We are aware that anyone visiting Almondell for the first time will undoubtedly get the impression that the main focus is on a railway, but like a lot of first impressions this is not the whole story. Yes, we are building a miniature railway, but out of necessity as we are having to vacate our existing leased site in the grounds of Newliston House by Easter of 2018. This was the spur to purchase Almondell outright meaning we could invest in a long term, secure future.
Being a large site (11 acres) Almondell presents ESME with exciting opportunities to do something more than just running trains for the members. It opens the door to the community at large to engage, not only with model engineering, but to learn associated skills. ESME is already actively involved with educational and volunteer activities based around the development of AMEC and environmental aspects associated with managing and caring for our woodland for future generations to enjoy.
Here are some answers to questions we frequently get asked about membership of ESME by interested parties:
What if I just want to work on the site?
GREAT – not a problem, there are several members who are not really interested in building something, but just like to be involved in developing the site and its facilities. These members have got involved in painting, grass cutting, gardening, tidying and all the other sundry tasks that go to keeping the site and facilities in tip top condition. Don’t worry, we can find a very worthwhile role for you!
Do I have to work at weekends or during the week?
NO – There is no ‘required’ working, the site and facilities are maintained and operated on a voluntary basis. We would be very appreciative though if members would volunteer to help at least once a year otherwise the club doesn’t develop over the longer term. Working parties are usually at the Almondell site on a Saturday & Thursday. We reserve Sundays as a non-working day when we enjoy the hobby. Many members are recently retired and enjoy the camaraderie and diverse activities of the working parties. The comment has been made that this is a nice way to break into retirement.
Does ESME membership have a Social Side?
YES – during the winter months we hold regular meetings featuring talks, slide shows and videos. See ‘Events Calendar’ for details. As the Heritage Centre is developed a range of activities will be organised either by ESME or other groups. Every Sunday ESME members meet at the site where with their friends and families they can either run their trains and miniature road vehicles, stationary engines or any other model they have. Once a year ESME arranges a BBQ for members to bring along their friends and family.
Do I need to be an engineer?
NO – but if you are interested in acquiring these skills some ESME members are trained engineers, but by far the greater number of members have either NO engineering training or very limited skills. For those who wish to learn some of these skills there is a vast pool of knowledge available – all you need to do is ask. The only challenge you’ll face is just whose advice to take!
If I want to build something can I get any help?
CERTAINLY – Okay, we won’t build it FOR you, but there is as much help and guidance as you need. There is a vast pool of knowledge within ESME and the workshop equipment is available for use once you have been shown how to use the equipment SAFELY. All you need to do is ask for help. One of the main reasons to join is to be able to tap into this knowledge and equipment.
Do I need to have a Locomotive?
NO – Many members don’t have their own locomotives. ESME has a 7¼” gauge club locomotive which after undertaking a short training course you will be able to drive. Plus, the ESME members are a friendly bunch and provided you learn the necessary skills and meet the safety requirements then you will no doubt be offered the opportunity to have a drive of their locomotives.
Can I learn to be responsible for driving a passenger Train?
YES – Although they are miniature they operate just like their full-sized counterpart. Provided you meet the safety requirements and age limits then club members can teach you how to operate safely. Once you have demonstrated competency you would be qualified (subject to age limitations) to operate passenger trains during Public Running.
What do I do Next?
The Trustees should like to point out that the hobby of Model Engineering is addictive and many members who had no initial interest do get hooked, there is a great deal of satisfaction in ‘making’ something that actually works.