The heritage railway movement might use rails but it depends on people. People from all walks of life who willingly give some of their time to make things happen. There are the obvious things that have to be done: trains to be driven, fares collected and teas dispensed. Looking a little deeper the locomotives, rolling stock and track all have to be maintained. Peel back yet another layer and the tasks become somewhat less glamorous but still need to be done.
Having an expertise to bring to a heritage railway can be a great asset. Just as valuable is a ‘can do’ attitude, a willingness to learn new skills and the humility to be prepared to do a share of the unseen tasks.
A few weeks ago a Church of England vicar and a former telecommunications consultant were to be found checking the drainage pipes and culverts that pass under the trackbed of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.
Inside Looking Out
A view from within the large culvert beneath the track on Dolarddyn Bank just above White Bridge. The water level was sufficiently low to be able to enter the culvert from the upstream end without getting seriously wet. As a former caver/mine explorer confined spaces do not bother me.
There is quite a deep pool here. Wellies would not have been sufficient to avoid wet feet.
Readers may well wonder at the apparent strange combination of skills in this micro-team and how come they got landed with this task. So, the Reverend Ryk is on his third career. The previous one was as a lecturer in civil engineering specialising in railway permanent way. As for your author, in the past I have been involved with heritage railway trackwork, and currently during the winter months get involved with vegetation management and have been known to un-bung a drain or two.
A drain on Golfa Bank near Black Mill cottages cleared 26 November 2016
Ryk and I did a similar survey two years ago. This time around we had some additional objectives: To physically tag the culverts and GPS tag them. The physical tagging was straight forwards and involved small metal tags stamped with a serial number. How well (precise) the GPS tagging went has yet to be determined. The longer term aim of this being that a people could be accurately dispatched to look at a drain and not have to spend ages thrashing around in the undergrowth trying to locate it.
Obvious And Easy To Find
You Need To Know Where To Look And What To Look For
If You Didn’t Already Know This One Existed …..
Near Mile Post 2 – A blocked pipe part way up the cutting side obscured by grass & weeds
Joan Approaching Pussy Bridge with Y Golfa In The Background
A bonus of tasks like this is the opportunity to get some photos from normally inaccessible locations.
Joan Climbing Golfa Bank
This photo was taken while checking out a drain under the embankment near to Nant Y Caws.
To round off …. if you already volunteer on a heritage railway or some other organisation here is a challenge – try something new – one of those tasks that does not mean being part of the cast that the public see. Perhaps even something that means working with a different bunch of folk – even out of your comfort zone.
If you aren’t a volunteer already – well you are missing something – a great chance to learn new skills and do something for the heritage railway movement.
If you would like to volunteer on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway then please follow this link. We are only just across the border into Wales and within a couple of hours driving of several million of people.