When the GCR first moved to its present site, the workshop facilities were limited so only very light repairs could be undertaken. The majority of work had to be carried out by the members at their home workshops. As the GCR developed, the locomotive fleet grew and the mileage they were covering also increased. It soon became evident that a more substantial workshop facility was needed. In the 1980s an extensive workshop was formed, using a building that had previously been used as a barn and storage area, on the opposite side of the car park from the locomotive sheds and station, however it wasn’t connected to the rail network until 1997 when the Jubilee Line was built.
The workshop can have up to 6 engines present at one time. During the running season the main objective of the workshop staff is to keep engines in traffic, so only essential repairs are undertaken. In the winter the larger jobs and major overhauls are started. Depending on the amount of work required, an overhaul may not be completed in the winter season. As a result some engines may not be seen working for some considerable time. During an overhaul an engine is stripped down and all the components are cleaned and inspected, to determine the work required. This can involve anything from turning the wheel profiles to fitting a new regulator valve. The work varies from engine to engine, depending on the design, build quality and mileage it covers, also the age. Any new material required can be ordered and the parts manufactured on site at the railway, for example, new axles or a new smoke box.
The workshop activities aren’t just focused around the engines, the railway’s rolling stock also requires maintenance from time to time. On top of this the workshop is used to manufacture components for the Permanent Way in the form of point crossings and blades and expansion joints.
The GCR’s workshop is well equipped. There are also plenty of storage cupboards for all the hand tools required. The majority of jobs can be carried out at the railway, however this is not always the case and sometimes components have to be sent away for repair. A prime example of this is Boilers; any problems may have to be dealt with by a specialist boiler maker.