Friday, 26 October 2012

4472 Restoration Report available

NRM press release about 4472 Flying Scotsman restoration report now available. Until the new director and a new working group have reviewed this, no date for a return to steam will be set and that is no date set for the rest of 2011. To source the report it will be sent on email to .
or go on line to .

As I make my way through the report I may add relevant paragraphs in here:
"For much of the time, project management was ineffectual or non-existent. Since the project started, half a dozen different people have been in charge, few of whom had experience of managing a £2m engineering project. It has not been possible to find proper scope or planning documentation for the project."  page 2.

"Our Contract Manager worked very hard putting a provisional programme for repair together with Riley and Son. He was put under great pressure from the Director to deliver the programme and costs within a few days. Unfortunately this provisional information was then cast as the final version of the programme and the Museum had again set a deadline for completion without consideration being given to further defects being found and the complexity of the loco's restoration" page 18 talking about after June 2010.

"It has not been possible to discover any original programme for carrying out the repair that justifies either the published timescale or the budget." page 27.

Something the report does not undertake (fairly) is to link the examination of 4472 and other matters which have been raised this summer where museum process has been questioned.For instance how Railfest was managed and what lay behind the Daily Telegraph nepotism story, or the misuse of Prince William. It would be most instructive to make these comparisons and to see if a common thread can be found.

Flying Scotman's way forward is in the accompanying press release - not the report "Acting upon these recommendations, the National Railway Museum has appointed the railway engineering consultancy firm, First Class Partnerships, to provide independent advice on the most effective approach to completing the final stage of the restoration project".

My own summary of this report into the restoration of Flying Scotsman by the National Railway Museum "I reason that one of my main takes from this report goes as follows. As a museum curator I was always taught to document a restoration. As a local authority officer, the importance of proper contract management was stressed to me. My reading of the report is that on both these fundamental subjects, the museum completely failed (and if you think this is an unfair reading of the report please say so). I suspect that if this report is not buried it will become a milestone in museum history, of this museum and of the profession as a whole." The report does make recommendations for the future and does note how the museum has already sought to improve its practice. It really now needs a year or so to see if it can embed this thinking throughout its practice.

Yet another way of looking at all this is that it is possibly the ultimate example of a museum mismatching ambition and ability/resource. I reckon this is endemic to museums because everyone thinks running museums must be fun. Everyone is full of good ideas for what can be done and does not produce resource. A very good word in a curator's vocabulary should be NO.

The wider press is picking up the report. As I can I will add links 

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