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"The Youth Group of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society" by Mark Adamson and Amanda Kilburn, the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway's Business Development Director: Edinburgh meeting of 8 September 2015

Mark Adamson (left) and Amanda Kilburn. Mark Adamson is the youngest person ever to present to CILT Scotland!d

Mark Adamson (left) and Amanda Kilburn. Mark Adamson is the youngest person ever to present to CILT Scotland!

© John Yellowlees 2015

Receiving over 60,000 visitors annually, the Scottish Railway Preservation Society is strongly reliant on more than 300 volunteers of all ages. The Society runs steam trains on its own line and mainline excursions, events and filming contracts, e.g. "The Railway Man", and has just won its second Trip Adviser award and recognition from Falkirk Council and the Thomas the Tank Engine organisation.

Founded five years ago, the Youth Group aims to foster an interest in Scotland's railway heritage among the young, to provide them with a training experience that will be useful throughout their working lives and also to give them fun in addition to the more serious aspects. The Group promotes a transfer of skills from the older generation, and needs more adult leaders. Entire families join, and there is a waiting list.

Youth Group members perform both station and on-train duties, supporting adult volunteers whose availability is diminishing - without the Group, SRPS has no future. New attractions include fish and chip specials and the forthcoming steam shed, and Mark sold first-foot coal on a Hogmanay special. Having his first exposure at six months on a Thomas special, he signed up to the Group at Model Rail Scotland in February 2013, graduating from it on 2 May this year. At 16 he is now a trainee guard and fireman and in his fifth year at the Royal High School, and his aim is to become a mainline train driver.

His duties have included collecting litter, painting and cleaning, keeping tidy the Romney Hut where locos are overhauled, stewarding and helping on Thomas and Santa specials and scaring folk at Hallowe'en, and his hobby is railway art - he brought along several locomotive sketches to show us. It was hot work being an Easter bunny, and boiler-cleaning is the most unpopular job while Thomas days involve seven return trips between Bo'ness and Manuel.

Next month's steam gala sees SRPS's star locomotive Morayshire make her final appearance in steam before expiry of her boiler ticket. While Maude awaits a grant to go to France for a Great War commemoration, most other mainline steam engines are receiving an overhaul, and the Youth Group helped dismantle Standard Tank no 80105 and have cleaned Turkish 2-8-0 45170 which must be purchased before funds can be found for a return to working order.

Meanwhile reliance must be placed on ex-colliery Austerity locomotives with seven more industrials awaiting restoration, and the Thomas locomotive has had to be hired in. SRPS has had several visiting celebrity locomotives, and also hosts a large collection of diesel locomotives plus the last complete Glasgow Blue Train set and the sole surviving BR first-generation inter-city diesel multiple-unit of the type that worked the Glasgow-Ayr and Glasgow-Edinburgh routes.

At the end of the presentation Chairman Elect Ken Thomson presented Amanda with a CILT Engraved glass, and presented Mark with a copy of "BR Diesel Traction in Scotland". Mark Adamson is also the youngest person ever to present to CILT Scotland!

Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.


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