Why I volunteer

Issue 115/10, p63, 01.10.2015
Don Cambridge, Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre, Derbyshire
Barrow Hill near Chesterfield is the last surviving operational roundhouse engine shed in the UK and is where I have volunteered for 16 years.

I started when the press reported how the roundhouse – which opened in 1870 and was in continuous use for 120 years – had been saved from demolition by a history group keen to open it to the public.

I remembered the building from my old trainspotting days and, as I lived locally,
I went along to see how I could help.

A lot of the early work involved clearing debris, removing silver birch trees from the yard and reconditioning the track for reuse. I was proud to be part of the team to bring an old signal box to the site.

Many railways had done this over the years but we were late on the scene and appropriate examples were becoming scarce.

It was also great to be a member of the archive team that, in preparation for accreditation, had to clear a backlog of accessioning items. This amounted to about 10 years’ work being crammed into 10 months, and we won an award for it.

As a keen amateur ornithologist, I always keep an eye out on the site for birds to report on for the wildlife watch column in our in-house magazine.

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