Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?
I grew up in Blackburn, Lancashire within earshot of what is now referred to as the East Lancashire Line. Trainspotting was one of a list of activities as a child I got up to with summer Saturdays being particular entertaining with Wakes Week specials from Yorkshire speeding past our football field. Our next door neighbour worked as an engine driver – something boys of my era aspired to. So I discovered a Motive Power Depot. If I wasn’t hooked before I was then.
I managed to travel around the north west by train and on a couple of occasions ended up at Crewe. It was here I first set eyes on 71000 Duke of Gloucester out of steam at Crewe North MPD. Sadly, it was at the end of his British Railways days.
How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what is your role? What does the role involve?
I became a member of the Trust in 2017 when an appeal was launched. Having followed The Duke’s story from Woodham Brothers’ scrapyard, through his initial restoration and operation from a distance when a recent Member’s Newsletter asked for assistance with various aspects of the Trust’s work I put my head above the parapet. My role is Social Media Principal and can be explained as developing The Duke’s digital presence including assisting with website updates and administration.
Graphic last updated 13 November 2020
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?
Educated to post-graduate level I worked as a nuclear scientist for what was British Nuclear Fuels Limited but later found I had public relation skills. I took all manner of parties around the nuclear installation from primary school children to Ministers of State and even American Astronauts. During my time in the nuclear industry I was instrumental in preserving two War-time early Hudswell Clarke diesel-mechanical 0-4-0 shunters (Works Numbers D628 of 1943 and D629 of 1945) which can now be found at the Ribble Steam Railway.
Ironically, I jumped the fence and became an environmental consultant for a national charity specialising in energy efficiency and flood resilience.
My past-times are multiple and various but there is always a railway connection in them somewhere. I looked after publicity for another now restored BR Standard steam locomotive (76084) until a couple of years ago. I’m a member of the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society and the Bury Standard 4 Group. British Railways’ Standard steam locomotives are in my blood.
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.
I agree with James that the unique story of the Duke both pre- and post-preservation is one that needs to be continued for decades to come. I have stood in awe by the lineside all along the ELR when 71000 was running there and witnessed the grace and sheer power of our a Class 8 locomotive. During the current overhaul some final tweaks to the engine should make The Duke very a strong and reliable performer. I have never ridden behind The Duke on the mainline and am really looking forward to the day I can fulfil my desire to rectify the omission. For my part I will ensure the word is spread far and wide that 71000 Duke of Gloucester is on his way back and that anyone who supports the Trust will become a valued member of The Duke ‘family’.
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? The growth in membership since the creation of the present Trust is definitely a credit to the management team. There is always room to grow and I intend to build on what has gone before and grow the Trust membership further. Within the recently expanded management team there is now a breadth of skills and experience that will ensure The Duke’s future for decades to come.
How long do you think it will take to get the Duke `up-and-running` again, and why do you believe this?
The plan is to have The Duke out and about towards the end of 2021 and we are working hard to ensure this happens. The much valued membership subscriptions currently being received by the Trust as well as sales of Trust items will see The Duke close to complete. To have a comfortable margin for its first year of operations, the reliable income of membership subscriptions does need to increase. I will be working hard to bring more members into The Duke ‘family’.
What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline, and why do you say that?
Not being an engineer I would have to say getting Tyseley Locomotive Works back up to full working order and Support Crew Working Parties happening on a regular basis.
When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why?
Through Blackburn and up the Settle-Carlisle because I know most of the best vantage points to take photos/video if not actually riding behind him!!
What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust? How do you manage your Duke-Life balance?
I tend to get carried away with projects to the detriment of the family. My wife has stipulated that mustn’t happen again so my The Duke-Life balance will be closely monitored. One good thing is that most of my involvement involves a digital device which can be used whilst watching TV.