Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Recruitment Fair

Firstly, an apology for an omission from the blog from last Tuesday regarding the photo charter.  I made a note to mention it, but by the time the wee small hours of Tuesday morning were threatening to become fairly large hours and with the prospect of an early start for work, I'm afraid that it got overlooked.  What I failed to say and should have done was that large swathes of the lineside had been cleared of vegetation by the lineside clearance team.  Much praise was heaped upon the results of their labours by the photographers on the charter who appreciated the unobstructed views of the train. 

Along with a number of others from the Steam Locomotive Dept, I helped out with manning our stand in the David Page shed for the recruitment fair on Sunday.  In fact I was wearing two hats, as along with Len, I was also manning the Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD (DMLL) stand too. Conveniently the two stands were right next to each other which made my life considerably easier.  The Saturday had gone extremely well, with 200 visitors, 30 of whom had expressed an interest in joining the steam loco dept. The Sunday was a little quieter, but nonetheless well attended.

 Apparently we needed some sort of statement to say that we were here.  Statements don't come much bigger than 35006 which was being shunted into the car park as I arrived to proclaim that this was the home of the Steam Loco Dept.
35006 finds her way into the car park
Ed is the member of the steam loco dept's manglement management team responsible for new members and consequently the person stitched up with organising us.
Ed in the cab of 35006
I had a moment for a look around before the potential new recruits descended on us.  Round the back of the David Page shed, Dinmore Manor was in steam and ready for a day's work.
All steamed up
I ventured into the mess coach for a much needed cup of tea and found that Andy has left a collection of "Speed to the West" gala flyers in the mess coach for people to take away and give to potential visitors:
As usual, an excellent flyer design from Andy
We only had one guest loco confirmed at the time these had to go to the printers, as mentioned in the last blog post, we now have Bulleid light (this is a new usage of the word light with which I am not familiar) pacifics, 34007, Wadebridge and 34092, Wells.  At least one and possibly two more guest locos are yet to be announced.

The skips in the yard have recently been emptied.  I was a little concerned to discover that the metal recycling skip had a large number of beer cans in it.  Not some wild party in the Steam Loco Dept to which I hadn't been invited, but the empties from the race trains.  Just in case anybody takes the party reference seriously, consumption of alcohol on site by working volunteers is of course strictly forbidden.
I expect there were a few sore heads the morning after
Once inside the David Page shed, Ed had set up a stand featuring items commonly found on the footplate.  The red flags are for protecting the train should it break down in section.  We don't have a green flag on the footplate, the guard has that, he (or indeed she) gets to say when we can go.
The display stand
As part of the display, 2807 had been shunted into the shed and steps placed by the cab to allow prospective volunteers to visit the cab.  From up there, you get quite a good view of the progress that the contractors have made.  We tell every body that it's an inspection pit, but really it will be an indoor heated swimming pool. It seems to be coming along nicely. 
Swimming pool Inspection pit.
Somebody had even put a light in the firebox of 2807 so that people could see inside
2807's firebox
As mentioned earlier, I was wearing two hats, representing DMLL too.  This was their stand parked in front of Dinmore Manor's tender.  It may not look like a great deal, but remember Dinmore Manor herself was in steam and effectively acting as an ambassador for the group by hauling the service trains up and down the line.
DMLL stand
I overheard a couple of members of the steam loco dept who shall have to remain anonymous peruse this display alongside the Dinmore Manor stand for quite a while trying to decide where this photo of 2874 had been taken.  Suggestions of Shrewsbury and various locations in the London area were made. After listening to them debate the issue for a while, I mentioned that I strongly suspected that it was at Tyseley.
The Cotswold Diesel Railcar Group also had a stand in the David Page shed.  In this case, George was wearing two hats, representing them and the Steam Loco Dept. 
George too wearing two hats
At one point Ian, the GWSR's press officer appeared with his camera and made poor Ed pose in front of the stand
Ed missed a trick by not demanding modeling fees
I imagine that Ian's photos will feature on the news section of the GWSR website in due course.

So what did we have to do?  Well it basically boiled down to meeting people as they wandered in through the door, engaging them in conversation and trying to answer any questions that they might have relating to the operation of the Steam Loco Dept. Hopefully we wouldn't scare them off too much. Who knows, perhaps we might impart enough information to allow them to decide if volunteering with us was the sort of thing that they would like to do.  Needless to say, many of the people that passed through were interested in finding out more, but already had a desire to volunteer in other departments, some had no idea which department would interest them most and others just wanted to look around.  I had intended to bring to you a list of the most commonly asked questions along with their answers, but very few people asked the same thing.  The only one that sticks in my mind regarded the ownership of the locomotives which 2 or 3 people asked about.  The answer is that the GWSR hires in all it's locos from their owning groups, paying a steaming fee each time one is used, which will then typically go towards the next heavy overhaul of the loco.  All of our currently operational locos are owned by different groups, or in the case of 4270, by one individual person.  

Quite a few were interested in the loco restoration and maintenance aspect of our work, but on balance I suspect more were interested in progressing onto the footplate.  Most of the people that I spoke to already understood the career progression from cleaner to fireman to driver.  Having joined the department, a demonstration of both commitment and aptitude is required if you want to progress to the footplate, turning up at least a couple of times a month would be required.  There is no such stipulation for loco restoration though again some degree of commitment would be required before training in aspects of engineering could take place. People already possessing engineering skills or people with none at would all be very welcome.

I spent a brief while manning the cab of 2807 first thing in the morning, and predictably most of the questions asked there centred around the controls and what they did.  If you're interested, the handy online footplate guide is just the thing for you.
Potential recruits and volunteers
Meanwhile, out in the car park, the owning group of 35006 had come up with a cunning plan to get their pride and joy running.  A quick phone call to one of the motoring organisations got one of their break down vans on the scene.  Sadly the man with the van was stumped, he had no idea where to attach the jump leads.
This won't be an easy roadside rescue
Thinking that two heads were better than one, he summoned a colleague, but they still had no joy.
Even with two vans at their disposal, they decided that they couldn't tow this one home.
 At that moment, Dinmore Manor chose to head out of Toddington Station as if to spur 35006 on into life.
Dinmore Manor back off to Cheltenham Race Course
The recruitment fair was of course for all the departments of the GWSR, not just ours.  There was a gazebo in front of the admin office welcoming the potential new recruits and as well as the three stands in the David Page shed, there were more in the diesel shed and yet more again at Winchcombe and I think Cheltenham too.
The GWSR's new gazebo
I didn't venture down the line to find out what was happening elsewhere, but I did take a look in the diesel shed.

The emergency rescue team had a stand.  Judging by reports that I have heard about locos blowing off this season, perhaps we need to add one of this kind of fireman to our regular crews to help keep the fire under control:
The other kind of fireman
I'd probably best not say too much, I'll get my first shot at firing this season on Saturday, people in glass houses and all that!

The Diesel Group had a stand and of course a number of diesels to display in their shed.
Diesel Group stand
The Friends of Toddington had a stand too, Frances was delighted with the number of people who had expressed an interest in helping keep the station looking beautiful.
The Friends of Toddington stand
The Broadway Area Group also had a stand.  Hopefully in the not too distant future, when we hold a recruitment fair there will be a Friends of Broadway Station stand at Broadway station to meet passengers off of the trains.
Broadway Area Group stand
At the end of course it was time to put everything away, including 35006.  I noticed as she was being shunted round that a substantial collection of components of the tender brake gear were sat around, hopefully in anticipation of being installed soon.
Brake components set out ready
35006 being shunted back into the shed
7820, Dinmore Manor returning for disposal
And finally, if you missed out on the recruitment fair and are still interested in volunteering with us, then you're not too late, please take a look at the main website volunteering page and go from there.

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