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  • Andy Vincent

Sygnets: Spring 2020 update

The pandemic has impacted the Sygnets just as much as other groups on the Swanage Railway. Whilst it now seems a long time ago, the year did start on a positive note for the Sygnets as Sygnet's Leader Colin Stone writes in his report:

Following on from the successful sponsored walk in January our February meet saw the group split three ways. Group one, our new intake comprising five Sygnets, plus three leaders met at a private site, that of the Higher Worgret Railway. The “new” lads introduced themselves to their fellow Sygnets giving names and interests etc. Leaders then followed suit explaining what roles they undertook on the Swanage Railway (SR) and where the new lads could possibly “fit in” on the SR once their Sygnet days are done. An informal induction into the SR fold was given, after which came a general railway orientated safety brief.

Next the lads got basic instruction on hand signals, signalling with flags and places of safety when in the presence of moving rail vehicles. Their first, “hands on”, experience of working with diesel and steam locomotives, albeit on a small scale followed.

Group two, the older lads, met at Swanage and in the presence of four leaders took a look around the MPD before undertaking a track walk. All these activities being accompanied by “questions and answers” on personal safety and other topics related to the larger issues of railway safety. Finally two Sygnets and one leader, met with Frazer White and carried out a few tasks for the “crane gang” in and around the Norden area. During the day your scribe visited all three sites, taking photographs and collecting some of the monies raised during the January sponsored walk.

Our March meeting saw the group assemble at Swanage before travelling up to Norden on the 10.40 service train and enter the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum (PMMG). Once on site, following a safety brief, the lads were able to experience “practical” instruction with various hand tools. Next more instruction and experience of conditions around moving rail vehicles were learnt as the PMMG resident Ruston loco’ and a tippler wagon took cleared line side vegetation from various dumps to a prepared bonfire site. Some of the skills passed on were how to work safely as a group or “track gang” i.e. individual and group safe working practices. Lessons on how to give clear verbal communication between “track gang” and driver were also demonstrated.

As the day progressed the most popular and warmest “job” was feeding the cleared vegetation onto a controlled burn. Finally to end proceedings, marshmallows were toasted over the dying embers of the fire and consumed between two chocolate digestive biscuits … Tasty, tasty very, very tasty ! !

As we are all aware the Covid-19 virus reared its ugly head; its ramifications around the nation sadly saw our forthcoming meetings cancelled in line with government advice on “social distancing”. Hopefully, in the not to distant future, better times will return and allow “The Sygnets” to continue along their “pathway” to becoming members of the fabulous, friendly Swanage Railway “family”.

This report was prepared for the Swanage Railway Magazine but did not appear because of the impact of Covid-19 on the magazine production schedule.


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