Kantar have measured how many people in the UK claim to regularly read topics such as classic cars, steam trains, heritage marine and historic aircraft.
What relevance will heritage transport, once the pride of Britain, likely have in the future?
It is the dawn of a new age of mobility - with all new vehicles soon to have no engines, gearboxes etc. - or shortly thereafter perhaps - no steering wheels - to guide their occupants.
What areas of heritage transport still float boats? When asked to name a famous racing driver, are Gen X'ers more likely to respond "Super Mario" than "Lewis Hamilton"? Original peeling paint, or resto-mod? How much do different demographics care about preservation, other than their own? Who actually goes to transport museums these days? And, in this article, who reads about all this stuff?
To help answer those sorts of queries, the Federation Skills Trust, a registered charity concerned with skills training in heritage engineering fields - classic vehicle mechanics and traditional coach builders for example - commissioned Kantar to ask a representative sample of 1,232 British adults a series of questions.
These national opinion poll results will be the subject of a series of posts over the coming weeks which we hope will inform the debate about the likely relevance of mobile heritage in the years to come.
But let's start with who reads about these things on a regular basis?
Well, nearly 3 million claim to do according to the poll - roughly 6 % of the UK adult population of 51.9 million.
And they are not predominantly those well-healed greybeards reading about pre-war Alfa Romeos that first might come to mind:
It seems - by an order of almost twice - that the biggest consumers of content around heritage transport are in the 25-34 age group, so called "Millennials".
This is highly encouraging in that, read in conjunction with some of the other questions asked, younger people continue to be engaged with the trains, planes, boats and automobiles that we love.
But how are younger generations satiating those interests? Is it via social channels such as Instagram which can offer only more superficial levels of content? Or are they devouring knowledge from more detailed sources on YouTube or print? Those issues weren't covered in this omnibus survey.
Consistently throughout this work, it is Generation X - those aged 45-54 here - who are the least engaged. Whether that is demographic - that time in life is very busy with little free time for hobbies - or generational (the Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in 1985 when this cohort was aged between 9 and 18) is unclear. We aim to repeat this study every five years which should at least partially answer that question.
In the next article:
We will look at which of the four sectors of heritage transport do people have an interest in - and importantly, for one sector at least - the age profiles of those aficionados.
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