The National Traction Engine Trust

This morning at High Peak works, Cromford, Derbyshire,  BESTT will announce Heritage Lottery Fund  support for their national training programme to maintain heritage boilers and demonstrate examples of heritage boiler work and training.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £469,000 is to establish a national training programme  to help maintain steam operations on preserved railways, traction engines and ships. This is the first training programme on heritage boilers for 50 years. 

The project will increase the number of skilled boilersmiths to help maintain steam operations into the future. Over two years, 16  trainees will each undertake a 12 month-long paid placement, leading to a specialist qualification.  Trainees will be taught by experienced heritage boiler engineers at locations such as Llangollen Railway, the North York Moors Railway, the Severn Valley and Bluebell Railways or specialist boilersmiths such as Hatch’s Engineering, near Swindon and Israel Newton at Cromford, Derbyshire.

Trainees will also receive specialist training at national masterclasses organised by BESTT and their work will be accredited with award of a BESTT Foundation Certificate after completion of 8 modules of the BESTT syllabus on boiler repair and manufacture. Shorter courses for more experienced volunteers are also planned.

Gordon Newton, Chairman of BESTT, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support to help put our training programme into operation. The steam engine is one of Britain’s greatest gifts to the world and people need to be able to see it in operation. Without this training the sector is threatened as the last experienced boilersmiths who grew up with steam retire.”

BESTT has come into existence, representing all steam sectors, to create a training programme to address the  shortage of skilled craftsmen who can repair and maintain heritage steam boilers. There are over 200 heritage centres in the UK where steam operations are an important feature and around 6,000 working or restorable boilers on railway locomotives, traction engines and road vehicles, ships and stationary engines. The aim of BESTT is to ensure that the activity of boiler making, maintenance and repair is supplied with the skills and standards it requires for safe and sustainable steam operations into the future. BESTT includes Board representatives from the Heritage Railway Association, The National Traction Engine Trust, The Maritime Heritage Trust and stationary/museum engine aspects of steam heritage. It liaises with all these sectors, the insurance and inspection interests and a syllabus for training has been developed by Richard Gibbon and Tony Simons, advisers to BESTT using a Skills for the Future Heritage Lottery Fund Stage 1  development grant of £17,000 (awarded in June 2013 to help BESTT progress its plans to apply for a full grant).


03 Apr 2014