Tramway Museum Society, Derbyshire, 2017-2018

The Tramway Museum Society is a self-sustaining organisation that has successfully developed and managed the National Tramway Museum in Crich, Derbyshire. The Tramway Museum is a respected, independent and financially sound museum and visitor attraction that has successfully navigated significant changes over its history. 

Shared Assets were commissioned by the Tramway Museum Society in 2017-2018 to review the governance system and constitution of the organisation. The review was carried out in order to enable the society to build on its successes and maximise its resilience, adaptability and entrepreneurialism. This work was part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project.

Three old-fashioned British trams filled with people on tramlines
Image: Crich Tramway Village.

Changes to the organisation required the approval and support of a majority of the membership and it was vital that Shared Assets’ approach was a collaborative one that engaged with, listened to, and informed the membership. The review aimed to ensure that members not only recognised clear benefits from any changes to the society, but were able to actively support and implement them.

Shared Assets undertook a range of interviews and meetings with staff and board members, as well as an extensive programme of regional workshops with members across the UK. Volunteers and staff were mentored and trained to deliver focus groups, face-to-face interviews and surveys to gather effective information to inform the long-term strategy and funding of the Museum Society.

Challenges included an ageing membership and audience, and a requirement to attract a new, younger and more diverse membership. The Museum’s collection, and the story that it tells, needed to be relevant to a new generation of visitors. Challenging economic circumstances, and changes to the funding environment, meant that the organisation faced significant financial challenges which the Society needed to address.

A detailed process of engaging staff, board members and members identified a range of ways in which the governance of the organisation could be improved in order to counter those challenges. A five-year business plan and 10-year strategy were produced using the audience research carried out by Shared Assets, centralising the long-term aims of resilience and sustainability for this community-facing organisation.

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