Geoff Richardson 1931 – 2007
It is with great regret and sadness that we let you all know that Geoff passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of last Friday 16th March after a long illness.
Many of you will have known Geoff for many years as he has been a corner-stone of the Erlestoke Manor Fund, and a character of the Severn Valley Railway. We are all familiar with the greeting from the corner of the shop and he will be sadly missed. However we will long retain treasured memories of him.
The Fund owes him an incalculable debt for the extraordinary service he has given us over many years, despite increasing discomfort latterly, in building up the shop to the very successful fund raising venture it has become today. Equally his leading role in developing a very close and harmonious relationship with the Severn Valley Railway has helped enormously to establish a firm future for the Fund and its locomotives on the line for the foreseeable future.
Of course, our thoughts and wishes are with Joy and his family at this sad time and we offer our deep condolences.
Geoff Richardson – Fund Raiser Extraordinaire
A railway enthusiast since 1941, Geoff joined the Erlestoke Manor Fund in 1988 as a helper in the Fund’s sales coach at Bewdley Station on an ‘as required’ basis. In 1991, when monies were needed for the completion and return to steam of ‘Bradley Manor’, he volunteered to open the sales coach daily during the SVR season, a task he undertook until the end of 2005 when increasing ill health forced his retirement to a nursing home in Kidderminster.
He made many friends from the regular customers to the sales coach and enjoyed the challenge of finding books and models to satisfy their wants list. He was also able to help kit them out with railway uniforms.
Geoff had served in the RAF for 23 years and during one tour of duty, in 1954, in addition to his secretarial duties, he was a diesel driver on the RAF Masirah Railway; you may well ask “where on earth is that?” Well, it is an island off the coast of Oman in the Indian Ocean! After his time with the RAF he went on to spend five years with the Inland Revenue collection office in Church St, Kidderminster.
In addition to his EMF duties, he has been for the last 25 years a voluntary worker with the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and held the post of Divisional Secretary. In recognition of his work he was invited to, and attended, Her Majesty the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in July 1996. He was particularly proud of this well deserved honour. His work for SSAFA was further recognised in late 2006 when, as reported in the last newsletter, he was awarded the rare distinction of Honorary Life Membership of SSAFA.
Geoff lived adjacent to Bewdley Station with his wife Joy, also a railway enthusiast and whom he met during his RAF service when she was also serving in the airforce. Although living so close by, he spent so much time at the sales coach, that it was sometimes suggested he should move his bed into it. The problem was that he would probably then have cajoled somebody into buying it!
In November 1999, Geoff was quoted in the Kidderminster Shuttle Times and News as follows: “In my life I have been there, done it and seen everybody have their highs and lows. I have realised everybody needs help sooner or later and during my life I have tried my best to help as many people as possible.” He believed a great sense of humour is required to make the most of life and continued “At the SVR I am well known for my high class insults. A group of people I know from Swansea came to the railway and I was very cheeky towards them. One of my colleagues told me not to speak in that way but the visitors replied that they wouldn’t come back if I wasn’t the way I was.”
Geoff’s funeral is planned to be at All Saints Church, Wribbenhall, Bewdley on Tuesday 27th March about 1.0pm (to confirm). The service, by Geoff’s own wishes, is to be a celebration of his life in the spirit in which he lived it. Condolences to EMF c/o 13 Mahon Place, Bewdley DY12 2PB will be passed to his family. Family flowers, donations welcome to ‘Home Care Team’.
“I don’t know why I support these Great Western engines – I’m an LMS man myself!” Quote by Geoff who was born 31st January 1931 at Flitwick alongside the Midland Mainline.
7802 Mainline trip Bristol to Bridgnorth
Cider Express at Temple Meads – photo by C Willets
Another last chance to go mainline behind Bradley Manor! Past-Time Rail has now arranged a special mainline trip on Wednesday 28th March 2007 to cover the return of 7802 from its 19 day stay on the West Somerset Railway. The Severn Valley Wanderer will start at Bridgnorth (08.33) picking up at Bewdley (09.21), Kidderminster (09.46), Worcester Shrub Hill (11.34!!) – it wanders round Birmingham first!, and arriving Bristol Temple Meads 12.55. Here 7802 takes over, departing 14.38 for the return run via Severn Tunnel, Llanvihangel Bank, Hereford and Malvern arriving Kidderminster (18.40), Bewdley (19.01) and Bridgnorth (19.55) using diesel power on the SVR.
Book your seats on the Severn Valley Wanderer now with Past-Time Rail tel 01543 411971. Standard Class £60 (£220 for 4).
Did You Know?
Following the last newsletter’s comments under this heading on Manor’s in black livery, Eric Youldon clarifies “The original (GWR) livery of plain green applied until 1942 when further repaints were in plain black. In 1945, green returned to all standard GWR classes so the Manors returned to their original style. Apart from lettering this remained the norm for Manors when repainted until late 1948 when plain black returned for them except that 7820-29 when turned out in 1950 were in lined black BR mixed traffic style. The only other time that a Manor appeared in the last mentioned livery was (and still is) 7819 in preservation.” (Did I not see a recent picture of 7821 Ditcheat Manor in black livery – or was it grime? -Ed)
Rolling Stock Update 7802 Bradley Manor;
The usual last minute panic preparing 7802 for the mainline Cider Express trip to Minehead on 10th March had Bridgnorth staff closely checking the vacuum braking pipework for a leak as difficulty was being experienced in service in maintaining vacuum pressure to keep the brakes off. Many ears were engaged close to the pipework in remote places to try to pinpoint the hissing sound of a leak – difficult to hear as the engine has to be in steam anyway to create the vacuum and there are many other hissing elements. However some attention to the vacuum pump seemed to do the trick and footplate staff reported that finally all was well when tested in SVR service the weekend before the trip.
7812 Erlestoke Manor
As soon as pannier tank 7714 came off the Bridgnorth jacks in early February, Erlestoke’s chassis was propelled on to them. The front bogie was quickly removed and immediately dismantled into a thousand parts, the wheels dispatched a few days later to Riley’s works for re-tyring. This seems familiar – hasn’t all this just been done once already recently we hear you ask. Well yes, but then someone last year decided to swap 7812’s re-conditioned bogie for the well-used one under 7802 and we have now had to repeat the exercise again! (With 7812’s former boiler and front bogie now on 7802, some would say that the loco currently visiting the West Somerset Railway is really Erlestoke masquerading as Bradley!) Much sweat and expletives have been expended on rapidly scraping the oil and grime off the various elements forming the bogie frames and they are now in the primer and undercoat stages after dedicated weekend efforts of often a 7 or 8 strong EMF team. They should shortly be re-assembled ready for the return of the re-tyred wheels. As soon as the rebuilt bogie is re-united with the rest of the chassis, the rolling chassis will be moved to the boiler shop to receive the overhauled boiler.
Cambrian Coast Express September 2006 – Gerald Peacock
7802 on the CCE by the Dovey Estuary
Once again Bradley Manor was given the opportunity to power the Cambrian Coast Express run by Railway Touring Company to Aberystwyth. As on previously planned tours, there were to be two trips on September 16th and 17th. However unbelievably the Sunday the 17th tour was cancelled again due to more engineering work! So 7802 with support coach made its way to Shrewsbury on Friday 15th under its own power.
Saturday morning turned out be overcast with misty rain in places but an early arrival of the diesel hauled train from Leicester boded well. Getting off to a good start 7802, tender first, once past Sutton bridge soon had the train up to the maximum speed allowed, but the times to Welshpool were unrealistic and arrival at the Newtown water stop was a few minutes late. Quick servicing here soon had the train under way again and the weather changed to bright conditions. Arrival at Machynlleth saw the train run into the correct platform this time, so platform clearances must have been altered since last year. A fair sized crowd waited to see the train which had to stop until a Shrewsbury bound train passed. A sharp run followed to Aberystwyth where the usual crowd turned out to see the arrival of the train.
After turning round the train, the support coach was shunted to the front of the train again, and servicing of 7802 went on, with the usual large amount of ash removed from the smokebox and much clinker raked from the firebox. Interestingly a GWR water column has been preserved here opposite the old locomotive shed, but unfortunately the water supply is now disconnected. While servicing progressed, passengers were able to take advantage of a special train laid on the narrow gauge to take a trip to Devils Bridge and back.
Soon departure time arrived and 7802, chimney first, was put to work with some vigour. Unfortunately it became apparent again that the times to Machynllth were unachievable due to the several bridge and PW slowings. So after a quick smokebox clean, a late departure was made from Machynlleth, with a brisk assault made on Talerddig bank. Due to a slightly heavier train, including a buffet and a dining car, plus a reduction in boiler pressure, a slow but forceful ascent was made at the top end of the bank. A blow up was not needed at the Talerdigg passing loop and 7802 was now put to it with some purpose. Another swift water and servicing stop followed at Newtown and once clear of the station, passing another service train, some fast running took place achieving an early arrival at Sutton Bridge junction only to be held there for several minutes by a signal at danger. On arrival at Shrewsbury 7802 and support coach uncoupled leaving the train to be taken on by diesel to Leicester.
As there was no Sunday trip 7802 had to layover at Abbey Foregate sidings before returning once more under its own power to Kidderminster on Monday. Another successful trip completed, the question arises again will 7802 or 7812 return to the Cambrian or indeed get across that elusive Barmouth Bridge?
One Way to Travel
(a reminder of one of Geoff’s contributions to a previous newsletter)
An elderly, dour looking lady, followed by her somewhat infirm husband, complained to Geoff who was minding the shop that the train has just left (on time) without them, couldn’t it have been made to wait a few moments for them, quite shocking, how very discourteous! Geoff patiently tried to explain that it was only a single line and there were several trains on it with a strict timetable to maintain to arrive promptly at stations in order not to delay trains travelling the opposite way. A few minutes later he saw the lady leading her husband back to their car saying “We are NOT travelling on this railway if they have trains travelling in opposite directions and there is only one track!”
Cider Express – with an Ice Cream at Minehead
The Cider Express was billed as ‘probably Bradley Manor’s penultimate run on the mainline’ which may explain its popularity with the punters as notice of its operation was very short. Also the instant publicity power of websites may explain the well loaded train.
All went entirely to plan and Past-Time Rail’s 9 coach charter train to Minehead on 10th March seemed to be a resounding success running closely to the booked timetable. Bradley Manor’s rural fan club was to be seen at every bridge along the route. This took us southwards from Hereford via Llanvihangel Bank, skirting Newport to a water stop at Magor before plunging into the Severn Tunnel. Crowds greeted the train in the great trainshed at Bristol Temple Meads (see photo above.)Brisk running onwards to the south west and Taunton near where at Norton Fitzwarren, 7802 drew the train off right on to the single line West Somerset Railway (WSR) arriving shortly at Bishops Lydeard. From here, the WSR provided large Prairie 2-6-2T no 4160 as pilot engine and the double header arrived right time at Minehead about an hour later.
Here a wonderful line up of five gleaming, mostly green ex GWR locos was assembled ready for the WSR spring gala on the following two weekends. There was just time to admire them, enjoy a plate of fish and chips and indulge in an ice cream on the promenade before setting off back northwards. Bradley Manor now running tender first was this time piloted by small Prairie no 5553 recently restored from derelict Barry condition. The pair gave way to a Class 47 diesel no 47583 at Bishops Lydeard for a 90 mph run back to Hereford and Birmingham, with 7802 left behind on the WSR to perform in their two gala weekends.
(Neither of the above mainline trips or indeed the sight of a Manor Class engine on the mainline in recent years would have been possible without the EMF sales coach fundraising, managed by Geoff, to invest in the expensive TPWS safety equipment required to operate the loco on the mainline – Ed.)