Ben became the heritage line’s youngest ever driver on his 21st birthday.
After volunteering with the railway since the age of nine, Ben Gray was given his drivers card on his 21st birthday at the end of December.
Ben is the son of the Bluebell Railway’s Locomotive Engineering Director, Tim Gray, and the love of locomotives is clearly in his blood.
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Having been a member of ‘The 9F Club’ from a young age, Ben went on to become a cleaner for the railway at 16. He then became a fireman, before being recommended for the Bluebell Railway’s driver training programme in early 2023.
Ben took an exam on shunting duties and smaller locomotives handling in October, carried out on SECR No. 65 (O1). Then on December 30th, his twenty-first birthday, Ben took the next part of the exam, working on a larger locomotive- 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ – on a regular Bluebell Railway passenger working along the full length of the line.
At the end of the exam, he was officially passed out by Bluebell Railway Inspector Chris Suitters at Sheffield Park, becoming the youngest driver in the railway’s 64 year history.
“The railway is extremely lucky to have a range of younger volunteers who like Ben, wish to keep steam alive,” said a spokesperson for the Bluebell Railway.