Chug life

Hello! Esme here.

During the Moving on Up conference in Edinburgh, which Colchester + Ipswich Trainees attended back in February, I had a few conversations with fellow attendees on the stumbling blocks that can occur when trying to obtain the job that you would really love, especially within museums.

Through past and current practice, I have been learning that the more experience you can gain the better when working towards this goal. Practical experience is very valuable, as it is possible to learn new skills, develop strengths and fill in the weaker gaps while on two feet. Both traineeships and apprenticeships are paving the way forward, especially when the costs of study or volunteering are not feasible for all.

On this note, I feel very lucky that I am currently being immersed into the world of railways, steam engines and locomotives one day per week on a work placement at the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel in Essex.


The East Anglian Railway Museum is an Accredited Museum and has an incredible collection of steam engines (I have learnt not to say trains, it’s not the done thing), carriages and memorabilia related to the region on display. They also do amazing Sunday Roast dinners on the last Sunday of every month! *just saying*

It’s a very interesting place to be working at, as unusually the site is live and has a railway running through the middle of the museum. This carries passengers to stops between Marks Tey and Sudbury.

The Restoration Shed is where all the action takes place and volunteers work tirelessly, restoring engines to working order. Visitors can stop to chat to the engineers at work, which breathes life, or should I say coal fire, into the collections.

Sometimes Thomas the Tank Engine comes to visit when he is poorly. If you are of a sensitive disposition look away now!

EARM restoration 3.jpegPercy the engine and Thomas… in bits.

EARM restoration 1Museum engineers working with incredibly heavy collections.

Being a small museum, run with the help of many volunteers, there is much to do. On this placement, I have been helping to re-develop the tour and family trails. The plan is to have a light but informative whistle stop tour, so that people gain an insight into the history of the site, what it was like to work and travel on the railway from 1890 and what is happening at the museum now and in the future – a lot to cover in just under an hour!

I hope to update you more with my progress soon!


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