Further to my Shed Notice on 2nd February, I’m pleased to announce that a venue for the 2024 National Garden Railway Show has been selected and a contract signed.  The show will return to Hall 2 at the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh, near Coventry, on Saturday 27th April 2024.

Six venues were evaluated both in terms of the facilities that they offered and the number of members, as at January 2023, that lived within a two-and-a-half-hour drive of the venue.  Hall 2 at the NAEC is, at 4,500 square meters, within a few square metres of the Main Hall at the Peterborough Arena.  It has an attached, dedicated catering area, Stroller’s Restaurant, big enough to accommodate 200 visitors.  A light and airy atrium provides access to the restaurant, toilets and main hall and will be used for ticket sales/verification before visitors access the main hall.  The main hall has vehicular access, so helpful during setup and tear down.  There is a hotel and further restaurant onsite, in easy walking distance of Hall 2.  The site also has abundant free parking.  We plan to provide a shuttle bus from Coventry station, subject to demand for the equivalent facility at this year’s show demonstrating a continuing need.

The venues evaluated captured between 47% and 64% of members in a two-and-a-half-hour driving time envelope.  The two with the highest capture rate, both 64%, are sadly unsuitable for different reasons.  The NAEC at Stoneleigh captures 61% of members in the drive time envelope, the second highest in our evaluation.  This improves slightly on 58% for the Arena at Peterborough.  Alan Regan, who performed the evaluations, will in the May issue of SMT elaborate on the selection criteria and process and share the data which the Board used to make their decision.

The 2024 show will be quite different to the eleven shows we’ve held at the Peterborough Arena.  All exhibits and attractions will be in the same hall, including MoTY, Member to Member Sales and the Grand Draw.  The AGM will be held in a large ,dedicated space off the main hall, so that we can confirm eligibility to vote at the AGM and not be disturbed by noise from the main hall.  The layout of the NAEC is different to the Arena but Hall Planner Gary Smith has already confirmed that we can get all the established components of our show into the space available.

The move to the NAEC opens a new chapter in the long history of the Association’s annual large gatherings.  I look forward to welcoming you to our new look show in 2024.

Alan Finch, Chairman