Friends of the National Railway Museum
South of England Group


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On Spring Day: Trip to Kingswear to Meet Our Vice-Presidents
  Highslide JS

The two Vice-Presidents of the FNRM South of England Group meet each
  It was an early start and the Saturday before was the first May bank
holiday. A tempting ride to Kingswear on the English Riviera from
Paddington and a 07.09 start had proved a very popular day trip. The
eleven luxurious Steam Dreams carriages - provided by David Buck, one of our
Vice-Presidents of the FNRM South of England Group - were full and
expectant with the promise of a steam engine. The purpose of the trip was
for our two Vice-Presidents to meet up - believed to be a first for the
Friends. In reality we were worked by vintage diesels back and front due to
various circumstances, but no one seemed to mind and it was unusual and
interesting to the enthusiasts watching en route, waving and smiling at us,
some with cameras poised.

Through countryside, beautiful in its May attire, verdant and blooming in
all the colours of the season, passing flat meadows, rolling hills, woods,
streams and rivers hedgerows we travelled: an English country scene,
by church towers and villages, farms and farmland, acknowledged by
cows, sheep, pigs and horses, with genial conversation over an unrushed
full English breakfast, served attentively, caringly by a myriad of happy
smiling faces and travelling at a leisurely pace on a bright, sunlit, enjoyable
and wonderful day, through all the beauty of Spring, taking in ‘This England’
in all of her glory.

Through Slough, Maidenhead, Reading, Didcot, The White Horse at
Uffington, Swindon, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter on to Dawlish and Paignton,
until we caught sight of the estuary and the River Dart, with its many
yachts moored there, awaiting the season of leisure and care-free days,
sunlit and clear, a beauty of a day and oh so warming and happy, until, at
last, alighting, buzzing, and now full with train passengers.

There were eight of us from the Friends of the NRM South of England
Group, whose purpose was to meet Peter N Townend, 93 years young, one
of our Vice-Presidents. Peter is a former Shedmaster at King’s Cross ‘Top
Shed’ and writer of many books including Top Shed (1975), a pictorial
history of King’s Cross Locomotive Depot and LNER Pacifics
(2014) amongst others. A lovely and charming man, who,
over lunch in the old pub, The Steam Packet, over-looking the yachts in the
harbour below, recounted memories and anecdotes of his days working for
BR, from which he retired in 1984 to live in Kingswear,with his wife
Daphne and son Mark. Here two ferries, car and passenger, operate daily to
and from Kingswear and Dartmouth, and it was where Peter’s mother had
run a hotel, a world away from London.

Peter’s son Mark took group photos against the backdrop of the local
steam locomotive Braveheart (75014, a BR Standard Class 4, 4 6 0, one of 80
built in the 1950s, the last being withdrawn in 1968, and one of six
now preserved and which now runs between Paignton and Kingswear on
the 6.7 mile long heritage railway operated by the Dart Valley Railway plc.
Braveheart arrived at Kingswear Station, complete with one of the two
‘Devon Belle’ observation cars in Pullman livery – what joy! After lunch
Peter and Mark travelled with us on our return journey to Paignton, near
Peter’s home, where we said our farewells - until next time.

A food-filled leisurely dinner with wine ensued until, relaxed
and contented but tired after a long day, arriving at our destination we said our
goodbyes and went our separate ways with the promise of another such
journey in the not-too-distant future, on a ‘steam train’ - and happy were

More photos are included in the attached document.

Christina Skaife
6 May 2019
pdf Click the icon to read the document.