Government minister to address HRA conference

The UK Government minister responsible for heritage has been confirmed as a headline speaker for the Heritage Railway Association’s autumn conference.

Parliamentary under secretary for state for arts and heritage, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, is to speak at the two-day event in Newcastle on November 7 and 8. Lord Parkinson, who has engaged enthusiastically with the heritage rail community, has been a key figure in the Department for Culture Media and Sport since 2021.

Also now confirmed as a speaker is Chloe Keen, head of Involvement and Experiences at the National Trust. Volunteering has been a key part of the National Trust since 1895 and the organisation has over 44,000 volunteers. Chloe will be talking about engaging and developing volunteers, alongside the National Trust’s ‘volunteer charter’.

They join a high-profile line-up of confirmed presentations covering everything from converting steam locomotives for oil firing to the latest curatorial thinking for museums. Speakers include representatives from Minnesota-based locomotive engineering firm FMW Solutions, Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, the National Railway Museum, Crich Tramway Village and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Agendas for both days, including a full list of speakers, are available here.

Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: "This lineup – with more still to be announced - is one of the most wide-ranging we’ve ever seen for a HRA conference. We’ve deliberately expanded our sights to best practice in other parts of the heritage sector alongside taking in the political landscape and how that is impacting our members.

“We’re going to be hearing the very latest thinking and shining a spotlight on some of the expertise and experience that can help us adapt and overcome the many challenges facing heritage rail right now. It’s going to be a ‘must do’ conference for every heritage railway manager, director or trustee.”

Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the founding of pioneering locomotive manufacturers Robert Stephenson & Co, the event is being held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The two-day conference is being held at the Crowne Plaza hotel, on Forth Street, within sight of where locomotives like Locomotion and Rocket were built., The venue is also conveniently located for Newcastle Central railway station.

Tickets for the event are available to purchase online

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Image - Official portrait.