NEWS

Time to ‘Meet our Volunteers’! updated 22/5/2020

It takes many different skills and qualities from our volunteers to operate our Railway and Museum. So now is your chance to meet some of them, as we set them some questions.

Today we meet Alastair!

Here’s our top 6 questions we put to him.

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
Had an interest in railways, mainly signalling, from an early age. Visited a number of signal boxes as a teenager in the Dundee area, cycling to them. I joined the Society after retiring, and was able to start volunteering in 2012.

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?

Alastair in action, selling tickets to our visitors.

I am currently the Head of Stations Dept., but mainly carry out Booking Clerk duties. I also do Station Master, Platform and Railtour Steward duties.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?
I arrive and sign in, then check handover paperwork and the float. I determine any special requirements, groups coming that day and staff rosters. All ready to welcome our visitors.

4. What do you like most about your role?
Working with my like minded colleagues, speaking to our passengers and talking to them about our railway and the historical buildings, locos and coaches.

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
My other interests are horses, mainly Clydesdales these days. I visit Blackstone Farm in Ayrshire once or twice a month, where I “foster” a big black horse. I also read history books, other historical fiction and various Scottish railway books.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?
At this time, I am reading more than usual, and also a bit more cooking!

 

Meet Bill!

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
I had just retired ten years ago from a full-time job and I was looking for something to do. I was browsing on the internet and came across B&KR and I thought it would be quite enjoyable to volunteer. So I emailed Fred L (so it’s his fault!) and he suggested I come along to Bo’ness, which I did, where I met with Bryce M who asked me what I would like to do. I was given a guided tour of the site and settled for working on the platform.

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?
From working as a member of the platform staff, I graduated to Booking Clerk after a couple of years and then on to Stationmaster. Which is one of the tasks I perform currently.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?
When I arrive at the station I open up the station and sign in, prepare the Booking Office, open the safe, switch on the electrics and open the toilets. Check the paperwork for any group bookings, find out who is the Responsible Officer (the person in charge of the Railway for that day), in case of any emergency and I also check the staff roster.

Bill in action, aided by his wife, on one of our busy #DayOutWithThomas events.

4. What do you like most about your role?
What I enjoy most is meeting and helping our passengers, hoping they enjoy their time with us, and working with my colleagues.

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I worked in the security industry for 45 years as a service engineer and then as a surveyor, so nothing to do with railways. When I’m not volunteering at Bo’ness, I am a Tour Manager and Steward with SRPS Railtours, aided by my wife. I enjoy a game of indoor bowls in the winter, and I support Glasgow speedway in the summer.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?
I have been getting my fix by answering the phone line for SRPS Railtours, reading railway books and watching old videos and DVDs.

Meet Keith!

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
With my work, Hotels and Catering, I was regularly moved around the country to various locations, arriving in Edinburgh during 1987 and immediately settled in Dunfermline. Wherever I was based I always made a point of visiting the local Heritage Railway, this was when I came across B&KR, although it took me until 2010 to consider volunteering, something I now regret that I did not do it sooner. I have always had an interest in Railways, especially photography, and it was this that made me become more involved from 2012.

Credit Peter Backhouse

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?
My role, or roles, at the B&KR are Guard, along with being a member of the Stations Team.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?
On arrival for my volunteer shift as Guard, my work pattern takes the following routine; sign on and read any traffic notices for that day, connect the water supply to fill the toilet tanks and supply for the Buffet car and place a red lamp on the rear of the train. I then walk the train length, at track level, to check the appropriate safety items. It’s then time to go inside the carriages and walk the train internally, unlocking all doors and checking if there are any faults that would require a door to be put out of use. When the locomotive has arrived on the front of the train, I carry out a full brake test along with the engine crew, ensuring safety for all our passengers and staff. All this complete, we are ready for our first train of the day at 10.45hrs.

4. What do you like most about your role?
The most enjoyable part of the Guards role is the contact with people of all ages, nationalities and abilities and ensuring they are having an enjoyable experience.

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
When not involved with B&KR I enjoy photography, motor sports, especially F1, Stockcar Racing and Football – Hull City – I have supported them for 64 years through thick and thin.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?
Through these difficult times I have managed to get my Railway fix between all the DIY that has had neglect in recent years. I also like going through photographs and trying to remember what different locations looked like from 1957.

 

and now, it’s Jayne.

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?

I’ve always had a love of steam since being a child – we used to visit the National Railway Museum in York a lot as a family and as I grew up my dad and I enjoyed many mainline tours. When I was 14 I was bought my first camera. I photographed the locos and crews at my local East Lancashire Railway. Eventually photographing it wasn’t enough – steam was in my veins and the lure of getting on the footplate was inevitable. At 16 I started volunteering at the ELR as a Cleaner with my goal of becoming a Fireman. I worked hard and spent a lot of my spare time there, but after 4 years of also pursuing my photography career, I had to move away. The irony was that the very thing that got me working with steam, sadly took me away from it. It was a long time before my career gave me the opportunity to get back involved in something which never really left me – but eventually, after going self employed, I had a little bit of freedom to do so. Now in Scotland, my local line is the B&KR. Just over 4 years ago I started volunteering in the steam dept. A year later I was back on the footplate as a trainee Fireman, finally realising my dream and passing out in 2018.

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?

Jayne with Driver George and fellow Fireman Tim in front of steam loco NCB No. 19.

I work in the Steam Department – on most Mondays I travel the hour’s journey from the Borders to help out – usually in the museum, keeping the exhibits in tip top condition. If I am not in there, then, in the better weather I am in the steam sheds, helping out with whatever needs doing on our home fleet. More often than not this has been on the 8F tender that we have been working on for a good few years now! I am also a Fireman, so I am lucky enough to get rostered on the footplate when possible.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?

I arrive very early, around 06.00 at the steam sheds, sign on and check the noticeboard for any updates. Once I am happy, my attention then turns to the loco that I am on that day. It needs to be checked and prepped ready for the day ahead. This involves checking over certain parts of the loco to make sure it is in safe working order before I can put a fire in it, cleaning out the firebox, smokebox and ashpan and lighting up. I report to the driver who is ultimately responsible for the loco and has his own safety checks and prep to do. Once the fire has got going, it is good practice to give the rest of the loco a good clean so that it can be nice and shiny for it’s days work. I think it is so important for our passengers to see how much we care for our fleet and it gives me an enormous sense of pride to know that our loco is looking its best for it’s duties.

4. What do you like most about your role?

There are so many aspects of my role that I enjoy and I think because I had to wait such a long time to get where I am, I appreciate it that little bit more. I get a lot of satisfaction from being the person responsible for creating the power needed so the driver can do his job. It’s teamwork in the best possible sense. It is a very physical job and as such is very rewarding. I love having the responsibility of what I do but ultimately I love steam and there is nothing better than putting a round on, having a minute’s breather and sticking my head out of the cab window and watching and listening to the loco work. Everything is so absorbing – the sights, the smells and the sounds. I don’t stop smiling all day, regardless of how dirty I get! I love meeting the passengers and chatting to them, a lot have their own stories to tell. However, as a mum, the best bit is seeing the look on kids faces as we arrive at the station. It is magic and I can completely relate to their excitement! I have ambitions as a Fireman. Obviously one day I would like to be a driver, but I am in no rush. For now, I am enjoying the journey of a Fireman and seeing where it takes me. At this moment it’s the fun part of the job and regardless of how hard it is to get up at 04.00hrs – it is worth every moment once that loco is out doing what it is designed to do, knowing that as a team the driver and I are doing that. I love being around like minded people at Bo’ness. There are a lot of people there who really inspire me and I count myself very lucky to be in such a privileged position to learn from them.

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

I am a wife and a mum of two (three if you count our choccy lab!). I run my own business along with my husband, Vanilla Moon Photography. Mainly specialising in family portraits, weddings etc. I have other hobbies outside of steam, although none of them come close! I keep myself very physically fit – I like to climb, I do yoga, pole dancing, running, hiking and mountain biking. I love being outdoors and combine many of my activities with that. I love music, drawing and painting, too – though I don’t usually get much time for that.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?

It’s been very hard to get my railway fix at home – I keep looking at my poor shovel, which was an amazing gift from a treasured friend when I passed out as Fireman. It is sat in the corner and has not been used in a long time, but it’s time will come again! I keep in touch with volunteers that I work with across the UK and we share stories. I read books and I have finally got round to working on a steam pencil drawing that I started years ago! I have some memorabilia that I am finally getting round to putting up on the walls – so steam is never far away, it is just in a different context of what I am used to. I am sure it wont be too much longer before I am getting my hands dirty again – and if I can wait a gap of over twenty years, then this little wait is nothing.

 

and now, we have Chris.

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
My Dad got me into Railways at a young age; you could say it’s in my blood. I remember getting a footplate trip on No.19 when I was about 4 years old and the crew that day – Ron Hill & the late John Burnie, both said to me if I came back when I was older they would show me how it all worked. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to start volunteering and being involved with steam engines. This year marks 20 years since I first started volunteering at Bo’ness and although I am not able to volunteer as much as I used to, I still very much enjoy it when I can.

Chris, hard at work, driving a very important train.
Photo credit: I. Lothian

 

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?
Steam Locomotive Driver.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?
I arrive for duty around 07.30hrs. I check-in with my Fireman to ensure everything is ok. I walk into the shed and sign on/read the operating notices applicable for that day, usually followed by a cup of tea before I start thinking about getting changed and preparing the loco for the day’s service.

4. What do you like most about your role?
The enjoyment factor of being able to contribute something to the safe operation of the Railway. B&KR has given me great opportunities over the years to experience things that I couldn’t do anywhere else. When you’re on the loco and it’s just you and the Fireman, and everything is on form, the loco is performing & sounding well, the weather is great, your Fireman is on the ball with his or her duties, you just know you are going to have a great day; that feeling is hard to beat!

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
My other hobbies while away from Bo’ness include walking my dog, going to music gigs with my wife, going for a drink with my friends and car detailing.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?
I get my railway “fix” daily as I work for ScotRail as an Engineer at Haymarket Depot!

Ever thought about joining us? We are always looking for new members to join the Railway. Whilst not able to volunteer at the moment, that day will return! More info here.