Stuart Sladdin

Procurement Principal

Why are you interested in steam engines generally, and the Duke specifically? When did your interest begin?

My grandfather was the first person to introduce me to railways and steam engines when I was 3 to 4 years old. He had a brother who we stayed with living in Morecambe. My grandfather took me to the West Coast Main Line at Hest Bank. This was before the Duke was built. We watched all types of locomotives operating on WCML. These were my first memories of Duchesses and Princesses.

My first recollection of the Duke was hauling the Mid-Day Scot which it hauled frequently in the late 50’s. However my real interest began after meeting Peter King and Colin Rhodes during the restoration at Loughborough.

How long have you been involved in the Trust, and what is your role? What does the role involve?

I cannot remember the exact year Peter King asked me to be a Trust Member but I think it was in the late 70’s and my role was fundraising. During this time I became a Director of the owning company with responsibility for the sale of shares.

Describe the passion that you feel for the Duke, and explain why you think that others should help to get the locomotive back in to working order.

During my first meetings with Peter King at Loughborough in the 70’s I realised what a unique locomotive 71000 was and I also realised how much work had to be done and at what seemed to be an enormous cost.

Everyone said it will never run on the main line-but it did! That was down to a dedicated group of people of which I was proud to be one who had this Impossible Dream.

This is why now it must be restored to main line operation. A much easier task than when the Locomotive was first restored.

Do you believe that there are now sufficient members of the new Trust, and do you think that the officers and trustee have sufficient breadth of experience to see the locomotive through an overhaul and then to manage it when it is back on the mainline?
More Trust members are always required and if possible we should encourage younger members. They will ensure the Duke’s long term future. The officers and Trustees have the experience and skills to see the locomotive through its overhaul and manage it on the main line.

How long do you think it will take to get the Duke back ‘up-and-running’ again, and why do you believe this?
We are now committed to completing the overhaul by the middle of 2021. The latest estimates take account of the additional work to be done and the team at Tyseley Locomotive Works are committed to this completion date.

What do you think is the most important next step towards getting the Duke back on the mainline, and why do you say that?
Fund raising has to come first in order to pay for the overhaul. The more income streams we can generate the easier it will be. The most important stream is probably increasing the Trust Membership.

When the Duke is operational again, where would you like to see it running first, and why?
I remember the thrill of its first run at Loughborough after the first restoration. Equally I remember its first run over Settle and Carlisle. Settle and Carlisle would probably be my first preference. At the moment I just wish to see it running again.

What do your family and friends think about your involvement in the Trust? How do you manage your Duke-Life Balance?!?
People who know me understand the passion I have for the Duke. Fortunately I have a very understanding wife, who has been all too aware of me working many hours in Business life. Now these are reducing it will allow me more time to spend at home and with the locomotive, thereby creating what I hope will be a successful home/Duke life balance.

Updated March 2020