Volunteering at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
Did you know that the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway is maintained and
operated entirely by volunteers? - and we always need more to help lighten
Whatever your background or skills we can find a role that will allow you to
contribute towards making the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway a successful
heritage line. You could also find a sense of job satisfaction that may be
missing from your daily life.
We are particularly keen to recruit people from all walks of life and all age
groups to train as operating staff, e.g. guards, signal men, footplate crew,
station staff, on-train buffet staff, shop assistants and tea room staff so
that we can offer a fully staffed and operational railway plus shops and tea
rooms on every operating day. We run trains every day in Summer and your help
can make all the difference!
Operating staff are also encouraged to take on another role within the railway
and our railway is operated by the same people who restore and maintain
locomotives and carriages, lay and maintain track and signals, maintain and
Full training is provided and, although it may take some time to make the
step up to engine driver, there are immediate vacancies for all roles.
Do you feel that you are stuck in a rut at weekends? Do you fancy a holiday
with a difference? Join the volunteers of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam
Railway in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales!
written by Dave Barlow
What can I do?
There are many jobs on offer to you at our Railway and we hope you will come and help us in whatever capacity you feel most
suitable. Many duties such as booking clerk, platform staff, T.T.I, guard, signalman and footplate crew work to a roster
where you will be required to give your availability in advance. Other areas, like carriage and wagon or locomotives are
co-ordinated by their departmental managers.
Booking Clerks represent one of the first steps in the operating department. If you are good and comfortable dealing with
the public and don’t mind handling money, then you may like to consider joining our Railway as a Booking Clerk. The Booking
Clerk is normally the passengers’ first point of contact with the Railway and it is essential that the person behind the
ticket window and on the platform gives passengers a good impression. The Railway has two operational booking offices at
Embsay Station and Bolton Abbey Station. Booking Clerks work to a roster.
Anyone who is interested in joining the Platform Staff should enjoy meeting and dealing with the general public. Platform
Staff must be smart in appearance, be polite, create a lasting impression on our visitors and they must be friendly and
approachable. The Platform Staff are responsible for the general safety and well being of the passengers, both arriving at
the station and also boarding and alighting from the trains. Platform Staff are also required to know the workings of the
booking office because during midweek the platform and booking office are covered by the same member of staff. Platform Staff
work to a roster.
Carriage and Wagon Department
Our small, but thriving Carriage and Wagon Department always extends a warm welcome to new volunteers. It is responsible for
the upkeep, maintenance and restoration of our numerous coaches and wagons, jobs requiring a variety of skills. The work is
varied and interesting ranging from engineering on braking systems to paintwork, interiors, carriage cleaning and bodywork
repairs and many more. If you are looking for challenging and rewarding ‘hands-on’ work, your contribution in the department
will be most welcome.
Permanent Way Department
The main task of this department is to maintain and renew the track and line-side drainage throughout the Railway. This is
vital work if the railway is to operate safely. The role of the ‘platelayer’ is ideal for anyone who enjoys working outdoors.
A reasonable level of physical fitness is required but the continued investment of ‘state of the art’ maintenance equipment
has made the job considerably less strenuous. The Permanent Way Dept. is required to operate as a team and, to many
volunteers, the team spirit is one of the most important aspects of their involvement. New members are always welcome and
full training in all tasks is provided, starting with basic track safety and progressing to operator of one of the growing
list of machines currently in use. This department makes a significant contribution to our Railway.
See their section of the Departments
website for further information and photographs.
The Railway has gift shops at Embsay and Bolton Abbey stations, offering a selection of gifts and merchandise, mainly
railway related. These shops are popular with our visitors and provide an important service for them. Working in these shops
requires the ability to deal with the general public and new volunteers are always welcome. This job can be less physically
strenuous than other Railway duties, and may appeal to those who are seeking a less physically active role.
The grade of Guard is attained by members who have spent a good period of time working upon the Railway to get to know its
operating procedures and other knowledge. Guards are responsible for the safety of the train and its passengers. Their tasks
include preparation of the stock before the day’s operations, dealing with passengers, and the safe working of the train
throughout the day. Guards also have to be smart in their appearance as well as being friendly and approachable when dealing
with passenger enquiries.
Travelling Ticket Inspectors (TTIs)
TTIs are responsible for checking tickets on trains and for collecting supplementary fares and fares from passengers boarding
the train late. They also assist the Guard in the preparation and disposal of rolling stock before and after an operational
day. As a TTI, you should have good inter-personal skills for this important ‘front-line’ job as you will be involved mostly
in ‘meeting and greeting’ our travelling visitors.
Our Railway signalling system is essential for its safe and efficient operation and if you want to be a signalman you will
need to have a thorough knowledge of the signalling systems and of our Railway operations. The grade of signalman is attained
by members who have spent some time working upon the Railway, getting to know the operating procedures and gaining other
knowledge. Currently our Railway has two operational signal boxes, one at Embsay Station and one at the Stoneacre passing
loop. A third at Bolton Abbey station is being installed and will, hopefully, be brought into use soon.
Signal and Telegraph Department
The Signal and Telegraph (or S&T) department installs and maintains all signalling and telecommunications equipment on
our Railway. This small but important department is looking for new members, both skilled and unskilled, and offers
interesting and challenging work both indoors and outdoors.
The locomotive department offers many opportunities for aspiring volunteers. Whilst the finished product is very obvious,
much of the behind the scenes work goes un-noticed, but it is vitally important. The work is challenging and almost
invariably dirty! Anyone who is experienced with engineering and/or machining will be most welcome but these skills are not
essential. There is a wide range of tasks for both skilled and unskilled new members as help is required in all corners of
the department. You must possess the necessary personal equipment to work in the locomotive department. Steel capped boots
and overalls are mandatory.
Footplate crews are usually trained from members who have spent a considerable time working on our Railway beforehand. It is
not necessary for all footplate crews to work solely with the Locomotive department, but some time spent there would help.
The Railway has diesel locomotives to assist with shunting and other duties. There is a small band of volunteers who maintain
and restore them. The same criteria apply as for the Locomotive department and this department offers a warm welcome to new
Volunteers are always required to assist in the catering side of the Railway. We have buffet cars on all steam service trains
as well as refreshment rooms at both stations. There is need for staff to operate these important facilities and if you feel
you are able to help, your contribution will be very much appreciated.
On our Railway, the buildings, associated structures such as fencing and some minor projects are always in need of
maintenance and construction. The station buildings and their local area are one of the first things seen by visitors to our
Railway and a good first impression is always important. This department is always looking for volunteers to help with this
The Railway is always raising funds for different projects on the line. At present we are raising funds for the construction
of the new engine shed / museum complex. For example we urgently need volunteers to open the ‘Embsay Fund Raisers’
bric-a-brac shop at Embsay Station. In addition volunteers are required to sell ‘saver tickets’ on trains.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer on our line, you may wish to complete the Volunteer
Interest Form which gives you some idea of the variety we can offer, and means we can put you in touch with those in
charge of your particular area of preference. Some details about the various 'jobs' are above. You may also like to have a
look in the Departments section, which more information on projects.
Further details from:
Volunteer Liason Officer,
c/o Bolton Abbey Station
You can be assured of a warm welcome regardless of age, gender or ability because without volunteers like you, there would be
Please note that children under the age of 14
cannot work upon the Railway without direct parental supervision.
Just to show that age is no barrier, or where you live, an account of one
of our volunteers is included in our YDR News magazine