Retaining heritage skills for the future

The third feature in our series about Severn Valley Railway apprentices focuses on Ryan Parsons, who is building a new boiler for an Isle of Man loco.

IN THE Severn Valley Railway’s (SVR) boiler shop at Bridgnorth, improver boilersmith Ryan Parsons is tacklinga new-build boiler.

An improver grade is the first level for qualified employees after completing an apprenticeship, and as a new graduate from the railway’s Heritage Skills Training Academy, Ryan is very proud to be carrying out this key project, part of a large-scale external contract the SVR is undertaking.

Ryan Parsons next to BR Riddles ‘4MT’ No. 75069. It was built in 1955 at Swindon works and came to the Severn Valley Railway in 1973 from Barry scrapyard. Once restored it steamed between 1984 and 1994 and is nearing the end of a long restoration.

“This is one of five new-build boilers we’re providing for the Isle of Man Railway (IoMR). It’s an important contract for us, and is bringing in a lot of revenue for the SVR.

Right now, I’m marking out fusible plug holes for the pre-tapped bushes and drilling and reaming girder holes for the bolts which fit into the girder itself. With the girder holes and stay holes to mark out and drill, I reckon there’ll be about 300 in all. 

“During the first part of my apprenticeship, I rotated around the different departments at the railway, including a six-month stint in the boilershop. S

o, when I came to specialise in boiler work, I knew quite a bit about what I was doing. In the early days here, I worked on stripping apart another IoMR boiler for No. 15 Caledonia, and a year later was putting it back together again.”

Read more in the January 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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