Volunteering is fun!

See how you might enjoy volunteering at the K&ESR

Help us run the Railway

Almost everyone you see at the Kent & East Sussex Railway is a volunteer and behind the scenes there are many more. The Trustees are all volunteers, as are many of the people who are restoring and maintaining the locomotives, coaches, signalling, track and stations.

Without the commitment of our volunteers we would not exist. Can you help? We would love to welcome you! There are some incredible volunteering opportunities available that will broaden your mind, your circle of friends and teach you new skills too. Studies have shown time & again that volunteering is good for you – it can give you a fantastic sense of pride and achievement.

There is always lots to do. But there’s also lots of tea involved!

How can I get started?

Have you a specific interest you enjoy or that you want to achieve? Do you want to learn a new skill? Why not come to one of our ‘find out more’ days for a tour around the railway where you can meet some of our current volunteers? However if you’ve an idea about the area you’d like to find out more about, simply get in touch and we’ll arrange an introduction with the manager responsible. In all cases, contact our Volunteer Recruitment Officer, Jim Williams, for further details

What could I do?

There’s an extraordinary range of skills needed to keep the railway running and you’d be amazed at what you can do with the support of our great teams. Here’s a small selection of some of the opportunities available:

Operating Department

Operating the train services to keep our visitors on the move. Drivers, Firemen, Cleaners, Guards, Signalmen & Crossing Keepers are all trained in-house.

Footplate crew

Forestry & Conservation

Keep the railway safe and attractive by maintaining the linesides

Locomotive Department

Steam & diesel locomotive restoration and maintenance in our workshops at Rolvenden station

Volunteering in the loco

Carriage & Wagon

Visitors spend most of their time with us in one of our historic carriages. Our purpose built workshop at Tenterden tackles every aspect of restoration and maintenance of a fleet that ranges in age from the 1870’s to the 1960’s

Volunteering in C&W

Signal & Telecommunications

Provide, restore and maintain our signals, IT and internal telephone network – we have one of the longest traditional telegraph pole routes in the UK

Civil Engineering and Permanent Way

Ensuring our visitors experience a safe and attractive railway by planning, maintaining and developing the railway’s infrastructure and trackwork

Civil Engineering


Keep our visitors topped up with those essential elements of railway operation. The Station Refreshment Rooms at Tenterden, Northiam Tea Room and Bodiam Station all help keep the wheels turning. There’s usually also an on-board trolley service for those who cant get enough of riding our trains – for free! The ‘Wealden Pullman’ dining train offers yet more opportunities to acquire new skills, including traditional silver service

Pullman kitchen

Booking Office, Platform Staff and Travelling Ticket Inspectors

Do you like meeting new people? As you’ll often be the first point of contact, the welcome and level of care you provide to our visitors is paramount. You’ll need to acquire a good knowledge of the line, as the questions you’ll be asked are as varied as the customers we greet. It’s not just about selling or checking tickets – it’s about sharing your passion & enhancing the customer experience.

Platform staff


The award winning Colonel Stephens Railway Museum is a fantastic example of what can be achieved in a relatively small space. Many of our museum attendants have previously worked in other roles around the railway, but the common factor amongst us is enjoying meeting people!


The Gardening Group, co-ordinated by Veronica Hopker (01303 862811), goes from strength to strength. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be Monty Don to join us!

Gift Shop

As a registered educational charity, our retail activities are an essential element in ensuring that the railway continues to prosper for future generations to enjoy. You’ll need a keen eye for presentation & an engaging personality, but the most essential requirement is a great sense of humour!


Running a steam railway is a frighteningly expensive undertaking. To ensure that the railway is able to invest in its future, it’s essential that it gets the publicity it needs to attract visitors. From making a post on social media to managing a large filming contract, we need skilled marketeers, IT experts and graphic designers. Why not join the Commercial Support Team?

Michael Portillo

What if I can’t make a regular commitment?

We all lead busy lives and can’t always commit to a regular pattern of time. But the advantage of volunteering is that you don’t have to! Neither do you have to be a “railway person” to get involved – most of our staff come from backgrounds that have nothing to do with railways. But you do need to be a Member of the K&ESR before you can volunteer. And for some jobs, principally those that involve operating the trains, it may be necessary to have a simple medical. But we take care of that, because we take care of YOU!


To find out more or to attend one of our prospective volunteer taster days, contact Jim Williams, our Volunteer Recruitment Officer – you can be assured you’ll receive a very warm welcome!