Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?
My mother and father have been involved in mainline steam for many years and I was submersed in this exciting world at a very young age. I have been very lucky to have been able to lend a hand with the maintenance and operation of a couple of mainline steam locomotives since I was 14. Over the last 15 years I have met some interesting, highly professional and inspiring people who I have learnt a lot from. For this I am very grateful. The main fascination for me with steam locomotives, is the mechanical engineering side. I can really see the benefits of standardisation in both design, manufacture and maintenance of all mechanical things and that’s why I am especially drawn to the BR Standards. The Duke is the pinnacle of BR standardisation and the British Caprotti valve gear, which is on 71000, is of particular interest to me.
How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what is your role? What does the role involve?
I have only been a member since summer 2019 and became involved with the working parties over Christmas 2019. Helping out on “the spanners” is the core of my enjoyment and working with the Duke’s team is really rewarding. In August 2020 I responded to the request from the Duke trusties to help out with the management side. They felt I could help with compiling the Support Crew competencies for mainline operations. I can imagine this role expanding to look after more elements of the Support Crew’s activities, but producing the competencies and the framework around them, is definitely enough to keep me busy for awhile!
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?
Lifetime, is a too strong word for my working carer so far, but I started out as a practical apprentice at Rolls-Royce Aero in 2007. This taught the importance of working to a standard and having good traceability. When I qualified as a civil aircraft engine fitter this further embedded the responsibility of doing a task correctly and when your name is against it, it matters. I then progressed to become a Manufacturing Engineer. Here I learnt a lot around producing instructions, defining build sequences and implementing new technologies into the production process. In 2015 I moved to Jaguar Land Rover as a Complex Quality Engineer where I worked both in the launch and mass production environment to resolve multifaceted mechanical systems which have quality issues. In 2018 I had the opportunity to move closer to my roots of being heavily linked to the shop floor and took a new position of Lead Trim and Final Quality Engineer. This is varied role of leading the production and engineering teams in resolving assembly quality concerns and assisting with the creation and implementing the quality strategy to improve our build quality. I was lucky enough to be sponsored through my engineering degree with Rolls-Royce and sponsored myself through my engineering master’s degree.
My values that I will bring to the Trust are centred around steam being a professional outfit on the mainline. The Trust already has stable foundations which we can build on to give us a good future on the mainline.
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 unique story of the Duke both pre- and post-preservation is one that needs to be continued for decades to come. With the current overhaul completing the final tweaks the engine should be a very reliable and strong performer. This is what the mainline needs. As the Trust is one of the few that are still independent and not part of a larger organisation, you can really see where your support goes. I hope to be able to play a small part in keeping this story going and it would be good for others to join the next chapter of 71000’s journey.
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?
I am only aware of what I have read in the press around the old owners and trust relationship so I am not really in a position to comment. What I have seen of the management team fills me with confidence that 71000 is in great hands.
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 new trust is a credit to the management team. By keeping this momentum of growing the membership it will only add more strength and diversity to the trust. There is a good blend of experience with the officers and trustees which I think will manage the loco well in the short and long term.
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 I see that as achievable. The current membership subscriptions and other income streams sees the locomotive nearly complete but to have a comfortable margin for its first year of operations, the reliable income of membership subscriptions needs to be increased.
What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline, and why do you say that?
Once the crank axle billet has been manufactured and arrived in the UK the other elements are in place to get the Duke back on to the main line.
When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why?
To echo Dave’s comments in his answer to this question, as long as the engine is running well, where it runs on the main line is not that important to me. But… As I am Derby lad, I would love to see the Duke operating from Sheffield to Derby and then on to Birmingham where it would pass my parents’ house!
What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust? How do you manage your Duke-Life balance?
My family are really supportive of my involvement with the Duke. My fiancé is also busy with her hobbies, so we both support each other with finding the time to enjoy the things we want to do.