Gardening Volunteer


We are looking for volunteers who have a passion for gardening to help us make Locomotion a more environmentally sustainable museum as we develop under Vision 2025, with New Hall due to open at the close of this year. You will play a key role in enhancing and expanding our green spaces, making them more engaging for visitors, wildlife and the environment.

By exercising or developing your gardening skills in this role, you will help the museum meet our sustainability/biodiversity and community engagement goals, as well as assisting with the re-opening of our historic buildings through developing the Georgian garden at Hackworth House. You will be involved in railway corridor planting and planting that encourages pollinators, particularly the Dingy Skipper Butterfly, a local species in rapid decline.

It is an exciting time to join the gardening team as our Operations department seeks to incorporate more garden-based activities into our events programme. Gardening volunteers have the opportunity to be involved in these activities, engaging community and specialist groups with our green spaces. You are able to volunteer as often as you want, between 10am and 5pm on either of the following days: Thursdays or Saturdays.

By participating, you will gain experience operating within a museum environment, alongside the general public and have the chance to perform activities outside, improving your health & wellbeing. You will also be able to connect with likeminded people, having the chance to meet bi-monthly and participate in our gardening review meetings, thereby contributing and feeding into the planning of our garden and the establishment of a new volunteering team at Locomotion.


Taking a hands-on role in developing our outdoor spaces in line with the team’s shared vision – explored through bi-monthly review meetings.

Maintaining our gardens through activities such as weeding, planting, watering, pruning etc., and sharing your gardening experience with other team members

Building your knowledge about the gardens and their meaning – with the opportunity to feed into developing written interpretation for visitors.

Taking opportunities to interact with visitors and engage them in the meaning behind our gardens and their relationship to the site – exploring themes such as the impact of the railways on the natural environment and railway corridor planting.

Following the instructions of your supervisor and group leader, as well as our training and policies

As a volunteer you’ll learn about our Health and Safety Policies, procedures, and risk assessments, allowing you to take care of your own personal safety and that of others.

Skills & Qualities

Be interested in gardening, sustainability or outdoor projects.

Be eager to learn about plants and how to maintain and care for them

Be a good team player

Be friendly and happy to be approached by visitors, engaging them in the meaning behind the green spaces and their relationship to the site

Be able to carry out manual activities

Be keen to volunteer outdoors and exercise and/or gain gardening experience and skills

Be enthusiastic to be part of our mission to become a more sustainable museum

We also ask all our volunteers to show inclusive behaviours, valuing everyone’s contribution, and promoting a culture of openness  

When & Where?

Our gardeners will be supported onsite at Locomotion (Shildon, DL4 2RE) every Thursday and/or Saturday, between 10am and 5pm - weather permitting. The role is flexible, allowing you to volunteer on these days as regularly as you are able.

Training and Support Offered/Expenses

All volunteers will complete our health and safety essentials training, safeguarding training and basic rail safety training. Following this you will be supported in the role with role-specific training, such as manual handling, using gardening tools etc.

If successful, depending on your role, we’ll request either a basic or enhanced criminal record check. We’ll arrange and process this for you and will cover all the costs. Any issues raised in a criminal record check will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Volunteers at Locomotion are able to claim up to £7 per day they volunteer onsite to cover travel expenses.

Volunteer Benefits

All volunteers are entitled to access the same discounts across our sites as employees - benefits like £1 hot drinks in the café and a discount in the café and shop.

We organise outings and social opportunities for our volunteers. Our museum is also part of the northern museums volunteer pass scheme, allowing our volunteers to claim certain benefits such as free entry at other participating sites.

We can also provide our volunteers with an IT account if you think it will be of use to you.

Other Information

To volunteer in this role, you must be 18 or over

We are legally required to ensure all volunteers from overseas have the right to volunteer in the UK, so please check your visa before applying.

SMG is unable to act as a sponsor organisation if you do not have a visa that allows you to volunteer.

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Hours: Flexible Type: Museums/Heritage, Conservation/Environment, Gardening, Outdoors, Wildlife & Animals

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