Behind the scenes: What it's like to work for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - Part Two
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) is one of the county’s best loved attractions. Not only does it offer an unusual and attractive way to travel between Pickering and Whitby, it is also one of the area’s largest employers with over 100 staff working alongside countless volunteers.
With the third series of the documentary The Yorkshire Steam Railway: All Aboard currently screening on Channel 5, our rural North Yorkshire reporter, Louise Perrin, went along to meet some of those who work behind the scenes to find out what they do.
In the second part of her article Louise spoke to those who work in the engine sheds and the carriage and wagon workshop.
Kieran is clearly very proud to work for NYMR: “I travelled across the USA and sat talking to people on the train about NYMR which they’d heard of,” he said, beaming.
He lives in the ‘Harry Potter House’ at Goathland Station: “No matter where you go, you get talking to people and everyone says ‘That’s amazing!’” Kieran said.
He oversees the maintenance of NYMR’s heritage rolling stock to make sure it’s up to standard.
This includes the recent £250,000 restoration of vintage carriage Garnet: “All fixtures and fittings are handmade,” he said. “You can’t just buy them off the shelf unfortunately. We had to go to York Railway Museum to get the designs.”
He has worked for NYMR since he was 14: “I came here at weekends and got the bug. Every day is different, you never know what to expect.”
His ambition is to find a wrecked traction engine and get it going: “So, if anyone has one they want to give me, feel free to get in touch!”
Richard De Sadeleer, 26, Coach and Wagon Fitter
Richard has been employed by NYMR since June 2019. He said: “I enjoy the variety of different tasks, I’ve been a volunteer here for 11 years and want to be part of helping the railway improve.”
It’s quickly becoming apparent that working for NYMR is, for many of its employees, not just a job, but a way of life.
In his free time, Richard is a fireman on the steam locomotives and he also volunteers at Grosmont in the Engine Maintenance Shed.
He said: “I’m happy down here, although my preference would be steam, but as long as I’m working to keep the railway going, I’m happy.”
Chris Kelley, Foreman Boiler Smith & Nick Simpson, Motive Power Manager
Nick and Chris are based in the engine shed at Grosmont Station. The engine sheds contain a wide range of locomotives, from 1960s diesels to the 1914 Q6 steam locomotive.
Nick said: “It’s my job to keep the engines moving, Sometimes I’d like to go back on the tools, but it can be that busy that it doesn’t always happen. You’ve definitely got to love your job to work here.”
Chris looks after the boiler side of the steam fleet, which he said includes “rebuilding them, overhauling them and keeping the lads in parts”.
This can sometimes be quite challenging as Nick explained: “A lot of the tools are ancient, but well suited to the job. The older they get, the more challenging they can be to work with. Everything is bespoke, and they don’t all have common parts, there is a lot of making do on site.”
Long-term, Chris said he would like to make the engines healthier and cleaner for the environment, although he readily confesses, that’s not something he thinks will ever happen.
Nick, who is studying Mechanical Engineering at the Open University, said: “I love it. Long term I’d like to see the railway out as a career.”
Chris said he feels the same way. “I’d like the railway to see me out to retirement, I don’t see me working anywhere else.”
Nick said: “It’s like one big family, you have your good days and your bad days like any other work place, but generally everyone gets on with everybody else.”