The Signal and Telegraph (S&T) Department is primarily responsible for the maintenance of the signalling and internal telephone systems on our railway. Alongside that they design and install any new equipment or adapt current equipment to meet the operational needs of the railway.
Our S&T Department currently operates as three ‘gangs’. The main gang meet on Fridays and generally undertake the larger, more complicated tasks and projects. We also have a small group who specialise in telegraph, they look after all the internal telephone systems and cabling between our signal boxes. Finally we have the ‘Staverton Gang’, they are a small group who look after the general maintenance of the entire signalling infrastructure around the Staverton section of our line, although on occasions they can be found further afield!
The S & T Departments duties are predominantly general maintenance which can include;
- oiling / greasing signal pulleys and point rod cranks
- checking standby batteries by testing cell voltages and hydrometer readings and topping up water levels if required
- checking electrical signal lamp bulbs are working and replace any that are blown
- cleaning electrical contacts on signalling equipment
- sanding down and repainting signalling infrastructure as required
- testing and changing telephone and telegraph batteries when flat
Helping out on the maintenance teams requires no specific skills but a common sense to working methodically with some sympathy of engineering is desirable.
Specific and Specialist Responsibilities
Alongside the general maintenance the S & T Department is responsible for designing and installing new or, adapting the current, signalling and telephone systems as is required for the operation of the railway. Their other fundamental role is fault finding and repairs to any signalling equipment that fails or does not function correctly. Where possible our railway is operated in the manor of the Great Western Railway and British Railways Western Region using original equipment. Much of this equipment is now over 50 years old and can become unreliable if it is not properly maintained.
Undertaking these duties does require specific and specialist skills in such areas as electrical engineering, telecommunications and / or mechanical signalling. We do however encourage people with an interest to come along and help us with these tasks, in time we can train people in these areas so you can perform a more skilled role.
The Main S & T gang work on Fridays but do work other days as required, the Staverton gang are usually out and about on Saturdays and the Telegraph gang tend to work more adhoc whenever their members are available.
There are no specific time requirements for volunteers of the S & T Department, we are always pleased to have an extra pair of hands willing to lend a hand!
You will require safety boots and as a minimum a high visibility jacket, a good set of waterproofs is also strongly recommended for those days when the weather isn’t quite so friendly.