Tramway teen is on the right tracks

Young volunteers day at Crich Tramway Village, pictured is conductor Hannah Douthwaite from Mansfield
Young volunteers day at Crich Tramway Village, pictured is conductor Hannah Douthwaite from Mansfield

When it comes to keeping busy, Hannah Douthwaite is convinced she’s on the right tracks.

The 17-year-old from Mansfield works at Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire, not for money, but for the love of the job.

Young volunteers day at Crich Tramway Village, pictured is the team of young volunteers

Young volunteers day at Crich Tramway Village, pictured is the team of young volunteers

While most teenagers spend their weekends stacking shelves to scrape enough cash together for the days ahead, Hannah regularly travels the 25 miles from her home on Warsop’s Cooper Close to the museum in the Derbyshire Dales.

There she works as a volunteer conductor aboard the trams.

She is the youngest volunteer on the books, having passed her tram conductors’ training last year at the tender age of 16 and tries to work a shift every other weekend.

And with this much dedication, you’d think that the teenager must have an ingrained passion for yesteryear’s popular form of transport.

However, it’s not necessarily the case.

Hannah explained: “My grandparents used to take me there when in the summer holidays when I was younger, and everyone there said if I was interested in volunteering I should do it.

“We used to go maybe four or five times a year, and I was never actually that interested in volunteering, but then I changed my mind because all of the people there always seemed really friendly.

“So I thought I would try to do something different from what other people of my age do.

“I was never that interested in trams beforehand, but I’ve obviously become interested.

“It’s like one big happy family and everybody welcomes you, that’s why I like it.

“They are always helping me and if I have any questions they are there to answer them.

“I’m the youngest there and people often do say its unusual to see someone as young as me.

“My grandparents still go there so I can get a lift with them, but I am learning to drive at the moment so hopefully I’ll be able to get there myself.”

Crich Tramway Village is a period village that contains a pub, and old-style sweetshop and the National Tramway Museum which houses more than 60 vehicles built between 1900 and 1930.

The vintage trams run through the village and out about one mile into the local countryside before completing a return journey.

Being a popular attraction a successful volunteer scheme is in place top help run it at busy times.

Earlier this month they had a full team of young people crewing and managing the village for a day, including Hannah.

Neil White, tramways operations manager heaped praise on the dedicated young workers.

He said: “At a time when teenagers can get bad press, it is heartening to see that there are people like Hannah who are prepared learn a skill and then donate their time freely in support of an organisation like ours, and do so with both energy and charm.

“Hannah is already proving to be a real asset to the traffic department of the museum.

“I was able to see this first hand only last Saturday when I was lucky enough to be rostered as her driver - from the moment we prepared our tram for service to the moment we put it safely away, Hannah performed her duties impeccably.

“Standing outside to control moving the tram from the depot, she got absolutely soaked from the heavy rain, but never once complained.

“All day long she issued tickets and chatted to our visitors with a happy demeanour, doing her very best to ensure everyone had a great day.

“I look forward to Hannah continuing her career in the traffic department and can’t wait to see her at the controls of a tram or as the duty inspector.”

Hannah harbours long-term ambitions of working in the media and is currently studying for her A-levels at West Notts College, but hopes to continue giving up her free time for Crich Tramway Village.

“It is my job, even though it’s voluntary, but it keeps me occupied,” she said.

“All my friends say it’s good to see somebody doing something different, a few have been up there to see me but I haven’t persuaded them to volunteer yet.”