Generations of children have grown up enthralled by steam engines.

With Swindon’s history firmly linked with that of the railway it is surprising that more young people in the town aren’t interested and enthralled by its past.

When it comes to keeping the steam dream alive, their presence is sorely missed especially by the enthusiasts at Swindon and Cricklade Railway.

Located on Tadpole Lane in Blunsdon, the railway offers a variety of experiences including journeys up and down their tracks as well as the opportunity to see the steam train being restored.

The only problem is the volunteers that keep the attraction running are getting old.

Maintaining and working the tracks and trains is done entirely by a group of enthusiasts.

And that is where the problems for the railway stem, as one of them, Allan Bott, explains: “We do need new volunteers, the majority of my colleagues are over the age of 60, we only have a small amount of young people.

“But it’s difficult because people have full time jobs and families so we’re struggling with having people available.

“We have had to cancel some trips or switch from a steam train to a diesel engine because we don’t have enough volunteers, we’ve even had to close the café on more than one occasion.

“It’s very difficult to attract new volunteers.”

The railway officially has around 500 members, but only 100 of those are active.

“There are some age restrictions which impacts who we can bring in.” Allan says: “The minimum age is 16 when you can join.

“But you can’t learn to drive one of the engines until you’re 21 and even then, you need to have had the three years’ worth of training before. It’s very limiting.

“We don’t necessarily want that age brought down, but we do want more opportunities to train people so that they’re ready to drive the engines, maybe from 16 to 14.

“At 14 we can teach the basics, such as cleaning, and provide them with the base knowledge they would need to progress, we can’t do that currently.”

Some people could be put off by the worry they might not be qualified to become a volunteer. Allan says: “We don’t discourage anyone from joining, but obviously we do cater more towards people with an interest in engineering.

“At the engine shed we can teach transferable skills which will look great on a CV, we have had a few Duke of Edinburgh students come through and volunteer as well.”

The oldest volunteer at the railway is in his 80s while the youngest is 14.

Allan recognises that being interested in trains might not be the most exciting or interesting hobby available.

“I guess the idea is to make it cool for other people because a lot of people don’t see it like that.

“When I was younger, I used to hide it, especially when I was dating, I would mention that I was interested in steam trains and I would never get a second date.

“We need to make it desirable to other people. We do host some behind the scenes weekends in order to attract new volunteers so that they can see what it is really like.”

“Honestly we do struggle,” he says. “We do our best to engage their specific interests and some have an idea of what they want to do.

“With young kids it can be difficult to engage with them because we can only teach them the basics and give them a taste due to the age restrictions.

“We are crying out for young blood but unless they’re really interested in the topic, they won’t care by the age of 16 when they can fully get involved.”

Allan says there needs to be more education in schools, adding: “Not enough is taught, most people don’t even know we’re here.

“Even I didn’t know about the heritage of the town until I was in my teens.”