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A day in the life of a Welsh Highland Railway fireman By Edward Ford

I started volunteering on the railway as part of a short holiday for a week which then turned in to 2 weeks. My intention was just to have a go and enjoy the volnuteering (I have a background in Scouting), but I was captivated so much that I kept going back - at least one weekend a month since. Because of this I very quickly became a trainee. It then became my goal to qualify on the railway. Not only did I get to learn about firing but I’ve also had the chance to learn skills in the engineering works and learn more about the heritage of the Welsh narrow gauge railways as well as enjoy the fabulous Welsh countryside when I’m not working on the railway. I officially qualified as a fireman at the end of August 2015. This involved keeping an in-depth logbook of all the route and traction along with feedback forms that needed filling in. Although there was no minimum requirement to do a set number of turns on the railway 30 is generally recommended in order to get the evidence for the log book. I did around 50 turns in about 2 years before qualifying. I’m also a bit peculiar as I qualified on both the Welsh Highland and the Ffestiniog railways at the same time, whereas most people qualify on one railway then qualify on the other at a later date. When I’m firing I get up early in the morning, careful not to wake anyone else in the volunteers’ hostel at Minffordd, go to the kitchen and pack my lunch for the day. Then drive over to one of the main yards on the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR); Glanypwll, Minffordd, Boston Lodge or Dinas. The two yards that are mainly used for prepping and disposing are Boston Lodge and Dinas.It’s Dinas today. When I arrive the first thing to do is unlock the mess room and loco shed doors. I make a strong cup of coffee to help wake me up properly and fill in the day’s time sheet and check the roster book for any changes and the loco log book for any faults. Today I’m on an NGG16 Garratt. Suitably refreshed and overalled up I walk over to the shed where one of the Garrett locomotives will be waiting. The first thing to do when you meet your loco in the morning is to turn on its 65

Model Railway Express Issue Two January 2017  
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