Steam Railway (UK) - - DOWNMAIN -

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?’”

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