Com­ment

Nigel Har­ris, Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, RAIL

Rail (UK) - - Feature -

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 Hardy 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 what­ever was im­por­tant to you. He was an at­ten­tive lis­tener - and if you’d any sense, when you stopped speak­ing you pinned your own 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. An Ian Al­lan book which cost me £2.50, I think! I couldn’t put it down and I have read it many times since, learn­ing some­thing new ev­ery time as my own ex­pe­ri­ence in­creases.

As Edi­tor and then Con­sul­tant Edi­tor of Steam World in the 1990s, we pub­lished a lon­grun­ning pop­u­lar se­ries of fur­ther rem­i­nis­cences.

“C’mon Dick, 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 enor­mously 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 even­tu­ally used.

I told Dick about this. He smiled, gave that deep brown 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!”

Right­away Dick. And thanks for all you did.

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