Shortly after the 2023 Convention we heard the sad news that Peter Townend, one of our Vice-Presidents, had died at the age of 98. Peter’s involvement with the Trust dates to the first A1 Roadshow at the Great Northern Hotel, King’s Cross, in Spring 1991, travelling up from his home in Torquay. He made a significant contribution at that meeting during questions, particularly when someone asked why we were building an A1 when they had a reputation as rough riders. Peter replied that in his experience that while they didn't ride as smoothly as an A4, they were no worse than a Britannia or Black Five - adding that during his time at Top Shed they modified the springing which effectively sorted the issue.
Peter was born in 1925, and grew up in Doncaster before World War 2, his grandfather worked as a Foreman at ‘The Plant’. Peter joined the works at Doncaster as a premium apprentice in 1941, moving to the locomotive drawing office before spending a further two years relieving Shedmasters at East Anglian depots before being appointed as Shedmaster to Hatfield and then Boston. In 1956 he moved to ‘Top Shed’ at King’s Cross which brought with the responsibility for an ever-changing cast of Peppercorn A1s as well as Gresley V2s, A3s and A4s. During his tenure at ‘Top Shed’, Peter was responsible for fitting Kylchap double blastpipes to the fleet of A4s and A3s as well as half a dozen V2s and his own prescription of German type smoke deflectors for the A3s so equipped. Peter remained at 34A until 1961 before becoming the Traction and Rolling Stock Engineer, King’s Cross Division. Following his retirement in 1984, he wrote a series of very successful books covering his time at ‘Top Shed’ and his experiences of working with East Coast Pacifics.
Peter was appointed a Vice President of the Trust and remained a staunch supporter of all we aimed to achieve, and we had the pleasure of repaying his contribution by giving him the opportunity to ride on Tornado in his home county, Devon, during one of her regular ‘Torbay Express’ trips in 2010.