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Have we left it to late to start training up the next generation of Steam Engineers?

Discussion in 'Locomotive Engineering M.I.C' started by lynbarn, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    Hi Guys

    This is a question which I asked a couple of notable gentlemen at my Railway in North Devon the other week.

    For some time now it has become fact than none of us are getting any younger and every now and then one of us will fall off the perch as they say. Sadly also some of the young ones also fail to make the end of the line as well.

    It is bad enough trying to encourage model railway enthusiasts to make sure some one knows as to what to do with there stuff once they have gone.

    But bringing it back to the 12" to the ft scale and you start to realise that disposing of items this big tend to become a much bigger problem.

    As I see it when you go it is not just the loco or the carriage which sits there but you knowledge base goes as well and to be honest this should be a great concern to all of us who would like to make sure that what we have saved can get used again and doesn't end up becoming a stuffed and mounted exhibit for a local museum because no one knows how it should work.

    So I was wondering what railways have got an education policy to teach the young (and not so young) volunteers about looking after all our heritage railway assets.

    It just has made me wonder where the next L D Porta is going to come from?

    Colin Rainsbury
     
  2. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Many railways have apprentice training schemes to train the next generation.
     
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  3. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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  4. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    It is a big problem and a concern to me. There are very few people who are going to come across steam engineering in their day job nowadays. Hospital engineers are perhaps one of the few but, even then, steam plant and locomotives are like chalk and cheese. The bigger railways can employ apprentices to pass on the knowledge; certainly there is no shortage of knowledgeable staff on the NYMR. However, the smaller railways are probably in no position to take on apprentices and I can see them struggling for the necessary knowledge and skills base in the future.
     
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  5. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    Do any of the biggest commercial loco overhauling businesses have apprenticeship or training schemes? E.g. Riley’s, Carnforth, LNWR Crewe etc. I know Crewe started a scheme during the Pete Waterman era but I believe govt funding dried up.
     
  6. lynbarn

    lynbarn Active Member

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    The Vale of Rheidol has got apprentices and I think the Ffestiniog have a couple, I am not sure about the West Somerset.
     
  7. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member Friend

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    The SVR has a very active apprentice scheme. As for steam experience outside railways there is the electricity industry. Most electricity is generated by steam, albeit by turbines rather than reciprocating engines. To clarify for the doubters all nuclear generation is steam, the reactor is only a boiler. Combinrd cycle gas turbines use waste heat from the GT to boil water for a secondary steam turbine. Coal oil and biomas are all burnt in boilers
     
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  8. 1472

    1472 Active Member

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    Perhaps but it is striking just how much knowledge can be lost when a key member of staff leaves as has recently been demonstrated at a number of key locations. Worrying indeed.
     
  9. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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  10. WB2624

    WB2624 New Member

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    The Dartmouth Steam Railway has also started an apprenticeship scheme having taken on 5 in the last few months.
     
  11. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    There are (at least) two at the IWSR. (Ref: Thread: Isle of Wight Steam Railway Carriage and Wagon Updates: post#285 by @gwalkeriow ). Not sure if that's 2 in C&W or the total on the IWSR.

    The VoR scheme looks not only to be workshop based, but extends at least some apprenticeships to footplate qualifications. One of their group, at 21 years of age, recently passed tests to become (so they reckon it) the UK's current youngest qualified driver. Their worksbop look to have at least 2 or 3, possibly more, in training at any given time and some, I've noted, have stayed on to join their workforce.

    As the VoR is clearly (and justifiably) proud of their training schemes, it's well worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page for frequent updates from their workshops (https://m.facebook.com/rheidolrailway No login required).

    By the by, Aberystwyth FC have benefitted too, as one of their young players would likely have had to leave the area in search of opportunities without the VoR scheme. Add that consideration to the pot, folks!
     
  12. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Active Member

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    The Loco Dept has one ex apprentice who has just come out of his time. In C&W who have another ex apprentice who again has just come out of his time and a second year apprentice. All four are proving to be tremendous assets to Engineering. The PW dept also have an ex apprentice as part of their number

    Oh and I might add that when I retired my successor started with us just eight years ago as an old fashioned improver !
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
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  13. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad Member

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    Not just the steam engineers are falling off the end of this mortal coil - there are other areas similarly afflicted, such as S&T, PW and my own field of C&W.

    Between 2011 and 2014 there was an "Engineering Heritage Skills Initiative" mostly funded by the HLF that provided 12month bursaries, aimed to help in passing on the necessary traditional skills. Stanegate Restorations hosted at least one placement each year the scheme ran. Then the funding was not renewed ... we are too small an organisation to self-fund, although our latest project has the budget to be employing an apprentice included, assuming we can find someone suitable.
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Well-Known Member

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    This raises the vital issue of ensuring those seeking to place apprentices can mesh properly with those seeking apprentices and those holding the relevant purse strings under multiferous edicts?

    Why do so many good intentions of successive governments seem to end up prompting the same basic question? i.e. "So what shape do you want this 'wheel' thing of yours to be?"
     

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