Leave your mark
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.
“THE RAILWAY MOVEMENT AS A WHOLE WILL BE FOREVER IN HIS DEBT FOR HIS ENORMOUS CONTRIBUTION LEGACY” AND LASTING
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...