A Mcalpine adventure

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting -

❍ Steam trains en­abled Sir Wil­liam Mcalpine’s great-grand­fa­ther to build large chunks of Bri­tain and, along­side it, the fam­ily for­tune ❍ In 1973, Sir Wil­liam fa­mously saved the Fly­ing Scots­man, but, de­spite his life­time of un­prece­dented ac­cess to work­ing lo­co­mo­tives and un­sur­passed con­tri­bu­tion to the her­itage move­ment, he can’t re­sist col­lect­ing trains of any size at his Faw­ley Hill es­tate near Hen­ley ❍ In 1965, a Hudswell Clarke lo­co­mo­tive was due to be scrapped for £100 af­ter spend­ing its work­ing life with Sir Robert Mcalpine. Out of sen­ti­ment, Sir Wil­liam said ‘send her home’. This kin­dled the fire and he re­solved to con­struct his own stan­dard-gauge rail­way. One lo­co­mo­tive had to be ‘leapfrogged’ a mile when its ar­rival un­for­tu­nately co­in­cided with wa­ter­log­ging on the es­tate. Now, the Faw­ley ‘network’ boasts four diesel en­gines and four his­toric coaches ❍ Sir Wil­liam also has a pri­vate mu­seum. Cast-iron signs, lapel badges worn by rail­way­men dur­ing the First World War, sand-op­er­ated mov­ing tableaux and sil­ver din­ner ser­vices from the glam­orous age of Pull­man cars pro­vide a com­plete so­cial his­tory of the steam age. His col­lec­tion of mod­els in­cludes a lot of Fly­ing Scots­mans, the Ori­ent Ex­press and dozens of Mcalpine cor­po­rate rolling stock gifted by ad­mir­ers ❍ Like many en­thu­si­asts, Sir Wil­liam can’t quite put his fin­ger on the magic of rail. ‘You have it from birth,’ he says. ‘There’s some­thing very at­trac­tive about go­ing along two straight lines. An in­ter­est in lo­co­mo­tives will never let you go off track’

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