Chairman of Trustees
Chairman of the Duke Management Committee
Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?
Like a lot of boys of my generation my interest started as a train spotter. The school I attended was in Wednesbury in the West Midlands and was close to the GWR mainline and I was therefore hooked on all things GWR. One day in late 1954, I along with other boys from school, spent our usual lunch times beside the tracks. We saw approaching what we all assumed to be a Britannia class loco but in fact it was the Duke, an extremely rare occurrence. I learnt in later years that this must have been its moving run from Crewe to Swindon to undergo trials on their test bed. My love of this unique machine started then and has continued to this day.
How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what roles have you had?
I joined the old Trust in August 2007 as a friend. I carried out various roles in the ensuing years, finally as Chairman in 2009, the position from which I resigned due to the Committee’s refusal to change its ways. It was clear that its style of working along with the internal wrangling between its members would ultimately result in its winding up as there was no way it would be able to raise the necessary funds to take long term care of the Duke. I also felt that this failure would be a betrayal of the loyal membership who had continued to support the Duke over many years. I was appointed a Director of 71000 Steam Locomotive Limited in January 2013. Following the old Trust writing to the Company in 2012 asking the Company to take back the Duke, as they no longer had the finances to meet their obligations, I chaired a joint meeting between the old Trust and the Company to try and find a way forward. Despite early encouraging signs the old problems that had persisted within the old Trust reared up again and it was clear that a way forward would not be possible.
The Company moved quickly to set up the new Trust, BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust, which came into existence in November 2013. In January 2014. I was appointed Chairman of Trustees and in June 2014 Chairman of the Duke Management Committee. In order to focus solely on BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust and it’s well being I resigned as a Director of 71000 Steam Locomotive Ltd in April 2017. This was followed by the donating of my and my wife’s shares to 71000 Steam locomotive Ltd in July 2017.
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?
My background, having served an engineering apprenticeship, is that of a qualified engineer but over the last 35 years I have been involved in going into Companies with problems. These have ranged from heavy engineering through automotive extruded rubber parts, pressure measurement manufacturing, defence and aerospace, children’s knitwear, bakery capital equipment manufacturing, a pet food manufacturer and now the Duke. The first four as Managing Director and the next three at the request of finance houses, banks and venture capital companies to review the performance of businesses they were concerned about. There were other businesses were my experience was seen to be of some help.
Describe the passion that you feel for the Duke, and explain why you think that others should help to get the locomotive back on the mainline.
The passion for the Duke is as a trained Engineer. I appreciate the ground breaking developments that went into the Duke only to be abandoned by the rush to eliminate steam from BR. I want to help to ensure the long term protection of what was envisaged by Riddles as the ultimate BR express steam locomotive for the enjoyment of future generations.
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 is back on the mainline?
We still need new members, the more we are able to attract the sooner the Duke will be back running on the mainline. We continue to try and recruit the necessary calibre of Principals and supporting team members that will ensure our success. We still need competent and dedicated people in all areas and anyone who feels they can help will be made most welcome. This equally applies to the vital hands on types who will form the nucleus of our support crews.
How long do you think it will take to get the Duke back up-and-running on the mainline?
In discussions with Tyseley Locomotive Works, who are carrying out the current overhaul, we have targeted the middle of 2021. We need to raise extra finance in order to achieve this but this is certainly doable.
What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline?
Clearly the raising of the required additional funding is key. Since the BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust was set up in November 2013 the growth in membership along with their contributions has been nothing short of phenomenal. Their continuing support provides the life blood required to sustain the long term future of the Duke. The Partnership agreement which we signed with Vintage Trains in March 2018 also plays a major role in the Duke’s future security.
When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why?
We would plan to have it running over as much of the existing Rail Network as possible in order that our supporters have the chance to see what all of their patience and support has resulted in.
What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust?
My family are totally supportive of the time I spend with matters associated with the Trust, which is good as I’m involved to some degree most days. They understand the passion and the ultimate satisfaction that will be felt when we have overhauled the Duke and put in place a sound business that will take care of the Duke way into the future for the enjoyment of future generations who were never fortunate enough to see him working in BR days.