The future of groups like LRRSA - was Re: Book pricing

Frank Stamford

--- In, Eddie Oliver <eoliver@...> wrote:

It is not "rocket science" to observe the relative antiquity of
those of
us who attend LRRSA functions or many other forms of railway-enthusiast
(or even model railway) activities. If we do not attract more younger
people, groups like LRRSA will quite literally die out, ...
That may very well be.

We, amongst other similar organisations, have great difficulty in
attracting young members.

At least we are maintaining our level of membership at around 700,
which is as high as it has ever been, and much healthier than the 390
or thereabouts that it was ten years ago.

One of the reasons we started this Yahoo Group was try to keep up with
changing technology. For the same reason our web site is updated on a
regular basis.

All the railway enthusiast groups are now experiencing what is perhaps
the twilight period of a phenomenon which commenced about 50 years
when they underwent rapid growth as a result of the demise of the
steam locomotive. There have been railway enthusiasts since the dawn
of the steam locomotive, but it only in the 1950s and 1960s that they
saw the need - on a big scale - to band together to achieve their

When I joined the ARHS Vic Div at the age of 14 in 1959 they had about
200 members. Four years previously their membership had been about 60,
during the 1960s it grew to over 1000, and other spin-off
organisations established themselves as well, like Association of
Railway Enthusiasts and LRRSA. What was happening in Victoria was also
happening in the rest of Australia, Europe, America, New Zealand and I
think Japan. Many of the people who came into those groups were teenagers.

Now all those people are near retirement or have retired, and are not
being replaced.

Unfortunately many of them won't go near a computer. When we did a
survey of LRRSA members a few years around 80% said they did not use
computers. Ironically the magazine "Light Railways" which they greatly
valued was absolutely dependent on computers from start to finish in
its production (and in the management of the LRRSA).

One of the reasons we established this Yahoo Group was to try and
attract younger enthusiasts who are comfortable with new technology.

In the longer term a lot of publications like "Light Railways" will
probably be produced on-line. If we were to do that now we could cut
ourselves off from a large group of people who have supported us over
a long period of time, and who have knowledge which is valuable to us.

So we need to keep our feet in both camps, the users of old technology
and the users of new technology.

I have been involved in the LRRSA since it was founded. When it
celebrated 25 years of existence in 1986 I privately reflected on the
fact that during its early years I could not imagine it seeing out 25
years. And in 1986 it was difficult to imagine it surviving to see its
50 years. Well now we are only three and a half years off the 50 year
mark, and much more active than we were in 1986.

So, at least up to the present time, the LRRSA has had the ability to
re-invent itself. The greatest problem in the future is likely to be
finding people for key administrative tasks.



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