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What is  BESTT ?

The Boiler and Engineering Skills Training Trust (BESTT), which represents all steam sectors, is dedicated to providing  a training programme to address the shortage of skilled craftsmen who can repair and maintain heritage steam boilers and carry out mechanical overhaul of steam engines.

Why is  BESTT needed ?

For normal commercial use the steam locomotive boiler is obsolescent. Until the 1960s, huge numbers were in use on railway locomotives, ships, traction engines and similar but today the locomotive type boiler is to be found in tourism and heritage.  It is crucial to the continued operation of hundreds of heritage visitor attractions and there are several thousand privately owned steam  engines - traction engines, privately owned locomotives as well as a smaller number of ships and stationary engines. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the few remaining boilershops to keep up with the needs of operating heritage attractions and as the boilers themselves get older increasing skill is needed to keep them in good repair.

Boilers are safety critical components requiring specialist skills.

Operating at pressures sometimes exceeding 250psi (18 Bar) and above and at very high temperatures, locomotive boilers are safety critical components. They can be kept in operation only through the application of specialist skills and equipment. Around 50 skilled boilersmiths are at work in this country, together with less qualified assistants and supported by specialist boiler inspectors. However, many skilled specialists are now retiring and there is an increasing shortage of young people entering the industry and gaining appropriate experience. There is also an absence of the appropriate qualification structures which can provide the transferable skills to create a healthy job market.

BESTT is aiming to fill this gap.

The heritage steam industry is not sustainable without the ability to comply with all safety, legal and regulatory requirements.

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Steam heritage is one of Britain’s glories and working steam locomotive boilers are a key part of the very successful and very important heritage tourism industry.
There are over 200 heritage centres in the UK and around 6000 working or restorable boilers on railway locomotives, traction engines and road vehicles, ships and stationary engines.

Giving heritage steam a working future

BESTT is a partnership of steam heritage organisations representing railways, ships and traction engines and is developing a range of training courses on boiler repair (based on demand), maintenance and the mechanical overhaul of steam engines.
Over a 2 year period BESTT has successfully trained 17 people based on the BESTT Boilersmith Training Plan sponsored by the HLF.

BBC News Derby