Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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HomeHeritageAge gap no barrier for railway pattern making pair at the Ffestiniog...

Age gap no barrier for railway pattern making pair at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways (FfWHR) welcomed Bob Smith, an experienced pattern maker, to its Boston Lodge Works as a volunteer in his early 70s after a career in engineering in Leicester at Rover Cars.

Bob had made the move to Penrhydeudraeth, North Wales with his wife Lesley to retire but word of his skill set soon reached the nearby FfWHR.

“Heavy work was becoming of a bit of challenge,” said Bob, now 81 and still an active member of the Railway community, “…so at 76 I was paired up with Adam, a lad of 23.”

Adam Livingstone had just completed an apprenticeship in woodwork and was employed at Boston Lodge in the Carriage Works, when Bob arrived.

Bob said: “Now I could see Adam didn’t suffer fools! But when we began working together, he could see I knew my stuff and we got on like a house on fire.

“We didn’t have a cross word in our years working together and I was able to pass on my skills too.

“Pattern making involves wood turning and sand casting to make a pattern to go to the foundry to turn out engineering parts.

“There was a lot for Adam to get his head around, like making patterns in contraction and taper, getting the angles right!”

Adam Livingston now runs his own business, Livingston Joinery, and is a contractor for FfWHR.

27-year-old Adam said: “I had completed my apprenticeship and then went on to learn pattern making from Bob, those skills have transferred into skills I now use in my business.”

“We already had the basics of hand tooling from the FfWHR apprenticeship and the concept of pattern making came when Bob joined as a volunteer.

“Having different generations working together is something the FfWHR does well, especially joining at Kids week just like I did.

“I was always surprised by the number of volunteers that come in later in life like Bob, who having retired, now want to carry on teaching people and passing on their skills as well as learning themselves.

“I was the last one on my college course. Without the Railway to keep skills alive, trades like bench joinery will be lost with most people now working on site not on traditional bench work.”

Bob said he is happy to retire now and enjoys relaxing in Spooners at the FfWHR Harbour Station. After finishing his apprenticeship at 21 and making patterns until April 2023, he clocked up over 50 years in the trade.

His volunteering is a legacy contribution to the skills at the world leading Boston Lodge Works.

For further information visit the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Volunteering page.

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