A Chartered Mechanical Engineer and a time-served railwayman, Richard was born in the Shedmaster’s house in Woodford Halse in 1951 and his earliest memories (five to ten years later) are of being taken to the shed at Immingham on Sunday mornings, and left on the footplate of an O1 or an O4 2-8-0 with the footplate crew shunting the shed, whilst his father conversed with the Running Foreman on the plan for the next day or so. The level crossing at Littlefield Lane in Grimsby was where he used to walk to watch the B1s on the King’s Cross trains, and the K3s on the fish trains. A move to Darlington in 1960 allowed close up views of A1s starting heavy trains out of the station, as well as the A4s and A3s passing on the fast lines.
Taking up a paper round in York in 1965, Richard used to time it so that he could check which engine was on the 07:11hrs York to Leeds as it approached Challoners Whin Junction each day; usually it was No. 42699 of Nevllie Hill. By 1966, he began getting up earlier, so he could finish the paper round in time to ride to Church Fenton on the 07:11hrs behind a York B1, and return on the 07:50hrs arrival from Manchester with another York B1, then home for breakfast before going to school. Most weekends and all the school holidays during the first half of 1967 were spent on the Bournemouth line, riding behind the Bulleid Pacifics in those unforgettable exciting last few months of high speed steam in the UK. The north west of England gave plenty of scope over the next few months to enjoy Black 5s and Britannias working out their last, until school exams and girls began to grow in importance.
With the end of steam in the UK, there were frequent visits to France and Germany starting in 1968, with some rather wonderful locomotives. With his interest re-kindled, whole new worlds of main line steam railways opened up for Richard, with East Germany from 1971, Czechoslovakia from 1972, Poland from 1973, South Africa from 1976 and Turkey from 1977.
Richard started work with British Railways in 1971 as an engineering trainee, although steam had already finished it remained Richard’s hobby. His career (with diesels) included posts at various Traction and Rolling Stock Maintenance Depots, including Gateshead, South Gosforth, Bounds Green, Thornaby, and Neville Hill. Privatisation of the railways led to roles as Technical Performance Engineer, Engineering Director, and finally Managing Director with North West Regional Railways / First North Western.
The passion for steam remained! Joining The A1 Steam LocomotiveTrust in 2009, Richard helped with the commercial arrangements of hiring out Tornado for visits to preserved lines and main line railtours. He remains an active member of the Support Crew.