We sadly have to report the death of one of the longest standing members of our Carriage & Wagon Department, Roger Williams, who died in hospital on Thursday 30 January. Roger had dedicated most of his 45 years on the Bluebell to leading the restoration and maintenance of our Southern "Bulleid" carriages, along with Mk.1 Corridor Composite No.16210, probably the first Mk.1 in preservation to have had a full top-to-bottom structural, mechanical and internal overhaul, completed back in October 1991. The recent comprehensive overhaul and rebuild of Bulleid Composite No.5768 was his crowning achievement, which has just been recognised by winning the Southern Railways Group's Denys Fletcher Award.
Dave Clarke's photo on the right shows Roger fixing new steel panelling on Bulleid 5768 in the early stages of its recent overhaul.
It would be no exaggeration to say that, were it not for Roger, we probably would not have any of our present four Bulleid carriages in working order. Quite apart from leading the overhauls, and doing most of the welding, he also personally financed a lot of the material cost of recent Bulleid carriage overhauls, and even undertook training to enable him to do simpler asbestos removal tasks (those that could be done as non-licenced work under very strictly controlled conditions).
Roger (and others on the Rolling Stock Sub-Committee) had long felt it a shame that we had missed out on an example of an early Mk.1 TSO (with veneer rather than formica interior panelling, and other earlier design details), and when the opportunity to purchase one in excellent condition for its age (having been stored under cover for 25 years at the Bicester Military Railway) came up, he inspected it and recommended purchase. With no budget available Roger loaned the railway the purchase price.
In his work as a solicitor in the BR property department, and subsequently with private firms undertaking work for Railtrack/Network Rail, he was highly regarded and respected by his colleagues. In retirement he was able to devote more time to the Bluebell, and in spite of having been diagnosed with Parkinson's a few years ago, continued largely unaffected with most of his activities on the railway. Late last autumn his condition deteriorated rapidly; it is now known that this was quite separate from the Parkinson's, and it was apparently a fast-growing brain tumour which took him from us, at the age of 68.
Roger's funeral will take place on Tuesday 10 March at 2:00pm at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, Memorial Chapel, Balcombe Road, Crawley RH10 3NQ.
Roger's brother Neil has asked us how many will attend from the railway - perhaps you could let John Fry, Chairman of the Bulleid Society know if you intend to be present.
I am sorry to report that Jean, ex-wife of Barry Cook, a former loco driver and pub owner (Fireman's Arms at Five Ash Down), passed in mid-January. Her funeral was held on Monday 3 February at the Wealden Crematorium, Horam Road, Horam, Heathfield TN21 0FX. After the service, refreshments were available at the pub (now the Pig & Butcher).
Jean was very much part of the railway life in the early days, especially when they lived in Jackies Lane, Newick and was involved in the Social sub-committee.
Barry was not able to attend as he was too unwell.
Gavin Bennett (General Secretary)
It is with sadness that we have to report the death on 3 December of volunteer and long-serving member of the Bluebell, and many of its supporting societies (including as Treasurer for many years of the Bulleid Society), of Ray Tanner.
Ray's funeral was on 19 December, cremation at the Surrey & Sussex crematorium, followed by a service at Three Bridges Free Church. Donations were requested for two charities, Parkinson's UK & St. Catherine's Hospice, Crawley.
Ian sadly passed away during the course of a heart operation on 5 October 2019.
Ian came to the Bluebell as one of the four co-owners of the Great Northern Directors' Saloon in 1971, and became Treasurer and a Trustee of the Howlden Trust when the ownership of the saloon was passed to the new charity founded for the purpose. His working life was spent on the Eastern Region of BR, ending with retirement from the Liverpool Street Short Term Freight Planning Section.
On the Bluebell he not only involved himself with the GN Saloon, but also worked on a variety of other carriages at Horsted Keynes, most notably helping with the major overhaul of our four Metropolitan Railway carriages.
Ian's funeral was on 24 October at Woollensbrook Cemetery & Crematorium, Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, and we offer our condonlences to his widow, Maria.