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|'All on a Spring Day': Trip to Kingswear, 4 May 2019|
The two Vice-Presidents meet for the first time - David Buck on the left, Peter Townend on the right
|It was an early start and the Saturday before was the first May bank holiday. A tempting ride to Kingswear on the English Riviera from Paddington and a 07.09 start had proved a very popular day trip. The eleven luxurious Steam Dreams carriages - provided by David Buck, one of our Vice-Presidents of the FNRM South of England Group - were full and expectant with the promise of a steam engine. The purpose of the trip was for our two Vice-Presidents to meet up - believed to be a first for the Friends. In reality, we were worked by vintage diesels back and front due to various circumstances, but no one seemed to mind and it was unusual and interesting to the enthusiasts watching en route, waving and smiling at us, some with cameras poised.
Through countryside, beautiful in its May attire, verdant and blooming in all the colours of the season, passing flat meadows, rolling hills, woods, streams, rivers and hedgerows we travelled: an English country scene, by church towers and villages, farms and farmland, acknowledged by cows, sheep, pigs and horses, with genial conversation over an unrushed full English breakfast, served attentively, caringly by a myriad of happy smiling faces and travelling at a leisurely pace on a bright, sunlit, enjoyable and wonderful day, through all the beauty of Spring, taking in ‘This England’ in all of her glory.
Through Slough, Maidenhead, Reading, Didcot, The White Horse at Uffington, Swindon, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter on to Dawlish and Paignton, until we caught sight of the estuary and the River Dart, with its many yachts moored there, awaiting the season of leisure and care-free days, sunlit and clear, a beauty of a day and oh so warming and happy, until, at last, alighting at the friendly station of Kingswear, buzzing now with train passengers.
There were eight of us from the Friends of the NRM South of England Group, whose purpose was to meet Peter N Townend, 93 years young, one of our Vice-Presidents. Peter is a former Shedmaster at King’s Cross ‘Top Shed’ and writer of many books including Top Shed (1975), a pictorial history of King’s Cross Locomotive Depot, and LNER Pacifics Remembered (2014) amongst others. A lovely and charming man, who, over lunch in the old pub, The Steam Packet, over-looking the yachts in the harbour below, recounted memories and anecdotes of his days working for BR, from which he retired in 1984 to live in Kingswear,with his wife Daphne and son Mark. Here two ferries, car and passenger, operate daily to and from Kingswear and Dartmouth, and it was where Peter’s mother had run a hotel, a world away from London.
Peter’s son Mark took group photos against the backdrop of the local steam locomotive Braveheart, 75014, a BR Standard Class 4, 4 6 0, one of 80 built in the 1950s, the last being withdrawn in 1968, and one of six now preserved and which now runs between Paignton and Kingswear on the 6.7 mile long heritage railway operated by the Dart Valley Railway plc.
Braveheart arrived at Kingswear station, complete with one of the two ‘Devon Belle’ observation cars in Pullman livery – what joy! After lunch Peter and Mark travelled with us on our return journey to Paignton, near Peter’s home, where we said our farewells - until next time.
A food-filled leisurely dinner with wine ensued until, relaxed and contented but tired after a long day, arriving at our destination we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways with the promise of another such journey in the not-too-distant future, on a ‘steam train’ - and happy we were.
A couple of more photos from the visit are in the attached document.
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