Volunteering on the KWVR

Our amazing volunteers!

Almost 50 years ago the Railway was saved from obscurity by a relatively small group of very dedicated railway supporters. From these small beginnings an extremely large and varied volunteer family has grown to operate and manage this leading preserved Railway. We are very proud of every single person who volunteers their time to keep this Railway where it is today. Whether it is driving a train or selling a visitor a ticket, without them our railway simply would not exist.

We cannot operate without our volunteers and, under normal circumstances, we are looking for volunteers in all departments. However these are not normal times and our Operations team are concentrating on operating the Railway in challenging circumstances before looking beyond into, what we hope , are normal times so volunteer recruitment is on hold at the moment. We will update the situation on our volunteering page when we can accept applications again.

No job too big, no job too small!

The volunteers who are most visible are those who operate the train service, run the stations and staff our shops and catering outlets. To ensure that all turns are filled, we operate a rostering system where volunteers are asked when they are available and how many turns they would like to do. Other volunteers do a variety of maintenance work ranging from gardening and painting, keeping the gas lights in working order, through to laying track and rebuilding locomotives and carriages.

Take a look below and see if anything takes your fancy.

Stations Department

Overview

The KWVR has six stations covering the line between Keighley and Oxenhope – that’s a high number in only 4 3/4 miles. These are staffed entirely by a volunteer team, so if you are an outgoing person who likes meeting and talking to people, then we can offer you a rewarding experience.

There are various roles on the stations for which full on the job training is given. You can choose for yourself which you role you want to do, although everyone starts with Booking Clerk which gives you a good understanding of how the railway operates.

The Foreman and Crossing Keeper roles are what are termed ‘Safety Critical’ and for which there is an Exam covering both practical & written elements.

As with all the Departments on the railway we have our own Stations Department which meets to discuss matters pertaining to the operation of our stations. These are open to all members to attend; everyone has an opinion and these meeting are an ideal opportunity to have view aired.

Do come and join us. Never a dull moment unless it`s raining.

Booking Clerk

The role of a booking clerk is that all important first link the traveller has with our Railway. A broad smile, welcoming nature, and good appearance are the first needs of a booking clerk.

This involves selling tickets, giving advice on the best ticket to buy and telling our visitors what the railway has to offer.

TTC - Travelling Ticket Conductor

This is the travelling ticket inspector. You check that everyone has a valid ticket or pass for the journey and selling tickets to those who require them. Like the Booking Clerk you can help passengers with enquiries and advice.

The role may sound daunting when compared to the role on the ‘big’ railway, but those travelling on our Railway are here for an enjoyable day and rarely do we encounter fare dodgers or trouble makers.

Station Foreman

The Station Foreman is that stations ‘manager’ for the day of his duty, overseeing the various other roles of volunteers on his station, and ensuring the correct handling of the Railways cash systems, property, and assets. A foreman is the front line after the booking clerk and needs a good working knowledge of our Railway to have the ability to advise and assist passengers when the need arises.

Handling the safe arrival and departure of the train, the foreman has an in depth knowledge of the rules for hand signals to train crews, train protection in the case of an emergency, as well as procedures which apply to night time and bad weather running. The Foreman is responsible for opening up in the morning and and closing down at the end of the day and for the safety & cleanliness of the station in their care.

The Foreman is very much the front of house individual on our station platforms, reflected in his uniformed appearance, broad smile and welcoming but efficient nature.

Platform Duty

Assisting the Foreman with maintaining a tidy and welcoming station. Helping visitors with any assistance and advice.

Many of our young volunteers progress their volunteering on these duties, being at the very forefront of interaction with our passengers.

Crossing Keepers

The railway has two manned crossings on the line at Oakworth and Damems Stations. The Crossing Keeper is responsible for the operation of opening the gates for trains to continue along the Valley and closing them after the train has passed. As the gates are protected by signals, the crossing keeper operates the signals at these two stations.

As a crossing keeper you have to learn, not just how to open and close the gates, but also the signalling systems applying to those gates and indeed the principles of signalling across the Railway.

Bus Conducting

Yes, sometimes we need bus conductors even on a railway.

In the summer and on certain occasions we operate a Vintage Tour Bus service between Haworth to Oxenhope which requires a Conductor/Guide.

Commercial Roles

Also within the Stations Dept but part of the commercial arm of the railway are the following roles:

SALES. Working in the shops at Haworth, Oxenhope and Keighley stations.

STATION BUFFETS. Working on the Station Refreshment Kiosks at Keighley and Oxenhope . Selling teas, coffees, sandwiches etc.

ON TRAIN BAR. As it`s title suggests as the steward on -train bar.

Operations Department

Damems Junction Signaller

Definitely one of the most interesting jobs on the railway. It is a job with a lot of responsibility for the safe running of trains. Read “A day in the life of a signaller”.

Guards

Guards have two roles. Primarily, fundamentality and overall, they are there to ensure the safe operation of the train and secondly if it is carrying passengers, their satisfaction with the train and journey.

Catering Department

Catering

Mention “Let’s have a Day Out“ and it invariably brings up the question of “Where can we eat?” In 2020 the KWVR’s main catering outlet is now located at Keighley where our new café bar & restaurant, the Old Parcels Office, is situated. Originally opened in 1916 to handle parcels and packages to and from Keighley and the surrounding areas, the parcels office has now been transformed by the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway into a the stylish Old Parcels Office café bar & restaurant. This is a 7 day a week operation so employs full and part time staff, but opportunities for volunteers do exist to supplement our paid staff.

At our terminus at Oxenhope, day-to-day catering, when trains are running, a little more modest offerings are provided from our 1960’s buffet car alongside the platform. This friendly corner of the Railway is mainly the domain of volunteers.

However we can certainly put on the style from time to time with our splendidly restored ex-Bournemouth Belle 1930’s Pullman cars, Ann & Mary. Used on special occasions for dining and private functions, service has to be of the highest standards and smart uniforms and dedicated training ensures our volunteers offer the very best service the Railway can provide.

Whatever the occasion though, catering staff can be assured that their services will always be in demand, but no-one should be in any doubt that this is no easy ride.

Do you fancy helping provide this essential service…even if only for a couple of hours a month? We give full training …and a natty uniform, quite a posh one if you’re on the Pullmans!

If this kind of work appeals to you, send an email to the KWVR Volunteer Liaison Officer at volunteer@kwvr.co.uk, or call 01535 645214 between 09.30 and 16.30.

Rolling Stock Restoration & Maintenance

Carriage & Wagon Maintenance

Our fleet of BR Mark 1 and Pullman carriages needs an increasing level of love and attention with their growing age, as do our collection of historic goods wagons.

The work involves many different skills and levels of ability, everything from heavy engineering, welding, joinery and electrical work through to delicate upholstery and paintwork. However, many of our volunteers have no experience in the work we do, but that does not preclude anyone joining our enthusiastic team, and skills they never knew they had are soon learnt in this very supportive environment

Our group of C&W volunteers include both men and women of all ages, from many varied backgrounds. We enjoy a great team spirit with an active, but not compulsory, social programme to add to the pleasure. But our greatest joy is to see a fully restored, overhauled carriage being enjoyed by our visitors. It’s the results of the C&W team’s efforts that our visitors get closest to!

New volunteers are always warmly welcomed and very quickly become part of the team.

Locomotive Department

The Locomotive Department provides the locomotives and footplate crews for the Railway.

This includes the work of overhaul and maintenance of steam and diesel locomotives but also includes the maintenance of the plant, buildings and facilities on the Haworth Yard site and the engineering and operator competence for rail cranes.

The work involves many different skills including the practical engineering skills of fitting, fabrication, machining, painting, electrical and boilersmithing but also railway operations, footplate duties, locomotive servicing, training, administration, project management, competence management, supervision of statutory examinations, safety management, plant & machinery maintenance and building services management.

We have volunteers of all ages in the Department and with a wide range of skills and knowledge. There are always jobs to do for all skills. Volunteers come to enjoy themselves and to do something useful with their time in the company of others of a like mind, which leads to a strong team spirit. There is the opportunity to become a skilled engineer, fireman or driver for those who wish to do so.

No matter how many times you may have seen a train pass Haworth Yard, there is great satisfaction knowing that you have contributed to putting the locomotive on the front.

Infrastructure Maintenance

Civil Maintenance

In just under 5 miles, the KWVR packs quite a punch when it comes to infrastructure due to the steep West Yorkshire valleys. While much of our attention is on the track and signalling, large earthworks and numerous structures throughout the valley also require due care and attention by our team of dedicated volunteers.

The work we undertake involves many different skills and levels of ability, our diverse work includes everything from track and signalling maintenance to large bridge renewals (see Bridge 11 images below) all the way down to clearing ditches and rebuilding boundary walls and fences. While some of our volunteers are experienced engineers working in the rail industry many of our volunteers had no experience in the work we do until they started here. There is lots to learn and our enthusiastic team are on hand to make sure you are welcomed and learn the skills required.

Safety is very important when working in rail and construction and safety training is provided by the department.

Our department is made up of a variety of people from many varied backgrounds. We enjoy a great team spirit with an active, but not compulsory, social programme to add to the pleasure. We are immensely proud to be out in all weathers keeping the railway in tip top condition to allow our colleagues in the operating department to run trains for the public’s pleasure, enjoying the cheery wave from passengers when they see us in our orange. New volunteers are always warmly welcomed and very quickly become part of the team.

Come join us!

Building & Estates

This department manages Buildings and Estates on the Worth Valley Railway. We get called upon for a variety of work from Joinery and Glazing to Painting and Plumbing. We like to recruit volunteers for the maintenance of our buildings and various estate work. If you would interested and have good DIY skills or you may be a trained tradesperson, you would very welcome.

FAQ's

How many volunteers are there?

At the last count we had over 530 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.

Are there any age limits?

Our volunteers range from teenagers to the over eighties. Older people can carry on volunteering to any age provided they are fit enough and can do the work safely. Under 16s are encouraged to join the Young Persons’ Group.

How much time do I have to give?

On the whole it is entirely up to you. Some of our volunteers offer a few days a year; others 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.

I live a long way from Haworth – can you help with accommodation?

The Railway has an accommodation block, Stanier House, at Haworth which volunteers can use, by arrangement. There is no charge for this. Facilities are clean but not luxurious!

Do I have to be a member of the Society?

Yes, all volunteers must be members, but volunteers are also entitled to pay a lower annual subscription – so it’s not too bad!

Need to know more?

Contact Haworth Station on 01535 645214 or email volunteer@kwvr.co.uk

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