BOB STANDS ASIDE AS SON ALASTAIR STEPS UP
It’s easy to talk of ‘ends of eras’ – and just recently SR seems to be full of news of people departing or stepping back, and new names appearing. But a quarter of a century is most definitely a long time, especially when the person in question has been as involved as Bob Meanley.
On October 25, it was announced that Bob was stepping down as Tyseley Locomotive Works managing director – the role will now be taken by Cath Bellamy, already MD of Vintage Trains Ltd. VTL Chairman Adrian Shooter now takes up the same role at TLW too, from retiring predecessor Vic Michel.
The changes don’t mean the end of the Meanley name at Tyseley though – where the two have become almost synonymous over the years.
That’s because son Alastair now becomes TLW general manager, but also because Bob is to be consultant technical director, as well as remaining a trustee of the charity that owns the collection, 7029 Clun Castle Ltd.
“Nothing lasts forever,” said Bob after the formal announcement. “I’m not far off 68 now… there are a number of things I want to do.”
“We’ve achieved most of the things we never thought possible – and I’ve been there for half of my working life. It feels like five minutes, but then you realise it was actually a quarter of a century.”
In those last words, Bob probably talks for many – though few will be able to look back on a degree of involvement that includes the triumphs of the ‘Bristolian’ and other non-stops, being engaged to write a professional report on Flying Scotsman, or becoming the first man since the 1940s to oversee the streamlining of a ‘Duchess’. There’s been the running of pannier tanks and ‘Halls’ on the main line; seeing not one but two double-chimney ‘Castles’ rebuilt… and a connection that goes right back through the decades to ‘Lizzie’ and Leander too.
Tyseley’s team, Bob says, “are extremely fortunate that Alastair is of the right calibre to take it on. There’s all sorts of words that get said, but it’s an absolute joy to work alongside him.”
Announcing the changes, VT Charitable Trust Chairman Michael Whitehouse described Meanley Senior as “pivotal to the development and success of TLW, leading and innovating across the heritage engineering sector.” He adds: “We are all very grateful for his friendship, dedication, knowledge and expertise and are delighted that he will continue to work with us in his new consultancy capacity.”
“We have a new TOC and a new management team. I look forward to working with them as we take our group forward into its next chapter.”
What now then for Bob Meanley? There is, he says, “lots I want to do. Loads of people have been on to me asking ‘when are you going to write the book?’”