The ESR runs a young members group which gets involved in all aspects
of the running of the railway. Meeting at least once a month, usually on a Saturday,
the 'Gangers' start the day by helping to prepare the duty
steam engine. After that there is an opportunity to help out in the running
of train services by working with the guard or checking tickets or helping
in the shed.
Life as a "Ganger"
I first remember being interested in trains when I was as little as three
years old. My Granddad was the person who got me interested in them
in the first place. I spent a lot of time visiting the Bluebell and
Watercress line, until I moved to Frome.
I'd heard a fair bit about the East Somerset Railway from friends
and leaflets around where I lived. So, when my dad rang up to see if
I could become a volunteer, this was the day that changed my life.
The people we met were very friendly and even on my first day I managed
to get black, and now at the age of 14 nothing has changed! It's
been 3 years since I joined and many other young people have followed.
A typical day at the railway normally consists of a bit of painting, cleaning
smoke boxes and fireboxes and at the moment climbing in boilers helping
with tubing engines that are undergoing overhaul.
But it's not all dirty work. I've helped out with serving
Mince Pies on the Santa Specials, working point levers on Mixed traffic
Weekend, painting and a few more clean jobs. All the other 'Gangers' as
we are normally called in the workshops are also a great help, especially
if small spaces come into it!!! I really enjoy coming down to the railway
and I'm sure all the other Lads do as well. My aim is to be a
fireman at the age of 16, and everyone around the railway is very helpful
and keen to offer any advice that we might need.
It's a rewarding, interesting and fun hobby and at the end of
the day I always feel privileged to help and work on the preservation
of a steam railway.
By Rory Edwards
When on site, the group is fully supervised by a
member of the East Somerset Railway.