Monday, 30 November 2009

Induction day

I arrive at Bressingham Steam Museum after about an hour's drive from home. I have taken a day off work as I still have a few days to use up before the end of the year.

Before starting as a volunteer at Bressingham I need to have an induction session where I am shown around the site, introduced to some of the people and given the obligatory Health & Safety blurb.

I meet David and after a chat we embark on a tour of the site. As a frequent Bressingham visitor I know where everything is already, but this is my first look behind the scenes.

First port of call is the Exhibition Hall where preparations are being made for the Christmas At Bressingham event. Construction of Santa's Grotto is well under way and everywhere there are strings of new LED lights waiting to be PAT tested by Geoff.

From here we go across to the workshop where amongst other things, the boiler from the steam engine that drives The Gallopers is being dismantled and serviced ahead of its inspection and certification. The workshop is an Aladin's Cave staffed by skilled and dedicated engineers who look after everything and can make new parts when required. One thing that quickly becomes apparent is that when things wear out or break, in most instances you cannot order new parts as they simply don't exist any more.

Over to the "Horsepital" where the thirty mounts comprising horses, ostriches and cockerels from The Gallopers are restored. Each one takes around a month to strip down, repair and repaint. Needless to say it's like painting the Forth Bridge - once you reach the end you start over again. Currently all of the mounts are carefully stored here whilst The Gallopers undergo a total overhaul.

Next stop is a small Portakabin where the volunteers can wash, rest, change and eat. My attention is drawn to the various notices and volunteer information displayed on the notice board.

Back at the main office I fill in another form and duly become an employee of Bressingham Steam Preservation Trust Limited. I have successfully been inducted and can start some work.

Crank waiting to be worked on
I am given the job of helping John to clean and polish the cranks from The Gallopers over in the Locomotive Shed. This is John's first day as a full-time employee - he started about a year ago as a volunteer and when a full-time position recently arose he applied. We had something in common and it was good for me to get a handle of what was involved.

Since The Gallopers are classed as a fairground ride, they are subject to various pieces of legislation covering fairground rides and need to be periodically inspected and certified by a Fairground Inspector. One of the many things that will be inspected are the cranks. These radiate from the centre of the carousel and as they rotate they give the horses (and ostriches and cockerels) their rise and fall. The inspector will be looking for any signs of pitting, scoring, cracks or other wear, so I help John to remove the bearings, degrease everything and polish the crank surfaces so that everything can be clearly seen and scrutinised. Once inspected, and if passed, the cranks will be repainted their bright red colour - so next time you ride The Gallopers at Bressingham have a quick glance upwards to see some of the workings.

Cranks ready for inspection
Between the two of us we complete all but one of the ten cranks and my efforts mean that John has another five hours to spend elsewhere. It is also my eureka moment as it occurs to me that I really should start a blog to record and share some of the tasks that I will undertake, some of the people that I will meet and what it takes to keep a place like Bressingham alive and well.

1 comment:

  1. I always find seeing "behind the scenes" enhances my appreciation of a place and what goes into running it. Sounds like you are going to have fun.


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