Steam Railway (UK) - - Mailbag -

When we com­mis­sioned the ‘J15’, Dick Hardy was in­vited to come and drive the first of­fi­cial pub­lic train, and I was to act as his pi­lot­man. He came up to the en­gine early, in­tro­duced him­self and asked per­mis­sion to come

on the foot­plate to “have a look round” be­fore he drove the train later in the day. When I of­fered him the reg­u­la­tor, he was very re­luc­tant to take my turn, as he put it. This was a life­long pro­fes­sional rail­way­man talk­ing to an am­a­teur driver! Then he of­fered me one of his Gauloises and was amazed when he found out I had read Steam in the Blood. We got on like a house on fire af­ter that, and that’s the kind of man he was – a true gen­tle­man with a phe­nom­e­nal mem­ory who treated ev­ery­one with ut­most cour­tesy. He was a won­der­ful man. Dick was very busy in the rail­way preser­va­tion world. For ex­am­ple, he joined the board of the Ffes­tin­iog that same year – so af­ter that we did not see him very of­ten un­til the ‘Steam Dream’ event in Au­gust 2002 where he dashed a bot­tle of beer over the ‘J15’s’ front buffer­beam, cut­ting his hand in the process! It was not long af­ter that when we in­vited, or should I say per­suaded, him to be­come our pres­i­dent and from then on­wards he was a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor who made a big con­tri­bu­tion to the society. He treated ev­ery­one he met with the same de­gree of cour­tesy, and re­mem­bered ev­ery de­tail of the peo­ple and lo­co­mo­tives he had dealt with at all lev­els through­out his life. Phil Starks, joint vice pres­i­dent, M&GN Society

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