Ben was born at Watton at Stone in April 1942 almost exactly a year after my grandfather, Sir Nigel Gresley, died. His mother, Vi, had been her father’s constant companion since her own mother had died in 1929 and thus nobody knew more about Sir Nigel than she did. She was extremely proud of him. The family left Watton moving to Fife for the rest of the war before returning to Essex. Ben went back to prep school near Watton until he moved to a school just outside Edinburgh in 1955. Leaving school in 1959 he went to Southampton to the Shipyard Division of John I Thornycroft to complete a Technical Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering before moving back to Essex and obtaining an HND in Mechanical Engineering at the North East Essex Technical College in Colchester. Ben undertook practical training with Marconi in Chelmsford and then with Davey Paxman in Colchester during this period. The link here is that Gresley first met Andre Chapelon at Davey Paxman in 1926 and Paxmans built the first locomotives for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
After completing his diploma, Ben worked for a further four years for Davey Paxman and during this time, he met and married his wife Tina. After a very varied career in manufacturing working in many different industries including the nuclear industry as a supplier of high pressure instrument valves and bellows sealed valves and 25 years as MD of a company making small electric motors and gearboxes, Ben retired in 2002. He has been a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for over 40 years.
Although he never knew his Grandfather, his railway mentor was Sir William Stanier, whose daughter was his Godmother. During the 60s and 70s Ben spent many happy hours with both No. 4472 and No. 4498 thanks to Alan Pegler and Julian Riddick. Most recently, Ben has been on the first of the three Bittern 90mph runs, an excursion on ‘The Torbay Express’ and finally, a trip on ‘The Devon Belle’ for the first time behind Tornado.
Ben and Tim Godfrey start the cutting of No. 2007’s frames at Tata Steel