I have been a member of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society since 1985 and a Loco Department volunteer since 1990. I was made up to Passed Cleaner in 1992 and have made regular visits ever since, although since moving North in 1997-8, I have not had as many occasions to get there as I once did. Marriage and children meant that the TR took a back seat actively until the last couple of years when I have made a bit of a practical comeback! I had 3 weeks in Wales this year, with several days booked on the footplate. On a beautiful July afternoon I was on a firing turn with Terry Gurd driving, and this was the view from the footplate of No.2 "Dolgoch" climbing Cynfal bank, with Cader Idris in the distance.
Whilst nothing to do with work, today was the annual Drivers' Meeting where all loco department volunteers are assessed and promotions made, cleaner to passed cleaner, fireman to passed fireman, and so on. I was delighted to hear this evening that I have been made up to fireman grade, subject to a rules exam (funny, I only had one at Easter this year!), so two promotions in a weekend is really rather special!
Of course, a major piece of TR current concern is No.2 "Dolgoch". Her boiler has now expired and a major fundraising initiative is under way to reboiler and overhaul her in time for the 60th anniversary of the railway opening as a preserved line. The loco's significance has been well documented in the railway press recently but if any readers would like to help the appeal in any way, please look at: http://www.talyllyn.co.uk/dolgoch-appeal . The picture above shows No.2 drifting through Pendre yard, slowing for the token exchange in August 2009.