Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?
I grew up in Teignmouth on the GW mainline and our road had a path down the cliffs and across the railway to the sea wall and beach. I would get to watch the trains passing and could hear them at night – although these were the likes of the Class 50’s and not steam! My parents are steam fans so we would have frequent trips to heritage lines and I guess this is where my interest in steam locomotives came from. I particularly remember watching the GW150 mainline runs passing along the Teignmouth sea wall in 1985. I think one of the key things about steam locomotives is that you can get a glimpse of how they work. With the Duke you can see how the pistons drive the connecting rods and then the wheels – but there are hidden secrets in the Caprotti boxes and between the frames which drive the curiosity. Obviously, the power and the classic visual designs also help!
How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what is your role? What does the role involve?
My partner bought membership of the Duke family for my Birthday in Dec 2016. I attended the Tyseley open day in June 2017 and having chatted to Dave Oliver on the ongoing work I decided to join the working parties.
As well as the working parties I have helped out at various open days and events to raise funds and in 2019 became a working party leader. The working party leaders are responsible for the safety of the volunteers and those around us, we maintain logs of works done and organise tasks so everyone gets the chance to learn about how the Duke works and goes together.
As Projects Principle I help the trustees and fellow Principles to look into specific tasks – this includes looking into new ideas for fund raising, sourcing particular items for the overhaul and running programme, looking at safety planning for working in the Covid pandemic.
What kind of work have you performed during your lifetime, what kind of person are you, and what values do you bring to the trust?
Having studied Mining Surveying I found on graduating that the mining industry had all but gone. So I transferred the skills learnt into Land and Engineering Surveying. The mix of art and science that goes into creating a survey plan was a particular draw along with getting outdoors and able to do practical tasks. Within a few years I became a Director of our company and my existing rail interests drove me to develop the companies rail surveying department which now takes us around the country with teams out night and day. We surveyed the Dawlish Sea Wall as part of the Orange Army after it was washed away and recently Barmouth Viaduct for the upcoming restoration works.
I think of myself as hardworking and dedicated to a cause. I look to help others where I can and believe in working as part of a team to get the end result. My work in the rail industry gives me a good understanding of the health and safety requirements and planning required.
Describe the passion you feel for the Duke, and explain why you think that others should help to get the locomotive back into working order.
The Duke is a unique and key part of the British railway story. I find trying to understand this final part of locomotive development and helping others to understand it to be very rewarding. Enabling the Duke to get back on the mainline for all to enjoy and to continue its story is of key importance – but this can only be done with sufficient members supporting the Duke and helping to get the overhaul completed.
There were clearly issues that resulted in disagreements between the Dukes owners and the old trust in the past, Can you explain why you believe those issues are now in the past, and why you believe history will not be repeated?
The current trust is run in a professional and open manner where all can put forward ideas and informed group decisions can be made.
Do you believe that there are now sufficient members of the new Trust, and do you think that the officers and trustees have sufficient breadth of experience to see the locomotive through an overhaul and then to manage it when it`s back on the main line?
There are sufficient members of the trust to get the Duke back on the mainline – its just a matter of time. Of course, the more people we can encourage to get on board as members the sooner we will be able to get the Duke running. The current officers and trustees have a broad range of experience and skills suitable to get the overhaul completed and run the Duke for future generations. As the family continues to grow, we can benefit from their skills and experience also.
How long do you think it will take to get the Duke `up-and-running` again, and why do you believe this?
Technically the remaining issues have been resolved and completion in the next year is possible – but we still have work to do in terms of raising funds and increasing the family membership.
We need to have a completed Duke with the right team and funds to run it successfully when we get there..
What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline, and why do you say that?
Whilst further funding is obviously of benefit we now need to build and prepare the team to run and maintain the Duke when it is running. We need to have a completed Duke with the right team and funds to run it successfully when we get there.
When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why?
I am happy just to see the Duke running on the mainline but with my Westcountry upbringings a run down the Teignmouth – Dawlish sea wall would be special.
What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust? How do you manage your Duke-Life balance?
My family and friends are very supportive and my partner has helped out with open days and gala’s helping to sell our merchandise and even on some working parties when the draw of the bullring is not
too strong for her! With the current management team tasks can be shared around to keep on top of things.