Thank You for visiting our Sisters of Steam secton. It is not just restricted to those of you who work on the footplate but any of you who work with steam of any description or on heritage railways in any capacity.

If you would like to share your story then please send it ( with images as jpegs if you have them)  to us  via our contact e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Thank You 

We now have an exclusive range of Sisters of Steam clothing and other items
available through our on line shop ,
why not check some out  before you go 

 

 

Here we have two stories about "Sisters of Steam"  Melissa and Vicki-

the common theme is the enthusiasm!

Melissa

When my son realised his dream of owning a railway back in 2010, I couldn’t see what the attraction was.

I’d lived with his obsession for 30 years and now here he was, the proud owner of the run- down Hastings miniature railway.

Running just half a mile along the seafront since 1948, the 10.25” gauge railway needed a lot of TLC.

In a few short months Dan had increased the locos from one to four, built two new sets of carriages, a passing loop and a turntable.

Pretty soon I was bitten, and one day said  “Go on Dan. Give us a go. It can’t be that hard”

Around 7 years later having derailed, broken and crashed around 11 diesel locos, (one of which, Dan built for me…..the infamous Cornish Pixie), I started on steam.

During the season, we run a 3-train service (we are gradually replacing diesel with steam and currently have 3 with another on its way, and 2 being built).

We run various galas during the year including steam and charity, or maybe we simply want to celebrate a Loco’s birthday. We also run an illuminated Christmas event.

Over the years, Dan built more locos, and repairs and builds for other railways.

A few years ago Dan acquired the 7.25” gauge railway in our nearby park which is currently run by one of our engineers and my grandson.

We hold Christmas and Halloween events here, giving all of us the chance to exercise another Hastings passion for fancy dress.

During the school holidays, I drive 5 or 6 days a week, barely scrubbing the grime off, and untangling my hair from one day before starting again the next day.

I used to drive in flip flops but even I got embarrassed by how dirty my feet became! And I still bear the scar where I managed to stab my foot with a hot poker.

Luckily, Morrisons are used to us late night shopping still covered in soot.

On my days off, I visit other railways and we regularly take our locos to other railway’s galas.

I don’t claim to know much about engines, I can fire up and down, oil, drive and generally maintain them whilst running. But much like a car, I have no idea what goes on under the hood. I leave that to the men.

And whilst on the subject, to my memory, about 8 of our drivers over the years have been female. And yes, we all have to put up with  “oh. are you driving dear?”

The best is when someone looks over my head to someone behind me and says “scuse me. When does the next train leave?”

We put up with the sort of patronising comments no male driver would have to. But as always, we have to smile and put up with it.  After all, there are advantages to being female. We have the excuse of “Help please, I’m not strong enough to do that” whenever anything goes wrong!

I’d like to be able to say that what I lack in knowledge I make up for in enthusiasm. Who doesn’t love piling on so many layers you can hardly move, just to keep warm. Getting soaked in the rain. Battling the winds. We could all write books of the silly questions we get asked and the insults thrown at us.

And the parents we see year after year with their toddlers growing into teenagers and still coming back. The children who want their photo taken with me in the cab.  The mums and dads who thank me for making their child’s holiday.

And the waving. Where else could you do a job where you spend your days waving and smiling?

Not a job if you treasure your hair makeup and nails.

Whenever I hear “ooh. We have a lady driver”. I answer “I’m no lady!”

Melissa.

Known to all as ‘M’

Crazy Train Driver.

If found, please return to

Hastings Miniature Railway.

Hastings. East Sussex.

Proprietor Dan Radcliffe.

No up to date website but best found on Facebook:-

HASTINGS MINIATURE RAILWAY

 

My Artwork & My Steam Traction Engine Hobby By Vicki Rogers

My Steam Traction Engine Hobby started at a very young age when I went to my first Steam Rally with my family back in 1987 at Everley Hill in rural North Dorset which was the "Dorset Steam Fair" back then & I loved being around the engine's & watching them do what they were built to do, & I also loved the smell & it reminded me that I was Home. As I got older, I wanted to go on the footplate of an engine myself to see what it was like which was one of my all-time goal's.

In 2013 that came true, I was at Dorset walking around the now famous showman's line & I asked one of the drivers of Burrell Showman's Engine "Star" if I could come up onto the footplate. I was very shy to ask at the time I climbed up & My Dream became a reality. I just couldn't believe that I finally had the courage to do something I've never done before in my life. In 2014 I started helping out my Steam Traction Engine Owner friends restoring their engines & I loved every minute of it learning as I went along & seeing it taking shape.  From the gears to the cylinder block & I want to carry on doing it because I love it so much & seeing something being brought back to life & working & that's still one of my goal's to take my ambition another step up the ladder,

In 2015 at Dorset I helped polish & look after an engine which is still close to my heart, a Burrell scenic Showman's called "Dolphin" which is owned by my very good friend Mike Dreelan from Aberdeen & I have been helping him to this day. The engine was owned by Frank Lythgoe who was also showman & he had a fleet of engine's including Mclaren "Goliath" works number 1623 reg number DH 2482; Foden "Prospector" built in 1910 works number 2104 reg number WR 6985; "Dreadnought" built in 1909 works number 3093 reg number AY 9682; "Dolphin" built in 1925 works number 4030 Reg number FA 2316 & not forgetting a Fowler called "King Carnival 2" works Number 19783, built in 1932 Reg number EF 4883.  He also had a set of Gallopers which are now owned by my friend Mike but the 98-key Merenghi Organ is still with the Lythgoe Family.

In 2016 I decided to take my Hobby to another level. I started doing art when I was at College from 2001 to 2006. I only did a three year course & I just loved being creative in my own way & my tutor was very impressed with what I came up with, in 2016 I combined my Hobby with my art & it really worked I started drawing Traction Engine's thanks to my dad as he used to do Technical Drawing & he has been a big help to me.

In the same year I had a meeting at a pub in Wimborne called "Drusillas's" where I met the owner of the pub then & I showed them my Artwork - the meeting went really well & it took my art to the next level. They asked if I could leave six with them & I agreed & I was so happy so show other people who visited the Pub - even my friends because it was a venue for the engines to go to before travelling up to the Great Dorset Steam Fair site.  My inspirations in the Steam Art world were the late Johnny Crowman who's drawings were absolutely incredible & so detailed & another artist who currently does steam engine drawings & paintings is Howard White & his drawing's & paintings gave me the chance to bring my artwork to life and gave me lots of advice & he was very helpful, so Thank You so much to them for that.

My first Engine I drew was Burrell Showmans "General Gough" It took me a while to do with the dynamo at the front & the scale which had to be exactly right including the smokebox door.  When it was finished I gave the print to the owners who are very close friends of mine so it was fitting for them. When I visit a Steam rally, I grab my DSLR camera, take a photo of the subject in question whether its a Fairground, Street Organ or a Showman's engine, Road Roller or a Road Loco & I copy them freehand hand onto paper - I do get a little help from my dad if I need it. But getting the colours right can be tricky sometimes because they have to be exactly right to the photo I have taken then I take a break from the steam side of thing's & move onto Fairground Organ's which played a big part in the fairground scene as they brought people on to the old time rides whilst playing their Melodies. I always found them very tricky due to the fact they have so much pipe work depending on the one I'm doing & scroll work on the facade & it depends on how many figurines it has which can be very difficult but I try to work my way around that.

 I'm also a Member of The Fair Organ Preservation Society & I do article's for their quarterly Key Frame Magazine. I'm also an Official Photographer for the Southern Counties Organ Festival which I attend in June at Devizes Green in Wiltshire.  They are a lovely group of people & learning more about the organs & their history which is very interesting to me going around the back & watching the book of Music go through the Keyframe & also talking to the owners themselves.

Back in September 2020 which is also my birthday month I had the best present which I will never forget.  A couple of my friends were doing a road run in Dorset with their steam engines Alchin General Purpose Traction engine "Royal Chester", Mclaren Road Locomotive "Hercules", Marshall Road Locomotive "Ben Lomond" & Fowler General Purpose Traction Engine "Berkshire Tarriff Queen" . It was a really emotional surprise for me to see them after a long few months due to the situation that was currently going on which halted a lot of steam events & social gatherings which made it hard for everyone in the road steam preservation sector & especially with the concern of coal supplies at this current time.

I'm also a crew member on another engine which is owned by Westons Cider Company in Herefordshire, an Aveling & Porter Road Roller works number 9158 reg WR 7274  “Old Rosie” which I still help out on at Dorset since 2018, I get to learn to light the fire & get steam up & I also have the privilege to steer her which I haven't done in my life which I do assisted because I'm not used to steering her on my own just yet so one step at a time. I do get the chance to have a go at steering her around the playpen & it's amazing to do but hard work at the same time because some people find it easy but I'm just getting used to it.  I also have other favourite Traction engines that also attend Dorset on a regular basis - Mclaren Road Locomotive "Boadicea", Fowler "The Great North", Fowler Road Locomotive "Atlas", Fowler Showman’s Engine "The Lion", Fowler Crane Engine "Duke of York", Burrell Scenic Showman’s "General Gough", Burrell Road Locomotive "Lord Roberts", Burrell Road Locomotive "Clinker", & Burrell Scenic Showman's "Dolphin" & a few others too.

Since 2014 I have made so many Steam Traction Engine friends along the way & they have been so supportive & caring they are my second family. I'm so lucky & blessed to have them in my life because without them I wouldn't be “Living my Dream” so Thank You so much to everyone of them.

To find out more about The Hastings Miniature Railway  click on this link 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309616582920

 

to see more of Vicki's artwork click here

https://www.facebook.com/groups/710475149449602

 

 

 Sister of Steam 'Rachael Harris' tells us a little of her motivation and journey onto the footlate

I'm a member of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) based at Whitehead Railway Museum.

and I'm a part of the Operations Crew, helping with the running of our locos in the yard and mainline.

I have  loved to add to the stories of the other females .

I've been a member for the past 3 & a half years in the RPSI and have been passed out as a shunter & steam raiser.

I'm currently being trained to become a fireman.

My goal is to become the first female Diesel and Steam driver in the society's history.

There can be a certain kind of stigma which comes with being a woman in a male dominated environment, which I’m no stranger to being a Design Engineer. However, the RPSI is one place where I have never experienced this.
Growing up, I used to see the steam trains on certain weekends pass by, but it wasn’t until I met my, then boyfriend, and now fiancé, that I got my first experience on a steam train. In September 2018 we were booked to travel on a steam train journey and from that moment I was hooked. 
Being a Design Engineer means I spend a lot of time behind a desk looking at screens, so there really is nothing better than getting to do something physical which is also so much fun. Couple that with being surrounded by other amazing volunteers and you have the perfect recipe for a rewarding, unique and exciting hobby.
Shortly after my first steam train journey I was down for a steam train rides day and a few weeks later I began volunteering. My first few tasks were cleaning our biggest engine, No. 85. There’s no better way to get to know an engine!
Slowly I began to gain experience steam raising, shunting and guard duties, until I unfortunately had a major setback. I needed a second knee surgery in January 2020, stemming from an unrelated injury in August of 2019. After this it wasn’t until restrictions began to lift in mid-late 2020 that I returned to Whitehead. 
It was almost a full year missed of training and learning but I soon got back into the swing of things. Alongside a few other volunteers I was passed out as a shunter during a Shunter School in July 2021. This gave me a great experience within shunting, but the real learning came when helping to shunt a 7-carriage rake at Halloween! This was unlike anything I had ever done but having knowledgeable and patient volunteers to learn from was invaluable. Of course, this had to be in the wind and pouring rain!
In December 2021 I was then passed out as a steam raiser and during the Santa Specials, completed my first turn as a stream raiser and not as assistant. Here I took a new female volunteer through the process of lighting one of our engines, No. 131. Although the loco was rather stubborn at first, I remembered my training and we successfully had the engine to a decent pressure when the fireman and driver arrived!
Now the hard work really begins! It’s time for fireman training… I have had a few days on the footplate for fireman experience and they have been, by far, my favourite thing I have taken part in. Experiencing the raw power of a locomotive while you are the one shovelling the coal is something extraordinary. Trying to remember all the oiling points too is no easy task!
It is so tricky to get the balance right between coal in the firebox and water in the boiler to keep the pressure up but not to blow off. I’m learning the tricks of the trade from some incredible volunteers and slowly getting to grips with it. Even the injectors are starting to become second nature now! 
I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be where I am, especially after 2 knee surgeries, but I am highly privileged to get to be taught by and work with numerous wonderful volunteers on multiple breath-taking engines. Working with operations for shunts, train rides and main line runs, in all capacities, have been some of the best experiences I have ever had.
My goal going forward is to become the first female steam and diesel driver in RPSI history. 

 One photo is during my steam raiser assessment

and the other is one of my first days of fireman experience on the footplate.

 

                 

 

 

To find out more about Railway Preservation in Ireland click the link 

 

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com

 

2 more Sisters of Steam Tracy and Alison from  Buckinghamshire Railway Centre ( Quainton Road)

We look forward to reading their stories soon.

 

                  

 

 

                               

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
here is a link to find out more about our friends at Quainton Road 

https://www.bucksrailcentre.org

 

Long term Sister of Steam Joanne Crompton seems pleased with her mug and key ring    

 

                                                                                         

 

Joanne Crompton
  · 
A lovely little surprise today in the post, thank you  😊

, Joanne is theFinance Director & Treasurer at Bury Steam Locomotive Co Limited & Bury Standard 4 group

&  Steam Locomotive Fireman

at The East Lancs Railway  & The Llangollen Railway 

here is a link to the East Lancs


https://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk

& The Llangollan 

https://llangollen-railway.co.uk

 

We would very much like to hear your story , about why you became involved,

what roles you fullfill and

hopefully how much you enjoy helping keep our industrial heritage alive.

 

We would of course like to share some of those stories ( with photos ( as jpegs)  if you will ) on here

and hopefully it will lead to an increase in our Sisters of Steam across heritage projects in the UK 

Please send any submissions to 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Our friends across The Pond in the USA also have a penchant for Steam 

See some of their Ladies of Steam on their facebook page

click here for Ladiesofsteam USA

 

Below we see Trustee,  David Holmes, presenting Tina Sutton with a Sisters of Steam mug and Key ring .
Tina is the first recipent of said mug and key ring . Congratulations Tina is a long standing member of the GWSR footplate crew.  Thank you Tina for being a true Sister of Steam

 

 

 

 Our 2nd Sister of Steam to receive a Sister of Steam mug & key Ring,

this time from 2874 Trust Chairman David Foster is Alex ,

Alex is  long time and hardworking member of the Loco dept.,.

Thank You Alex for being a true Sister of Steam (

Behind Alex and David you can see our stand at the GWSR 2022 Steam gala  

 

 

Sister of Steam Eleanor receives her Sisters of Steam Mug and key ring from Trustee Chairman David Foster.

Eleanor is another member of the footplate crew and another true Sister of Steam.

Thank you Eleanor  for being a true Sister of Steam

( not sure if they are choccy biscuits in the carrier ) 

 

 

Stalwart voluneer Tracy receiving her Sisters of Steam mug from 2874 chairman David Foster at the recent GWSR Diesel Gala on ourr stand

Tracy is oft seen with  working on 2874 ( she was also, up until recently, a member of the lineside  clearance team but the lure of steam may be enticed her inside ) 

The 2874 Trust is committed to promoting the involvement of as wide a range of people as possible in our project

to restore our 1918 built locomotive and provide it to heritage railways to become an attraction in their living museums.

The GWSR has a thriving Steam Loco Department and included in the active volunteers are a number of women –

they are proving that engineering, restoration, firing and driving are activities for anyone with the interest.

Like many heritage projects there is also a goodly number  of women working in other deppartments 

We will continue to develop this part of our website - dedicated it to “The Sisters of Steam” – watch this space for more!

Here we have a clip of Tina Sutton taking the regulator of 7820 Dinmore Manor

on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, she is being supervised by one of the driver trainers, Stephen Burnett 

And here is Tina again in full protective gear working on 2874 - removing wasted steelwork to prepare for riveting new replacements

 

 

 

  

 

 Tracy working on the frames 

 

 

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