The Bluebell Railway's C&W exists because of its volunteers. You could be one too. You don't need any special skills, but if you already have some, so much the better. There are a great variety of jobs to be done, and you will probably start by trying your hand in several different areas. Over a period of time you will find yourself gaining new skills and becoming a valuable member of the C&W.
The department is generally made up of teams of people who have gathered around a particular project, or have found themselves specialising in a certain type of work. We give our time, as little or as much as we wish, regularly each week or a few days a year, depending on our circumstances. However, it has to be said, the more often you come, the more you are likely to get out of it!
The day to day work of the department is co-ordinated by the Carriage Works Manager, and the various project leaders.
The department is a 7 day-a-week operation. Midweek there is a core of full time staff and a good number of volunteers. Seek out our C&W works manager Rowan Millard, or Sheina Foulkes. Midweek projects include an enormous variety of maintenance projects, and the various Midweek Volunteer teams undertake a variety of projects, including repairs to various passenger and goods vehicles, including, on Thursdays, LBSCR Milk/fruit van No.270 and LBSCR Stroudley No.328. A team of retired metal-workers are creating underframes for our Victorian coach bodies.
The seating for our carriages is reconstructed and maintained by our volunteer team of trimmers, trimming being the railway term for the specialised form of upholstery, using material called Moquette, as well as traditional horsehair stuffing. Members of this team are usually about on Tuesdays and Fridays.
At weekends there are usually representatives of all the other volunteer projects about. The following is a rough list of the current project leaders and their work areas. All will be pleased to welcome additional help; just turn up from 10am.
Roger Williams' team (Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays), is now part-way through the overhaul of Bulleid Composite No.5768.
David Wigley leads a team rebuilding the ex-Hastings line Maunsell brake No.3687.
Sheina leads a volunteer project rebuilding LBSCR Stroudley Brake No.949.
Tony Clemments is leading work on the body of LCDR 5-compartment 3rd No.3188, with work taking place on weekends and Wednesday evening.
At weekends there is also a growing group who are undertaking work on our wagons.
Finally, Tom Lawson leads an invaluable group keeping our service stock clean.
Trevor Rapley, leader of the now completed Brighton Bogie First project, glazes a window in the coach body.
As a working volunteer there is very little you "must" do, although we do take safety seriously. To start with you must be a member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (ask at station booking offices) and you must "sign in" in the book kept on the lectern next to the mess room before starting work each time you arrive (and sign out again when you stop work). Both of these are to ensure that you are covered by the railway's insurance.
On starting in the department there is a little paperwork to complete (see the supervisor for the day) to ensure we have details of next of kin, etc., and you will be issued with a copy of the Railway's safety booklet.
As elsewhere on the line, tea drinking is another must, although coffee may be consumed in exceptional circumstances...
There is a comprehensive selection of tools available, but many of us bring our own hand tools, since it saves time and we find that we can work more productively with tools we know and maintain ourselves.
Tea is brewed in the mess room. A discount is available on lunches from the station buffet. This is usually open when trains run, although we avoid using the buffet when trains are in the station and it helps if lunches are ordered early.
If you would like to find out more then join us on a Find out more day - now held monthly.
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