Steam Railway (UK) - - Down Main -

of the Spe­cial Trains team. This per­son would be some­one of se­nior rail­way ex­pe­ri­ence who has run a TOC, or has been a se­nior per­son in NR, who has a grasp of the big­ger pic­ture but also has an in­ter­est in the char­ter trains busi­ness. He or she would head off ma­jor is­sues at the pass with the abil­ity to pick up the phone to the NR board.” It’s an in­ter­est­ing idea - and you may not have to wait too long to find out whether NR takes it up; I un­der­stand the re­view’s com­ple­tion is pretty im­mi­nent. Fly­ing Scots­man may have pushed the is­sue onto the agenda - but this needs sort­ing for all trips - and not just for the celebrity ‘A3’. Well, the time comes for every­one… and now two of the main line’s best­known en­gine­men have hung up their grease­tops. Colin Ker­swill, orig­i­nally of Faver­sham shed and lat­terly DB Cargo, and Ray Churchill, who started at Bescot and fin­ished with West Coast, have both stepped off the foot­plate. Be­tween them, the pair have racked up nearly 120 years worth of foot­plate ex­pe­ri­ence - both started when BR steam still had more than ten years to go. In­deed, re­con­struc­tion of the Bulleid ‘Pacifics’ was only just get­ting un­der way when Colin Ker­swill signed on at the mo­tive power de­pot in his home town of Faver­sham in 1956; he moved to Hither Green in 1959. So Colin saw the last years of South­ern steam first-hand - though for most readers it’ll be his more re­cent ex­ploits with Bulleid ‘Mer­chant Navy’ 4-6-2 No. 35028 Clan Line as well as ‘for­eign’ en­gines for which he’ll be re­mem­bered; a trac­tion in­spec­tor since 2001 with what was then EWS, Colin was a reg­u­lar sight - and not only on the South­ern. His jovial face could fre­quently be seen on new ‘A1’ No. 60163 Tor­nado - and he also took part in the 90mph pro­gramme with sis­ter LNER ‘Pa­cific’ No. 4464 Bit­tern. A less happy in­ci­dent was when ‘Mer­chant’ No. 35005 Cana­dian Pa­cific burst a tube at Pad­dock Wood in 2002 (SR277). Re­mark­ably, Colin is now 80 and a re­cent back prob­lem has en­cour­aged him to call time on what any­way was a part time role. He says he’ll miss the “ca­ma­raderie”, and quips “it’s the first time I’ve been un­em­ployed in 63 years.” It looks like ‘for­eign’ power will still be part of Colin’s life though be­cause he plans to carry on his ‘free time’ role of South Devon Rail­way foot­plate in­spec­tor. ‘For­eign’ en­gines are not only fa­mil­iar to Ray Churchill now - he’s prob­a­bly be­come most as­so­ci­ated with them. For while he may have grown up with the Western at Wed­nes­bury, when he joined BR in 1957 it was at Bescot on the LM Re­gion. So it was Stanier, rather than Col­lett en­gines, that shaped his life - and that was ini­tially true, even in ‘re­turn to steam’ days with a fir­ing job on ‘Black Five’ No. 5000 from Stour­bridge to Here­ford. How­ever, there was a foot­plate role in ‘GWR150’ (1985), and in re­cent years he’s fre­quently been seen with Ty­se­ley’s ‘Cas­tle’ No. 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. He was also a reg­u­lar driver on Vin­tage Trains’ sum­mer ‘Shake­speare Ex­press’, among oth­ers. It was, though, a ‘Black Five’ that saw him out - Ian Ri­ley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 44871 on day three of this year’s ‘Great Bri­tain’. Ray reaches 75 this year and he con­sid­ers: “Al­though in one way it’s sad to have left the scene, I know the time is right.” “What bet­ter way to fin­ish than driv­ing through your favourite county and get­ting paid, to boot!” Like Colin, rail­ways have re­cently only been a part-time ac­tiv­ity for Ray, since he left full-time work in 2001. He has, he says, en­joyed his sub­se­quent time with West Coast “tremen­dously”. Well, I reckon these two gents of the foot­plate have brought plenty of tremen­dous en­joy­ment to oth­ers too - and that readers would join me in wish­ing both a happy re­tire­ment.

It’s sad to have left the scene, but I know the time is right


Fly­ing Scots­man crosses the Forth Bridge with the evening ‘Fife Cir­cu­lar’ on May 15. Colin Ker­swill on the foot­plate of No. 35028 Clan Line at Vic­to­ria, on May 24 2013.

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