Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?
Steam has always interested me, mainly the engineering of how all that power is derived and delivered from coal and water. As a child I lived close to the Leicester to Nuneaton line and would spend hours ‘spotting’ usually the same engine doing the round trip, then occasionally would cycle to Nuneaton Trent Valley watch the men shunting goods wagons over the hump and dividing them up into different sidings whilst hoping to see a ‘Brit’ go through, never did see the Duke though.
My interest in the Duke came about because it’s different, unique, powerful and a marvel of engineering.
How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what is your role? What does the role involve?
I joined the Trust in 2015, filled the form in to volunteer on the web site then was contacted and joined the support crew, becoming a team leader in 2017. This involves attending monthly engineering meetings with Tyseley Loco Works and the Engineering Liaison Principal; then liaising with him and organising/prioritising work we the support crew can do; being responsible on working party days for the work and safety of the crew and afterwards putting reports together. The work has become quite extensive as our role has developed but all made much easier with the great atmosphere and professionalism of guys and girls we have that make up the support crew.
My theory being the more we can do the greater the financial saving on the overhaul.
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? I have spent all my working life in agriculture, mainly on the arable side (although my father was a dairy farmer) as a tractor/combine/sprayer operator and agricultural engineer working over Leicestershire in a contracting business but now specifically on one farm. In agriculture the work can be very weather dependant so has to be got on with and seen through when the opportunity is there but has to be done “right” and if a machine has problems these have to be sorted usually on the spot, but still has to be done “right”. I would like to think I carry this ethic through to the Trust, any work we do we ‘get on with it’ when the opportunity arises and is done to a professional standard, in other words done “right”.
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 locomotive was almost lost to us, its unique, different, powerful, a wonder of engineering and I long to hear his distinctive beat on the main line again. The passion amongst the support crew, membership and trust officers is infectious and rightly so. We owe it to the guys that saved and restored it to get it back out there doing what it was designed for and as a working engineering example for future generations so all the skills that go with it are not lost.
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? We need more members, they are the lifeblood of the Trust, more members equals more income and the wider the word and knowledge of the Duke will be spread, all of which brings more interest, recognition and ultimately more membership. I have no doubt in the experience of the officers and trustees to see him through overhaul and to run him, They have a fantastic partner in TLW whose experience in overhaul, maintenance and mainline running is invaluable.
How long do you think it will take to get the Duke `up-and-running` again, and why do you believe this? I think it is achievable within the next two years, just seeing how far we have already come, the obstacles that have already been overcome and sheer determination of all involved.
What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline, and why do you say that? Income, we have to have parts made and some of the work has to be by qualified engineers for certification purposes, all this has to be paid for.
When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why? Not bothered where he runs first, but I`ll be there listening to his every beat and move, hoping our motto of building reliability, reliability, reliability into him is paying off.
What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust? How do you manage your Duke-Life balance? My wife and family understand my passion for the Duke and are supportive which makes spending time with the Duke, still working, competing in motor sport (car trials), restoring my old car and tractor all possible and enjoyable.