Welcome to the Churnet Valley Railway, a preserved heritage railway that operates along the valley floor interweaving with both the River Churnet and Cauldon Canal through what is known locally as Staffordshire’s Little Switzerland.
We have been operating trains since 24th August 1996, and since this very first day we have slowly expanded into a 12 mile railway with three beautifully restored stations and further plans for expansions into Leek.
We wouldn’t have achieved any of this without the good will of our volunteer workforce, who quite simply keep the railway moving. However there is more to volunteering than simply driving trains, and we hope today will give you an insight into what it really takes to run a basic train service on our railway.
Operations Department - Our trains are all operated by volunteers. We require a Driver and Fireman to operate the locomotive and then a Guard, Signalman and Crossing Keeper also being required for a single day’s service for which full training will be provided if you are interested in becoming our next member. These volunteers are all part of the Operations Department.
Motive power Department / Carriage and Wagon - A train can only run though if it’s fit for duty, and we have a small workforce that performs the maintenance and overhaul of our vehicles. The Motive Power Department maintain our fleet of Steam and Diesel locomotives, whilst the Carriage & Wagon Department ensure all the coaches are fit for purpose ready for their next passenger. If your interest lies more in the engineering side of things, then this is the place for you. Full training will again be provided for those wishing to join either department.
Station Staff – You don’t have to be interested in railways you know As you arrived at the railway, you’ll have no doubt been greeted by a member of our Station Staff. Each of our three stations has their own band of dedicated volunteers, who help keep the station tidy whilst also assisting all our passengers. Whether you enjoy the delights of our Victorian Station at Cheddleton, our sleepy Country Station at Consall or our fully rebuilt North Staffordshire-style station at Kingsley & Froghall, you will be made to feel more than welcome.
Gardening - Looking to extend your garden? Then help us grow ours Whilst looking around the stations in detail, you’ll notice all the flowerbeds particularly at Cheddleton. Our recently formed Gardening team do their best to add some colour and life to the area, and they are looking for further people to join them on this all year round task.
Civils – Handy at home and run out of jobs? We have plenty for you to get stuck into. There are numerous structures you will see around the stations and up and down the line. These also require periodic maintenance, and this falls under the jurisdiction of the Civils team who build and maintain these. This can range from the replacement of a wooden fence to the full construction of any new buildings. There is also a smaller sub-department who carry out regular bridge inspections and write up condition reports. Between inspections they can often be found assisting with lineside clearance ensuring ensuring no trees are liable to fall onto the railway line.
Permanent Way – Looking to get a breath of fresh air and to do something use full? You’ve boarded your train, and the guard has whistled you away, you start your journey along the track. Keeping our track in good condition is our volunteer Permanent Way Gang, who meet every a few times a week. Working in all weathers, they perform a variety of rewarding tasks keeping the rails and all their fastenings secure with regular inspections.
Travelling Ticket Inspector – Fancy making some new friends and help to educate the public about the railway of time gone by? Whilst enjoying the views from your wide-windowed 1950s carriage, a friendly face will come along and ask to see your ticket. Our Travelling Ticket Inspectors perform a vital role, not only by checking your ticket but being on-hand to answer any questions you may have regarding our railway.
Signalling – From keeping the equipment up and running to pulling the levers on the big day. Anyone can help with signalling. As you travel along the line you will notice some of the old style mechanical signals, something that is quickly disappearing on Britain’s mainline network. Here at the CVR our Signalling Department is keeping the history of these alive, with a fully operational Signal Box having been built at Consall and plans now formulating to develop the signalling at Cheddleton.
Telecoms – Stay Connected! Learn about the complex and interesting telecoms world of telecoms which developed with the railways Not obvious to many visitors is our Telecoms department, who maintain the railway’s internal telephone system. Serviced by three 1950s Strowger electro-mechanical exchanges, all three stations have a connected telephone service as well as selected locations out on the lineside. Meeting weekly, the volunteers are kept busy with over nine miles of cabling requiring frequent servicing as well as maintaining the data network for our internet and email services plus our numerous webcams.
Catering – Don’t like getting your hands dirty in the yard? How about in the kitchen? Learn cooking cleaning and silver service all while helping to keep the railway running. During your journey you’ll at some point see our Award Winning “Moorlander” Dining Train. On selected dates we offer guests a variety of dining options ranging from our very English Staffordshire Teas to our 4-course Sunday Lunch trains plus themed Evening Diners. All of these services are crewed by our volunteer Catering team, who have set a high standard that was recognised with the “ACES Best Dinner Award 2012”.
Commercial – Can’t get down much? How about helping to set up and run events on the commercial team? Throughout the year we offer a huge variety of events, including a 1940s weekend, Ghost Train event, special railway enthusiast weekends and our increasingly popular Santa’s. None of these would run without the vital input from our volunteer Commercial team who help with both the planning and implementation of all our special events.