Gala Weekend goes full steam ahead to recruit new volunteers

A special Steam Gala Weekend at Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway over the May Day Bank Holiday will be offering some unique behind-the-scenes experiences for would-be volunteers as part of the upcoming three-day spectacular (Saturday 4 to Monday 6 May 2024).

The launch of a brand-new Volunteer Hub by the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society (RERPS) is aimed at inspiring volunteers like Archie Dixon, who qualified as a volunteer guard at the age of just 16.

Local lad Archie was involved in carriage cleaning, staffing intermediate stations and undertaking winter track work in all weathers, before graduating as a guard last summer responsible for the safe operation of a train carrying up to 150 people on its scenic 7-mile journey. It’s a real family affair for Archie, who has been visiting consistently since he was around four-weeks old, with his parents and grandparents both heavily involved with the railway too.

The Steam Gala Weekend will give people of all ages a sneak peek at what’s involved in becoming a volunteer. That includes unique guided tours of the workshop and engine shed, as well a ‘shuttle’ train to Murthwaite Sidings to see a track laying demonstration at intervals throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Archie says: “Being a volunteer gives me an opportunity to work with the public and build my confidence in a railway environment which is my hobby and passion. I enjoy spending time in the outdoors amidst the spectacular Eskdale scenery and love spotting different wildlife on every trip including deer, buzzards and red squirrels. I get satisfaction at the end of each day knowing that I've played my part in delivering a safe and enjoyable day out for passengers!”

Stuart Ross, General Manager (Visitor Experience) at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, adds:

“Archie is an inspiration and a shining example to our growing number of young volunteers. Like all our volunteers, he plays a vital role in helping us to maintain the high level of service that we provide – we rely heavily on their efforts to support our permanent staff, working together as one team.”

As well as throwing the spotlight on volunteers, the Gala Weekend will include plenty for visitors to see too, including two visiting locomotives. It’s one of the first opportunities to see Mr Hallworth, which is a brand-new saddle tank from Perrygrove Railway Adventure with around 100 miles on the clock, while St Egwin is heading to Cumbria from the Valley Railway Adventure in Worcestershire.

Meanwhile, there will be chance to view the Old British Railways signal box. There will also be free entry to Ravenglass Railway Museum and the chance to become a ‘driver for a donation’, with 15-minute bookable slots being made available. That’s in addition to opportunities for people to meet the drivers and pose for photos with the flagship locomotives in Ravenglass Platform 2 at intervals.

Stuart Ross, continues: “Our Gala Weekends have become an annual highlight for the railway, bringing together heritage rail enthusiasts from outside the area with local people and families of all ages. We are particularly looking forward to seeing our mix of historic locomotives alongside brand-new visiting engines.”

Weekend ‘rover’ tickets will allow passengers to hop on and off different trains, with 1, 2 and 3 day passes available.  Tickets during the Steam Gala Weekend can be booked online in advance or purchased on the day at Ravenglass or Dalegarth stations, subject to availability.

For further information about events and timetables, visit or call 01229 717171.


Notes to Editors: 

For further information, contact: Heather Sewell, / 07795 487003.

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a family-owned business operating one of the oldest and longest narrow-gauge railways in England, on the Western Coast of the Lake District. Affectionately known as La’al Ratty, the railway is surrounded by stunning views and walks and is based in Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park.

For more details about becoming a volunteer, take a look at or email