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Railway’s trainees learn the old skills
SEVERN Valley Railway’s new heritage skills training academy has launched with three enthusiastic trainees.
The scheme aims to train young people in engineering and in the time-honoured methods of repairing and maintaining the popular Midland line’s fleet of locomotives and carriages.
Funded by a successful share offer, which raised £1.68 million in less than 12 months, along with funds from the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, the scheme incorporates three days per week at Telford College to develop basic engineering skills such as machining, welding and painting.
The three trainees are James Lewis of Swindon, Max Green, who lives in Dormston, near Inkberrow, and Bridgnorth resident Billy Furness.
After the trio successfully complete the two-year traineeship, they will be offered a two or three-year apprenticeship with half the time devoted to working alongside skilled staff and volunteers and the remaining hours spent at college. Max Green, aged 16, said: “I’ve always dreamed of pursuing a career in heritage engineering but didn’t think I’d get the chance to join a dedicated scheme like this one.
“My family are delighted for me too as they know I’ve been passionate about steam railways and traction engines since I was a young boy.”
The former Droitwich Spa High School pupil said: “As part of the interview process, we had to put together a carriage lock from a diagram to demonstrate that we could follow instructions.
“I’m now looking forward to getting started on the real thing.”
Severn Valley Railway has appointed Richard Thurlow, who has many years of experience of working with apprentices, as heritage skills training academy officer.
And Shelagh Paterson, campaign manager for the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, said the scheme was important in developing the next generation of rail engineers. “Due to the generosity of trusts, companies and individuals, we are delighted to be able to financially support the academy,” she said. “With an ageing workforce, there is an urgent need to develop a new apprenticeship and training scheme for young people.
“This will imbue in them the traditional methods of working and also train them in the essential skills of locomotive fitting, boiler making, carriage joinery, maintenance and restoration as well as the restoration of heritage buildings.”
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