Motive Power Department

Brief Job Role: The Motive Power Department (MPD) is based in Cheddleton, and its purpose is to maintain and operate the Churnet Valley Railway’s fleet of steam and diesel locomotives. Despite being small in both size and numbers, we are able to perform both simple routine maintenance on our locomotives as well as assist in heavy repairs and full overhauls. No matter your experience or level of skill within engineering, all are welcome to participate with this friendly department, which has developed a real family feel to it amongst our regulars. Everyone works together to lovingly bring a silent beast back to life, be it one of our heritage diesel or steam locomotives. With five resident steam locomotives, five resident diesels plus our shunting and departmental vehicles there is always something to do at Cheddleton every day of the week. 

The MPD also provides the crews for operating the locomotives on the Railway’s various services. Many boys (and an ever-growing number of girls!) dream of becoming a train driver, and the CVR offers the opportunity to do so. However, drivers don’t become drivers overnight, and it takes a good level of commitment to eventually make the grade. To do this means starting as a cleaner where you are tasked with ensuring the locomotives are looking their best at the start of the day’s service, which on the steam locos also entails cleaning away ash and char from the ash pan and smoke box.


Projects Past and Present: Despite our size, many people are surprised to learn of what our volunteers consistently achieve time and again. In recent times both resident American S160s nos. 6046 and 5197 have undergone full overhauls, with them becoming the first pair of S160s to operate together at the Winter Steam Gala in 2017. Following their completion efforts have moved on to British counterpart, former LMS 8F no. (4)8173 which is expected to take a further 4 years to overhaul. And this is before we get to our true success story – our famous Polish Tank no. 2944 “Hotspur” that featured in Michael Portillo’s “Great British Railway Journeys”. Purchased by a group of the MPD’s volunteers, the loco had been laid up in a siding for nearly 2x decades yet inside 14 months the whole department came together and was able to return the locomotive to steam in time for the Anything Goes event in June 2014. Why not come and join in the next success story of the 8F ,whilst helping to maintain the operational fleet.


If you would like to get involved then please fill in the attached document and send it back either by email, post or contact the office and we will be sure to help reach the department of our choice.  

Volunteer Recruitment Form




Motive Power Department (Diesel Division)


Brief Job Role: This section of the MPD, based at Cheddleton, is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the diesel locomotive fleet at the railway, together with overhauling the non-operational locos to return them all to service. Presently we only have one operational large diesel, 33102 Sophie, but there are a further two under active restoration at present. There is also three shunting locomotives utilised around the yard, all of which are cared for by the same group of men. Tasks range from simply rubbing down paintwork and repainting, to helping run out wiring for electrical re-wires, to stripping down power units, removing pistons etc. prior to rebuilding them again with refurbished components.


Project Past and Present: The biggest success story to date is full overhaul of Class 33 33102 Sophie, which following a return to service in 2011 has proven to be a reliable locomotive for the line covering 1000s of miles despite being the mainstay of the diesel fleet.
The two current big projects for the group is the overhaul of Class 20 D8057 and Class 47 D1107, both of which have never operated in preservation. Both have had their power units removed for a full overhaul, with all parts being removed for refurbishment. Each locomotive is in varying stages of progress with regards to auxiliary equipment being removed and overhauled, plus repairs to the driving cabs, desks and controls.
Most people in this department have learnt their skills “on-the-job” at Cheddleton, and come from much less technical backgrounds in their working lives. So if you are looking to get involved with engineering, and join a friendly team, then look no further!
If you fancy giving up some time to help us progress with either of these projects - anything from a day a week to a day a month - you would be made most welcome. So please make yourself known to one of the group and have a chat. They will be able to provide much more information and show you what work is being carried out.

If you would like to get involved then please fill in the attached document and send it back either by email or in the post or contact the office and we will be sure to help reach the department of our choice. 

Volunteer Recruitment Form