As many people know it takes quite a few members of our society to keep our little railway up and running.
Most of this is done by the Thursday Gang, who are responsible for keeping the track in good order.
Our steel track is fitted to mostly wooden sleepers, except the section that climes up to the bridge and through the little woods, which is fixed to plastic sleepers as it runs along with trees and shrubs each side so the track is always damp, making even our hardest wooden sleepers rot away faster than anywhere else on site, hence the use of plastic sleepers.
Our public running is on Sundays and most Bank Holidays.
On these days we have many regular customers, many we regard as friends of the railway, some are active members.
Our main Steam Engine Drivers are:
We have other steam engine drivers that are fully qualified to pull passengers but they don't often help out on Sundays but do on special occasions like Birthday parties or at Halloween.
As we get to know young members they are assessed, and if we feel the time is right we get them to help get a steam engine ready for service, that's filling the boiler and lighting the fire. The next step is to teach how the loco works, how to make it move and how to stop.
Then when we can a qualified driver will sit behind the trainee and teach them to drive the engine, later adding a set of coaches.
Once we feel they have learned the basic driving skills we will allow them to do a few laps of the track with a member of staff sitting behind them on the train.
So if you think you might be interested in joining, why not spend an afternoon with us, and at the end discuss joining us and our helpful, happy team. It costs £35 per year for adult members.
On our public running days we have our members doing various jobs, drivers, guards, station staff.
Station staff look after the passengers, getting them seated on the trains and they also clip the tickets, sometimes the guard clips the tickets.
At present the station staff make sure passengers are seated, makes sure the driver is ready, checks the signal is green he then gets the attention of the guard at the back of the train, who then blows his whistle to start the train, it's the guard that's in charge of the train.
So here are the staff you might meet on the platform on a Sunday or bank holiday.
All train staff including drivers work at all jobs at some time or other
Gordon has been with the Milton Keynes Model Engineering Society for many years, has built many steam locomotives, and the bright red engine we use at present on Sundays "Pollyanna" belongs to him.
Gordon ensures our track stays in good condition for our trains to run over, by replacing any sleepers he knows need changing or that have been reported to him by drivers or other staff who have noticed damaged or rotting sleepers in the course of their duties on running days.
Thursday Gangs Main man, is our site engineer Dave.
Over the years, since the early 1970s M.K.M.E.S have had a quite a few track sites, and Dave has worked on most of them, so if a problem needs sorting Dave's the man, but not until he has drawn it up on the white board in the clubhouse for us all to see over a cup of tea.
At present Dave, along with other members of the Thursday Gang, are building our long awaited signal box, many of the parts are already built and are in store awaiting the main support posts, which are almost ready.
Along with another member of the society, Dave built the fantastic locomotive "Waldenbugh" this loco only runs at Caldecotte on special occasions, we would love to see it more often.
Dave is also building two 5" gauge 0-6-0 Stroudley 'terrier' locomotives, he has a love of vintage motor bikes, Well all things vintage like most of us old timers.
Another important member at Caldecotte is Geoff, retired from his successful engineering company, he now is the man we go to if we need heavy work doing, like digging trenches, mowing our site, track building, if you mentioned a job, next week he will turn up with some machine or invention to do it, along with the means of moving large things.
Since Geoff joined us he has built three powerful 7.25" gauge locomotives to run on his private railway, although they do regularly visit the track at Caldecotte to haul trains.
Another of his loves is model railways, 00 scale, he has a passion for diesel locomotives, with so many railway locomotive owners running trains in England
There seems to be a new livery each week, if a new one were to be unveiled on Monday Geoff will have a replica within a week or two!
While building our station by-pass line we had to dig out about 30 meters of embankment, which in the past would have had to be dug by hand over many months, but thanks to Geoff and his trusty mini digger it took just three weeks!
The Thursday gang would like to say a big thank you to Geoff for his help in that major project, and everything else he helps us do.
I hope he doesn't mind me saying that he is the oldest member of our society.
Lawrence lives quite close to the track site at Caldecotte, with his dog Holly.
The Thursday gang use Lawrence as a clock, because when he turns up it means it's tea time.
After tea he goes off and helps anyone that need an extra pair of hands.
When I first meet Lawrence, he had a fantastic collection of full size tractors, these he has slowly sold off to other collector's, he also had a 5" garden railway at one time.
Lawrence plays a bigger roll on a Sundays and other public running days.
Lawrence and his family were all farmers and there farm was quite extensive at one time, until Milton Keynes was thought up, apart from the farm house and a small area of land its now all housing.
He is the longest serving members at Caldecotte, Lawrence can be found in our ticket office a lot of the time, a job he shares with other members, although not so much now he does drive most of our locomotives now and again.
A keen model engineer, Brian has a fantastic collection of steam locomotives and other rolling stock, and turns his hands to any tasks we have going.
The last big job was fitting the brake system onto " Pollyanna " the Romulus steam loco we use on public running days.
If one of us is struggling with a project or repair, Brian's the first to offer his help he's a valuable member of the Thursday gang, but also helps out on Sundays and our Birthday parties.
He was a great help when we had to build many feet of track for our station
By-pass line, We appreciate him more because Brian lives some thirty miles each way to come and work with us, (he must be mad).
Mick has been with MKMES for ever.
Like Dave, he has had a roll in constructing 3 railways for the society, digging drainage ditches, drilling sleepers, I expect there was many jobs he did on our railway we ran many years ago which was at Elfield park which was next to the main railway line opposite Bleak Hall.
When I started at Caldecotte there was only the raised track built and Mick looked after it, every Thursday you would find him on his knees adjusting sleepers and levelling the track, this he did week in week out, it was a great track to ride on.
Then came the ground level track, Mick was there building, laying, welding, what he doesn't know about miniature railways isn’t worth knowing.
I know he belongs to a few other railways, Northampton, Bedford and one a bit further North, Echells Wood, there he's the carriage and wagon master.
The last big job he did at Caldecotte was with Dave Waters, together they built a half-pitched roof on our workshop and running shed, a big task, it took about 8 months to complete, a mammoth job for just two people. I don’t think Mick will mind me saying, but his health hasn't been to good, but he has still managed to build new bogies for our passenger carriage with upgraded brakes. Mick still comes down on Thursdays when he can
Ben came to us via his Grandad who was a well-loved member of the Thursday Gang, sadly no longer with us. Ben takes an interest in all things trains and railways, he also likes a bit of gardening, Plenty of that at Caldecotte.
Ben is an accomplished steam engine driver, and when he isn’t at Caldecotte he is a volunteer at the Leighton Buzzard Narrow gauge railway.
I have been at Caldecotte Miniature Railway since around 2008.
When I joined the first task I was involved in was getting mains water on site.
Next the level crossing and the ground level track, before that we had to move our now clubhouse from the North end of the site to where it is now up on the embankment.
What the public don't know is, the Thursday Gang works all year round, in sun, rain and snow, not like our public running Sundays.
I have no engineering skills, so do find myself helping others where I can.
I have great plans in my head, which I share with Dave Waters and others, then I sit back and watch things take shape. Then spend the rest of the time saying, look what WE have done, the last thing that I watched being done is the mains electricity being added to our site, and the avoiding line being built, I do make the tea sometimes.
I would rather be playing trains than working. One thing I must say is every member of the Thursday Gang work quite hard in their own way, those with engineering skills get the hard jobs and all I worry about is ‘will it be finished so I can run trains on Sunday!’
I would like to say thank you to all members of the Caldecotte Railway that make it the friendly place it is, I do find it hard to have time off.
Steve is part of the Thursday Gang and helps out around the track, often with Gordon or other doing track repairs.
Ever since joining us most Thursday's he turns up with a large cake that his wife bakes especially for us the night before, and not the same cake either, we love her lemon drizzle!
One of Steve's passions is his campervan which he has had quite a while, he has just given it a makeover and changed the front end.
Steve has, like many of our member a rather large model railway in his garage.
Steve is awaiting delivery of a 5" gauge live steam model of an A4 locomotive, we are all waiting to see it running on our tracks.
Going back to Steve's campervan, this for the past two years has been the computer command unit for our most successful Halloween night, thanks for that Steve,
David is a regular member of the thursday gang for a while now, I think he comes along for the lunchtime tea break, mind you he is always there waiting when the rest of us roll up at 9.30am.
Despite not being as active as he would like to be, he still helps out with most tasks while he's at the track. Thanks for all you do David.
Andrea is a graphic designer by trade, she used to work in the newspaper print industry in the days before computer graphics and all things digital.
She is a prolific card maker, and her designs are second to none, (orders taken, good prices too).
Andrea is on the MKMES committee and is a active member of the Sunday Gang.
Although not really a member of the Thursday gang, Andrea works all week, she is the contact between the public and the railway. She gives out information about running and opening times, and also takes the bookings for our Birthday parties on our dedicated phone line.
When we had one, she collated all the parts of our society magazine " the platform " this might come back one day....
Her other love is poster's, what can I say about her posters? she takes ages designing them, is never really satisfied with the end product, even though we all think they great.
Her best ones are what she produces for our Halloween and Santa days, unlike many who just repeat the same posters each year and just changing the date Andrea starts afresh with a completely new design.
One thing about Andrea she knows how to talk to the public.
Many years ago when I took over running the public timetable, it was just Andrea, Lawrence and myself working the Sundays Andrea was there taking her turn at driving the two carriage train hauled by our wooden box electric locomotive around our raised track, usually giving a running commentary all the way around explaining what new ideas we were having for improving the railway.
Andrea still comes to the track on a Sunday and works in the ticket office when she can, and attends as many of the birthday parties as she can, and now and then has a drive of
"Hagrid" our old faithful locomotive that works many of the birthday parties.
A great talker, very knowledgeable about the past, steam engines in and around Newcastle, he's seen all the streamlined A4 locomotives, worked in the ship building yards, interesting man.
Harrold has been with us for about 4 years, he helps out at birthday parties and on sundays, can be found at the main gate, in the ticket office, and working on platform duties, he also drives our petrol locomotive
"HAGRID" and other electric loco's.
Ben has been coming along to Caldecotte when it was just a length of track laid on the grass and long before I joined the society.
I first met Ben one Sunday public running day, he was standing looking over the main gate, we got Chatting about trains of course.
He told me about his large model railway in the loft, about the model locomotives and coaches he had, he asked me a bit about our railway as it was then.
The following weekend he was there again, it was then I realised his knowledge about modern day trains and railways was far better than mine, as I had retired from the railway in 1983 and had not bothered keeping up with modern railway trains and technology.
I think it was the next Sunday he asked me about joining the society and how much it cost, I told him that it as £20 for a junior, I Gave him the membership form and the very next Sunday he was back with the form and the money, it was at his point I met his family.
From then on Ben was part of our team.
One sunday when Ben's Mum dropped him off she came to me and said "could you tell Ben he can't come down to the railway if he doesn't tidy his room" this I did, still don't know if it did any good.
Ben was still at school, I think he was 14 or 15, we had started teaching him about steaming our Romulus steam locomotive, each week, Ron our Chairman ( Who owned the locomotive) gave Ben lessons on steaming and driving the engine, when times allowed To would, with supervision allow Ben to drive, it wasn't long before he was able to start from a cold engine, steam it and drive it from the steam bay around the track to the station ready for service, and at the end of the day our Chairman would let Ben do some driving to up his skills.
He now has better skills when driving steam than most of us old hands.
I have seen Ben ride his bike to the track,
Seen him in his first car, listened with interest about his collage work and followed with his apprenticeship achievements, it's me asking Ben about trains now, if you want to know where a mainline steam train is running, what locomotive is hauling what around the country ASK BEN. Steam Engine passing through MK, ask Ben.
Ben also has an interest in aircraft and is one of the best transport photographer's I know.
There is so much that could be said about OUR Ben, but I'm fed up with writing now.
My favourite sayings to my friend Ben is..........
"ONE DAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS"
Debbie has been with us just under two years, Debbie has her own little railway team, that's her two sons.
She also helps out in the ticket office, as well as station duties, she makes a wonderful cup of tea, sometimes we are so busy if she didn't make the tea we wouldn't get one.
Debbie also drives "HAGRID" our hard working petrol loco She also has been helping us try to keep the railway tidy during the Covid19 pandemic.
Steve & Andrew
Both Steve and his son Andrew have been members of MKMES for over 20 years, and have both had a hand in guiding the railway to what it is today.
Steve, our Vice Chairman, led the talks with the Parks Trust which enabled us to start building our railway at Caldecotte lake, and also arranged newspaper and TV publicity once we were open to spread the word of the new railway .
Steve also organised the annual disabled children's day, which we still hold to this day, so local disabled children could come and have free rides, later in our special wheelchair coach which Steve obtained a grant for.
Andrew has also helped to create the railway we know today, producing 2 DVD's which were sold to the public and running our website to publicise our running days.
Andrew has also owned and run his own engines at the railway, a 5 inch class 87 and the powerful 7 1/4 'Matilda', both of which have been used to provide rides over the years and are still within the club, although in the process of being changed to different engines!