National Tramway Museum forwards in a positive manner. For the record, any British Trams Online readers who may be interesting in applying for the job can find out more information at where a full job desciption and person specification are provided. The closing date for applications is 12:00pm on Friday 30th November.

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4 Responses to Crich seek new Manager – at a price

  1. John Henderson says:

    I read with interest your information regarding the vacancy for a General Manager for the Crich Tramway Museum. Unlike you, I believe the proposed salary is far too low to attract a suitable person for this extremely demanding position and brief. With a key factor for the position being to asssist in changing the financial situation to a more positive basis, applicants with a commercial background will expect a much greater salary. To add to this the dynamics of an operation involving the public, paid staff and volunteers demanding General Manager direction and intervention, I fear will compound failing to attract experienced people from other workfields.
    The Board of Management have an extremely difficult task ahead, unless there is a special charitable applicant. I also have their sympathy performing a selection process, that yet again will be scritunised by members in future times.
    I do hope this initiative has a positive outcome, but readers need to recognise the reality of the world of management and salaries.

  2. Deckerman says:

    I have to agree with Mr Henderson as whilst that might at first, seem a large salary, to obtain the caliber of person to turn around the fortunes of this National museum, in the great scheme of things, with all the issues Crich has, that really isn’t a lot of money.

    One can only hope that a semi-retired manager/ consultant/ enthusiast comes along and sees this vacancy and offers to fill the gap, giving 110.% effort for 50% wages.

    However, whether this occurs or not, I personally feel that Crich’s problems are FAR more ingrained and institutionalised than just possibly thinking that the recession is hitting them harder than they’d hoped, that it wasn’t being managed properly, or that it didn’t have “direction”. It most certainly has got direction, but sadly, it’s been downward.

    For the last 20 years at least, in my opinion, this organisation has sat on it’s laurels and proclaimed to be the best, whilst much smaller organisations have, quite rightly, given them a very good run for their money and often, beaten them at their own game. You only have to see the standard of restoration of say, Birkenhead’s fleet to realise that an immaculate restoration is no longer the unique prerogative of rural Derbyshire. And another plus at these other places is that they are.. oh what are those words now….. you don’t hear them mentioned much regarding Crich. Oh that’s it.. friendly… helpful…, nice!! Places that enthusiasts, as well as mummy, daddy and 2.4 kiddies, actually WANT to return to again and again and tell others too, rather than visit once, decide then to never darken their door again and importantly advise others not to either!!

    They profess to be the pinnacle of this or that in preservation, conservation and restoration and whilst admittedly, no slouch at all these, they seem to simply re- restore the same cars over and over again, withdraw cars for years, over ridiculously pedantic “faults” and perhaps most dangerously of all in my experience, treat both volunteers, members AND the general public as a necessary evil that should, if at all possible, be discouraged at ALL costs from putting their grubby little selves, on their lovely clean “personal collection” of pretty shiny trams.

    I could imagine that if they could somehow just take their money off them at the gate and then send them packing, without setting a soiled foot upon their own personal “Hornby Tram Set” they so and enjoy doing it.

    What the management/ committee/ whoever, don’t seem to have understood, (though there may be inklings that this may thankfully be changing,) is that, yes, perhaps in the early days, Crich WAS the only tram museum of any size and so they could be a bit belligerent and “holier than thou” .

    But in this day and age with visitors being an ever more valuable resource and with them having ever more limited resources, coupled now with other vastly expanded leisure activity alternatives existing and which have greatly expanded since those early days (and are still expanding, with new heritage and also other tram/ transport attractions planned), what they seem to forget is that their slice of the revenue pie is becoming smaller and smaller, year on year. So hacking off an already shrinking potential market, is only ever going to result in reducing returns and of course, unsurprisingly perhaps, it has seen just that.

    Even their own staff acknowledge it, as at a travel trade fair I attended recently, the PR people representing Crich, freely admitted that they knew that they were not giving as good a visitor experience as they once had any longer and something, HAD to change!

    I certainly wish whoever takes this gargantuan task on, the very best of British, as they are going to need it, but I’d respectfully suggest, that before they look too hard at introducing any ” B. O. G. O. F ” offers or other marketing “tools” to entice visitors back, the post holder first “stops the rot within”, as in my opinion, intentionally or otherwise, the organisation as a whole has effectively been telling it’s visitors, members and volunteers for years to “BOG OFF” and quite frankly, they’ve eventually taken heed in ever increasing numbers.

    Lets just hope this new guy or lady can put that sad decline and mind set, into reverse. If they do, you never know, I might even revisit, Oh and Sellotape my life membership card back together again.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Deckerman – whilst you’re naturally entitled to your views, I do think you are being rather harsh on Crich. Granted, a few years ago I’d have agreed with some of your comments – but this year has seen a genuine turnaround. The Museum has been very friendly, and welcoming, and a hugely enjoyable place to visit. Furthermore, the efforts made to entertain enthusiasts have been very impressive at recent events… I am assuming you weren’t present for the launch of Blackpool cars 236 or 630, or the Glasgow 50 event, but they were excellent and showed that Crich is still very much deserving of its status. I’ll readily admit that the place is far from perfect and there are still a lot of issues to be resolved, but my opinion is that a massive step forward has been made during 2012, and hopefully this has set the tone for the years ahead. In an orgnasitation the size of the Tramway Museum Society there will probably always be a few individuals who let the side down, but there are plenty of nice folk there too and they’re making a really positive difference.

  3. Deckerman says:


    I freely admit that my views were very much based on my last visit which I also admit was previous to this year and so if, as you state, the great and the good at Crich have finally “got their act together” and realised where they have been going wrong, then i for one welcome that and will try to give them the benefit of the doubt and revisit to see if that really is the case.

    Please do not get me wrong. I was never being critical of many of the ground floor staff who as you rightly say, work very hard as mainly volunteers to give visitors a good experience. I was mainly on about managers, supervisors, the board and the like, who seemed to me at least, to regard the tramway as their own private toy that they begrudgingly allowed the great unwashed to sample if absolutely necessary.

    Anyway, I will make a concerted effort to visit again, possibly in 2013 and put to the test, whether the atmosphere has in fact changed for the better, or not.

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