In haleys’ latest client interview, we spoke to co-founder of Railcam, Adrian Bradshaw.
Railcam UK have been broadcasting live camera feeds from the side of railway lines since 2009.
Now having in excess of 70 cameras across the United Kingdom and over 75,000 followers across social media, the Railcam service has been utilised heavily in the past 12 months.
Since March last year, the public have been asked to stay home to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.
As a result of this, rail enthusiasts have been unable to go to their favourite haunts in order to do their hobby.
“It has been a bad year for just about everything, but not Railcam,” Adrian Bradshaw said. “We have found that, generally speaking, that existing members were using their membership more and managed to get more people signing up for the same reasons.
“They couldn’t indulge their hobby in real life, so went down the virtual option with us. More importantly, we have got a really good social media presence and a couple of guys who have been running that for a few years now and launched a thing called #SpottingFromHome on Twitter and that went absolutely bezerk.
“We found that train operating companies like Network Rail and even the British Transport Police were getting behind it because it was in everybody’s interests. They don’t want rail enthusasts on the platform for safety reasons.
“That did us no harm at all. We have relaunched that campaign with the current lockdown in a smaller way. The downside Is that the usual activities that we have of getting out there and surveying sites, installing cameras and all the rest of it has been pretty difficult to do.”
Starting off with a camera at Euxton, just south of Preston, Railcam have cameras covering both Mainline and Heritage railways.
Currently broadcasting live from mainline railways Altrincham, Bedford, Cramlington, Crewe, Peterborough, Preston, York, Barking, Beattock, Bolton le Sands, Bushbury Junction, Camden Junction, Chesterfield, Clitheroe, Dagenham, Doncaster, Farington Junction, Grateley, Horten-in-Ribblesdale, Kirkby Stepehn, Leyland, Newbury, Ribblehead, Sanquhar, Shrewsbury, Slough, St Bees, Thankerton, Todmorden, Uphall and Watford Junction.
Also having cameras at Llangollen Railway, Nene Valley Railway, Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, South Devon Railway, Spa Valley Railway, Swanage Railway, Talyllyn Railway and the West Somerset Railway for spotters to view heritage railways.
Working alongside Network Rail and other rail authorities, Railcam offer a subscription service to users, allowing them to contribute to the running of the service, as well as the installation of more cameras has allowed the business to be a success.
Adrian’s own trainspotting journey started as a teenager in Blackrod, where he would regularly make the journey to Preston Train Station in order to see the comings and goings in Lancashire.
Growing out of that phase, Adrian returned to the hobby following his son’s interest in Thomas the Tank Engine.
Launching Preston Station Past & Present, that website hosted the first live camera before the demand for more feeds led to Railcam receiving its own address.
Following an influx of interest in the service, Adrian and the rest of the businesses founders found it necessary to enlist the help of haleys in order to operate the business alongside their full-time jobs.
“It became blatantly obvious that we needed some help,” Adrian said. “Everybody was doing what they could in their spare time and that is still largely the case. When we were trying to divide up the work, accounting and that side of things was not any of our specialties and had complexities that we couldn’t deal with, even the volumes of transactions that we were dealing with, it just became too much for us.
“So, we had a hunt around for a local firm that we could go and talk to and haleys was just the result of a Google search as we wanted help on the accountancy side and advice on how to develop and build the company, which we have had.
“Having both aspects of that covered in one company was helpful and when we hit the VAT threshold, for instance, a couple of years ago we wouldn’t have had a clue what to do and having somebody that could deal with that has been essential. We couldn’t carry on running without that.”
Director Martin Cuerden said “It’s being great working with Railcam. They’ve created a superb cloud based business that has boomed during lock-down. What started off as a hobby has turned into a large business requiring substantial effort and resources to maintain and grow the site. It’s wonderful to see businesses succeed and it’s a great site for rail enthusiasts to enjoy their passion especially during the long periods of lockdown’.