It is with sadness that I have to report the death of Neil Cameron at his home in Doncaster during week ending 7 September 2019.
Neil, like many young volunteers, started on the platform at Sheffield Park station, graduated to the Loco Dept. and then became project leader for the steam crane. He was directly involved in its acquisition, return to service and he, with assistance from BR staff at Brighton, set up a dedicated gang of volunteers to operate it.
Neil went on to management, becoming a BRPS Trustee, plc Commercial Director and director for the C&W Dept.
Working for BR's Railfreight Distribution sector took him to a job based in France before returning to the HQ at Doncaster and then privatisation. A serious underlying medical condition compelled Neil to retire from EW&SR early.
Among his plans for his time in retirement was one to cosmetically restore the steam crane and to have it more prominently displayed with appropriate interpretation (before ultimately having it returned to steam!). However, these plans were thwarted when he became his father's sole carer in Seaford, followed by the house having to be sold after his father's death and thus forcing a move back to Doncaster. Neil continued to be involved with Bluebell by contributing pieces for the e-newsletter, but his health was deteriorating.
His funeral was held in Northern Ireland.
Charles Roberts (born 5 Sept. 1952)
started volunteering at the Bluebell Railway in the
late 1980's, working at Sheffield Park Station.
Charlie soon qualified as a Guard, Signalman and
Shunter and would regularly spend a week at a
time at the railway undertaking many operational
roles eventually leading to his appointment as
Senior Station Master at Sheffield Park.
Working shifts as a mechanic for the AA meant Charlie was
often at the railway mid-week and he would get
involved in whatever needed doing: in his earlier
days he was involved in works trains on the
Northern Extension to New Coombe Bridge and
Kingscote and could also be found helping
Colin Turner with maintenance in the Loco yard.
Charlie appreciated the human side of the railway
and would look after the volunteers at Sheffield
Park often cooking dinner for groups in the
porters' room or a barbecue in the station garden.
Always encouraging to new volunteers, Charlie
went on to become the Railway's volunteer
recruitment officer for many years.
Charlie's main interest was signalling and he was
passed for all three boxes on the line, although
Horsted Keynes was always his favourite to work.
A career change meant that Charlie took up
signalling full time and joined Railtrack as a
Signaller at Cricklewood and later Fenny Stratford
before taking a position in West Hampstead
Signalling Centre. Following promotion with
Network Rail Charlie became Shift Signalling
Manager at West Hampstead.
At a later stage in his life Charlie discovered a love for
travel that would take him around the world by
aeroplane or on his motorbike across Europe and he
established friendships in various different countries.
The promotion at work and the desire to travel
meant that Charlie stepped down from his Bluebell
activities but he remained in contact with the
railway through many friends and regular visits.
Charlie retired from Network Rail in June 2019 and
as well as plans to continue traveling he started
training again at the Bluebell as a Signalman and
Guard. I was lucky enough to work with Charlie on
18 August when he undertook his first
refresher turn as a Guard and was telling me all
about his plans for retirement. Tragically a few
days later I received the news that Charles had
been killed in a road accident, on 22 August
2019 in London. Charles, you will be missed by myself and many
Charles's funeral was on Friday, 11 October at St Nicholas's Church, Harpenden. This was a celebration of Charles's life as well as a chance to say goodbye.
I am sorry to report that Dave Devlin passed away in hospital on Monday 2nd September. A member of the S&T Dept for over 28 years, Dave had an extensive knowledge of electronics, honed by a career in Audio-Visual engineering with the BBC and later in the independent broadcasting sector. His knowledge was put to good use when he took on the repair of the Harmer+Simmons battery chargers, which were over-sensitive to nearby lightning strikes resulting in burnt out electronics and an expensive return to the manufacturer for repair. Dave improved the circuitry which resulted in a huge increase in their resilience against lightning strikes. He was adept at chasing down faults when something had stopped working and finding the cause of the problem.
His working pattern in the early nineties meant that he was available on Fridays and he and John Whiting would spend the day freeing up and overhauling signal wire wheels in preparation for the HK re-signalling scheme. Their careful restoration and greasing of these meant that when they were eventually required some fifteen years later, they hadn't seized up again! He was a regular member of the Wednesday S&T gang, often driving the Wickham.
Dave enjoyed travelling and took part in several of Roger Price's overseas tours to the Netherlands and Germany which he thoroughly enjoyed and was great company. His last one of these was the tour to Prague, the Harz and Dresden in 2015. He also enjoyed cruising with Trinity House, spending a week on their flagship, THV Patricia, as it toured around the UK servicing marker buoys and lighthouses. Last year, he came on the S&T trip to our twinned railway, the Museum Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblik where we enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the railway (as seen in the photo on the right) and a presentation on Dutch railway signalling. He was also a regular attendee at the quarterly S&T Lunch Club gatherings held at various hostelries, sometimes with a railway element, such as the afternoon we spent on the now closed private railway at Sutton Valance (photo below).
Dave had not been well for several weeks and was finally admitted to hospital a couple of weeks ago. He spoke to one of the team last week and had said he hoped to be home soon and was looking forward to visiting the railway on the following Wednesday for a chat. Sadly, that was not to be. His presence in the mess room will be missed.
Finally, an amusing anecdote about Dave. On one of the Dutch trips, we were returning to our base at Hoorn after dinner in Alkmaar and had to change trains at Zaandam. Dave spotted the vending machine as we descended from the footbridge and fancied a snack. He inserted his €1 and made his selection which was in the top left had corner. The packet of cheesy corn bites wormed its way forward and fell against the glass. Much sniggering from the assembled company. "I know how to fix this" he declared, inserting another €1 and making the same selection. The second packet wormed its way forward and landed on top of the first packet. Much laughter, including a couple of Dutch train crew who were watching. They tried banging the glass but the packets were firmly wedged. "One more go!" he said and this time, the third packet succeeded in shifting everything so he triumphantly boarded the train with three packets of corn snacks which he shared around. He didn't like them once he tasted them!
Gavin Bennett (General Secretary)
Dave's funeral took place on Monday 16 September at New Southgate Crematorium, London N11, followed by a gathering at the Duke of York, Potters Bar.