At the weekends the railway's Bar Car is staffed by volunteers from the RH&DR Association. I
try to do one turn a month as my way of helping out a little. Here's what's involved ......
The bar car is kept overnight at New Romney and is generally attached to the front of the second departure of the day for Hythe. The actual time depends on which timetable is in operation. In any case the attendant has to turn up at least an hour before departure time in order to prepare.
First job is to get the key, float and cashbag from the booking office. At the same time it's wise to check if there are any special bookings - sometimes the coach is booked by parties and occassionally deviates from the normal timetable. This is handy to know!
Next task is to find the coach and check the stock of drinks and snacks. Then it's off to the cafe to collect whatever's required plus ice, milk, cold white wine and clean cloths, towels and drinking water - the coach has a water tank but this is only used for washing up. When all this has been installed there's usually time for a bacon sarnie and a cuppa before setting off..
The bar car consists of two seating compartments - 8 seats each - separated by a serving area which is about 6 feet long by 4 feet across in which the attendant sits facing the side of the coach. In front of him is a combined sink and twin gas ring setup from a caravan, plus shelves for glasses, tea, coffee and sugar. Behind the attendant's back are shelves with canned and bottled drinks and snacks and also the spirits optics. Then you've got a gas bottle, water containers, wine boxes, ice bucket and assorted junk accomodated in spare corners. Not much room left for the attendant.
The railway charges a 25p per person supplement to travel in the bar car. Not much you might think, but some people baulk at the idea. The attendants first task when some steps in is to advise them of the extra. After that it's just like being in a moving pub. And like any pub it's the customers that make (or break) it. So, when the waether's fine and business is brisk and the passengers are friendly it's great fun. When it's pouring with rain and you're playing host to loads of screaming toddlers intent on grinding their crisps into the carpet - well I think you can guess the feeling. Just remember - it's all in a good cause!!
Two real bugbears. Firstly the lack of space to stretch out in is not conducive to comfort. Secondly, it's difficult to get away from the coach at all - those pesky customers just seem to suit themselves as to when they turn up! Try going to an old fashioned cinema and sitting for 8 hours in one seat - you'll get the idea. Still, it's all in a good cause !! .
Cleaning up starts at Hythe before the last journey back to New Romney. Carpets get brushed out and then we wait for the passengers. Generally there are none so theres plenty of time to dispose of water, milk, ice etc on the run back and do the cashing up. The aim is to be on the way home 3 minutes after getting back to Romney!
Fancy it? If you're an RHDR Association member then get in touch with Andy Nash - his number is in each edition of The Marshlander. If you want to join the Association ask any member of the railway staff and they can get you an application form.
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