We are very sorry to report that John Scrace, a former loco man (as had been his father) and a renowned and hugely knowledgeable railway photographer, passed away peacefully on Friday 24 April 2020 at his care home in Balcombe, having been ill for some time.
Until recently he had been providing help remotely on a monthly basis in support of the work of our photographic archive.
The photo on the right, courtesy of Pat O'Neill, shows John at Sheffield Park during a Nine Elms reunion in 2015.
Ken Deans (February 1933 to April 2020)
Adrian Lee (Chief Signalmen's Inspector) conveys the sad news that Ken Deans passed away in his nursing home earlier this month. Adrian had spoken to him in February and he was a bit breathless but still as sharp as ever.
Ken was already an experienced signalman at K&ESR, so having passed for the original ('temporary') Kingscote Signal Box in July 1999, soon added SP and HK to his list. He gave up HK on account of the stairs when he was having joint trouble and wasn't sure about the 'new' Kingscote, but did do a conversion and passed with flying colours.
Joint replacement surgery and recuperation in 2018-19 meant that he had to take a break from signalling but was fully intending to return. Whilst the joints were 'running in' he had a stairlift fitted to ensure he could get upstairs at home without assistance. He called this his 'Mountain Railway'. Unfortunately he subsequently suffered a shoulder injury which prevented him raising his arm beyond horizontal. He then submitted his formal resignation in the latter part of 2019.
In these times his funeral will only be for his family but he had expressed the wish that when the time came, his ashes be placed in the firebox of an engine at the Bluebell - his preference would have been U-class 1638.
Our thoughts are particularly with his son John. There have been memories of Ken sent from railway friends all over the world. The photo above is of Ken in SP Signalbox and that below is of him on his 80th birthday, when he chartered the GN Saloon. He may be gone, but certainly won't be forgotten.
I am very sorry to report that John Woods, HK Stationmaster and Guard, passed away during the last week of March. John always had a witty dry comment to make, usually with impeccable timing. He was a regular participant on the Bluebell overseas tours organised by Roger Price and great company, with a knack for sniffing out beer dispensaries! I remember the time when John, Dave Devlin and I were wandering around Enkhuizen in The Netherlands and he happened to spot a craft beer bar. Naturally, we had to sample its wares.
Gavin Bennett (General Secretary)
I have known John throughout my 15 years as a volunteer at the Bluebell Railway as a fellow member of Horsted Keynes Station Staff, as a good partner on the Santa Specials, as a fellow Guard and moreover as a founding and solid member of the Rail Ale Team. Very sad indeed. He will be missed.
David Morgan (also a Horsted Keynes Station Master)
His funeral on Friday 3 April 2020 was at the South West Middlesex Crematorium, but the travel restrictions mean that very few could attend so we were asked to think of him at that time.