The success of Mallard 75 in attracting over 15,000 visitors to Grantham was a major tribute to all who devoted time, effort, and money to making it happen.
It would be good to think that a similar ‘Grantham Vintage’ event, perhaps based on the town’s rail, industrial and agricultural history - not to mention its political connections - could provide an annual opportunity to both promote the town, and combat the oft heard criticisms of its allegedly rather tardy delights.
However, one has some sympathy with the views expressed in last week’s Journal by Helen Goral, chairman of Grantham Museum. As editor of a national rail enthusiast society magazine, and a member of its management board, learning of the event from the initial press release I had hoped to get my society involved but on checking the South Kesteven District Council website could find no details of who to contact or how to get involved - indeed nothing other than the original press release.
With the press release not appearing until June, and less than three months in which to make things happen, SKDC’s promotion both of the event and its approach to maximising associated opportunities seemed extremely low key.
Consequently, rather than waste time trying to become part of the main Mallard 75 site, and possibly contributing significant material from our archives to the planned activities, we diverted our efforts towards the Grantham Railway Society ‘Rail Show’ the same weekend.
Despite both SKDC and Lincolnshire County Council having active local development and enterprise portfolios, it seems clear that Mallard 75’s speedy and successful realisation owed much more to Henry Cleary and his team of supporters, including rail engineers Carillion, the National Railway Museum, and a commercial magazine publisher, than to either local government or, in particular, local politicians, who, being much closer to both local organisations and facilities in the area, could have been much more proactive and focused in enlisting broader local support for promoting the town they represent.
That said, let’s hope lessons have been learned and that sufficiently interested parties in the town might perhaps come together to achieve an ongoing annual ‘festival’ celebrating both the town’s history, as well as its future potential.