My memories of steam are of grimy O4s trundling noisily through Shirebrook North on 16T coal trucks in the mid 1960s. Here is a photo of preserved O4 63601 on the Great Central at Leicester North on 27th January 2002.
As a special treat, I was occasionally taken to the ECML at Retford to watch the express passenger trains flying through, headed by Gresley Pacifics and green Deltics. It was during these visits that the sight and sound of the Deltics began my enthusiasm for English Electric built locomotives. I moved to Doncaster in 1973 and, in the evenings and at weekends, I was usually to be found on an 'East Midlands' rover riding up and down the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster & Peterborough. I have been a life member of the Deltic Preservation Society since 1979.
I was also impressed by the Class 50s as they came through Doncaster Works for refurbishment and from 1982 onwards, when the Deltics were all withdrawn, I switched to 'West of England' rovers riding behind 50s until their withdrawal from normal service in May 1992. May 1992 was, coincidentally of course, when I got married, although my wife Helen regularly accompanied me on these trips 'South' and subsequent railtours.
The second photograph is of myself driving 50035 Ark Royal, and was taken by my wife Helen at Kidderminster during my Footplate Experience Course at the Severn Valley Railway on Friday 10th August, 2001.
The third photograph is the view from the drivers seat of 50035 looking South at Bridgnorth whilst awaiting departure to Kidderminster during the same course. Information on these excellent Footplate Experience Courses can be obtained from either The Fifty Fund web site or the Severn Valley Railway.
The fourth photograph is of Class 50 D444 (50044), at Ropley, Mid Hants Railway, on Friday 21st May, 2004 in a non authentic but distinctive two tone green livery. D444 has been my favourite Class 50 since the late 1970s and is now, along with 50031 Hood, 50035 Ark Royal and 50049 Defiance, operated and maintained by The Fifty Fund.
The final photograph, also taken by my wife Helen, is of the rededication ceremony of D444 on Saturday 14th October, 2006 at Kidderminster, forming part of the Severn Valley Railway's festival to mark the completion of the overall canopy and buffet. Lieutenant Commander Scott Sellars, Logistics Officer, HMS Exeter was invited to perform the ceremony and is pictured with (from left) Roland Bull, Scott Lewis, Craig Kinsey and myself. D444 is fitted with BR(W) style nameplates contemporary with her Green livery.
Further details about 50031 (D431) Hood, 50035 (D435) Ark Royal, D444 (50044) Exeter and 50049 (D449) Defiance, and also information on how to become a shareholder, can be found at The Fifty Fund web site.