Leave your mark

Steam Railway (UK) - - Comment - Nick Bro­drick, Edi­tor

Afew weeks ago, I was read­ing the late Gra­ham Tay­lor’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. The for­mer Wat­ford and Eng­land man­ager was one of my child­hood he­roes; some­one who I al­ways looked up to, even long af­ter he re­tired. He re­called some­thing that his fa­ther fre­quently told him: “Leave your mark, son. What­ever you do, leave your mark.” It re­minded me of a per­son­al­ity com­pletely di­vorced from the world of foot­ball. I im­me­di­ately pic­tured the warm smile of ‘the grand old man of steam’ Richard (Dick) Hardy. And so it was with a pro­found feel­ing of sad­ness that I learned of the death of the leg­endary rail­way­man a cou­ple of weeks later – and just hours be­fore we were due to send this is­sue of SR to the print­ers. I know that there are, and will be, thou­sands of oth­ers who will mourn his pass­ing. Some will have known ‘R.H.N.’ through work­ing on the rail­way, or per­haps from read­ing one of his many mar­vel­lous and in­sight­ful books and ar­ti­cles, which so vividly chron­i­cled the Bri­tish rail­ways of the 20th cen­tury. Dick was some­one who was ab­so­lutely at the top of his game as a rail­way­man: he was in the higher ech­e­lons of man­age­ment un­der the LNER and BR, but he was equally adept at deal­ing with the men and women on the ground, al­most all (if not all) of whom looked upon Dick with the great­est of re­spect. I con­sider my­self very for­tu­nate to be one of the es­ti­mated 25,000 peo­ple who had first-hand deal­ings with the great man; al­beit only in the last decade, and on just a small but trea­sured num­ber of oc­ca­sions. One mem­o­rable en­counter was at the Great Cen­tral Rail­way when I was the fire­man on South­ern ‘King Arthur’ No. 777 Sir Lamiel. Dick, then in his early nineties, clam­bered onto the en­gine which was two years his ju­nior, and pro­ceeded to hang his walk­ing stick on the sight feed lu­bri­ca­tor. I re­call a few doubt­ing looks as the el­derly gen­tle­man took the fir­ing shovel to bring the fire round for the run ahead. I’m not too proud to ad­mit that he made me look quite out of my depth as he ef­fort­lessly swung and spun the blade through the fire­hole door, plac­ing the coal lumps with pre­ci­sion like he was 29 again – and back on one of his Ste­warts Lane ‘Arthurs’ over old Ken­tish main line haunts. Learn­ing from Dick about al­most any facet of rail­way life and op­er­a­tion was a

hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence for any­one pre­pared to learn from his decades of ex­pe­ri­ence and wis­dom. The rail­way move­ment as a whole will be for­ever in his debt for his enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion and last­ing legacy. It was fit­ting that on Fe­bru­ary 22 – just hours af­ter this magazine went to press – one of his favourite en­gines, ‘Bri­tan­nia’ Oliver Cromwell, was due to romp out of Liver­pool Street, past the sites of his old Strat­ford and Ip­swich de­pots en route to Nor­wich. The thought of the en­gine’s melodic chime whis­tle, hang­ing on the East Anglian air, will, I hope, have been a fit­ting and emo­tional trib­ute to Dick. I’ll leave it to the man him­self to fin­ish: “How glad I am to be a mem­ber of the great broth­er­hood of rail­way­men so that I can bring to mind hun­dreds, in­deed thou­sands, of men in all grades who have made my life so worth liv­ing.” Rest in peace, Dick.


Steam Rail­way is pleased to re­port an 8.5% in­crease in cir­cu­la­tion in 2017. 33,150 is the magazine’s big­gest read­er­ship in 15 years and we’d like to thank all those who con­tinue to en­joy it – and ex­tend a warm wel­come to new read­ers who have come on board.


The Holden ‘B12s’ were one of Richard Hardy’s favourite de­signs, and he was in­vited by the M&GN So­ci­ety to reded­i­cate the sur­viv­ing mem­ber, No. 8572, at Sher­ing­ham af­ter its 2012 over­haul. The 4-6-0 is pic­tured dur­ing its re­cent visit to the Great...

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