If you want people from Birmingham to visit your beach, take the beach to them! This is exactly what the Great Little Trains of Wales did during 2018 Wales Tourism week in May.
The Fairbourne Railway runs along sand dunes beside the Mawddach estuary in view of the iconic Barmouth bridge; and this scene inspired the ‘pop up’ beach to which people passing through the concourse of Birmingham Grand Central station were invited.
Picture the scene – A couple have been walking the coast path. They have started their picnic of Welsh fayre, then abandoned their boots and gone paddling. Deckchairs, patterned with the local ordnance survey map sit waiting on the beach beside a little seaside station halt. Behind them, a Cambrian Coast line train crosses the bridge. This train has started its journey to the coast in Birmingham – and visitors to the stand were encouraged to do the same.
The Great Little Trains are served by the Community Railways of Wales and this brought all together to promote Wales, its railways, scenery, beaches and easy accessibility by rail. Several thousand people visited the stand between 13th and 19th May, 1200 entering a prize draw. Literature for all lines, accommodation and attractions were snapped up, backed by a concurrent local radio and media campaign. This project received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
This innovative promotion gained commendation at the Community Rail awards in Glasgow last week with the judges praising the collaboration and the extent of engagement.
Big thanks go to all the team involved during the week, especially Sam Hughes and Abi Holmes, who collected for, scavenged for and constructed the beach scene.