The North Tyneside Steam Railway welcomes people from all walks of life to volunteer! We are always in need of more volunteers as the work never stops! There is plenty to get involved with, have a look below to find out more:

If you are interested in volunteering with us contact:

or visit:

Footplate Department

Cleaner / Trainee
In the footplate department, volunteers start out as engine cleaners/diesel trainees before becoming trainee firemen. Cleaners carry out shed turns to help the driver and fireman prepare and clean the locomotive for the day's work. This is a great way to learn how our steam/diesel locomotives work and how they are operated. After one or two shed turns, a cleaner will become a trainee fireman, spending the day on the locomotive and (among many things) learn the purposes of the controls, how to couple the engine to the coaches and (on steam locos) how to fire.

No experience or training is required to start as a cleaner. However, it is usual for a cleaner to spend a couple of turns assisting the crew to prepare the locomotive on shed before a full day as a trainee fireman. Volunteers must be 16 years old to begin working on the footplate.


Firemen are responsible for keeping a good head of steam, keeping an eye on the state of the fire and the water level in the boiler at all times. Other duties include helping the driver with general preparation of the locomotive, coupling and uncoupling the locomotive to/from the coaching stock and teaching engine cleaners how to fire.

It normally takes several turns to master the art of firing; however, this differs depending on levels of experience and how quickly an individual can learn. The minimum age for a fireman is 16.

Steam Driver
The driver is responsible for the safe operation of the locomotive, its crew and working with the guard to ensure the safe working of the entire train. The drivers day begins with a thorough examination of the locomotive (called a Fitness to Run exam) and oiling up where necessary, before heading out to drive the railway's passenger trains.

Drivers must know their locomotives inside out in order to investigate when something goes wrong. As a result, it takes time to achieve the knowledge and understanding required. The best way to learn the mechanical side of steam locomotives is to get involved with the workshop part of volunteering (see further down for more info). The minimum age for a driver is 20.

Diesel Driver and Diesel Second Man
Similar to the role of cleaner, a diesel trainee learns the route, rules, shunting and operation of diesel locomotives and will progress onto a diesel second man. The second man is not only the drivers second set of eyes, but they also carry out any shunting duties required and (similarly to a fireman) coupling and uncoupling duties.

The diesel driver's responsibility is similar to that of a steam driver, their day also starts with a thorough FTR exam, oiling up etc before driving the railway's passenger trains/shunts. 

All the above duties (minus cleaner/trainee) require volunteers to sit a theoretical exam paper and practical assessment from the railway's inspectorate before becoming qualified. 

Operations Department

Duty Operations Manager
The Duty Operations Manager co-ordinates and oversees the day's activities at the railway. They give permission for trains to depart and manage all movements throughout the day. The DOM also deals with any and all incidents such as lineside fires, broken-down/failed trains and ill passengers.

Duty Operations Managers are usually volunteers who have spent several years at the railway which gives them the depth of knowledge required. The DOM must know the railway's operations like the back of their hand and be prepared to be the 'go-to person' should anything go wrong. The minimum age for a DOM is 18.

Passenger Guard
Guards are responsible for the safe operation of the train and everybody on it. The guard conducts a thorough Fitness to Run examination of the coaching stock before spending the day dispatching trains, looking after passengers and assisting in shunting duties. There's also a lot of whistling and flag-waving involved too!

Guards training teaches individuals how to operate points, shunt, look after passengers and examine coaching stock. The minimum age for a Guard is 18.

Station Staff & Station Foreman
Station staff are the friendly face of the railway; meeting and greeting passengers, checking tickets and helping people onto the train. Station staff ensure the safe departure of trains by checking all the doors are locked and secure before signalling to the guard when it is safe for the train to depart.

No training is required to become a member of station staff, however, new volunteers in this role will spend a day or two working with the guard or a station foreman before taking on the role alone. After passing out as a guard, station staff become station foreman - leading the team of station staff rostered that day.

All the above duties (minus station staff/foreman) require volunteers to sit a theoretical exam paper and practical assessment from the railway's inspectorate before becoming qualified.

Waggonway Tearoom

Tearoom Caterers
The tearoom is the welcoming face of the museum, serving hot drinks, cakes, sandwiches, soup and much more to visitors throughout the day. Tearoom volunteers work in groups of two to four; working the till, making hot drinks, serving food and washing up. Working in the tearoom is a great way to meet new people and there are many skills, such as dealing with customers and food preparation, to be learnt.


Volunteers look after the museum grounds, including the gardening, and take great pride in making the site look so lovely for all visitors.

Permanent Way

Permanent Way (track maintenance) volunteers look after our 2 miles of mainline to Percy Main and all the track in the yard. This can include everything from heavy maintenance to regular running repairs and light maintenance, including greasing, ferrule replacements, lineside foliage work and pointwork oiling and more.


The railway relies on a skilled team of workshop volunteers to keep our heritage locomotives and rolling stock running. Volunteers maintain, overhaul and restore steam/diesel locomotives, carriages and wagons as well as painting, machining, welding & fabrication, construction and woodwork. Whatever your interests or abilities there is a range of tasks to be completed in the workshop to suit everybody. 

We have volunteers of varying levels of experience, including time-served engineers, who are always happy to pass on skills and knowledge to those who are ready to learn. Volunteers in the workshop never stop learning as they encounter new challenges and overcome new issues with the rolling stock every week.

Every volunteer in the footplate department, especially cleaners/trainees, are encouraged to get involved with the workshop. Maintaining, dismantling and restoring steam locomotives and rolling stock is the best way to learn how they work!

What some of our volunteers say:

"Working in the workshop gives me a sense of pride, knowing that I have been involved in preserving our heritage. It's always enjoyable to achieve something and learn new skills along the way" 
- Michael Wortley, volunteer since 2004.

"My enjoyment of volunteering comes from a variety of tasks I am able to help with. From painting and cleaning to even a little gardening. It's great to be valued by such a great team of volunteers for whatever commitment you are able to make and whatever your skills"
-Nigel Stuart, volunteer since 2011.

"The role of Duty Operations Manager involves being the 'go-to person' for all other volunteers on any given operating day. What they say goes and they have the responsibility of dealing with any and all unplanned events and emergencies on the railway. Although some days can be quiet, the role of DOM is still an interesting and vital role to be carried out for the safe operation of the railway"
-Stephen Thornton, volunteer since 2012.

"Being a fireman is a careful balancing act of the volume of water in the boiler and the state of the fire. Communication with the driver is essential to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the boiler and locomotive as a whole, it's quite a responsibility. I also carry out second man turns, which is equally as enjoyable because it provides some variety between working on the railway's steam and diesel engines. Training to become a fireman is a great thing to do if you enjoy problem-solving and working as part of a team"
-Joseph Stuart, volunteer since 2011.

"Being an engine driver probably carries the highest responsibility of any role on the railway. It takes a few years of training, starting from the bottom as an engine cleaner and working your way up. No two days are ever the same on the footplate and the heavy gradients on the line demand skill and knowledge"
-Michael Darling, volunteer since 2007.

If you are interested in volunteering with us contact:

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