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What's it like being a volunteer at Bressingham?

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Steam -engine -restorationLast week we spoke to John Riley, one of the longest serving volunteers here at Bressingham, about the in’s and out’s of driving steam locomotives.

This week we thought we’d drag him away from the workshop and helping our chief engineer with routine maintenance and find out how and why he became a volunteer at Bressingham and what he gets out of it!

How long have you been volunteering at Bressingham and what’s your job title and duties?

I think in the preveious post I said I’d been here 15 years - it’s actually 14 years.  I started in 2002.

I don’t have a job description or title as such, I split my time between driving steam engines or various types at Bressingham and assisting the maintenance of them. I’m also qualified to train other people to drive.

I don’t know what that makes me officially - a driver and semi-skilled fitter maybe? (which sounds a bit grand)

I’m a volunteer so I reserve the right to make up my own job title!

Did your previous experience have anything to do with Steam trains?

No, I’ve never worked professionally in any kind of mechanical engineering role - it’s only ever been a hobby.

I worked 24 years for BT in various roles - I was able to take early retirement and explore my hobby more!

How did you end up volunteering at Bressingham?

I was visiting Bressingham shortly after I retired from BT.  I’d been visiting Bressingham regularly since 1967 - the idea of working there had always appealed but being based in and around Peterborough it wasn’t really an option.

Once I had more time on my hands it became more practical to do that.

What do you like best about volunteering at Bressingham?

That’s not an easy question to answer.  I wouldn’t like to compare all the different aspects of it.

As far as I’m concerned Bressingham gives me the opportunity to do other things I’m interested in - I have an equal interest in traction engines as well as railway locomotives.  Of course we’ve got both at Bressingham.

As I said I’d been spending a lot of the last 3 years working on the maintenance side, which is great and I enjoy doing it - but I do enjoy driving as well, so I’d like to get back into that too.

I’m not going to choose one thing over everything else - it’s a good place to work is Bressingham - there is a strong team spirit there and I get to work alongside very helpful, very pleasant, very knowledgeable people - so I think ultimately, if you had to put your finger on one thing it would be the people I work with.

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or views on volunteering or working at museums?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.


By Alastair Baker at 24 Aug 2016, 00:00 AM