Steam Railway (UK) - - Mailbag -

We shall not see Dick Hardy’s like again. There are lots of peo­ple with ex­pert knowl­edge about rail­ways, lo­co­mo­tives and rail­way peo­ple, and with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence of all three – but Dick was spe­cial. It didn’t mat­ter whether you’d known Dick for 15 min­utes or 50 years, he had the gift of mak­ing you feel he was in­tensely in­ter­ested in you. He was an at­ten­tive lis­tener – and if you’d any sense, when you stopped speak­ing you pinned your ears back be­cause you’d know that you were about to learn some­thing. Dick talked to you as an equal. I first met Dick in 1982 when I was the newly ap­pointed as­sis­tant ed­i­tor of Steam World. I was over­awed. I’d read Dick’s first book of mem­oirs, Steam in the Blood, when I was in my early teens. I have read it many times since, learn­ing some­thing new ev­ery time. As ed­i­tor and then con­sul­tant ed­i­tor of Steam World in the 1990s, we pub­lished a long-run­ning se­ries of fur­ther rem­i­nis­cences. “C’mon Dick, surely enough trains have gone un­der the bridge for you to tell the re­ally in­ter­est­ing sto­ries you felt you couldn’t tell in your books?” The very long se­ries that fol­lowed was very suc­cess­ful. We both laughed many times over an ar­ti­cle of Dick’s I pub­lished in Steam Days, which I edited for Ian Al­lan in the 1980s. As a head­line, I used an ex­pres­sion which one of his men had yelled at him across the shed front. “Ere Guv, I bleedin’ want you!” It caused con­ster­na­tion at Ian Al­lan, but the head­line was used. I told Dick about this. He smiled, gave that deep slow bari­tone chuckle his friends all knew so well, then replied: “That’s funny Nigel, if only they knew. He didn’t re­ally say ‘bleedin’ you know!” ‘Right away’ Dick. And thanks for all you did. Nigel Har­ris, man­ag­ing ed­i­tor RAIL (for­mer ed­i­tor Steam Rail­way and Steam World)

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