NEWS

Time to ‘Meet our Volunteers’! updated 28/6/2020

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 Ken, one of our platform volunteers.

Q1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
I started volunteering at the start of the 2017 season. I had volunteered as a steward at a Day Out With Thomas event the previous September and Bill Shannon had suggested I volunteer at the station. I retired a few years earlier and found I was sitting around the house doing very little. I had always been interested in railways from a young age and it seemed an ideal solution and I have enjoyed it ever since.

Q2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR/SRPS?
My role at B&KR is Platform Staff at the station.

Q3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?

My usual routine at the station is as follows:

Check the litter bins to see if any require to be emptied. Check the toilets to see if everything is in order i.e. toilet rolls, paper towels and soap. Open up the Waiting Room and put on the DVD with the story of Wormit and the Tay Bridge disaster. Check to see if there are any group bookings due that day and if there are get the signs ready and place in carriages on the appropriate train. Check the platform is tidy and safe for the public. Greet the public and answer any questions they may have. Help passengers onto the train and make sure all doors are properly closed. Assist the Station Master in the despatch of the train. Welcome passengers back from their journey and assist them off the train. At the end of the day tidy up the station i.e. bins, toilets etc and lock gates and toilets.
Q4. What do you like most about your role and #OurSRPS?
I think the part I like most about the role is dealing with the public, especially answering the kids’ questions and hearing the older passengers reminisce about their experiences on the days of steam. Also the the camaraderie and the craic with the other station staff.
Q5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I am now retired but I used to work in computing, latterly being a Quality Manager. When I am not volunteering I enjoy photography, reading, travelling and attending Fir Park to watch #Motherwell.
Q6. Recently we have all been doing our bit to #StayHomeSaveLives. How have you been getting your railway ‘fix’?
To get my railway fix during lockdown? I am on YouTube watching cab rides from all over the world.

David is a Diesel Driver:

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

Q1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?

I was a ship’s engineer in the Merchant Navy working on steam turbine tankers. I wanted something related to steam. I have railway blood in me from both sides of the family and salt from my father. I told my maternal grandfather (retired steam driver) I was involved with steam preservation. He told me I was daft as it was a dirty job. I went round in circles looking for the SRPS, aka The Midden, on Wallace Street, Falkirk. From there I went to the fledgling B&KR at Bo’ness and stayed. That was 1980. I have spent a lot of my time working on or associated with track maintenance. The rest with the Diesel Dept.

Q2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?

I am both a Diesel Driver and Train Guard. I am passed out on the forklift, other plant and allowed to practice my trade as an electrician.

Q3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?

As Driver, I want to know when my train will be leaving. As I am normally on the Monday P-Way Works Train, that usually means having to do a shunt to pick up materials and/or make up my train.
If I work a passenger train, who is joining me in the cab and what can I use? The diesel crew normally work the last passenger train of the day. That doesn’t mean I can turn up 30 minutes to departure time, no. I arrive in the morning prior to the first train departure time in case anything were to happen to the steam locomotive. Incidents to the steam loco have only happened when I have been train guard. As Train Guard, I arrive about 1.5 hours before departure to check over and prepare my train, write up logs, talk to the station staff and locomotive crew. If I’m not rostered for anything, I can be found in the Diesel Shed. Currently I have been making wooden signs for the track side; whistle boards and gradient markers.

Q4. What do you like most about your role?

Showing off. Sharing knowledge. Walking visitors around the exhibition. I have a love of all things steam, drive diesels and have a steam locomotive car number plate. North British, of course!

Q5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

I am a multi-skilled engineer at the AG Barr factory, Cumbernauld, maintaining and repairing the production machinery. My other hobby is radio controlled scale model boats and land craft. Inverleith park model boat pond, Edinburgh, is where I would like to be on a Sunday. Work currently prevents that!

Q6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we have all been staying at home?

YOU may have been at home; I have still beeen working, as a key worker.

John is a signalman, guard and Director of the SRPS:

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
When living in England I had volunteered at the Llangollen Steam Railway. 41 years ago I moved to Scotland to work and met Bill Peddie, SRPS Chairman, on a train. We sat opposite each other and got talking. He told me he was driving a pug on the embryo Bo’ness Railway the following weekend, but did not have a fireman and asked me to join him – which I did. I come from a railway family and briefly worked at Cardiff station in the 1960s. Railways have always been my hobby.

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

Currently I do many jobs on the B&KR, including Signalman, Responsible Officer, On Call, Guard and Guards Examiner, and Operations Manager, along with Chairman of our Railway Management Group and meeting new volunteers to introduce them to the many jobs they might like to get involved in.

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

When I arrive for a duty shift in the Signal Box the first task is to check the Notice Boards for any special instructions and then introduce myself to other volunteers on duty. I then check that all the equipment in the Signal Box is in working order and that I have telephone communication with the rostered guard. If all is in order I then look forward to a peaceful day signalling trains and chatting between times to visitors. On cold days a nice coal fire in the Box keeps me warm and there is usually time between trains to keep up to date with the railway rules and read a book.

4. What do you like most about your role?

When on duty as Signalman one of the nice things is meeting visitors and between trains showing them the working of the Signal Box and explaining the history of the SRPS and how the railways worked in the days of steam.

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

I am now well into my retirement years having worked for 40 years, first as a Methodist Minister and then in the field of homelessness and housing. The later part of my working life was very much dealing with housing policy in Edinburgh, across Scotland and throughout the European Union as well as afar afield as India, Australia and the USA. Outwith the SRPS, I like to travel to distant and lesser visited parts of the world. In the Autumn of 2019 I enjoyed a ride on the Yangon suburban railway in Myanmar where you can sit in the open doorway of the carriage and dangle your legs outside while ambling along at 10 mph. When at home my O gauge garden railway takes up much of my time.

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

While I have been confined to home my railway interest is kept up by my railway modelling and keeping in touch with friends all over the world by email along with reading historical railway books and articles

 

Here’s Angus from our Operations Department.

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

I have always been fascinated with railways, starting with my Hornby O Gauge clockwork trains and eventually inheriting my brother Tony’s Hornby Dublo 3-rail train set. Happy hours were spent playing on the old railway structures in and around Portpatrick (where I was brought up), including the tunnels under the station site, and later cycling around the main line railway locations in Wigtownshire.

When I moved from Galloway to Glasgow to study at the University, I started volunteering with the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at its then Falkirk Depot, where I enjoyed the company of like-minded railway enthusiasts who were determined to preserve some of the rapidly disappearing and changing Scottish railway scene.

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

One of my roles with the SRPS is Responsible Officer (RO) – an on-site RO is rostered whenever passenger trains operate on the B&KR, including regular passenger services, special events and galas, and film/photo shoots. The RO has absolute authority for the safe operation of the railway throughout their period of duty.

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

After checking the Notice Boards for operational notices and collecting the RO’s mobile phone, I introduce myself to all the rostered operational staff as soon as possible, to aid communications, and to confirm their attendance and their fitness for duty. At the same time, I can determine whether there are any issues that might affect the safe operation of the railway or affect train services, such as faulty rolling stock or equipment. Everything culminates with the safe despatch of the first train, hopefully on time – at which point I can relax and undertake other duties as long as I can be easily contacted to handle any subsequent issues or incidents.

4. What do you like most about your role?

Watching today’s volunteers recreating the sights, sounds & smells of our railway heritage – and meeting happy customers who are either remembering railways from their early years or discovering railway heritage for the first time.

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

Volunteering for the SRPS takes up a significant amount of my time in retirement from paid employment, but I also look after an independent Scottish Charitable Trust that supports charitable, benevolent or educational purposes associated with Galloway; other hobbies include gardening and photography.

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

Although the Bo’ness site is in lockdown, I continue to undertake administrative duties for the railway from home, including assessment of online exam papers for staff competencies such as Personal Track Safety and Rule Book, and checking CCTV. The Internet and railway magazines provide a wealth of recent and historic railway experiences, not to mention keeping in touch with railway colleagues.

It’s Andrew from our Civil Engineering (P-Way) Dept.

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

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
I took early retirement from Network Rail in 2016 and was looking to get involved with something practical and linked in with my lifelong interest in railways.

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?
I am the Head of Civil Engineering Dept.

3. You arrive for your volunteering shift. What’s your usual routine?
I arrive 30 minutes early for a cup of tea in the bothy! If it’s a Monday, I hope for a good turnout (most track components are heavy and many hands make for light work. With eight to twelve people we can manage most of what we have to do). If it’s not a Monday, I’m usually there for lighter work or some form of line walk. So it’s a case of getting the right tools together and onto the train if the work is up the line. Speaking to the train crew means they know where they will expect to see me and they can tell me where any new bumps have appeared. Steam footplate crews in particular will feel track defects far more than I would riding in the passenger coaches. If I am well organised I will finish in a time and place that suits the last train, failing which it will be a walk back to the Yard.

4. What do you like most about your role?
The enthusiasm of the team is really quite special. We come from many different walks of life but have a real common interest in keeping the Railway going. This often means us learning new skills and I am still surprised at times by what we manage to achieve. Plus, there never seems to be a shortage of tales to tell when we get a chance to sit down and share them!

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I have enjoyed hill walking for many years and have a long term project of completing the Cape Wrath Trail (I am currently about half way). There are a few DIY projects on the go as well and if the list grows too short my better half is pretty good at coming up with suggestions.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we have all been staying at home?
There has actually been a requirement to keep the line walked during #lockdown – we have a duty of care to the public to make sure our drains don’t flood onto their property, for example, and that there is no serious damage or theft of our lineside infrastructure. Without a train service, this involves a 12 mile round walk from my home to one end of the line and then back home from the other. So far the weather has been kind, I do hope it continues!

Time to meet Geoff.

1. What made you start volunteering and how long have you done so?
I had visited B&KR a number of times. I retired in March 2019 and because of my love of railways, and especially heritage, I volunteered and started in April 2019.

2. What is your voluntary role at B&KR?
My role at Bo’ness is Platform Duties; assisting my colleagues in the safe despatch of trains. Also perform background duties such as cleaning and emptying the refuse bins, watering the plants and maintain the cleaning stock in the toilets.

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

On arrival at Bo’ness I sign in for duty on the staff sign in board. I then have a discussion with the Station Master on details of any tours or customers requiring help. If not already done, I open the toilets then making sure the entrance gates and doors on platform are open. Numbers are collated for afternoon teas and any carriages that require to be reserved then notices are attached to the windows of those carriages to ensure our visitors know where to go.

4. What do you like most about your role?
Meeting people, being a member of a team, able to answer any questions that may arise, dealing with any instances that may occur; I enjoy the varied days as no two days are the same!

5. Tell us a bit about you? What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I enjoy walking as what with the situation just now the buses are sparse, so walking on the cycle paths in the area. I’m a carer for my wife so it’s making sure her needs are attended to and looking after our two cats and also doing the odd bit of housework and other bits and pieces.

6. How do you get your railway ‘fix’ whilst we are all staying at home?
I watch YouTube videos featuring cab rides in various parts of the world. Also I hope to be able to eventually build a model railway, so lots of videos to be watched on this. I take occasional trips to Edinburgh Waverley station when permitted on my daily walk to watch the trains and lastly, I watch the various videos of Bo’ness so I am ready to return whenever that will be.

Meet Alastair!

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.