‘HUGELY RE­SPECTED’

Steam Railway (UK) - - News | Focus - David Wilcock, Found­ing Edi­tor, Steam Rail­way

If you could use only one word to de­scribe Dick Hardy, that word would be ‘re­spected’. If you could use two, you would add the word ‘hugely’. In 40 years as a rail­way jour­nal­ist, I have never met a man who was as uni­ver­sally ad­mired, and yes, adored, by his con­tem­po­raries, as was R.H.N. Hardy. In his life­time ca­reer on the rail­way, he worked with some rare char­ac­ters, from pithy, wide-boy en­gine clean­ers who knew ev­ery dodge (and ev­ery swear word) in the book, to the ar­tic­u­late and eru­dite se­nior en­gi­neers and board mem­bers who con­trolled the rail­way’s destiny – but re­gard­less of whether he was car­pet­ing some­one in blue serge for act­ing out­side the rule book, or talk­ing high­level mat­ters of op­er­at­ing pol­icy with other se­nior man­agers, he left every­one with a sense of his pro­found fair­ness, warmth, and hu­mil­ity. Decades af­ter he re­tired from rail­way ser­vice, he still re­ceived let­ters and Christ­mas cards from the scores of men he had worked with on the foot­plate, typ­i­cally ad­dress­ing him as ‘Sir’, or ‘Mr Hardy’ – a mea­sure of the ex­alted re­gard in which he was held. When Dick took over the reins as chair­man of SLOA, the world changed. Un­til that point, main line lo­co­mo­tive own­ers, though or­gan­ised to­gether un­der the SLOA ban­ner, didn’t al­ways en­joy uni­ver­sal ac­cep­tance by the BR hi­er­ar­chy, never quite be­ing able to es­cape the per­cep­tion that they were merely a band of am­a­teur rail­way­men who just wanted to ‘play trains’ on the net­work. By his im­pec­ca­ble pro­fes­sional pedi­gree and calm­ing in­flu­ence, he raised SLOA’s pro­file and cred­i­bil­ity al­most overnight. His death re­ally does feel like the end of an era. I will miss his char­ac­ter­is­tic bari­tone voice on the end of the tele­phone, his warmth and his friend­ship. As oth­ers have said, it was a priv­i­lege to have known him.

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