Make a difference, make some memories and have FUN!
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Wensleydale Railway. Without their efforts, there would be nothing for our thousands of visitors to ride on and see the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. Our dedicated volunteers come from all walks of life with many different skills; some like to get their hands dirty and others do not. That is up to you!
It is an exciting place to work with never a dull moment! Whether you are passionate about heritage, want to learn new skills, are looking to make a difference and make new friends along the way, there is a rewarding role for you at the railway.
Volunteers can either give a regular amount of time each week / month or work on an ad hoc basis to fit with their other commitments. Volunteers of all ages are very welcome but must be at least 18 years old.
There are many different areas on the railway where you can get involved:
Station Support Groups
Each of our five stations (Scruton, Leeming Bar, Bedale, Finghall and Leyburn) have a Station Support Group who help maintain and improve the standard of the station. This can include painting, carpentry, gardening, building and fencing repairs. Additionally they ensure the heritage aspects of each station are recognised and promoted.
Direct Works Group
The Direct Works Group maintain non-station buildings such as our buildings, platforms, bridges, line side fencing and drains along 22 miles of line. Volunteers with practical, civil engineering, building, carpentry or electrical experience are most welcome!
Vegetation Management Group
This team work every week, managing and maintaining the never-ending growth of trees and plants along 22 miles of track. No dead-heading of flowers here – qualified chainsaw operators, strimmers, gardeners and bonfire lovers are all welcome. Volunteers even get a baked potato for lunch!
Maintenance and carriage restoration
This team ensures the preservation, refurbishment and maintenance of the diesel locomotives and rolling stock so that they are fit for purpose and ready to run. Basic engineering skills are required for some jobs but so are painting, carpentry, electrical and upholstery skills or you can come and learn new skills. There is huge job satisfaction when the carriage you have been restoring returns to service on the line full of appreciative passengers.
Living History Interpreters
Get involved as a tour guide at one of our heritage stations. You can get involved with at the beautifully restored Edwardian 1910s station at Scruton where volunteers are dressed in period costume or the Roaring 1920s at Leeming Bar where guides also where heritage costume. Alternatively if you prefer something a little more “modern,” Bedale station is 1930s or Finghall War Time 1940s.
Training/Health and Safety
It’s critical to making sure that everyone is properly trained and up to date with training to undertake their job safely and effectively on the railway. All training is administrated and arranged by this team. It ranges from Induction and Personal Railway Safety to Crossing Keeping and Guarding exams.
Running shops and buffets at our stations and on trains giving us the chance to raise much needed income from selling tickets, refreshments, souvenirs and books. You will need to have good customer skills and a sense of humour is essential!
The daily running of the railway is the responsibility of the Operations Department with volunteer guards, drivers, level crossing keepers, travelling ticket inspectors and signallers. All of these roles are safety critical and significant training with exams is required along with a medical to ensure you’re fit and health. Also, most of these roles are in the public eye so good communication and interpersonal skills with colleagues and the public are essential along with a smart personal appearance.
Marketing, Fundraising and Events
Getting the word out about what we do via various media and social media channels is vital to ensuring the railway’s continued operation. We run appeals to fund specific projects and also encourage membership of the Trust. In addition to online marketing and fundraising, we attend local annual events such as the Wensleydale Show and Hunton Steam Gathering. As well as attending local events, we also run our own such as Tea Trains, Membership Trains, The Wensleyale Festival and together with an events management company, the Polar Express.
There is plenty of administration to be done behind the scenes of the railway. This ranges from dealing with public enquiries – online, face-to-face, phone or mail, group bookings; special events or working in the office.
Our Permanent Way team carry out a track renewal programme replacing worn out sleepers, rail and ballast to keep the track safe for our trains to run on. With 22 miles of track to maintain, this is seemingly never ending and this physical role requires good health and fitness.
How many volunteers are there?
At the last count we had over 425 volunteers. Yes, really!
Do I need previous experience?
Not at all. Most of our volunteers have no previous experience of working on a railway when they arrive. In most cases we will train new volunteers by having them work alongside existing volunteers. However, it’s always useful to know of any transferable skills you may have, matter how weird and wonderful.
Are there any age limits?
Our volunteers range from 18 years to the over eighties. Older people can carry on volunteering to any age provided they are fit enough and can do the work safely.
How much time do I have to give?
It is entirely up to you. Some of our volunteers offer a few days a year. Other people are never away from the place. Certain jobs on the operating roster have a minimum number of turns, to ensure that staff remain fully conversant with the needs of their role.
Do I have to be a member of the charitable Trust?
No. In order to starting volunteering you do not have to be a member of the charitable trust. However, if you enjoy volunteering and would like to help make a contribution to the railway’s future, a few months after joining us, we will invite you to become a member of the Trust. This is entirely optional.
Need to know more?
Contact Clare Bell, the Volunteer Coordinator on 01677 425805, email email@example.com or fill in the form below